Basic Sourdough - the original, full-flavored bread.
Basic sourdough is anything but basic. Full of flavor, good bacteria, and gentle on the digestive system, true sourdough bread is a nutritious answer to regular store-bought whole wheat or white bread.
Basic sourdough uses only flour, water, salt and yeast (starter) and uses time to develop the flavor and structure of the dough.
Sourdough can have a mild or a stronger taste, depending on your starter and the length of time you allow the dough to ferment.
This recipe makes 2 loaves of basic, full-flavored sourdough bread.
Cut the recipe in half for one loaf.
6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 cup active starter
3 cups warm water
3 tsp salt
This recipe uses a rest for the first part of the mixing/rising process. Sourdough raises much more slowly than doughs with commercial yeast. Sourdough will raise better and faster if the room temperature is above 72-75 degrees. Be patient. Good sourdough bread takes time and time creates flavor.
Mix (Part 1 - by hand)
Mix together the water and the starter. Add all flour and mix until just combined. Let this initial dough rest for 30-40 minutes to allow the flour and water to soak without the salt and for the starter to begin activating the dough.
Mix (Part 2 ) - Add:
3 tsp salt (mix with 1 TBS water)
Combine the salt until well combined. If mixing by hand, squeeze the dough with fingers as the salt is added until the dough comes together. Dough should be soft, but not sticky. At this point, add a bit more flour if too soft, or a bit more water if the dough is too stiff.
2nd Rise (use either method)
Method 1 - Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes only. Let rest for 1-2 hours or until you can see the dough beginning to rise and become soft and airy.
Method 2 - Let the dough rest for 2 hours. Every 30 minutes, stretch the dough 3-4x. Put your hand all the way to the bottom of the dough and pull the dough up and over itself. Turn 1/4 turn and repeat 3 more times. Notice as the dough progresses through each stretch, it becomes more soft, extensible, and when stretched, how the gluten is strengthened each time.
Carefully scrape the dough onto the counter and divide the loaves into equal parts. Pull the dough over itself from the sides and from the front and back. This creates tention in the dough. Let rest for 20-30 minutes. Repeat the last step again and form loaves and place into greased pans or on floured surface if baking without pans. Let rise another 60 minutes or until loaves are soft and higher/larger.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and slash the loaves if you'd like. Let rise until dough is about 1/2 - 1 inch above the pan, 30-60 more minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until the loaves are nice and brown.