Ever wonder why I sometimes taunt you with pictures of my homemade bread, hot out of the oven with no recipe link? The truth is that I bake more by feel than by formula. My favorite bread, the one I love to make on a Sunday afternoon is one of those recipes that are part measurement and part instinct. Professional bakers might snicker, but remember our Nonnas were making amazing bread long before there were master chefs. So with that in mind, today I took the time to write down my recipe for you. Even if your measurements are a bit off, it will yield a consistently good loaf. Read the notes at the end to learn more about my sourdough starter and my home milled flour.
- 1 cup fully active sourdough starter
- 1.5 cups freshly milled whole wheat flour (or substitute store bought whole wheat flour)
- 1.5 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1-1/4 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp. milk
Why use a starter? The flavor that a starter imparts to your finished loaf is what real artisan bread is all about. Think of your favorite bakery loaf vs. the bland mass produced supermarket variety. So why are we using instant yeast in a sourdough? The starter will absolutely leaven the bread all by itself, and it will be amazing. But it will take much, much longer and hey, we’re busy right?
Measure the flours, for a total of 3 cups. The more whole grain flour you use, the more water you will need to properly hydrate the dough. Whisk in the instant yeast, salt and diastatic malt powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter and a squeeze of honey. Gradually add the flour mixture and the water with the dough hook attachment on low.
When all of the ingredients have been incorporated, the dough will look very wet. Increase the speed to #4 and knead for 5 minutes (use a timer). You will have a soft, supple dough.
Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and allow to rise for 75 minutes or until doubled.
Gently deflate the dough and transfer to a cutting board. Stretch and pat the dough into a rectangle.
Now fold the left side over, like a letter fold, and use the side of your hand to press it into the dough.
Fold the right side over and press.
Rotate the dough 180º, stretch and fold the dough again. Here’s the stretch.
And the left fold.
And the right fold. See how I tucked the ends in?
Now turn the dough over and shape it into a tight round. There’s the boule!
Oil a 9″ round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal. Set the shaped dough into the baking dish, and cover with plastic wrap and dish towel.
Allow to rise another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425º. Set a baking dish with water on the bottom shelf to create steam.
Brush the top of the loaf with milk, and quickly score the top twice with a sharp serrated knife.
You can also do a box score (like a tic-tac-toe). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan after 5 minutes and cool on a rack for at least 4 hours before slicing. Here is today’s loaf.
Here’s a loaf that was box scored.
You’ll have a hard time waiting for the bread to cool!
Wonderful spread with butter, dipped in oil or toasted the next morning. I also use this recipe for my pizza dough, and some of this loaf may turn up in my Thanksgiving stuffing. Bread baking is addictive and I have been doing it for many years. I hope this post will inspire you to try it yourself.
The Extruded Noodle ©
About my sourdough starter: My starter is now over 2 years old. You do not have to capture wild yeast from your back yard! I bought my starter, and if you don’t know someone who will share a bit with you I recommend you do the same. Companies like King Arthur and Sourdoughs International (my personal favorite) have a fine product. Taking care of a starter is not difficult. I keep mine in the fridge in a 1 qt. ball jar with the cover on very loose (it needs to breathe). I feed it once a week, with equal parts flour and water by weight (100% hydration). Typically, 1/3 cup stone ground rye flour and 1/3 cup all purpose flour, and 1/2 cup of water. I don’t get all hung up on the measurements. If it feels like it needs more flour or water, I add a little more. I am looking for a consistency of thick pancake batter, and that to me is more important than the measurement.
About my flour: I mill my own whole grain flour. Many of my recipes are 100% whole grain and others like this one are a blend of whole grain and white flour. My favorite grain combination is White Wheat, Spelt and Kamut®. Whole grain flour can quickly become rancid sitting on the shelf, as it degrades more quickly than white flour. Freshly milled flour is tastier and more nutritious. If you use store bought, buy in small quantities and be sure to check the expiration date.
I love hearing from you! Questions and comments are always welcomed. ♥