Who doesn’t love fresh baked bread? When talking about makes a stew, soup, or chili, nothing is better than a thick slice of homemade bread to get every last drop of goodness out of the bowl.
For an over-the-top experience, make it homemade sourdough bread and you’ve got a dictionary definition of home cooking.
The big downside to homemade sourdough bread, well authentic sourdough bread, is the need for a starter, which which is a symbiotic culture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus) growing in a water and flour medium. Every so often (weekly is recommended) you need to take/use some of the starter, and add more flour/water to “feed” the starter. The longer the starter is kept, the more flavorful the starter becomes.
Last time I was at the King Arthur Flour store in Vermont, I picked up a small amount of their sour dough starter (found here), along with their stoneware crock (found here). The KAF starter is descended from a starter that’s been feed/used since the 1700s!
Figure since I was using their sourdough starter, their stoneware crock to keep it in, and since their also a flour company, that I might as well complete the triangle and use their recipe.
I found this recipe easier to make than typical yeast-style bread, and while it doesn’t rise as much as a yeast-style loaf of bread, the flavor is much more intense.
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110°)
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
5 cups flour
- Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough.
- Allow the dough to rise, in a covered bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
- Gently divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat.
- Gently shape the dough into two oval loaves; or, for longer loaves, two 10″ to 11″ logs. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°.
- Spray the loaves with lukewarm water.
- Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here.
- Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.
- I noticed no difference between a loaf that was sprayed with water and one that wasn’t. The theory is that the water will give the crust more “chew”. Maybe it was just me, but I tried it the first 3 times I made this, then forgot the 4th time, and the 5th time, I sprayed one loaf and not the other. Couldn’t tell the difference.
- The slashes in the bread are for looks only, so if you forget them, don’t worry, the bread will still taste the same.
- As much as I hate to cut & paste recipes, this is a bread recipe, so there isn’t much wiggle room.