I’m writing to you from the Catskills New York where I am on vacation from Hawaii and spending a few days hanging at my momma’s house with Grandpa Abe Piasek. Of course, without a warning this morning, Grandpa began making sourdough bread.
I was able to squeeze this recipe out of him while he effortlessly mixed the ingredients together, shaped the bread and left it to rise. He truly makes it seem so EASY. It’s scary that many of people believe it is too hard or too much work to make your own bread.
This sourdough recipe is as exact as I could get from a 88 year old man who has been baking his whole life. Grandpa truly has the practice of just knowing when enough flour, water, yeast, rising, and baking is truly enough. I literally have to pry measurements out of him at times.
Notes about the Sourdough Starter Technique in this Recipe
As I am editing this recipe 6 years later, I am finally beginning my sourdough starter journey. I’ll admit, I am not an expert, but a novice. Eager to understand the science, creativity, and intuition behind sourdough bread. My grandpa made this bread with dried sourdough starter, which he reconstituted along with the rest of the ingredients. This technique doesn’t seem commonly used by the home baker, but instead a bakery business hack.
When we were making this recipe Grandpa said, “You can use dried starter or make your own it’s easy (a little water, flour, and a little yeast – it becomes a thick soup until it doubles, add more flour and water until it doubles again ). He continued to say that “the very best thing is to make your own starts – if you are in a commercial bakery it is hard to have the time but if you are at home there is plenty of time. It’s a 3 day procedure”.
Whenever Grandpa traveled from North Carolina or Florida to see us, he would pack a suitcase full of baking supplies and already baked goods. So I guess, he knew he’d want to make sourdough with us and brought his commercial dried starter. So for my use, I researched the internet for conversions from dried sourdough starter to a freshly made starter. But most recipes call for a reconstitution time instead of adding it directly to the recipe. So instead, I treated the dried starter just like dry yeast, and found a conversion rate from there.
A quick rule to adapt recipes to sourdough is: Substitute 1 cup of starter for each package of yeast, and then subtract about 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour from the recipe to compensate for the water and flour in the starter. … Sourdough needs more rising time than quick yeast.https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/convert-recipes-to-sourdough-aw043/
In his recipe, it calls for 1 – 1.5 ounces dried starter. A packet of dried yeast is 1/4 ounce. So I used 4 cups of freshly fed and fermented starter. And then of course his recipe ALSO calls for yeast. So I also added the expressed amount of yeast in addition to the starter. In comparison to other recipes using similar amounts of flour, this amount of yeast almost seemed like overkill but who am I to argue with Grandpa’s mastery. The bread definitely rose quickly and proofed quickly as well.
Notes about wet yeast versus instant dry yeast
WHENEVER we made bread grandpa always used wet yeast. He traveled with blocks of it. And whenever he talked to me about replacements, he’d always try to insist that I get wet yeast. “Just go to a bakery and ask them”. I remember upon returning to Honolulu after a visit with Grandpa, I called around to every bakery I could find with absolutely no luck! I tried Grandpa!
Of course a quick search on the internet and I’m finally finding some retailers, although it looks like they are TAXED!
Wet yeast is said to improve the taste, texture and digestibility of bread over dried yeast. Luckily Grandpa always gave me a conversion for dry yeast.
Grandpa Abe Piasek’s Express Sourdough Recipe
- Other other mixer with dough hook attachment
- Or knowledge of mixing dough and kneading by hand
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheets
- 1 – 1 ½ ounces dried sourdough starter (granular)
- about 2 ½ pounds about 2 and 1/2 pounds of flour 5-6 cups flour total)
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus more for oiling bowls
- 2-3 cups filtered water
- ½ ounce wet yeast 1 ½– 2 ounces dry yeast
- Add oil/shortening, starter, and wet yeast in kitchen aid type mixer with dough hook and mix
- Add about 5 cups of the flour
- Turn on the lowest setting and slowly add water (2 1/2 to 3 cups) until dough comes together around hook and starts to become elastic
- Continue to knead with dough hook, monitor and and add a little more flour as needed (up 1 one more cup). The dough should start looking smooth and elastic – about 10 minutes on slow. Add a little oil to bottom of the bowl to keep it from sticking.
- Transfer it to an oiled bowl and let it rise for about 30 minutes until doubled in size.
- Divide into 2-4 equal parts, shape into balls, knead/roll each part of dough lightly in circles until it forms a ball (for round loafs)
- Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and cover with (clean) kitchen towels. Let rise again for another 30 minutes or so in a warm spot.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. If you want you can beat an egg and give it a light egg wash before baking
- Baking time (at 400 degree F) is typically 30-40 minutes but it depends on loaf size, preferences for soft versus crisp bread and individual oven variation.E
- Enjoy fresh and warm preferably with Grandpa.
Katie’s Tropical Kitchen Express Rise Sourdough Recipe
- 4 cups sourdough starter
- 3 – 3 ¼ cups flour plus more for dusting
- 1/2-1 cup water
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ounces instant dry yeast
- Mix 4 cups of the starter, yeast, and oil in mixer with mixer attachment
- Add 3 cups of flour and 1/2 cup water and mix until dough starts to come together.
- Change mixer attachment for dough hook.
- Add more flour or water a little bit at a time until dough comes together around dough hook and starts to lift from bottom of the bowl.
- Knead for 10 minutes on low. Pushing the dough back down the dough hook as needed.
- Move dough to an oiled glass or ceramic bowl and cover with clean dish towel in a warm spot free from drafts. Let rise for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check the dough, it should have doubled in size, when you poke gently with your finger, the dough will spring back gradual. (if it is under-risen – it will spring back at once, and if it is over risen it will make an indent that does not spring back).
- Punch down the dough and divide into 2 pieces. Place pieces on flour surface and "chafe" into a round ball and let it rest for 5 minutes before you shape.
- Shape your dough into any type loaf you would like and place on parchment paper on cookies sheet and let proof for 30 minutes until doubled in size. Test it again to see if it springs back gradually.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. For better crust, create steam in the oven by placing an oven pan with ice cubes in it while it preheats and in the first 10 minutes of baking. Then remove by the time the ice cubes melt.
- Before placing in oven, make slashes with a sharp knife, blade or scissors, and give it a egg wash, milk wash or water wash.
- Bake for a total of about 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown. When tapped underneath the bread should sound hollow.