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On my move to Chico I decided to take on a new project of my own creation.  I have found in my on going Phycho-social recovery program staying busy is key.  So I started The Bread Project, being inspired by the movie Julie on Julia.  I am working my way through Beth Hensperger's The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook, with 300 bread recipes in it.


This second loaf  of bread is in a class I have avoided in my bread making, ones that require a starter.  so much like Julie in the movie and her Duck, I am tackling a bread that I loath. Shepherds bread requires a starter, or what they call a "sponge".  In doing some research on shepherd's bread I found that it is a rustic classic, usually cooked in a cast iron Dutch Open in the coals of a fire.

Seems it is appropriate ton be making this bread here in Chico, one  author wrote “On Memorial Day weekend, the Basques…hold their annual picnics. They are descendants of shepherds who came to the United States and settled in the agricultural communities of the California Sierras, Idaho’s Rocky Mountains, and the Nevada foothills bake this bread, also called May Bread ...”.

Seems that the longer the starter is allowed to ferment the stronger the flavor will be the more irregular the texture.  The recipe calls for this starter to sit for 4 hours, and I am going with that.

2 Pound Loaf Starter
2/3 Cup Water
1 Cup Bread Flour
1/4th Teaspoon Bread Machine Yeast.

The recipe calls for the bread machine to be set on the Dough setting, and the dough made for 10 minutes.  My machine automatically sets itself to 14 minutes when Dough/Pasta is selected, so I went with that. Leaving the lid closed, I was then instructed to leave the sponge starter in the unplugged machine for 4 hours.  This bread has quite the time commitment to it, I certainly hope the out come is worth it!


About a half an hour before the starter was done, I gathered the following called for in the recipe:

7/8th cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon butter
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon gluten
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

I have found that it is important to let the water and the butter get to be room temperature before going into the machine.  Since this is a rustic country bread i am going to set my machine for the Dark crust setting, considering that it was cooked in cast iron, I think it should have a darker crust.


The recipe calls for the basic setting to be used, but in reading about Shepherds Bread I though the the "Crusty Bread" setting on my machine might be a better choice.  Once again I added the everything in the order listed, right on top of the starter.  I set the kitchen tiimer for 5 minutes so I can go in and check to see if the machine has incorporated everything, or if a little help is needed from my spatula.  If the bread is sticking to the sides of the machine I add a little flour, a sprinkle at a time.  If it is crumbling and not forming into a ball I add a little water, a tablespoon at a time.  Once the consistency is to my liking, I let the machine do its thing.  Oh I go and look every once in a while to be sure it is on track, but pretty much once the  consistency is right it is a no brainier!  Just sit back and watch a DVD.


The ball should be firm, and not too sticky.  After a 4 hour cooking cycle my loaf was finally done at zero-dark thirty hours.  The machine buzzer woke me up.  I pulled the loaf from the machine and set it on the rack to cool. Went back to bed, and got up to a fresh loaf  of bread.


The taste was a tangy but sweet flavor, but the air bubbles were really cool to look at. They were irregular shapes and sizes.  The bread toasted up fabulously. It was crunchy on the outside, and still soft and chewy inside. It was something of a cross between a Hawaiian Bread for sweetness and soft texture, and a sour dough for tang!

The loaf climbed  and climbed,, and I had to cut it in half to make slices that would fit in my toaster!



I learned a couple of things this time around.  First salt and yeast interact, and should be put in at opposite of ends of the recipe. Learn something new everyday I guess.

I also learned not to be afraid of starters, seems they are better the longer they sit, and can sit up to 24 hours!

Originally posted to l3m0n - A Veteran's Journey of Recovery on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 05:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bread is my favorite food group :-) (11+ / 0-)

    I love what you are attempting here.  There is a book with 300 bread recipes????  I must have it.

    There is nothing quite like the aroma of bread baking, unless of course it is slathering a warm piece with cultured butter.

    It is wonderful that you have overcome your 'fear' of starters.    I aspire to this.

    Recently I attempted making bread using a starter made with wild yeast...that is...from the air.

    I used the recipe from River Cottage, whose book on bread I own.  Here is a link to how it is made:

    River Cottage Starter

    I got as far as day 4 when my fermenting dough suddenly separated.  I assumed it had gone bad somehow and I chucked the whole thing.  I found out subsequently that I should just have stirred it back together and continued with the process, which can take 5-7 days to develop the starter/sponge.  

    I wasted a lot of flour in the process, so next time I will be more careful and research before throwing out my experiments.

    I love bread but have a gluten intolerance.  No celiac...I have had a biopsy to check.  But I do have an Ig(G) antibody to gliadin, a molecule in gluten.  I get bloated, and have major indigestion when eating anything with gluten.

    I have tried spelt - don't like its flavor; and the typical gluten-free mixes - heavy and tasteless.  So I was thrilled when I found studies showing that celiacs might be able to eat einkorn, which is an ancient wheat grain from about 5,000 years ago.  I have just bought some to see how it tastes and if I can eat it and remain symptom free.

    So far I have only used it to thicken stew, and I had no symptoms.  I plan to make bread over the weekend to see whether it has a more 'wheat'-y flavor than spelt.  If things go well, I will be on the path to making all my own bread.

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 05:35:04 PM PDT

  •  We have a crusty bread recipe that is dead easy (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ParkRanger, blueoasis, UFOH1, ms badger, bumbi

    and tastes heavenly. If you're interested in non-machine recipes let me know.

    Oh, and there is no kneading.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 05:58:04 PM PDT

    •  I would love to have a copy of it, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, UFOH1, ms badger

      Can you post it or message me?

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 06:46:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here it is: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        UFOH1, ms badger

        Crusty no knead bread

        Dry Ingredients:

         - 430 g bread flour
        - 1/2 tsp granulated dry yeast
        - 1 tsp NaCl

        Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.

        - 345 g H2O

        Mix until the dough just comes together. Cover the top of the bowl with with a dinner plate to keep it from drying out. Let rest at room temperature (65-75 degrees F) for 12-24 hr (try longer sometime?). The dough should rise somewhat and become bubbly.

        Using a flexible plastic food scraper to help dislodge the dough, turn it out onto a floured surface and fold it over on itself two or three times to form a ball. Place ball on the dinner plate that has been dusted with bran and/or oatmeal.

        Invert the mixing bowl over the dough to prevent it from drying out. Let rest for 2-3 hr while it should nearly double
        1/2 hr before the dough is done resting, place a 12 inch diameter dutch oven in the oven and preheat oven at 450 degrees F . When dough is done resting, transfer the dough to the heated dutch oven by inverting the plate. Use caution to avoid burning yourself. Shake the dutch oven to distribute the dough if necessary.

        Replace the heated lid on the dutch oven and return to the 450 degrees F oven. Bake covered for 30 min and then remove lid. Bake another 15 min uncovered to get a brown color to the crust. Let rest on a rack after baking for at least 30 min before eating. You can substitute up to 20% whole wheat flour.

        This is derived from a New York Times article by Mark Bittman, December 6, 2006.

        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 06:57:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If you'd like more of a sour taste, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, ms badger, grover

    put the dough covered, into the fridge for the night, or up to 48 hrs. It'll develop a nice texture, a thick crust and more of a sour flavor. Next morning, plop it back into your machine and let rise and bake as usual.

    ...religion is the smile on a dog...

    by lbl1162 on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 06:35:21 PM PDT

    •  I am going to try that, thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The thing that I really liked was the sweet and sour tast, it was like a hawian bread gone sour.  One of the most unique flavors I think I have ever had.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 06:48:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you want a established sourdough starter (0+ / 0-)

      which does need to be maintained and  fed regularly -- think of it like a demanding little pet that doesn't do tricks but is kind of entertaining with his little bubbles --- drop me a note.

      I'm not that far away from you. It should arrive overnight.

      Mine has been handed from neighbor to neighbor, mother to daughter, friend to friend for more years than I know. I was told "over 125 years," which given how healthy and sour it is, that could very well be true. It was a very gracious gift from a good friend that brought it a ridiculous distance because he knew I would love it.

      That kind of good willl should be paid forward. So when/if/whenever you'd like it, just let me know.  Even if it's months or years from now, mine will be bubbling along and getting sour-er, and I'll be a member of dkos forever, so there's no time limit on this offer.

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 05:05:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Earlier this year, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, bumbi

    we didn't buy hardly any bread for several months. Then my bread machine broke. Very sad. I'll enjoy reading about your project though! Good luck!

    Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

    by Debby on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 10:53:02 PM PDT

  •  I have been trying to find a recipe for White (0+ / 0-)

    sandwich bread that taste and has the consistency of some of the better grocery store breads.  So far nothing to write home about.  I've got the dinner rolls down pretty well but the illusive sandwich loaf is driving me crazy.  

    Thank you Wee Mama - will try your reecipe.  

    If other's have some great bread recipes, I would love to have a copy.  I don't have a bread machine.  I don't mind - just takes a bit more hands on.  :)

  •  No kneading. (0+ / 0-)

    Stretch and fold.

    While it's the technique employed for wetter doughs like sourdough, I use it for all of my breads with great success.  If you're making high protein (using hard -- high gluten -- bread flour, or adding a lot of protein-based enrichments like yogurt, buttermilk, regular milk, eggs, ricotta, etc), your dough will toughen up quickly. It needs to rest more.

    (And for someone that uses a breadmaker, you may find this happens with highly enriched breads. And Hensperger has a lot of recipes with enrichments. So if you find your dough looks really tough, it may simply need to rest.)

    Fold and stretch takes more time, about 50 minutes on average, but you're working very little of that time. The dough is resting in between. The flavors of the ingredients along with the gluten are developing, so you end up with a more flavorful loaf with a better crust.

    And it's easier.

    If you bake a lot of bread, you've almost certainly come across directions to fold the dough. In times past, bread recipes instructed you to punch down the dough after it had fermented, though now bakers are generally directed to "deflate" the dough. Folding accomplishes the same goals as deflating, but with some added benefits.

    Folding is a technique that's more often used with wetter, or more hydrated, bread doughs, as well as doughs that have been underdeveloped for some reason or other. Doing this procedure does two things: it redistributes air/gasses and evens out temperature, and it aligns/develops the gluten structure. Deflating only accomplishes the redistribution element of folding, but that's really all that's needed for less hydrated doughs. Folding is always used as part of the fermentation stage. Generally, you'll proof the dough for an hour (first rise), fold it, then let it proof (rise) for another hour or so. An under-developed, wet dough can be fermented for many hours with multiple folds.

    Now that's artisan bread.

    Read more:

    Here's a video.
    Here's another great video

    Peter Reinhart's Breadbaker's Apprentice is a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about how bread is made.

    Other than the harsh school master Trial and Error, I've learned the most from him.

    And my timer just went off that says my double oven with  Honey Flaxen Wheat  loaf and my Country Sourdough loaf needs to be checked.... so I'm not going to proofread for typos...

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 04:29:50 PM PDT

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