Today I'm sharing the recipe for a sourdough bread that we will be using for a dinner bread. This bread has great dipping qualities for sauces and soups and the mild sourness makes a nice compliment to a savory winter meal. In the summer, I'm certain that it will be the carrier for my tomato and mozzarella sandwiches, or paired with a salad. Mmmm.... salad. I've been craving salads something fierce lately. Definitely didn't grow enough greens this year. Planning for many more leafy things in 2011, but I digress. Onto the recipe.
The ingredients are few, the directions are many, but it is so worth the work.
4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. sourdough starter
1 3/4 c. water
1 3/4 T. salt
To the bowl for the dough mixer, add the sourdough starter, water, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour in that order. Mix with the dough hook until just incorporated for a minute or so. Shut off the mixer and allow it to just sit for half an hour (autolyse). Add the salt and mix with the dough hook for five minutes or until it reaches "a medium level of gluten development." Oil a clean countertop and turn out the dough onto the counter. Ferment for 2 1/2 hours with folds at 50 and 100 minutes. Folding replaces kneading while still developing gluten.
When the fermentation is complete, divide the dough into 2-4 pieces depending on the size of the bowls that you will use to shape the boules. Just use your best judgement.
From Northwest Sourdough:
Fold the edges to the middle all around.This helps get the dough into a rough shape of a ball. Dust the dough with flour and using the fingertips of both hands, start folding the outer parts of the dough to the middle. Turn the dough around and do this all around the piece of dough until you get it into a ball shape. Don't use large amounts of flour to do this but keep enough flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your hands.
Then turn your loaf over and place it on the surface without any flour under it. We need it to slighly stick to the surface so it can be shaped. Let the dough ball rest for ten minutes. This will relax the gluten and allow you to give the ball (called a boule) it's final shaping. The boule is sitting sort of flattish at this point.
To mound it up higher, take your hands and place them on both sides of the boule, making sure you have some flour on the surface so your hands don't stick to the dough. Then turn the boule in a counterclockwise direction, shaking it gently from side to side at the same time to encourage the dough ball up off of it's flat condition and into a more tightly wound dough ball. Do this just a little bit like three or four turns. It doesn't matter if you get it exact, just twist the loaf and you will see the dough ball jump up higher. If your dough ball isn't stuck somewhat to the table this won't work.
To proof the loaves, I've tried two methods both of which worked.
1.) Grease an ovenproof ceramic bowl or dish- I used butter- and then sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place your shaped loaf inside then sprinkle with flour or cornmeal and cover.
I find that I like to use plastic wrap the best.
2.) Heavily flour linen cloth- I use muslin- by rubbing the flour all into the cloth. Set the cloth flat over the top of a deep soup bowl (not a shallow cereal bowl). Set the shaped loaf onto of the floured cloth and let it just sink into the bowl. Lightly oil the top of the loaf and cover with plastic wrap.
Allow to rise to double in a warm, draft-free place to 2 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a dish of water on the bottom rack during the preheat. Once the oven is ready, if you prepared your loaves according to method #1, remove the plastic wrap and slash the dough.
If you prepared your loaves according to method #2, grease a baking sheet with butter, remove the plastic wrap, gently turn the loaves out onto the sheet, and slash.
Place the loaves in the oven, spray them with water and reset the heat to 450 degrees. Bake the loaves for 12 minutes. Carefully remove the dish of water. Bake for another 15-18, minutes opening the oven door for the last 5 minutes. The larger the loaf, the longer it needs to bake. Tap the loaf- if it sounds hollow it is done.
Cool completely before cutting or the bread seems to get a bit gummy.