I recently read about Carla Crownover‘s “No Grocery Store Challenge for a Year” on the Austin Farm to Table blog. Inspired by her quest for bread, I began developing a 100% wild cultured sourdough starter with Richardson Farms locally-grown, fresh-ground whole wheat flour. I succeeded in baking up two small, but well-risen loaves, sweet(!) and tasting nuttily of fresh wheat. I strengthened the dough with organic white flour for my wild starter’s virgin attempt at leavening, intending to advance to a 100% naturally leavened, 100% whole wheat loaf next.
Despite the confidence-building rise of these initial breads, however, the light bulb part of my brain flickered and I thought, why not just sift out most of the bran from my whole wheat flour? The sharp edges of the bran particles slice into the dough’s gluten strands, reducing volume and creating a denser texture. Less bran=lighter loaf (not factoring in additives ). Plus, according to BBC’s TV program Gardener’s World, bran is the best slug deterrent. You needn’t throw it away. Apparently the gooey pests eat it up and expire. And then your chickens gobble the slugs. Gotta love that food chain!
Here’s a not-necessarily-but-possibly totally local sandwich loaf (except for the salt—only Tuscans can get away with saltless yet edible pane, and yeast). Light-textured and wheaty, this bread makes fine sandwiches, fluffy/crisp toast and of course, an accommodating base for a thick swath of butter.
- ½ cup local milk, scalded, plus enough water to equal 1 generous cup. I use either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
- 1 local egg
- 130 grams (1 cup) cooked Lowell Farms organic white jasmine rice
- ¾ teaspoon salt. I use Real Salt
- 1 teaspoon local honey. I buy Good Flow in bulk at Central Market. Bring your own container and ask an employee to tare the weight for you.
- 1 Tablespoon organic butter. I usually use Organic Valley. Click for a coupon. For the totally Texas taste, try local butter from Elevated Artisanal at the Austin Farmers Market or Way Back When at both the downtown market, the Sunset Valley Farmers Market and from Greenling.
- 363 grams (about 2 ¾ cups) sifted Richardson Farms whole wheat flour (most of the bran removed)
- 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast (rapid rise or instant)
I used the bread machine to mix and knead the ingredients. Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order indicated by your instruction manual. In my machine, that would be the order listed. When the machine stops, take the pan out, cover it with plastic and let the dough rise. A cooler first rise promotes flavor development, so I banished the dough to the cold laundry room for a couple hours.
With buttered hands, press the dough down and shape it into a loaf. Cradle your bread baby into a buttered 9″ X 5″ loaf pan, cover the pan with a very large upturned bowl and let rise until the dough feels puffy when you poke it. It should be risen to 1″ over the edge of the pan in the center.
Slash the top of the loaf and bake in a 350º oven for about 40 minutes, until well-browned. Remove the loaf from the baking pan and let it cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
Keep it local!