Ah yes Bread. What a wonderful concoction of ingredients mixed together with love and fire to yield some varying degree of fluffy soft goodness. There is nothing quite like biting into a warm piece fresh out of the oven slathered in butter and honey. Carrots and tomatoes might be healthier but they are no substitute, not even close.
The thing is our experience when traveling to remote places like Cuba (remote in it’s own way), Providencia and the San Blas is that good bread isn’t prevalent or easy to get. Sometimes it’s lack of ingredients (I saw ZERO flour in Cuba for sale) but the reason for lacking in the other places is a mystery. Fear not, when out sailing you are never far from a German flagged vessel and German’s know bread…along with sausage, chocolate and BEER! Sounds like a great place huh?
Since leaving I’ve been perfecting my Sweet White Bread recipe and it’s been hard to cook any other kind because it is oh so tasty. The only problem with it is that it’s a long process, roughly 3 hours from start to finish including mixing, kneading, two rises and the baking. So it’s good but definitely takes effort. Enter Stefan our lovely German friend on SV Sawadi we met here in the Swimming Pool over a love of spearfishing.
One afternoon when Tate and Stefan returned to Sundowner with dinner I treated him with a thick slice of the warm buttered Sweet White Bread that I had been cooking and so our conversations concerning all things bread began. On the boat Stefan is a sourdough kind of man and he explained his process to me. I’ve always been scared of sourdough because it seemed complicated and time consuming with the starters and the multiple days it requires but actually the process of making 2 loaves of sourdough bread requires no kneading and takes less than a quarter of the time my Sweet White Bread takes and last a lot longer, for over a week instead of 3-4 days without getting moldy…
That is if you already have a starter of some sort. Stefan gave me half of his starter to begin with so this recipe will start assuming you already have a starter. Down below I’ll detail the process (also easy with minimal work) for making your own starter. See Wiki for more info on Sourdough Bread and Starters.
The starter is used in place of yeast in the recipe. Once you have one (made or given to you) it stays good for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge and you can also freeze it. I put it in a tiny little jar I saved from some powdered chicken stock and it lives in our Engel. Yes, it lives. It’s like a little pet that only needs to be fed every 2-3 weeks to stay happy and healthy. We make 2 loaves of bread every week or so and the starter is fed during that process. More details below in the recipe.
Sawadi’s Sourdough Bread Recipe
- Starter – maybe 2 tbsp
- Sugar or Molasses – 3 tsp
- Flour (white, rye, any kind really) – roughly 6 cups total
- Water – 1.5 cups
- Salt – 1 tbsp
- Additives – seeds, nuts, dried fruit
- 2 Days – 20 minutes total
Day 1 of 2 ~ 10 minutes
Sourdough is a two day process so start the day before you want bread. This is my starter, affectionately named Stefan. Once a week I pull him out of the fridge and put HALF (2 tbsp) in a large mixing bowl. (You don’t want to use all your starter in case something goes wrong. Think of the starter as a duplicating being, like yeast.)
Next add 3 tsp Sugar or Molasses, mix together. I added half Sugar-half Honey to our recent loaves.
Then add up to 3 cups of Sifted Flour and up to 1.5 cups of Water. You should end up with a liquidity paste consistency. Slowly add Water or Flour until the consistency is reached. Beat in a way that aerates the paste for a couple of minutes.
Cover with cloth and let sit overnight. THAT’S IT.
Check on the mixture later that night for bubbles and other “lively” activity. If you see none mix in another 1-2 tsp of Sugar or Molasses.
Day 2 of 2 ~ 10 minutes
If mixture has bubbled nicely and looks alive mix gently and put 2 tbsp back into your original starter jar. This FEEDS THE STARTER and ensures it will be happy for the next 2-3 weeks.
Additives Step. Next add 1 tbsp Salt and approximately 3 more cups of sifted Flour until the consistency is that of liquid peanut butter. It should be thicker by quite a bit from the Day 1 liquidity paste but not as thick as regular kneaded bread. The mixture should still be able to fall off the spoon, but very very slowly. Add water and flour a LITTLE at a time until this consistency is reached.
Also add seeds, nuts and dried fruits at this step. I poured half the mixture into a greased bread pan and added dried raisans and cranberries to the other half.
Pour or spoon the dough into greased bread or baking pans only HALF FULL. (Don’t overfill or the the dough will spill over the sides when doubling)
Put pans in oven and let sit undisturbed for 3-4 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. If you shake or move the bread too much during the rising it may deflate and not rise again. Our gimballed stove doesn’t seem to effect it.
Once the dough has doubled in size turn the oven on (no preheating required) to 415F for 10 minutes then reduce to 400F for 20 mins before turning the heat off but letting the bread sit in the cooling oven another 15 mins later. This is my propane saving method. His recipe calls for 400F (roughly 200C) for 40 minutes.
Remove from pans and let cool.
Slice and enjoy! This bread has a wonderful springy texture, not too dense with a slight sour taste to it. We LOVE IT! The texture of this bread allows you to cut it thin and pan fry for little crustinis. It’s really nice to be able to bring fresh bread to cruiser get together. There is NEVER any left on the plate.
Sawadi’s Raisin Starter Recipe
There are a number of things you can make a starter from with a similar method. Check online for more details.
Soak 1/4 cup dried raisans in 1 cup water and let sit uncovered and outside for 3-5 days (maybe with a light cloth but the you need the bacteria in the air to get to your mixture). When the liquid becomes “horrible and bubbly” strain the raisins out and save the liquid.
Add 1/2 tsp sugar and flour until you get a watery paste like consistency. The next day add a little more water and flour. That’s your starter. It should be bubbly at some point during this process and “look alive”. Keep this mixture (I keep 4 tbsp) in fridge and use half to make bread recipe detailed above.