What a wonderful loaf! This is another great recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. The bread's deep flavor was developed over 3 days and the resulting loaves were terrific! After feeding my starter (or barm, which I like to keep fairly wet, about the consistency of pancake batter), a firm starter was made and then allowed to ferment overnight. The next day, the final dough was mixed, rose, and then shaped. The loaves were retarded in the refrigerator overnight and then baked on the following day.
Both the texture and flavor are really nice in this bread. I used all King Arthur Bread flour for these loaves. The result was slightly chewy but beautiful airy with a perfectly crunchy crust. I'm excited to try many variations of this basic recipe! Continue for Sourdough recipe.
Basic Sourdough Bread
from the Bread Baker's Apprentice
Makes two 1 1/2-pound loaves
4 oz barm (wet starter--fed)
4.5 oz bread flour
1-2 oz water
20.25 oz bread flour
.5 oz sea salt
12-14 oz lukewarm water
Semolina flour for dusting
1. Remove starter from the refrigerator and measure it out 1 hour before making the firm starter to take off the chill.
2. Add the flour to the bowl and mix together the barm and the flour, adding only enough additional water so that you can knead this into a small ball. You don't need to work this very long, just until the flour is hydrated. Lightly oil a small bowl and place the starter in the bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover.
3. Ferment at room temperature for approx. 4 hours, or until the starter has at least doubled. Put it into the refrigerator overnight.
4. Remove the starter from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a knife or pastry scraper. Mist with spray oil, cover with plastic and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
5. To make the dough, stir together the flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Add the starter pieces and enough water to bring everything together into a ball as you stir with a large spoon.
6. Sprinkle the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter and knead by hand for 12-15 minutes. Adjust the water or flour as needed. The dough should be firm but tacky. It should pass the windowpane test. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, coating it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
7. Ferment at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or until dough has nearly doubled in size.
8. Gently remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces (or smaller if making rolls), being careful to degas the dough as little as possible. Gently shape the dough into boules, batards, or baguettes.
9. Proof the dough in bannetons or proofing bowl (lined with towel, sprayed with oil, then floured), or on parchment-lined sheet pans that have been dusted with semolina flour. Mist the exposed part of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap. Proof the loaves for 2-3 hours, or retard overnight in the refrigerator, removing them approx. 4 hours before baking them the next day (I proofed overnight with these).
10. Prepare the oven for hearth baking with a baking stone in the bottom 3rd of the oven and a steam pan on the top shelf. Preheat the oven to 500. Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the dough 10 minutes before baking.
11. Generously dust parchment lined peel with semolina flour and gently transfer the dough to the peel. Score the dough. Slid the dough onto the stone. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat 2x more at 30 second intervals. After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450 and bake for 10 minutes. rotate the loaves 180 degrees and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes. They should be a rick golden brown allover, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
12. Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and cool for at least 4 minutes before slicing.