For whatever reason, I have attended many a potluck in my lifetime. When asked what I was going to contribute, I always said “I can bring homemade sourdough bread!” This statement was almost always greeted by a look of pure awe or barely disguised disbelief. Even now, some of you are thinking…sourdough bread isn’t that really hard…time consuming…better left to the experts? Just have some faith…and a good starter, and you can impress your family and friends with the crusty, chewy goodness. The basic starter is probably the most challenging aspect. However, if you can measure and mix flour and water, you can make starter. There are terrific recipes all over Pinterest, or let me know and I can give you my own secret recipe.
This recipe is a good beginner’s sourdough bread because most of the uncertainty of the rise is removed with the addition of a little yeast. It is great for a newer starter…and absolutely delicious.
The usual Cast of Characters
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups Bread flour
1 tbs dough enhancer…optional but highly recommended.
The Steps to Glory
1. Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. I use a kitchen aide mixer on low about 8-10 minutes
2. Allow the dough to rise, in a lightly greased, covered bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Keep in a warm spot.
3. Gently divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat.
4. Gently shape the dough into two oval loaves. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
4.Spray the loaves with lukewarm water. This step is essential for the crusty outside, soft inside beauty of sourdough.
5. Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each using a serrated bread knife. Sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown.
7. This is my secret tip just for you…turn oven off, prop open door with an oven mitt and allow the bread to cool in the oven. Don’t remove until the outside is cool enough to touch. Why do this? It prevents the Bread from having a soggy outside from the evaporation as it cools. Soggy bread is just sad.
8. Remove, slice and enjoy…and accept all the compliments. Just don’t tell them how easy it was to do.
Especially good to serve following a Navy win on a cold game day!
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