Classic Sourdough Bread
Like all sourdough recipes, the longer you let it rise with each step of the process, the more flavor you will get in the final loaf. You also have to give it more rising time than when you make bread with domestic yeast simply because most of the wild yeasts simply aren't as productive as their domestic cousins.
- Stand mixer (optional)
- Baking stone (optional)
- Baker's peel (optional)
- Roasting pan (optional)
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups warm unchlorinated water
- 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- cornmeal for baker's peel
- 1 tray ice cubes
Cover the bowl and let the sponge work for anywhere from 2 to 24 hours in a warm location. The longer you let it work, the stronger the sourdough taste in the final bread. Letting the sponge rise longer will also give you more yeast for later rises.
Making the dough: Mix 2 cups of flour with the salt and sugar in a separate bowl. With your mixer on low, slowly work this into the sponge.
Switch to your dough hook and start kneading the dough for 5 minutes. Keep adding flour a little bit at a time while kneading to make a good stiff dough. Give the dough a few minutes to relax, then knead for another 5 minutes.
Second rise: Spray your bowl with oil, and roll the dough ball around in it to coat the whole thing. Cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place for at least 2 to 4 hours. Again with sourdough the longer the rise, the better the flavor.
Shaping: Knock down the dough, and form into 2 long french bread type loaves. Spread out a little bit of cornmeal on your peel, and move your loaves to the peel. Wiggle the peel around a little to make sure that the loaves aren't sticking. Cover with a damp cloth and lit it rise for another 2 hours.
Baking: About 15 minutes before the loaves are done rising, put your pizza stone on one rack in your oven and the roasting pan on another. Preheat your oven to 450.
Lightly brush the top of the loaves with cold water, and then slash the tops every couple of inches with a serrated knife.
Just before you put the bread on the stone, dump the ice into the roasting pan. This will help provide you with the even steam that will help the bread develop the chewy crust.
Slide the bread off the peel onto the stone and cook for about 25 minutes.