I decided to stop Experiment #1 early, and baked the bread after about 4 hours of soaking. Here's why:
- The question I wanted to answer was: Will the yeast stay dry? After 4 hours there wasn't any sign that the dry flour the yeast was sitting in had gotten even the slightest bit moistened. I decided it was safe to stop the counter-top experiment and try a timed-in-the-bread-machine experiment instead; I no longer worried that the yeast would get wet and explode the dough all over the inside of my bread machine.
- I was concerned that the dough was drying out too much. So I thought, "If I bake the bread now, I can check it during the knead cycle and add back enough water to rehydrate it. Then I'll know about how much water to add to my recipe next time."
- I mixed soured milk, all but 2 Tbsp of the whole wheat flour, and coconut oil in the bread machine as "quick bread," the only setting that begins the MIX cycle immediately. Then I turned off the machine before it could start the BAKE cycle.
- I mixed sugar, salt, 2 Tbsp white flour, and gluten powder in a small bowl. This was about 1/3 cup dry ingredients.
- I covered the wet mixture with the dry ingredients, leaving an extra heap on the very top.
- I dug a little well in the dry ingredients and added the yeast to that.
- I set the machine's timer to complete the bread 12 hours later (allowing for 8 hours soaking).