I used to make bread all the time. I had a good sourdough starter, but my sourdough bread came out more like a plain white bread. It never worked, so I gave up. Well I’ve discovered I was doing it wrong! I added yeast, but sourdough doesn’t need yeast. I kneaded it and did it exactly like any bread recipe – but sourdough isn’t just any bread.
It’s easier!! Check it all out below – there’s even instructions for making your own starter! It does take a little longer time wise, so you do have to plan ahead. The starter will take 3-4 days. And the rise time is longer than regular bread. Read on and see – you’ll be hooked!
What you need:
- 4 cups unbleached bread flour (King Arthur is a good one)
- ½ cup sourdough starter (I prefer a milk starter – see below)
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 ½ to 1 ¾ luke warm water (do not use cold or hot. It will kill the yeast!)
How to Do it:
In a large, non-metallic bowl, place the first three ingredients. Slowly pour in 1 ½ cups of water and gently stir with a wooden spoon.
If the dough is too stiff, stir in the remaining ¼ cup water. The dough should be sticky.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a warm, dampened dish towel. If you use the towel, check it often to make sure it stays moist. The dough will form too much of a crust otherwise. Allow to rise in a warm place (like on top of the refrigerator) for at least 12 hours, but it usually takes 24.
I start it on Friday morning before work and it’s ready to finish on Saturday morning.
After it has doubled in size, scrape out onto a lightly floured board.
Press gently, fold in half and press again. Do this five or six times, or until the dough is somewhat smooth and elastic. It will not form a perfect ball like regular bread, and you don’t want it to.
After you have folded it, pull the sides together to form a ball. At this point you can put it all back in the ceramic bowl, seam side down, for the second rise – or you can cut it in half for two smaller loaves and place them, seam side down, in two smaller ceramic bowls. The second rise will take 2- 4 hours depending on how warm it is.
About 30 minutes before the rise is finished, place one large, non-metallic pan in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. (Or you can place two smaller non-metallic pans for two loaves). Let the oven and the pans heat completely.
Once the loaves are doubled in size, place them, seam side up, in the hot pans. Cover and bake for – 30 minutes for one large loaf; 20 minutes for two small loaves.
Next, remove the lids and bake until golden brown – about 15 to 20 more minutes for the large loaf or 10 – 15 for the small loaves. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Resist the urge to cut and eat! If you cut too soon you will make the loaf flat and dense. The steam that is inside continues to make the bread fluffy inside.
When it’s cool, slice and enjoy!!
To make your starter, place 1 cup whole milk in a 1 to 2 quart jar or ceramic crock. Cover lightly (I used a coffee filter) and let it set for 24 hours.
Next, add 1 cup of bread flour to the milk and stir well. Cover lightly again and allow to sit for 24 to 48 hours. It will begin to bubble. That means the yeast is alive!! Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
Before you use it, bring it to room temperature and “feed” it with ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup water. Let this sit for 24 hour – then it’s ready for use!
After each use, “feed” it with ½ cup whole milk and ½ cup bread flour. Allow it to sit for 24 hours before covering and returning to the refrigerator.
If you don’t use it at least once a week, bring it out to room temperature. Pour off ¼ to ½ cup and “feed” the starter. Allow it to ferment and bubble for 24 hours, then cover and return to the refrigerator.
The starter is a live culture and will die if not cared for properly. A little bit of grey in the color is completely normal and the sour smell is exactly what you want. Care for it properly and it will last you a lifetime!
Watch for more sourdough goodies to come. I’ll be experimenting with pizza crust – waffles – and more!!
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