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Saturday, February 26, 2011

18 Hour Bread

Finally, I have achieved not just satisfactory results, but amazingly delicious results from my sour dough bread experimenting.

I'm sure that what I've learned must be basic to master bread makers, but to me it is new and fantastic.


I currently make two versions of what I call "18 Hour Bread". The first is a mixed grain type, and the second is a rosemary bread.

Recipe: 18 Hour Bread (mixed grain)

1 cup warm water
1 cup unbleached white flower
A few spoonfuls of sourdough starter*
2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
2 tsp. flax seeds
3 Tbsp. corn meal
1/2 C. rolled oats
3/4 C. whole wheat flour

Recipe: 18 Hour Bread (rosemary)

1 cup warm water
1 cup unbleached white flower
A few spoonfuls of sourdough starter*
Dried rosemary crumbled (I never measure it. More or less, it's up to you. Good luck!)
3 Tbsp. corn meal
1/2 C. rolled oats
3/4 C. whole wheat flour


From start to finish this should take about 18 hours, but most of that time should be spent ignoring it. If you want to serve the bread for dinner, then mix up the dough the night before.

To start, mix water, white flour, and sour dough starter. Then stir in remaining ingredients adding the whole wheat flour last. Stir or kneed until fully mixed. Dough should be moist and sticky. Do not add extra flour to make it less sticky.

You should know that with the exception of the flour and water, I don't carefully measure anything. Just dump a little of this and that into the dough and it will be done very quickly. No need to waste time measuring. :)

Leaving dough in mixing bowl, cover with a pastry cloth. Forget about it till you wake up in the morning, or whatever works for you. Then knead the dough for a while, and forget about it again for a few hours or so. You will need to knead it a final time two hours or more before you plan to bake it. This will give it adequate time to rise before it dies.

To bake, preheat oven to 450 F. Whatever sort of tray you have to bake the bread on should be preheated in the oven also. I prefer a pizza stone, and I have not tried this particular recipe with anything else. You are welcome to try whatever you want though. Live a little, okay? When oven is fully heated, gently scrape dough out of mixing bowl directly onto pizza stone. Provided the stone is fully preheated the dough will instantly sear and not stick despite how gooey it is.

Bake for 30 minutes. You should expect the dough to rise more while baking and also expect that the crust will crack to allow for expansion. There is no need to slice the crust as it will crack on its own.

I always know the bread is about done when I can smell it from across the room.

Remove the bread from oven.

You will find the crust is very hard. You can knock on it with your knuckle. If you slice the bread right away it will be very crusty with a moist interior. I prefer it this way. However, if you prefer a softer crust simply let the bread cool for a while, and the moisture from inside will soften the crust.


*If you have sourdough starter already then great! If not, you can find information online about how to start your own. Try Wikipedia.