Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sourdough French Bread

For my birthday this year, I received a jar of Sourdough Starter.  Sourdough French bread would be my first project since Magic Man was traveling.  It was the perfect time to experiment.  Taking a deep breath, I ventured into uncharted territory.

Per the instructions, I measured 1-1/2 cups of warm water into my bread crock, added 1 tablespoon of yeast, 1 cup of room temperature starter, 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons each sugar and salt.  Then beat vigorously for 3-4 minutes and set it aside to rise for 1-1/2 hours to rise.

My first batch didn't absorb the flour and was a little thin for the initial rise, but it still worked well in the end.  I added more flour with the baking soda step.  Batch number 2 looked better, but the end results were the same.

Before rising
After rising

Now it's time to mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 cup of flour, keeping an extra cup of flour handy.  Knead in the flour & soda mixture to the dough, working in additional flour as needed to minimize the stickiness.  Knead 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and satiny.  Shape into loaves, lightly grease baking pan, then lightly coat pan with cornmeal.  Gently place dough on prepared pan and score the loaves.
Shaped and Scored Loaf
Cover and let this rise until double in size again.

Loaf Doubled, Ready for the Oven
Here's where the book and I part directions.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Place the baking pan on the lower 1/3 part of the oven.  Spray the inside of the oven with water to create steam.  Close and bake 15 minutes.  Spray a second time and bake another 10-15 minutes.  The loaf will be a deep golden color when done.

Baste the loaf with butter.  Wait impatiently to be cool enough to slice.

Finished Sourdough French Loaf
Second Batch Finished.
I love kneading sourdough.  It is the softest, silkiest dough I've ever handled.  It kneads and shapes beautifully.  

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