Tangy Sourdough Bread
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We love this Tangy Sourdough Bread and make it every week! It makes two loaves, so I’ll either freeze one for later in the week or take it to our weekly potluck at church, or give a loaf to family or friends.
Fed Starter is Bubbly
There is much to know about working with sourdough, so I’ll try to share a few things about making this particular recipe. The first is to use sourdough starter that has been “fed”. Which means, you’ve fed your starter flour and water, it has set for a few hours, and is now bubbly.
This recipe has a two-day process, but when I’ve been in a hurry, I’ve actually skipped refrigerating the dough overnight. It still turned out good. It just wasn’t as tangy in flavor.
Sourdough can be Sticky
The next thing to know, is that this dough will more than likely be very sticky. And that’s okay. That’s how it is supposed to be. Using a stainless bench scraper helps a bunch in lifting the sticky dough from the work surface. It’s important to work the dough during it’s “rising stage” to help it develop its gluten. Once that happens, the dough will be less sticky and will become a more stable, soft dough.
The Old Way
When I first began making my sourdough bread, I placed the dough on parchment paper that had been sprayed with cooking spray. Then once it was ready for baking, I scored it with a knife, and using a pizza peel, placed it in a 425 degree oven on a baking stone. This worked really well, and I was happy with my bread for many years. (My sourdough starter, who I named Bertha, will be 7 years old in May.)
Taking Things to a New Level
This year, I wanted to take things to a new level, to achieve a bread like what you would purchase from a professional bakery. I did several things. 1) I stopped adding yeast to my recipe and instead, worked the dough during it’s rising time to help develop it’s natural gluten. 2) I began using a Bread Banneton to give my bread a pretty design in the final rise.
3) I scored my bread with a lame, which helped me get a better cut on the bread as well as play with designs.
4) I baked the bread inside a covered Dutch Oven, which helped give the bread a “steamed” quality like that from a wood-fired oven. 5) I increased the heat in the oven to 475 degrees for half of the baking time and also let the bread “cure” in the oven after it finished baking.
All of these things have helped to produce a Tangy Sourdough Bread that I can be very pleased with. It still has wonderful flavor, but now the outside is a beautiful deep golden brown that is crunchy, while the inside is pleasingly soft and chewy.
- In large bowl, combine the starter, water, and 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously with wooden spoon for 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, about an hour. In large mixing bowl, with kneading hook attachment, combine the starter with the remaining 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Begin mixing at a low speed, adding up to 1/4 cups water as needed to make a smooth dough. Continue kneading for 5-7 minutes. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled. (This may take 2-3 hours). Remove the dough at each hour interval to stretch and fold the dough, envelope-style to work the gluten in the dough. The dough will most likely be sticky. Use a stainless bench scraper to lift the dough from the work space.
- Once the dough has doubled, divide the dough in half. Stretch and fold the dough, envelope-style, again using the bench scraper as needed. Form each into a ball. Cover and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
- Flatten each ball into an oblong shape. Stretch and twist, and then fold the dough, envelope-style. Form a nice smooth ball, pinching on the bottom. Slide the bottom of the dough against your work surface to seal the seam.
- At this point, you may either place the dough into a Dough Banneton Basket that has been sprinkled with Brown Rice Flour or place it on a greased sheet of parchment paper. Cover and allow to rise for 1-2 hours until puffy. Halfway through the rising time, preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Uncover the dough. If using the Banneton, turn dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using a knife or bread lame, slice two fairly deep horizontal slashes in each. Holding opposite sides of the parchment paper, lift the dough and place in a 4-6 quart Dutch Oven. Cover with lid and bake for 20 minutes.
- After this initial baking period, uncover each and reduce oven temperature to 450. If you have a convection oven, turn it on now. Continue baking for an additional 12-15 minutes until golden brown. To prevent your loaves from burning on the bottom, you may place a baking sheet beneath the Dutch Ovens or on a lower rack.
- If time allows, you may cure your bread by turning off your oven and cracking open the oven door for 20 minutes. This will give your bread a crackly, crunchy crust. Transfer bread from Dutch Ovens to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 loaves of bread.