Wild Rice Sourdough Bread

I obtained a really tasty 4-year-old sourdough starter from a friend a year ago that has been festering and bubbling on and off in a 1/2 gallon jar stored in the door of my refrigerator. In honor of it’s 1 year anniversary in my house and it’s 5th birthday (give or take a few months, since all I really know is that it was started in 2014) I decided to sacrifice some of my precious hand harvested wild rice and make a couple loaves of wild rice sourdough bread with it.

The key to this delicious, nutty treat is using more water than what is called for when boiling the rice so that when the rice is done the amount of leftover liquid is equal to what is called for in the bread recipe. I believe that the rice starches in the liquid add a lot to the fermentation process of this bread and help to create a nice moist crumb in the finished product.

Here is my recipe for Wild Rice Sourdough Bread. It has all the goodness of sourdough bread (see my blog about sourdough here) and the health benefits of the dozen or so vitamins and minerals of the wild rice. This recipe uses real hand harvested wild rice, not the cheaper, less nutritious, cultivated hard-shelled paddy rice (you get what you pay for- the real wild rice is about $10/lb.). And, real wild rice cooks about three times faster than the paddy rice.

Begin by placing 1 cup of starter in a large bowl and add 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water. Mix and let sit on counter for an hour or so. It should be bubbly by the time you move on to the next step.

Rinse 3/4 cup dry wild rice in cool water, drain. Place rice in saucepan with 4 cups water and 2 tsp salt. Bring to boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to about 100 degrees. There should be about a cup of liquid remaining in the pan.

Add rice/water mixture to the bowl of starter and mix until combined. Stir in 2 Tbsp olive oil, then mix in 4-5 cups of flour, a cup at a time. I used 3 cups white bread flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour for extra nuttiness. I generally begin mixing with a wooden spoon and then switch to my hands as soon as the dough is dry enough to handle. Continue adding flour until it is still slightly sticky but pliable enough to knead and doesn’t stick to your hands. Knead for a few minutes until the dough feels pliable and elastic.

Turn the ball of kneaded dough into an oiled rising bowl or bucket, cover and allow to rise until more than doubled. This can take anywhere from 4-10 hours, depending on the activeness of your starter (thankfully my starter is still really active, even though I neglect it far too much!)

Divide the risen dough in half and form two loaves. Place loaves in greased pans (I use a cooking spray if I have it, or crisco shortening, or butter, even bacon grease will do the trick if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian) and cover with a floured towel or plastic bags or whatever you generally use. Allow loaves to rise above edge of loaf pan, this should take a couple to a few hours, depending upon rising conditions.

Score tops of loaves and place in 375 degree oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until temperature inside loaf reaches 190 degrees. Turn loaves out of pans onto cooling rack. Allow to cool for at least 1/2 hour before slicing. Enjoy!

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