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Sep 24, 2012

Basic Sourdough Bread

About two and a half years ago - on a whim - I ordered a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. I can't even remember why. I hadn't baked bread since junior high school home ec.

The first few loaves I made tasted great, but they were kind of flat and pale. It took me a couple of attempts before I was able to achieve the "look" I wanted. Once I started baking the bread in a pot, I loved the results.

This recipe is great for beginners. It doesn't require a long rise (the flavor will be very mild) and the recipe also incorporates instant yeast and a bit of sugar.

While I like to make one large loaf from the recipe, it was originally written for two one pound loaves.

Basic Sourdough Bread

adapted from King Arthur Flour

8 ounces (1 cup) of fed sourdough starter. You can even create your own. Here is one method
1 1/2 C lukewarm water (about 95 to 105 degrees F)
2 t. instant yeast
1 T sugar
2 1/2 t. salt.
21 1/4 ounces (5 cups) unbleached all purpose flour

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until the ingredients come together into a shaggy ball. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper. 
Knead for about seven minutes on low/medium low speed. You can also knead by hand.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.

Prepare a brotform or a smooth towel lined bowl with spray oil and rice flour. You can use regular flour, but I like rice flour because it is like Teflon. For the loaf above, I used a plastic dough rising bowl. You can also allow your loaf to rise seam side down on parchment paper supported by a pie pan or skillet. 

Gently remove the dough from the bowl/bucket, and form it into a large boule by pulling the dough from underneath with a scraper and bringing the stretched dough to the top. Do this on all four "sides." What you are trying to do is create tension on the bottom - which eventually will be the top of your loaf. This is to prevent the loaf from flattening out while rising and baking. If you create good surface tension, your loaf will be more rounded.  Here is another method for creating tension on the surface of the dough. It's basically the same thing. It's just that my method is upside down. Must be because I am left handed. 

Place your dough into your prepared brotform/bowl, seam side up. If you are using the parchment method, place the boule seam side down. Spray the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until puffy, about an hour.

While your dough is rising, place a Dutch cooker in the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees F. 

When the dough is ready, remove the pan from the oven and carefully lower the loaf into the hot pan. If you are using a brotform, you can place a large piece of parchment over it. Flip it over, and then lower the dough, parchment and all, into the pan. I use this combo cooker with the fry pan on the bottom, or a tagine because the bottom parts are shallow... less opportunity to burn my knuckles. 

Just be very, very careful. These pans are hot!

Slash your loaf, cover the pan, and place it in the oven. After 25 minutes, remove the cover and continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the bread registers 190 to 200 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Baking times will vary depending on the cooking vessel you use. 

Carefully remove the loaf from the hot pan and cool completely on a wire rack. 

This bread makes wonderful grilled cheese....  

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

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