A few weeks ago I ordered a sourdough starter online. It was from a seller in San Francisco, who claims that it comes from a famous bakery in the city that is now closed. I received the powdered starter in the mail, and got to work re-hydrating it. A week later I had more starter than I knew what to do with, so I’ve been keeping some in the fridge – and some on the counter for baking on a whim. You can certainly make your own starter too! Here’s a great tutorial on how to do so. I’m looking forward to making my own “Chincoteague – aka Tump Strain” this summer with locally cultivated yeasts from the island.
I had my first taste of good sourdough bread when we visited my mother-in-law in the beautiful sunny city of Ventura, California. After that, I was hooked. Sadly, here in my rural area – I have a hard time finding a sourdough loaf that lives up to what it’s supposed to be. So, I did what any self-respecting girl who loves to bake would do…and made my own.
The first recipe I tried didn’t require a 2-day process, and was good…but, it wasn’t that dense, chewy , and flavorful loaf that I’d been hoping for. Then I remembered this recipe that Annie had posted last year, and knew that it had to be a winner. Sure, it’s a little time-consuming…but most of it is “hands off” – just waiting for the yeast and bacteria to do it’s thing. And I promise you, the results are well worth the wait! A bonus is that it makes 2 loaves – one for munching on fresh, and one for slicing and putting in the freezer to take out slices as you need it. Toasted, with an egg over easy, and a spot of bacon jam…holy moly, Heaven on a plate.
For the sponge:
1 cup fed sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
For the dough:
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp water
1 egg white + 1 Tbsp. water, lightly beaten
water in a spray bottle
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the starter, water, and all-purpose flour. Mix together with a fork or wooden spoon until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours.
Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill overnight, at least 12 hours.
Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and add the sugar, salt, and bread flour to the sponge. Mix until a ball of dough begins to come together. If some of the dry ingredients will not incorporate into the dough, add the additional 1 tablespoon of water to moisten them. Continue kneading the dough (on low speed if using an electric mixer) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-6 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough once to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, 3-4 hours.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate the dough. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Working with one piece of the dough, press gently into a rough rectangular shape. Make an indentation along the length of the dough with an outstretched hand. Press the thumb of one hand along the indentation while pulling the upper edge of the dough down over the hand to enclose the thumb. Tightly roll the dough towards you while forming into a rough torpedo shape, about 6 x 8 inches. If there is a seam, pinch it shut. Place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat shaping with the other half of the dough. Transfer the shaped loaves to the prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours.
Place a baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425? F. Allow the stone to preheat for at least 20 minutes. Just before baking, lightly slash the top of each loaf three times diagonally using a sharp serrated knife. Brush the exposed surface of the loaves with the egg wash. Spray the loaves lightly with water. Slide the entire baking sheet onto the baking stone. Bake the loaves about 28-32 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the crust is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 190? F. Transfer the finished loaves to a wire rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.