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This is a classic and easy loaf for first-time use of your sourdough starter.
Many different organic and unbleached flours may be used for this recipe. Rye makes an exquisite variation, and organic white flour may be used as well.
If you store your starter in the refrigerator, let it come back to room temperature (for about ten hours) prior to incorporating it into a recipe.
Fermentation time depends on the temperature of its environment. If it is very cold when preparing this bread, you may need to double the length of time the bread rests during steps two and five.
For a thick and crunchy crust, Pitzer recommends brushing the loaves several times with a cooled mixture of 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water. Another popular trick is to slide a pan or dish of water under the bread loaf while baking. Bittman recommends always cooling the loaves uncovered to yield the crispiest crust.
- 1 Cup Sourdough Starter, room temperature
- 1½ Cup Warm Water
- 3 Cups Organic Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 3-4 Cups (additional) Organic whole wheat flour
- Mix the first three ingredients together using a wooden or plastic spoon. Cover this with a towel and allow to ferment for at least 8 hours. Note: I have allowed this first ferment to go up to 24 hours, and it develops a rich and distinctly sour bread.
- Stir in the salt and sugar and just enough additional flour to form a dough that you can handle. Form this dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375° F at this time.
- Knead this ball for 5-10 minutes until elastic and smooth, adding a small amount of flour if needed. Do not add more than ½ cup of flour at this time or the bread will not be light and airy, it will be dense.
- Divide the dough in half and gently stretch each half to resemble a long loaf or baguette.
- Place the two loaves onto a baking sheet dusted with corn meal. This is the last time to allow your dough to rise a bit. It can be put into the oven now, but if it is allowed to sit for 20 more minutes, you will achieve fluffy air-pocket french bread. Note: I brush the loaves with cold water to prevent a crust from forming.
- Just before putting the loaves in, brush with cold water and score the top of your loves diagonally three of four times to allow steam to release.
This recipe has been adapted from Sara Pitzer’s book, [amazon_textlink asin=’0882662252′ text=’Baking With Sourdough’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’fermeclub-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1709560a-a4af-4fa8-86e7-4d740ea4abb4′], and Mark Bittman’s [amazon_textlink asin=’0764578650′ text=’Traditional Sourdough’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’fermeclub-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6c893742-2d38-4266-ac26-0cc66f45b317′] Recipe.