This is one of my go-to recipes for using sourdough starter. It is a super simple bread to make and bake and is the perfect bread for toast and sandwiches. This bread is so good and so easy that I've worked it into my weekly routine. I make this bread every Sunday and and then use during the week for meals. It keeps really well in a Ziploc or paper bag unrefrigerated for up to two weeks without growing mold or spoiling thanks to the sourdough starter fermenting process.
When making this, think in 400g quantities. The water + starter = 400 grams and the flour = 400 grams. It's an easy way to remember the recipe off the top of your head.
- 170 grams sourdough starter
- 230 grams/milliliters of filtered room temp water. A cup of water (8oz) is 237 grams/ml so use just shy of one cup.
- 400 grams strong bread flour. If you don't have bread flour, you can use 250 grams all purpose flour and 150 grams whole wheat flour.
- 9-12 grams of salt depending on taste preference. This equals 1.5-2 teaspoons.
- Mix the ingredients in a large ceramic or glass bowl or stand mixer. I like to start with the water, then the sourdough starter, then flour, then salt.
- Stir the ingredients until combined and a dough starts to take shape. If using a stand mixer, you can use the dough hook to do this step as well as the next two steps.
- Scrape the dough and any unmixed flour onto the counter and begin to knead. Gently push the ingredients together, roll the ball around to grab more loose ingredients. Push the dough and roll it around again until all the ingredients are incorporated and a solid dough ball has formed.
- Knead the dough for a 5-10 minutes until the surface becomes smooth and the dough can stretch easily without tearing.
- Put the dough back into the mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ensure the bowl is big enough for the dough to grow 2-3x in size. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 3.5-4 hours.
- After that first rise, scrape the dough out of the bowl. From here, what I like to do is grab an end of the dough, stretch it out, and fold it over the dough ball like a letter. Then I grab the opposite of the dough and do the same thing. Then I rotate the dough 90 degrees and do the same thing on one side and then the other. This creates layers to the dough to create some good air pockets in the final dough.
- Then form the dough into a cylinder shape using gentle rolling motions with your hands. Get the dough into a nice uniform cylinder that is the length of your loaf pan.
- Grab a metal 9x5 loaf pan. I find cast iron pans to work best, but a nonstick or even glass loaf pan will work as well.
- Oil the pan and/or sprinkle a bit of corn meal or whole wheat flour in the bottom of the pan. Both will help the dough release. When I make it, my cast iron pan only needs to be pre-oiled. It does not need the flour part.
- Add the dough to the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to proof for 3 hours. If you go longer than this, the dough will actually begin to shrink. You may want to spray the plastic wrap with some oil so it does not stick as the dough rises and touches it. I also keep the plastic wrap loose on top so the dough can continue to rise above the surface of the pan.
- Preheat an oven at 450 degrees timing it for when the dough has risen for 3 hours.
- Remove the plastic wrap and make a slit or two in the top of the dough so the air has a place to escape and to form a nice decorative crust. It is best to use a razor blade for this. A kitchen knife just isn't sharp enough and could risk tearing or deflating the dough.
- Add the loaf pan to the oven and cook for 30-35 min.
- I like to add a half cup of water to the oven either on a hot tray that was preheating or right on the bottom of the oven if it can do that. This allows for a moist environment to help the dough rise more and bake without drying out too fast.
- Remove the loaf from the oven. I like to try to get the dough out of the pan while it is hot otherwise the sides can become soggy if cooled in the pan. However, sometimes that is difficult to do so it is also fine to cool the bread in the pan for a bit before removing it. Place the dough on a wired rack to continue to cool. The sides if soggy will firm back up.
- Cool completely and place in a large Ziploc or paper bag. Don't seal the bag though until the next morning because the loaf will continue to give off heat and vapor.
- Slice and enjoy!