A mid-week day off is unusual for me, so I thought I’d take advantage of it with a loaf of fresh bread. I had made a starter the other day and, while I could have let it go another 24 hours, it was ready.
I really do love homemade bread. There is just nothing as satisfying as the bread-making process – the kneading of the dough… knowing instinctively when it is just right and ready for that first rise… The smell wafting through the house as it bakes and fighting the urge to slice off a hunk and slather it with butter while still hot from the oven. I have to admit that I rely more on the mixer kneading than I do myself, nowadays, but it’s still a lot of touching and feeling and knowing when it’s ready.
I haven’t made this particular bread in a while. It’s a sourdough, but more of a country French than a San Francisco style. It has a really deep, crunchy crust and a tight, fine crumb. It’s made for sopping up soups and stews.
It’s a white flour bread but I put just a tad bit of rye flour to add a bit of texture and flavor. You can make it with all white or add a bit of your favorite non-white flour. Just don’t add too much.
Sourdough Country Bread
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup water 110°
- 1 3/4 cups flour
Sprinkle yeast into the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in flour. Cover bowl with clean towel and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days.
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup water 110°
- 1 cup starter
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/3 cup rye flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkle yeast into water in mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add starter, flours, and salt.
Mix on low speed with dough hook for about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Knead by hand for a minute or two on a lightly-floured surface. Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.
Let rise until doubled – up to 2 hours. Punch dough down and let rest for about 10 minutes before forming the loaf.
Shape the dough into a round loaf and place on a bread peel generously coated with coarse cornmeal. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again until doubled – about an hour.
Preheat oven with baking stone to 425°.
Dust loaf with flour and then make three parallel slashes across the top and three more across. Slide dough onto stone and bake for about 1 hour.
It’s flour, water, salt, and yeast – the most basic bread ingredients there are – but they combine to make a stellar loaf.
Have fun with it, experiment, switch out some of the flours for others. Shape it into a longer loaf. No matter how you do it, it’s gonna be great.