Sourdough Bread from Starter
- Sourdough Starter: One 1/4 ounce envelope active dry yeast or 3/5 ounce cake fresh yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- One 1/4 ounce envelope active dry yeast or one 3/5 ounce cake fresh yeast
- 1 Tb. sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
To make the starter, sprinkle the dry yeast or crumble the fresh yeast and sugar over 1/2 cup of the warm water in a large glass bowl and let stand for 5 minutes, or until small bubbles form.
Stir 1 1/4 cups of the remaining water and the flour into the yeast mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until fairly smooth. If a few small lumps remain, they will dissolve during fermentation. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup water and beat briefly. The consistency of the mixture will be like that of thin crepe batter. Cover the starter with a cloth and leave it in a warm place free from drafts for 2-3 days, or until the mixture smells sour. If you like a strong sourdough flavor, leave the mixture for up to 5 days. Stir it once every day. If you forget to stir it, a skin may form on top. The skin should be removed.
*Never prepare starter in a metal container. Store unused starter, covered with plastic wrap with a few holes poked in it, in the refrigerator. About once a week, stir in 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. Leave the mixture out overnight, then refrigerate.
To make the bread...(which is best on the day it is baked):
Mix 1 cup of the starter with 1 cup of the warm water and 1 cup of the flour. Cover the dough and let stand in a warm place for at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Sprinkle the dry yeast or crumble the fresh yeast and sugar over 1/4 cup of the remaining water in a cup or small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes, or until small bubbles form. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Sift the remaining 4 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the starter mixture, dissolved yeast, remaining 1/4 cup water and salt to the well, and mix briefly. Gradually stir the flour into the mixture in the center of the well. When it becomes difficult to stir, knead in the remaining flour. If the dough is dry, knead in an extra Tb. of water. If the dough is very sticky, knead in 1-2 Tb. of flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, dusting the surface occasionally with more flour, if the dough sticks to it. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat the entire surface. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume. Grease 2 baking sheets. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and on a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece into a smooth, oval loaf about 11 by 3.5 inches, with the ends slightly tapered. Set a loaf on each prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until nearly doubled in volume. (I used to put each half in individual metal bread pans.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a pan of water on the bottom of the oven while preheating to provide steam. Brush the loaves lightly with water. Using a very sharp knife, cut a few parallel diagonal slashes across the tops of the loaves (cut carefully and without pressing too hard to avoid deflating the dough). Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. When you tap the bottom of each loaf with your fist, it should sound hollow, Let the bread cool on a wire rack.