Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sour Dough Bread

I'm starting to get more comfortable in my bread making abilities so I decided to try making bread that didn't involve my bread machine.  Sour dough is probably my favorite kind of bread so I knew that I had to make it.  I had no idea how much effort goes into making sour dough.  If you plan on making this, you'll have to give yourself about a week to prep before the dough actually goes in the oven.  It takes a little effort to make and maintain the sourdough starter, but once you finish the bread, the end result is wonderful.  You'll end up making several loafs at a time because this bread will disappear quickly in your household!

Source:  Annie's Eats, starter and sourdough basics from King Arthur Flour, bread from Williams Sonoma

Sour Dough Starter

2 cups warm water
1 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


Pour the water into a 2-quart glass or ceramic jar or bowl. Stir in the sugar or honey to dissolve. Stir in the yeast. Gradually whisk in the flour. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel or dishcloth (not plastic wrap) and place it in a warm area. Let it develop 2-5 days, stirring once a day due to the separation that will occur. When bubbling has subsided and a sour aroma has developed, stir once more and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sour Dough Bread

1½ cups lukewarm water (100˚ F)
4 tsp. active dry or instant yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1 cup sourdough starter
5½-6 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. bread flour mixed with 1 tbsp. yellow cornmeal


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted, whisk together the water, yeast, honey, and sourdough starter just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until slightly increased in bulk and bubbly, about 1 hour.

With the flat beater attached to the mixer and the mixer on low speed, mix in 3 cups of the flour, the butter, eggs and salt. Increase the speed to medium-low and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Add in 2 more cups of the flour and beat for 2 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time, until a very soft dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on low speed, adding a tablespoon of flour if the dough begins to stick, until the dough is smooth and elastic, tacky but not sticky, about 6 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1½-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle generously with the flour-cornmeal mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions and form each into a tight, oval loaf. Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet, several inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with flour and gently rub in. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator, 8-12 hours.

Place a baking stone on the lowest oven rack and preheat the oven to 450˚ F. (If you don't have a baking stone, use an overturned baking sheet.) Using a thin sharp knife, make three slash marks over the top of each loaf. Place the baking sheet on the heated baking stone and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F and continue to bake until the loaves are golden brown, 25-30 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

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