So, I did what I said I would. I tried to use the the Amish starter instead of yeast. Well, it kind of worked...
Just to add more factor to this already complicated experiment, I decided to make a bread with one third whole wheat, one third buckwheat, and one third all-purpose flour. I used the Amish starter in place of the yeast-milk-flour mixture I made in the first bread (which I will now refer to as the egg bread). For the egg bread, Laurence made me wait 20 minutes for the mixture to rise, but I figured that since the Amish starter had been lying around in a plastic bag for 12 days, I didn't need to wait as long. I just dumped the contents of one bag into my bowl and let it bubble for 10 minutes. When I came back, there weren't many bubbles, but there were some, so I just went on with the bread.
I wanted this bread to be a sort of rustic bread, meaning no eggs or butter. I just mixed flour w/ starter and water. Then I left it to rise for an hour and a half in a bowl with some olive oil while I did my math and biology homework. When the timer called me back to the kitchen, I peeked underneath the towel used to cover the bowl, and I was surprised to see that the dough had barely risen! I raided the pantry searching for a solution, and surprise! A half-empty packet of instant yeast was lying inside! I immediately made a mixture like Laurence had shown me and let it rise for half an hour. Then I incorporated it to 2/3 of the dough, leaving 1/3 with only the original starter as a test. I kneaded the dough one more time and then shaped it into 3 loaves; one of them had the Amish starter as its only source of yeast. I let them rise for another 2 hours.
My dad was curious to know if a loaf of uncooked bread dough could be left in a oven overnight with the oven programmed to cook the bread in the morning. If this worked, we could have hot bread in the morning! So, I only cooked the loaf without extra yeast and one of the other loaves that night, and I left the other one on the side. I cooked them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The bread turned out good, but on the dense side. There was little noticeable difference between the two two loaves cooked at the same time. The one without the extra yeast was slightly denser, but both were good. The loaf that was left in the other oven overnight, however, turned out quite different. This one had much larger bubbles (see photos), but it was flat and harder than the other two. I think this is because it had more time to rise, but then flattened out when the yeast stopped eating. The loaf was probably drier because it stayed in the hot oven half an hour after it stopped cooking. The oven was programmed to finish cooking at 7:30, but my mom got out of bed at 8:00 (I slept in until 8:30).
A cause for this bread being denser than the egg bread might be the fact that buckwheat flour is gluten free. Gluten is a long protein that can stretch and curl up when kneaded. This creates a sort of web that traps air bubbles, meaning that less gluten will trap less air and have less structure. In fact, this is why bread flour has more gluten than cake flour. Since a third of my flour was gluten-free, I guess it's normal that my bread was denser.
All in all, the bread was good, but my dad still thinks it could have used more salt. The buckwheat flavor was pronounced and went well with cheese. My dad says it reminded him of savory crèpes (also made with buckwheat), and my mom compares it to heavy German bread.
I guess I'll give you the recipe, but I think there are probably better buckwheat bread recipes out there. I made this bread without a recipe. I replaced the Amish starter by a package of yeast in the recipe below.
- 1 cup All-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 package rapid rise yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt (I used about 1 tbsp, but apparently that was not enough)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- lukewarm water (about 1 cup, but this stuff isn't exact)
- Heat the milk with sugar until it is just slightly warm to the touch.
- Pour in the yeast and stir. Let it rise for 20-30 minutes until it is bubbly.
- Put the yeast and the flours together with the water and salt in a large bowl and combine everything with your hands to create a smooth dough, adding more water or flour as necessary. It is better to be a bit wetter than dry.
- Knead as described below for 5-10 minutes (I'm not really sure, I didn't time myself)
- Put the oil into the bowl and place the dough back inside. Let it rise covered by a kitchen towel for 1 hour and a half, or until it doubles in size.
- Knead it again, shape it into one or two loaves, and place it on your baking pan. Let it rise covered for another 2 hours.
- Heat the oven to 350 and bake for around 30 minutes.
- Let cool and enjoy! (I'm not sure if this recipe will work, I put it together myself, and only made it once)
I tried to upload a video of me kneading, but it didn't work :( I guess I'll try to explain using words. You use the base of your palm and your wrist to flatten and stretch the dough way from you. Then you roll it back up into a log and squish it again. You keep doing this for 5-10 minutes. In general, Laurence told me to knead until I saw many little bubbles in the dough.
Of course, if you have a Standing Mixer with a dough hook, use that. I think that if using a mixer, then you have to knead for a shorter amount of time.