From the Kitchen: Sourdough Bread

First Cut

This is my virtually fool proof sourdough bread recipe. Do try to make it in a warm environment, as the bread will rise better. Use rye flour for a denser bread with a nutty flavor. In fact, if your sourdough is well established, don’t be afraid to play around a bit with the flours you use, even adding some whole grains or (for a great fiber boost) wheat germ.

Since I don’t have a food processor, I’ve always done all my mixing and kneading and all by hand.

Makes: 1 Loaf

1 Cup Water, Lukewarm
1 Package Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Sourdough Starter
3 Cups Bread Flour, (or 2 Cups Bread, 1 Cup Rye Flour)
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt, Or Coarse Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mix water and yeast in 2 cup measuring cup and let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Place starter, flour and salt in bowl of food processor. Add oil to yeast mixture. With machine running, pour water mixture into flour mixture. Process dough until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour if necessary to form smooth dough. Skip to “First kneading” section.

Place starter, flour(s) and salt in a large glass bowl. Blend well with wooden spoon. Add oil to yeast mixture, and stir into flour. Stir as well as you can to incorporate flour and liquids together. Don’t worry if your arm gets tired, just do the best you can, then turn it all over onto lightly floured surface: the kneading process will help incorporate more of the flour(s) in.

Turn dough over onto lightly floured surface. Lightly flour your hands, and knead until smooth and elastic, incorporating as much of the flour as you can. You’ll feel it when the dough is well mixed. Place dough in large, lightly oiled glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Poke a small hole in the wrap so the dough can “breathe”. Let rise until doubled (or better! ) in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and knead briefly again. Return to bowl and let rise as before, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down and roll into a log, or form into any shape you like. Occasionally I like to leave it in a round ball (great for party dip presentation). If you have a bread basket, dust it with flour and place your bread in it. Cover with a towel and let rise until double in volume, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat over to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle large heavy baking pan with cornmeal. If you don’t have such a container, lightly oil a baking or cookie sheet (I use the insulated ones), or even a perforated pizza sheet. Carefully turn dough out onto prepared baking sheet. Using very sharp knife, cut slashes atop bread. You may lightly oil the bread, or, for a crispier crust, brush cold water on the bread. Bake until golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on rack.

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