My starter is doing quite well, but with my frugal upbringing, it pains me to daily throw half of it away. I hit upon the brilliant idea of using the throw away for making one of my favorite bread machine breads. It's one of the few whole grain bread machine breads that doesn't bake into a brick. I used to make it frequently, but I had hit or miss success with it. One time it would be perfect, the next time a wet lump, the next time a dry dough ball.
When I pulled the recipe out to try it again, I was amazed that gremlins had been at my recipe book. There was a whole paragraph there that I swear had never been there before. It involved making a "sponge" the night before. Wow, reading that paragraph really made a difference to the consistency of my bread!
If you already have a sourdough starter going, then you can jump right into this bread. Or if you'd like to start one following Mary's instructions, you're sixteen days away from having delicious, homemade, sourdough, whole-wheat bread. What are you waiting for?
Sourdough Whole-Wheat Bread
adapted from The Bread Machine Book
(Directions are for a 1-1/2 lb loaf)
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup bread flour
2 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp cracked wheat
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp butter
1-1/2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp dried milk
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2-1/4 tsp yeast
The night before making the bread, mix the sponge ingredients in a small bowl. Cover loosely and put in a warm place for at least 6 hours.
In the morning, at least 20 minutes before starting the bread, put the cracked wheat in a small saucepan. Cover it with water. Bring it to a boil, then boil for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan. If there is any water unabsorbed at this point, drain it off, then set the pan aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
Stir down the sponge and put it in the bread machine pan with the remainder of the water. Add cooled wheat and remaining ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine instructions. Set for dough.
When the cycle has ended, remove dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a rectangle, about 9 x 12 inches, and roll it up into a loaf shape. Pinch edges to seal and place in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. (The greasing really does matter. I discovered this once when I forgot it. Chiseling bread out of the pan does not make a pretty loaf!)
Let the dough rise in the pan 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F and bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes.
When it's done, remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a rack (for as long as you can resist the temptation to saw off a big piece and slather it with butter).