Although sourdough bread has a distinctive tart taste, you can use it wherever you might use “regular” bread: with hamburgers, as a crunchy accompaniment to al dente spaghetti and sauce, or paired with soup. Fresh sourdough bread brings out the best in almost any type of meal.
This version uses a commercial yeast so it takes less time to prepare, but developing your own starter is worth the extra effort because homemade is cheaper and always seems to taste better.
Baking time: 45-50 minutes
Makes: 2 loaves
The starter – a combination of flour, sugar and water – should be left in a warm place to attract airborne yeast. This is essential to ensure the chewy texture and signature flavour of sourdough bread. Once you have a starter going you’ll use some for each loaf you bake, but must feed it to guarantee an endless supply of sensational bread.
- 500 ml (2 c.) lukewarm water (45°C /113°F)
- 1 packet (8 g or 1/4 oz.) packet of active dry yeast
- 350 g (1 1/2 c.) bread flour
- 350 g (1 1/2 c.) starter
- 250 ml (1 c.) water
- 30 ml (2 tbsp.) sugar
- 15 ml (1 tbsp.) salt
- 1.25 to 1.5 kg (5 to 6 c.) bread flour
- 60 ml (4 tbsp. or 1/2 stick) butter, melted
- In a medium glass or ceramic bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk until well blended.
- Cover the bowl loosely with wax paper.
- Set bowl in a warm, draft-free place for 12 hours or overnight.
- In a large bowl, combine the starter, water, sugar, salt and 625 g (2 1/2 c.) flour. Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat the dough at moderate speed until it is smooth, about 15 seconds.
- If using an electric mixer, remove the paddle and attach a dough hook. Add 45 ml (3 tbsp.) butter and 625 g (2 1/2 c.) of the remaining flour, 125 g (1/2 c.) at a time. Continue beating about 10 minutes, adding an extra 125 to 250 g (1/2 to 1 c.) of flour, if necessary, to make a smooth and elastic dough. (If mixing by hand, you will probably have to knead in the last of the flour.)
- Butter a 5-Litre (20 cup) bowl well. Using your hands, shape the dough into a ball and place in the prepared bowl, turning it to completely coat the surface of the dough with butter. Cover the bowl with a cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, one to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough, cover again and let rise 1 1/2 hours longer.
- Lightly flour a work surface and lightly grease two 20 cm (8 in.) round cake or springform pans. Punch down the dough again and turn out onto the work surface. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth, two to three minutes.
- Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a ball. Place each ball into a prepared pan, cover both with a cloth, and let rise until the dough is doubled in size, 45 minutes to one hour. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
- Brush the loaves with the remaining 15 ml (1 tbsp.) of melted butter. Using a sharp knife, cut a diagonal slash across the top of each loaf. Bake until the loaves are richly golden and sound hollow when tapped, 45 to 50 minutes.
- Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool.