Sourdough Bread

After many failed loaves which ranged from thick and chewy to completely inedible, I finally made good sourdough bread.  I was beyond excited – just ask my sister.  I may or may not have danced around the kitchen and eaten approximately half of the smaller loaf.

There’s just nothing like fresh-out-of-the-oven bread.

You can make some, too!  All you need is a sourdough starter and a few very simple ingredients.

First, gather your ingredients

  • 1 cup sourdough starter*
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour**
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
and your supplies
  • big glass or stoneware bowl
  • wooden or plastic spoon
  • measuring cups
  • kitchen-aid mixer (handy, but not necessary)
  • dishes to bake bread in – this is one of the biggest differences i’ve found between successful and unsuccessful loaves.  This time, I used (and loved) round glass casserole dishes with lids.  I did not have good success with metal pans – they are too thin and the crust gets way too dark. It’s important to have a bread pan with a lid, too. More on that later.
Stir together the cup of sourdough starter with two cups of the room-temperature water.   Stir in the yeast, the white four, and one cup of the white whole wheat flour.  Mix until smooth.  Stir in the remaining cup of water and the salt.  Stir in the rest of the white whole wheat and the whole wheat flour.  Time to knead – I used my sister’s Kitchen Aid with the dough hook.  This is a very sticky dough, so the dough hook works very well.  If you do knead by hand, I’d recommend kneading inside the bowl, since the dough is sticky and floppy and would take over the counter like on    Knead (whether by dough hook or by hand) until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 8 to 10 hours.  Make sure it rests in a fairly warm, draft-free place.  The dough will rise up and look puffy and a little bubbly.  After it has doubled in size, “punch down” the dough by reaching clean, well-floured hands into the bowl and turning it over.  Cover again and let rest for another 2-4 hours.   The amount of time depends on how warm your kitchen is… a warmer kitchen will mean that the dough will rise more quickly.  The dough will rise up again to about double its height.  While it’s rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare your pans for baking.  The type of pan you use is very important.  Like I said before, I’ve never had much success with metal pans.  I’ve started using round stoneware/Corningware-type pans with glass lids.  Lids are important, too!  You need to cover the loaf so that it creates a mini steam oven to cook the bread.  The covers keep the top of the loaf from browning too quickly and getting too tough.  I divide this sourdough recipe between two round Corningware pans – be sure to grease them – and bake for 45 minutes.  If you don’t think the top of the loaf is browning enough, remove the lids for the last 15 minutes.  After 45 minutes, take the bread out and tip it onto cooling racks.  If you’re me, you immediately slice into a loaf, butter a piece of bread, eat, and repeat….  : )
*The best way to acquire a sourdough starter is to find a friend who wants to share.  That’s how I got mine.  There are recipes and instructions for starting your own, but I haven’t tried it yet.
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