rustic sourdough bread … Cowboy style

Jeanne here …

Here’s the thing about having a husband who works in the movie business … he’s home for a while, and then he leaves for a while.  And then he’s back again.  And gone again.

So for example, in 2011, our Cowboy was in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and New York.  And he was gone for about 11 months.

And then for 2012, he was home for 11 months.

Which was AWESOME (to use an over-used word).

It’s not like we don’t see him when he’s gone.  He comes home when he can.  We visit often.  And then there’s iChat or Skype and FaceTime and all the modern techie ways we can now conveniently stay involved in each other’s lives.

But I have to admit, this life engenders such complicated feelings.

We’re blessed that he has the work … and that the work allows us the freedom to live here in Montana … and that we get to spend these big chunks of time really together.

But I get sad when he has to leave.

You see we like it much better having him around.

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(this is how I feel, too)

When the Cowboy is nearby, we feel happier.

We feel safer.

We feel loved.

And we also very rarely run out of bread (because in addition to being the primary bread-winner, he’s also the primary bread-maker in the house).

So when we found out his next job starts in the next 7-10 days (we don’t yet know his start-date), we realized there are a lot of things we need to get done before he goes.  But I started to panic about having to take over the bread-making duties.

(NOTE: I also started to panic about a lot of other things, but the bread-thing seemed the most daunting as there are people depending on the bread … like all the folks at the Bozeman Food Swap … what will I swap if I don’t have bread?!?!)

Anyway, we realized there are a lot of things we need to get done before he goes.  But we also don’t want to let the time go by without enjoying it.  So we’re spending as much time as we can having fun together and trying not to get sad as we prepare to be Cowboy-less for a little while.

I have to tell you … I was daunted about making the bread because it had been a while since I have.  But making sourdough bread doesn’t have to be scary.  And while it takes some time (to let the dough rise and rise again), once it’s in the oven it’s a pretty fast process.

Here’s what you need to make the Cowboy’s rustic sourdough bread:

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup Sourdough “starter”
  • 3 TSP Kosher Salt
  • 4 cups Flour (I used 3 cups all purpose unbleached and 1 cup wheat … you can use whatever combo you like)
  • 2 cups Filtered Water
  • 2 TBL Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

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TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:

  • Large glass or ceramic bowl (metal will work also)
  • Fork
  • Whisk
  • Rubber scraper
  • Counter or other flat surface
  • Dishtowel
  • Clay Baker or Dutch Oven (this makes enough dough for a 6-quart cast iron)

Here’s way more than you need to know about How to make/Where to get Sourdough Starter.

DIRECTIONS:

First, using a fork, stir the start to make it a cohesive consistency.

Then, in a large metal bowl, combine the “start,” salt and water.  Whisk until frothy.

Add flour.  And if you have a “bread whisk,” now’s the time to use it.  If not, use a regular whisk and combine ingredients until they are just a sticky mass.

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Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for TWELVE HOURS.  Yes.  TWELVE HOURS.  I started mine at 9 am, Sunday.  And at 9 pm Sunday I was a happy camper.  Although not as happy as I was at 9 am on Monday when I had warm sourdough bread for breakfast.

NOTE:  Since you’ve now got TWELVE HOURS to hang out and wait for your dough to rise … maybe it’s a good time to “feed your start” – ½ c. flour and just a little less than ½ cup of filtered water should do the trick … you just add these to the original start container, stir with a spoon until the consistency is smooth but not too watery and then seal up the jar again and set aside.

TWELVE HOURS LATER

Put a little flour (I think I used about ¼ cup) around the edges of the risen flour in your bowl.  Use a dough scraper (or a rubber scraper) to loosen the dough from the edge of the bowl and work the flour in.  This helps “dry out” the stickiness of the dough so you can actually get it out of the bowl.

Then you want to put a little flour onto a clean flat surface (on your counter or on a cutting board).

At this point, you want to take the dough from the bowl, stretch it to about 18 inches and fold either side in on itself.  Do this THREE TIMES.

(NOTE:  I wish I had taken a photo of this step.  I forgot.)

Then put the stretched and folded dough onto the counter and shape into a nice ball shape.  Don’t overwork it.  Just enough to make it look like a ball, but not get too sticky again.

Clean and dry your large bowl.

Put about 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil into the bottom of your bowl.  And then put the dough back into the bowl.  Turn it over to cover the dough with the olive oil.  Make sure it’s all good and coated.  (NOTE:  You don’t NEED to use olive oil in this step.  The Cowboy doesn’t.  But I find it easier to move the dough around with the olive oil.  And I like the added olivey taste.  But this is entirely a personal choice).

Then cover the bowl again with the dishtowel, and let stand for at least another FOUR HOURS!

(I let mine stand overnight …it was 9 pm when I started that step, and no way was I able to stay up until 1 am for some sticky dough.  So it was 8 am when I got the next step started, and it worked out just fine.)

FOUR HOURS LATER (or 11 hours later, if you’re me)

If you’re using a Clay Baker, now would be the time to soak it in water for 5-15 minutes.

PREHEAT the oven to 450.

Put your Dutch Oven or Clay Baker in the oven while it pre-heats.  Get it nice and toasty.

Un-stick the dough from the sides of the bowl using a rubber scaper.

Slide it into the hot baking dish of your choice.  Put the top on.

Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

Take the top off.

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Bake for another 15 minutes.

VWAH LA!

I hope that doesn’t sound too complicated.  Because it was surprisingly easy …and so nice to have a warm bread smell in the house for breakfast.  And even better to be able to slice a piece and slather it with butter and jam for breakfast.  YUMMMMMM!

Thanks, Cowboy!

Missing the him already,

Jeanne

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