Bread might be one of the more perfect foods, managing to feel essential and indulgent all at once. It survives trends and never loses its footing as a staple in your kitchen. Fresh baked, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, bread can only get better when paired with a compound butter. This holiday, make bread center stage in your meal offerings by baking fresh loaves and serving them with seasonally flavored compound butters before the meal, when the textures and flavors won't get lost on the side. Not hosting at your place? Fresh baked bread and compound butter makes the perfect hostess gift.
Here's a recipe for sourdough bread paired with orange cranberry compound butter.
Before you make sourdough bread, you'll need to make sourdough starter, which takes the place of yeast and can be used again and again for future recipes.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
Preparation: With a wooden spoon, stir dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and gradually add lukewarm water. Stir until mixture resembles a smooth paste. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and set in a warm place to sour. Stir mixture several times a day. In 2-3 days sourdough will be ready. Store in a heavy plastic container, with a hole punched in lid to allow gases to escape.
Tips: Sourdough should be mixed in glass, stoneware or plastic -- metal bowls can change the flavor and reduce the purity. Sourdough may double in volume before and during baking, so choose your vessels accordingly.
You'll need sourdough starter for this recipe
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lukewarm water (use potato water at least every other time)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 cups all-purpose flour
Preparation: Place the sourdough starter in a large, non-metal bowl. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup lukewarm water and mix well. Cover with a clean cloth and let stand out overnight. Next day (or 8 hours later), place half of the starter in a covered plastic container and place in the refrigerator for next time. Add to the remaining portion 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup oil, 3 teaspoons salt, 1 and 1/2 cup lukewarm water, and 5 cups of the flour. Turn out onto floured surface to knead. Add a 6th cup of flour to dough as you knead it. Knead until spongy. Put into a greased non-metal bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise 4-8 hours. Work down raised dough. Divide into two loaves and put into greased loaf pans. Cover with cloth and let rise again 4-8 hours. Bake in cool over at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Wait at least 24 hours before using the starter again.
Recipe Alternative: When you divide the dough into two loaves, roll each loaf out to an oval shape. Spread with 1/4 cup softened butter. Sprinkle with generous portion of cinnamon sugar (5 parts sugar to 2 part cinnamon). Roll up jellyroll fashion and tuck ends under. Place in loaf pan, let rise, and bake one hour at 300 degrees. May also add nuts and raisins when adding the cinnamon sugar.
ORANGE CRANBERRY BUTTER
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), salted, softened
1 cup sweet orange marmalade
1/2 cup chopped sundried cranberries
Preparation: Combine orange marmalade and sundried cranberries in microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute; stir and set aside to cool. Once cooled, add softened butter to orange-cranberry mixture; stir until well combined.