The great American baker Peter Reinhart published his first book about bread in 1991. The book was called Brother Juniper’s Bread Book and its recipe for Wild Rice and Onion Bread, which we’ve baked using yeast for almost 20 years, was the inspiration for this sourdough bread. As Peter Reinhart suggested, it makes terrific turkey stuffing.
Makes two braided loaves. Braided, because I like to tear off pieces of bread, split them roughly, and toast them. The uneven toasty surfaces are one of the great joys of bread, especially with cultured Irish butter. And the aroma and flavor of wild rice and onion are heavenly.
I wish this bread weren’t so flat, though. Even when risen couche-style it does not rise into a nice rounded top. Using six strands for the braiding does help although it takes practice to get a nice even-stranded look.
Or you certainly could make two plain loaves in loaf pans, and for turkey stuffing that is the way to go.
3 cups of sourdough starter
4 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups cooked Lundberg Wild Blend rice
1 cup buttermilk or whey
How to get 3 cups of sourdough starter
The night before you want to make the bread, feed your starter. Take the sourdough starter jar (mine contains 12 ounces of starter) out of the refrigerator. Remove 8 ounces of starter and put into a large bowl. Add 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water to the starter remaining in the jar. Mix well. Leave the jar out overnight.
To the 8 ounces of starter in the large bowl, add 8 ounces of flour and 8 ounces of water. Mix well. Cover the large bowl containing this starter and leave it out overnight.
By the time you are ready to make the bread 8 to 12 hours later, both the starter in the jar and the starter in the large bowl will be bubbly and growing.
Remove 8 ounces of starter from the jar and add to your stand mixer bowl. Feed the starter again with 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water. Replace starter jar in the fridge.
Add all the starter in the large bowl to the stand mixer bowl. The stand mixer bowl now holds about 3 cups of sourdough starter containing 12 ounces of white flour (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups) and 12 ounces of water.
Mixing and Kneading
Add the rest of the ingredients to the stand mixer bowl. Only add 1 cup of white flour. Mix on low speed. Add flour as needed. Knead for 10-12 minutes.
Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with damp towel or plastic wrap. Put in a warm spot or leave it at room temperature. Depending on the temperature, allow between 1 ½ hours to 3 hours for the dough to rise. It may not double as yeast bread does, but it should increase in size significantly. Sourdough sometimes rises quite slowly, so allow more time if needed.
Using more white flour as needed, divide the dough into two parts. Now divide each part into 3 parts and make 14-inch ropes. Braid these together on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap again and let the bread rise between 1 and 2 hours. Again, your bread may need more time. It may never double in size as yeast bread will.
Before baking, make an egg wash by beating together 1 egg, 1 tablespoon water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Brush the braids with the egg wash for a lovely shiny golden appearance. Bake the braids at 350°F. for about 40 minutes.