Sunday, January 25

Perfect Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is great buttered, toasted, served with dinner or used for sandwiches. 
In my opinion bread making is an art. 
There is a special pleasure working with bread and just the aroma of baking bread throughout the house is well worth the effort.

I grew up eating my mother’s homemade bread.  We would beg and beg her to make it and it was always eaten hot from the oven covered with butter.  
My mother never looked at a recipe to make her bread, she just mixed it up and it was perfect. Every time. Sigh.

I can not just whip up a loaf of bread, I always have the recipe right next to me and I have been practicing for years.  In the pass, I’ve had as many bread failures as successes I think, but I kept at it. 

Using a sourdough starter is an ancient method to make leavened bread.

The starter consists of small amounts of basic bread ingredients such as flour, water or milk. The mixture is left out to attract wild yeasts from the air. The yeasts feed on the starch in the flour, resulting in the fermentation and souring of the mixture. The older the sourdough starter the better the flavor, in my opinion.

Sourdough Starter

Most good bread dough recipes call for two risings.  Although rising times are given on most recipes, it is good to know that the times stated are not precise.  How long the rising may take will depend on many factors such as temperature of the room, the amount of yeast used and even the weather.

Also, I say this for many of my recipes, but it needs repeating: the better the ingredients the better the end product.  Use the products and brands you like but know there is a difference in quality from one brand to another.  

Start with good quality ingredients

For this recipe I used:

    King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (Regular or Organic)
    Raw honey
    Real butter
    Natural Sea Salt
    My own raised eggs

Sourdough Bread Recipe

1 1⁄2 cups lukewarm water (100°F)
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup Sourdough Starter (click here for the recipe)
1 tablespoon honey
6 cups unbleached bread flour, (plus more as needed)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 eggs
2 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal mixed with 2 tablespoons bread flour

First combine water, yeast, sourdough starter and honey

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the water, yeast, sourdough starter and honey.
Beat on low speed just until smooth, about 1 minute.

Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Switch to the flat beater on your mixture and stir the starter mixture on low speed. Add 3 cups of the flour, the butter, eggs and salt. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add 2 more cups of the flour and beat for 2 minutes.
At this point I had flour all over everything in the kitchen!!

With beater add 3 cups flour, butter, eggs and salt.  Add 2 more cups of flour and beat.

Switch to the dough hook. Reduce the speed to low and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until a very soft dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead on low speed, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth, springy and moist, about 6 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Using dough hook, knead on low

Brush the bowl with a thin film of melted butter and turn the dough to coat it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until slightly more than doubled in bulk, 1 ½  to 2 hours.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 -1/2 to 2 hours

While dough is rising, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with the cornmeal mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and shape each into a tight, round loaf. 

Shape sourdough into 3 round loaves

Place the loaves, seam side down and at least 4 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops of loaves with flour and rub in. Cover loosely with a double layer of plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Remove loaves from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap.
Using a thin, sharp knife, make 3 gentle slashes across the top of each loaf. 

Using a thin, sharp knife make 3 slashes across each loaf

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F and bake until the loaves are golden brown, approximately 20 to 25 minutes more. Let cool completely on wire racks before slicing and serving. Makes 3 small round loaves.
This recipe was adapted from a Williams Sonoma cookbook I received as a gift.

To make rolls.
This recipe also makes great rolls and buns.  Just divide the dough into desired roll shape and follow the same directions for loaves except do not slice the tops, unless you want too.
Baking time should also be reduced.  Bake until golden brown. 

Sourdough Rolls

For storage, sourdough bread freezes well.  First cover with double layer of aluminum foil then place in a freezer storage bag.  Label with contents and date.

Tomorrow I’m making Hoagie Buns with this same recipe to use for homemade Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  Yum!


Other Recipes:


Anonymous said...

Really? Now I'm hungry! Heidi

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

: }

Anonymous said...

I’m gonna have to quit reading these cooking and baking posts! It’s making me want to get into the kitchen! Karen

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Haha Karen, My husband tells me "get in the kitchen and make me something to eat" jokingly of course.

Anonymous said...

Yummy! Terri Higham

Anonymous said...

Yum Freda Elder Clark

Anonymous said...

Perfect Lucie Lulu Buskirk

Anonymous said...

Get in my belly!!!! Sarah Claeysen

Anonymous said...

Looks like bakery rolls! Brenda Pedigo

Anonymous said...

Yummy!! Julie Leach

Anonymous said...

Can u share the starter? Have looked for them on the web, but would rather use one that has been tried. Brenda Pedigo

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Yes! I just mixed more up with the mother starter so can give you a jar of it Sunday or Monday!

Anonymous said...

Ship me two dozen ok sis? Kathryn Wright

Donald Quade said...

Why do you add commercial yeast to the bread???
Just use all sourdough starter and you will have a much better tasting bread.
Granted, it will take a bit longer to raise, but it's worth the wait.
I have been making sourdough bread for the past 15 years. There are some recipes that add yeast, but you can always taste the difference.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Good question Donald. This recipe is for the novice or beginner sourdough bread maker. To give them the experience of making the bread with less chance of failure in the beginning. I can't tell you how many people have said to me that they have tried numerous times and have only experienced failure. Better to start slow and easy and be able to actually get the bread to turn out. Many times that is encouragement enough for the Baker to build confindence and be able to move on to harder more complex bread recipes and expand their skill level. You are right, this recipe does not need the yeast but it will move up the rise time.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.