Here is a basic sourdough bread made using the 100% hydration starter . If you are interested in making your own here is the starter recipe . This is a simple recipe involving only 4 ingredients – flour , water , salt and the yeast (starter) . This recipe adapts well to additions an can be made into a loaf , rolls , boule or any shape you wish . My favorite way is to bake it in a covered pot / dutch oven . Absolutely delicious and unbelievably simple ..
Just like the ingredient list the method also is very simple. In a large mixing bowl (or in the stand mixer bowl) add the sourdough starter , flour , salt and water . Mix gently till all the flour is mixed in, knead for 1 minute if necessary . Cover and let rest for at 10 to 20 minutes.
Uncover and knead the dough for about 10 minutes . Add more flour only if the dough feels too sticky . As you knead the dough becomes more soft and pliable . Remember when it comes to bread dough a little wet is preferable to dry . Perform a windowpane test to determine if the dough has been kneaded enough . Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled a bowl cover and set aside .
A quick word on the windowpane test . This is used to determine if the dough is kneaded enough. Take a small golf ball / lemon sized dough . Hold it between the thumbs and fingers of both hands and stretch gently and evenly in all four sides . The dough should stretch without tearing . Hold this film of dough against a light source and it should filter light through. If you try to do it fast the dough will tear rather than stretching, so be careful as you stretch it out. If it tears on a slow stretch it needs to develop more gluten, knead for a few more minutes and try again.
Dough made with wild yeast starters like Sourdough starter take longer to rise. Of course you can keep it in a warm place to speed up rising, but it will still take longer than the commercial yeast counterpart . This dough will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to double when left at room temperature . Alternately it can be kept in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours to rise . The longer rise will yield a more flavorful bread.If the dough is in the fridge , take it out and let it come to room temperature (about 30 minutes or so ) before proceeding to the next step.
Punch down the dough and knead lightly for a minute. Form the dough into the shape you like. The amount of dough will be good for a 81/2″ X 4 1/2″ loaf pan with may be a bit leftover for a bun. I like to make these into free form rolls or boules . Here I have used a 7 inch round casserole dish to make a round loaf .
Let rise for around 1 hour till the dough is almost doubled. Again the it takes longer than the packaged yeast. As a rule of thumb the second rise will take roughly half the amount of time for the first rise. To determine if it has risen enough gently poke a finger on the side of the risen dough. Do not make a hole , just an impression is all we need. If the impression remains the dough is ready for the hot oven , otherwise let it rise for few more minutes.
When almost ready to bake , preheat the oven to 400ºF (200º C). Just before transferring the dough into the oven score the top to help with even oven spring. Place in the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes . Reduce the temperature to 350º F (170º C ) and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes or till done .
If you are making rolls or smaller loaves the baking times will be shorter . Check the loaves earlier and adjust times accordingly .
The flavors will vary slightly depending on how mature the starter is. Regardless there will be marked difference in aromas and texture compared to packaged yeast bread .
- In the recipe the measurements in volumes are approximate . Add more/less flour/water as necessary when kneading .
- If bread flour is not available , AP flour or any other wheat flour with good protein content will work well in this recipe .