It has now been close to a year since I got my two sour dough starters going full blast. Mirka and Niedamir have performed admirably helping me produce a varied batch of sourdough loaves. Nowadays I hardly ever eat store bought bread. Each week I make at least two sourdough pan loaves that provide me with my daily bread. Its become a pleasant routine.
It took me a while to come up with the combination that was right for me because there are a lot of factors to consider. Apart from taste, weekly consumption and cost there is the very important - ease of production.
I knew that sourdough, Polish rye would be a staple. I love the taste, it’s like soul food to me. The smell, the tang, the nuttiness of the caraway seeds and the slight hint of bitterness in the chewy crust spark memories of my childhood in Poland. A hearty slice of this bread slapped with a measured scoop of home made smalec, a pinch of salt and a good ale and you have one very happy Polak.
Such strong tasting, dark bread does not go with everything, well, at least that’s what most people think. I knew I wanted to make a lighter sourdough for the rare occasion when I was in the mood for the blander stuff and there is the rest of my household to take into consideration. Even in spite of my efforts, Rachel, my youngest daughter, still prefers the soft flavorless, sliced store bought loaves. To me it’s like sucking on a wet paper towel or drinking lite beer but everybodys gots their own taste buds.
So, two loaves a week — that’s reasonable, manageable and with the staying power of sourdough loaves, quite practical. Now I have to decide on the type of loaf - regular or pan.
I have an ingrained preference for the regular oval loaf. It’s what a loaf of bread is. Pan breads I have always associated with the wimpy industrial stuff. One day, it was late in the evening and I was tired, I didn’t feel like making the usual flour mess and so I gave the pan a try.
Eureka! Tastes just as good with half the fuss. I still make the regular loaf, especially for guests and special occasions, but it’s been the pan for my daily bread.
Technically a bread made with half rye and half wheat flour is a Polish Rye. The basic ingredients are (measurements are approximate - use common sense):
Variety is the spice of life so I make many variations but the rye flour is a constant. Sometimes I’ll replace the wheat flour with spelt or whole wheat. I have used honey or sugar in place of the molasses and I have added whole wheat or barley kernels to give the bread a different, chewy texture. The butter can be replaced with oil or fat and I have had excellent results using smalec. If I have whey handy I will use that instead of water. When you make your own bread you will never be bored.
This is my daily sourdough “white” bread. The basic ingredients are (measurements are approximate - use common sense):
As with the Polish Rye above variety is the spice of life so I make many variations. Sometimes I’ll replace some the wheat flour with spelt or whole wheat or semolina. I often use honey in place of the sugar and I have on occasion added some caraway or sunflower seeds. The olive oil can be replaced with butter for a more Northern European flavor. If I have whey, or even better sweet whey, handy I will sometimes use that instead of water. It’s never boring when you make your own bread.