Old bread- bread
A few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal had an article in the weekend section about an old German bread making method where you use cut up stale bread as the starter for new bread. I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.
Actually, I have done this a few times, with differing results. That is, sometimes the yeast in the bread blooms and is enough to make a dough rise with no additional yeast and sometimes you need to cheat and add a bit of yeast. Today I needed to cheat.
Basically, this is what you do. Find a few lumps of state bread in your fridge.
Cut the bread up.
Put in a bowl and cover with water. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the bowl as well and a tablespoon of flour and then go away for a while.
The last time I had done this it was pretty clear that the yeast in the bread had become reactivated. This time, I wasn't that sure so I added about a 1/4 tsp of yeast, a tablespoon of salt, a glugg of olive oil and then began mixing in flour until it was a kneadable dough and kneaded it for a few minutes.
If it weren't so hot out, I would have left the dough to rise on the counter, but I had errands to do out of the house and was afraid that the lump of dough would go wild in my absence and would take over the kitchen, so I popped the towel covered bowl in the fridge and let the dough rise slowly instead.
I came home after my time out, and added a bit more flour to the dough and formed it into two loaves and baked.
The old bread- bread has a really nice crumb structure. It feels like a special bread in your mouth.
As I type this post I remembered that last time I let the stale bread soak over night in the fridge in the sweetened water before forming it into dough. One of the best things about bread baking is that it is just so forgiving. Frankly, I think this is a better use of old bread than bread pudding.