Crazy in the kitchen

Susan Manzke
Susan weighs 440 grams of flour (3 cups) for sourdough bread.

You sure can tell that the seasons have changed. When the days are cold, wet, and windy, I’m not drawn outside. Instead I want to be in our kitchen, baking.

Recently, the bread bug bit me. I found a bread baking book at the library, checked it out, and loved it so much I bought my own copy. It’s called BREAD Illustrated. That got me started. I then watched Around the Farm Table on PBS when Inga Witscher made a sourdough bread and I was really hooked.

I had a sourdough starter which would take 10 to 14 days to mature according to the book, but the bread from the television show was an overnight sourdough. I had to do some searching for the recipe though.

Eventually a friend emailed it to me from a different site. Brown Eyed Baker calls it No Knead Bread I followed this recipe, but had some issues.

Some people might be dissuaded because it says it takes 24-hours to make this bread, but you’ll find that most of the time is for the rising. In the evening, I put my ingredients in a bowl: 3 cups flour (all-purpose or bread flour), ¼ teaspoon instant yeast, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and 1 ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of water. Mix until combined, cover bowl and leave it alone until the following day.

Bob mixes sourdough bread.

Turn out the risen, goopy dough onto floured surface, fold it over a few times, put in pan, and let it rise two hours - this is where I changed from the original recipe. Their bread was to go into a bowl on top of parchment paper. Later, when risen the paper and dough went into a preheated Dutch oven. It came out round and because it said to bake it at 450 degrees, our smoke alarm beeped when I opened the oven.

With my method, the bread was baked at 375 degrees in a bread pan for 30 minutes, and came out just as nice and could be sliced like any loaf - a good knife is needed to cut this bread because the crust is thick and crunchy. It does have some issues. Because it has more holes than regular bread, jelly or honey might drip through holes when spread on it, but it sure is yummy.

I still use my bread machine when I want my usual yeast breads, but I can’t stop making this sourdough bread. When our library had a book and bake sale it was what I baked, though one loaf didn’t seem enough. The night prior to the sale, I set out four bowls of my sourdough mix. Even Bob helped. While I measured, he mixed.

The following day, three bread pans and one deep-dish pie pan were used for the final rising and baking. After letting them cool, I proudly brought my bread to the sale. 

I can’t seem to stop baking bread. Besides this over-night method, I’ve done some quick breads. My usual quick mix is banana bread, but the book has a wonderful one made with cheese that will melt in your mouth. It’s called Quick Cheese Bread - even thinking about it makes my mouth water.

I make a loaf for Bob and me, but we can’t possible eat all that I want to bake. Family members have gone home with loaves and I’ve given a few as birthday gifts to friends.

The next step is to exchange cookie baking at Christmas and replace it with bread for gifts.

Bob says he can tell when I’m baking. Timers keep beeping and buzzing reminding me not to forget special baking issues, like to pre-heat oven, and to put in and take out loaves. The beepers might also mean I have two or three different bakes going at once or that I made a big mistake and the smoke alarm is going off again.

A late family Thanksgiving has me making turkey dressing and loaves of bread again. I sure do love this time of year.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;