Making Sourdough Starter and Bread

For quite some time, I have been wanting to try my hand at making sourdough bread. Similar to my experience with wanting to make yogurt, I was intimidated by the complicated recipes and conflicting information that I read. Since I did not know of anyone who had a starter, I would need to make my own. I also wanted to use whole wheat flour, while many recipes use white or rye flour. One day, I came across a very simple recipe and thought I would give it a try. After I began the recipe, I realized, in its simplicity, it was not precise enough for me as a beginner; so I gathered tips from various sources until I arrived at my method. So here it is:

Sourdough Starter

Combine 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup filtered water in a glass jar or bowl. Cover with a towel and keep at room temperature. Each day for two weeks, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. The consistency of the mixture will be like a soupy batter.

This was a learning experience for me. By day four, I have to admit, I considered throwing it out. The best way I can describe the odor was kind of like spoiled skunk! After doing some internet searching, I was encouraged to keep going. After a day or two, the starter began to smell pleasant again.

At the end of two weeks, I had 6 cups of starter. I put 2 cups into a glass jar, covered loosely with a lid, and stored in the refrigerator for later use. I will need to feed it once a week. I plan to add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. With the remaining 4 cups, I baked two recipes of bread using this recipe:

Sourdough Bread

Combine 2 cups starter, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3-4 cups flour. The dough should be moist. Knead for 15 minutes. (I used the dough hook on my Kitchen-aid mixer.) Cover and let rise for 2 hours. Punch down and form into a ball. Place in greased pan. Cover and let rise 8-14 hours. Bake at 350 degrees F until brown and crusty, approximately 1 hour. Let cool 10 minutes or so before removing from pan. This makes a large round loaf.

The bread has a wonderful sour taste that awakens your taste buds. The texture is a bit crumbly but slices well. I love it plain or with peanut butter or toasted with cheese. The rest of my family is a little more reluctant with giving their approval; but after having it twice, I think they are becoming adjusted to it.

Here is what I would do differently next time: I placed the dough in a bowl to rise, not thinking about the fact that I would need to bake it in that bowl. Next time, I plan to divide the dough between two loaf pans and see how that works. The center was not quite done with the large round loaves. If I had realized that, I would have baked them a little longer.

I love the fact that with the sourdough starter, there is no yeast or sweetener involved. There are only three ingredients: flour, water, and salt. I am so pleased to have acquired the ancient and time-honored skill of baking sourdough bread.

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All Nature Sings

Spring has sprung!  The perfect combination of rain and sunshine has awakened nature from its winter sleep.   The mountains resemble a painting in progress with a few more brush strokes of green each day.  The grapevines are slowly unfurling their leaves.  The summer perennials have pushed their green sprouts up through the soil.  The dogwood and red bud blossoms praise our Creator.  I hear the coo of doves and the twitter of sparrows.  I see the flutter of the gold finch.  Along with nature, my spirit is quickened within me.  After winter’s slumber, I am alive!  The sun’s warm rays kiss my head and tell me of God’s love.  The rain’s gentle drops cleanse the air and refresh the soil, reminding me of God’s blessings.

Violets
Violets

I ponder the following hymn:

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

Pink dogwood blossoms
Pink dogwood blossoms

This is my Father’s world

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world,

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

Red bud blossoms
Red bud blossoms

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

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Holy Week

Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, a week of special meaning for us as a Christ followers.  In the morning church service, the children sang praises to the Lord, clapping their hands and waving their palm branches.  We partook of the Lord’s supper.  In the evening, our church members met in several homes to pray for the needs of our community, nation, and world.  The children went on a prayer walk.  This week, we broadened our prayer lives by practicing adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.  It was beautiful to hear the children verbalizing the things that were on their hearts.

In our Bible readings, we journeyed through the last week of Christ before He was crucified.  We read of His entry into Jerusalem among praises, His last teachings to His disciples, the overturning of the tables in the temple, the demonstration of servant hood by washing His disciples’ feet, the celebration of the Passover with His disciples, the agonized prayer in the garden, His betrayal by Judas, the trial and cruel punishments.

Friday, the weather was fitting: stormy and rainy, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death.  Saturday was cold, Service Winter, here in the mountains.  We waited in anticipation, because Sunday was coming.  We read how He was laid in a tomb, sealed and guarded.

Sunday, we awoke to a beautiful, sunny morning.  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  We gathered at church a bit early for a Sunrise service, a time to reflect on our risen Savior.  During the worship hour, the choir sang a moving cantata including songs such as Hail, Jesus, You’re My King,  In Christ Alone, Agnus Dei, and Worthy Is the Lamb.  As director, I can say it was truly a worshipful experience.  Afterwards, it was sweet to see all the children in their Easter finery running around the field gathering eggs.

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We do not usually have big meals on Sunday, but I decided to make a ham loaf for supper.  Ham loaf is a Pennsylvania Dutch food which uses a mix of ground pork and ground ham instead of beef to make a meatloaf.  The aroma is tantalizing!  Somehow, it smells like Easter to me, probably because my mother often has ham loaf for her extended family gathering on Easter Sunday.

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The daffodils and hyacinths are showing their beauty.  Some of the flowering trees, including pear and plum, are filling the air with their perfume.  It is a glorious time of year to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior!