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Bread with starter (kovász)
Bread with starter (kovász)

Old-fashioned baking oven in Cézár pince, Sopron
5 cups flour
2 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups warm water
1 ¼ cups starter
1 Tbsp butter to grease bowl

In a large bowl mix flour and salt. Make a hole in the middle and add starter and water.  Mix well until it holds together.  Place it on a board and knead dough until it is very smooth.

Grease bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Roll it around so all sides will be greasy.  Cover and let it rise for 90 minutes in a warm place.

Line baking pans with parchment paper.

After dough is risen, divide it into two and shape it into loaves. Place loaves on baking pans, cover and let rise for 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Before putting it in the oven, slash top of loaves with a sharp knife to let steam escape.  You may wash the flour off the top, or brush it with a mix of water and corn starch.

Place it in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes. Cool on rack.

Please note: you may also add yeast. In that case, decrease starter to 1 cup.  Mix 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp flour and 2 tsp yeast. Add it to a ¼ cup of warm milk and let yeast rise.  

Making a starter (kovász)

Making  a starter takes time and patience.  Once it is done, you can even pass it on to friends and from children to children.

1/3 cup of rye flour
1/3 cup of bread flour
2/3 cup of warm water

Day 1:
Mix these until smooth.
Put it in a 2-cup size of jar with a lid.
Keep it in a cabinet with door closed.  It is important to have it at a constant temperature, about 75 degrees F. Leave it undisturbed for 25 hours.

Day 2:  By the afternoon it should have small bubbles.  Mix it with a spatula and close the lid.  Put it back into the cabinet.

Day 3: The bubbles are much larger now. Remove half of the mixture and put it in another clean jar. Add the same amount of flour and water as you started with.  Put a lid back on, but loosely, to let the gases out.  What is left in the original jar can be disposed of or used for making bread.  This starter works, but it is sweet, not sour yet.  It also needs 1 tsp yeast to make the bread.

Day 4: Same as day 3.

Day 5: This day the starter needs two feedings, noon time and evening. Remove half and place it in a clean jar. Add 1/3 cup of rye flour, 1/3 cup of bread flour, and 2/3 cup of slightly warm water. Discard what is left in the jar (or it can be used, but it still needs yeast too.)

Day 6: Same as day 5, two feedings, only the first one is in the morning.

Day 7: Morning feeding is the same as day 6. The evening feeding is as follows: place the starter in a much larger jar (double the previous one).  Add 1 cup of rye flour, 1 cup of bread flour and 2 cups of warm water.  Mix with a spatula, loosely put the lid on and put it in the cabinet. 

Day 8: The starter is ready! Take out as much as you need for your recipe, cover and put the rest in the refrigerator.

The starter still needs attention. The day before you plan to bake bread, take it out of the refrigerator and feed it.  Add ½ cup warm water and 1/2 cup flour. Mix it well, cover loosely. Leave it out on the counter. Next day, use as much as the bread recipe calls for.  Put the rest in the refrigerator.

If you have more than you need, discard or share it with a friend.






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