If you ever need a therapist in life, save your pennies and just bake bread. For some reason this baking process has an amazing calming effect to it. Maybe it's the smell, maybe it's the soft feel of the dough, I don't know, and don't really care, I just know it is zen. So don't take my word for it. Just stop your fretting and bake bread.
My main sourdough has become quite a success in my kitchen. One of my favorite things about it is that once you have the loaf recipe down pat you can then use it for several other things that are almost equally as satisfying like soup dippers, croutons and oh so yummy french toast! Mmmmm... I'm getting hungry thinking about all these options! Anyway, if you want a very good, almost fail proof, sourdough recipe, try this one!
I will also blog the actual sourdough starter process too soon, but this recipe works great with most any starter base.
Basic Sour Dough: Yield: 2 nice sized loaves
Ingredients 1 c. Sourdough Starter 1/2 c. room temperature water + 1 c. warm water (but not above 110°F) 4 tsp. dry yeast 1 tbsp. honey About 5½-6 cups bread flour plus a little for your bread board (I use King Arther) 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 2 large eggs, room temperature 2½ tsp. salt (I like kosher salt) A tad of corn meal and flour mixed together for the bottom of your baking pan
First, activate the yeast by adding the 4 tsp dry yeast to the 1 cup warm water. Activation occurs when water becomes bubbly. Should only take about 5 minutes.
Whisk together the sourdough starter, yeasty water and honey. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour or until it has at least doubled in size.
Using your heavy duty mixer on low setting, add to sourdough starter mixture about 3 cups of the flour, the melted (but not hot) butter, the room temperature eggs (one at a time) and the salt. Mix about one minute. Add in about 2 more cups of flour at about ½ cup intervals. Mix until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl like above. It may take a little less or a little more than 5 cups to start pulling away from sides. Switch to a dough hook on your mixer. Continue to add flour in small portions until dough becomes soft and pliable. Knead for about 6 more minutes. When the dough becomes tacky (but not sticky) it is ready to rest in a bowl to rise.
Coat bottom of bowl you intend to rise your dough in with about 2Tb oil (I use olive oil). Transfer dough to rising bowl. Turn it over a time or two to coat all of the dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. If you are lucky (or your room is a tad bit warm) your dough should rise at least double in bulk or more, but don't let it sit for more than two hours.
Now, take out your frustration on your sourdough bread by giving it a good ole punch in the face, also known as "punching down the dough". Actually just make a fist and push into the middle of the dough and it will deflate.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or on a baking stone sprinkle with the flour cornmeal mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into equal parts.
Divide into 2 parts for larger loaves or 4 parts for smaller loaves. Form into tight ovals or round shapes. I am sorry I just realized I do not have a picture of this step or the next. (Duh...I will update soon. Hopefully... I am quite forgetful, but I promise to try.)
Rest dough loaves in refrigerator 8-12 hours. It will rise very slowly. With sourdough, the slower it rises the better the sourdough flavor will be, so just be patient. This is definitely NOT a quick bread. I usually plan on letting it rise over night and bake first thing in the morning. It makes a great breakfast loaf!
Remove from fridge. Gently slice small incisions in the top of the loaves so that steam can escape as the rise continues in the oven.
Preheat oven to 425° for at least 30 minutes before the bake. Place baking sheet on bottom rack of oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° - 400° (depending on your oven) and cook for another 11-18 minutes until tops of loaves are golden brown.
Enjoy by the slice with pesto, sauces or smothered in some awesome homemade garlic or honey butter, in which I also plan to blog about.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Just don't get in a hurry, plan ahead for it, and realize you will most likely have to adjust your oven settings to what cooks your bread to your preference of the crust.
Remember Y'all, life is just better when you flip flours!
"LIVE SELF SUFFICIENTLY, LOVE OTHERS PURPOSEFULLY, CARE DEEPLY FOR MOTHER EARTH AND HER CREATOR".