Sorry, the title was suppose to be “Baking Bread in Kathmandu,” but the typo is a lot more catchy.
Each Monday, my boss asks “Did you have a good weekend? What did you do?” Probably because we both came from jobs that occupied our weekend space, the novelty of weekends is still new to us.
My response is usually, “Went to the market, and baked bread.”
That leaves room for lots of other activities such as exploring Kathmandu, or binge watching “A Handmaid’s Tale”.
Bread making is not labor intensive. It does not require a bread machine, lots of kneading, or lots of time. From start to finish it only takes about 14 hours! Most of the time however is waiting around for the little sourdough beasties to do their job.
I’ve written before about making Sourdough bread in California. This is a little bit better guide from Kathmandu.
I use a sourdough starter that originally came from Breadtopia via Amazon.com. For a couple of years now it has been cultivated here, so it may have acquired some characteristics of the locale.
I store the starter in the fridge in a closed Rubbermaid container. Glass in not a good idea if you have the container sealed as it could crack the glass container. The microbes in the dough thrive in the cold. Here’s what it looks like when I open the container:
After stirring the starter it looks more harmless:
My recipe calls for a quarter cup of starter. It is not a chemistry class, to paraphrase Jack Sparrow, a recipe is a “guideline, not a rule.”
I pour the starter into one and a half cups of water.
Today I am making two loaves, so I repeated the process for each cup of water and then stirred the water/sourdough mixture.
Now it is time to feed the starter. For each loaf I am making, I add back to the starter one fourth cup of water and one third cup of flour.
Then mix and seal it back up and store it in the fridge.
Now it is time to mix the bread ingredients.
3 cups of flour.
One half cup of whole wheat flour.
One and a half teaspoons of salt:
One third cup of cracked wheat (bulgar is a-ok):
Then I whisked it all together:
Then I added the starter-water mix to the dry ingredients:
I spooned it together and then got my hands dirty making sure it is all mixed together.
If I have some dry ingredients not joining the rest of the mess, I might add a few drops of water, which I did it this case:
Without too much effort it will look like this:
Then it time to throw them into the garbage (just kidding).
I put the bowls into garbage bags and stored them overnight.
The next morning the dough has doubled in size (It’s a live!) and I spread it out on a floured board:
I then folded the dough and let it rest (covered) for 15 minutes.
While the dough is resting, I got ready the “proofing” basket. This is where it will do a final rise before baking. I used a colander. I sprayed it with vegetable oil and added sesame seeds to it:
I rolled up the bread after it was done resting. I then added more sesame seeds to the outside of the dough:
Then I added it to the proofing basket:
I set a timer for 90 minutes and played a computer game with my brother.
After 90 minutes, I started up the oven and put in our Dutch oven. There is no temperature gauge on the oven, but if it went to 10, I would set it to eleven. It should be hot.
I set the timer for another 30 minutes.
At the end of that time, I dumped (literally) the dough into the Dutch oven. Covered the pot and put it back into the oven. The heat of the oven caused the dough to rise again.
After 30 minutes, it is time to remove the lid and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes, it was time to dump the bread onto the cooling rack:
Time to Eat!
1/4 cup of sourdough starter added to 1 and half cups of water
3 cups of unbleached bread flour
half a cup of whole wheat bread flour.
a third cup of cracked wheat
1 and half teaspoons of salt
Mix the water and starter together.
Then mix the dry ingredients
Then mix the wet and dry ingredients together. The mixture should be damp. Add water or flour as needed.