INDIANAPOLIS - Baking is one of my great passions, and although I'm more at home whipping up delicious sweets, I do love the experience of bringing some good loaves of bread into this world. It's a labor of love.
Baking bread is a nurturing experience. You have to be attentive and caring or else the bread just doesn't grow. Even though this simple sourdough recipe is exactly that – simple – you have to follow each step to produce soft, crusty sourdough.
In an earlier Twinkle's Kitchen I discussed making your own sourdough starters, or "wild yeast." We will incorporate that fermentation experiment into this recipe as well.
The starter is what gives this dough it's wonderful sour flavor, and I recommend creating your starter before you bake the bread. You'll need at least 3-5 days to get a good starter going.
Yields one loaf
1 cup sourdough starter – click here for recipe
6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
3 cups water
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. yeast
- Pour two cups of water – room temp – into a large bowl. Stir in the cup of starter, whisking to aerate the mix.
- Stir in the yeast and three cups of flour until smooth.
- If you have a really warm kitchen, you won't necessarily need the extra yeast, but with a cool kitchen – a steady 60 degrees – I need the extra boost. If your kitchen is above 80 degrees, then omit that addition.
I actually left out the yeast in this and decided to set it outside to rise for awhile since it was in the high 80s.
- Stir in the last cup of water and the salt and mix well.
- Don't forget the salt! Although a small amount, it helps slow the fermentation process, and the bread rises slower and longer. Slowing it down aids in creating a much more sour flavor. That is our goal.
- Once mixed well, mix in the rest of the flour and stir until well mixed. Don't knead, the starter will help create the gluten fibers to form, so let it do its job.
- Cover and set aside in a draft-free area and forget about it for about 12 hours. Yes, I said 12 hours, depending on the temp in your kitchen. Warmer kitchens may take less time, cooler kitchens longer. When it's done it will have grown exponentially bigger and bubblier.
- When you've determined it's ready, it's time to turn it out.
- Sprinkle flour over the top and dust your hands really, really well. I mean that.
- Begin to scoop the dough over and over, flouring all the way around the dough until well floured, then turn out on to a floured surface or parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray.
- *Wash your bowl and dry and get ready for the second rise*
- Grease your bowl and place the dough back in so it can rest.
- Cover and let rise for 2-4 more hours depending on your room temp.
- Make sure to check on the dough during this stage frequently. If you see it beginning to cave in on itself, then you need to get it straight in the oven as soon as possible.
- You'll want to bake your bread in a covered dish – dutch oven or Pyrex – to create the essence of a "steamed" bake. I used a ceramic high-temp baking dish because of the oval shape.
- Turn the oven on 450 degrees and put your baking dish in for about 20-25 minutes.
- Once this step is done, take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle semolina – a fine corn meal – or oats in the -bottom to keep your dough from sticking.
- Roll your dough out of the bowl and into the baking dish, replace the cover and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove cover after 15 minutes to crisp up the top and give it that rich, brown color.
- Roll gently out of the dish and let cool for easier slicing. If you can't wait, rip a piece off and dip in some olive oil immediately.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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