Sourdough bread is one of my very favorite kinds of bread. I've always wondered how you make it, it has almost seemed to be a lost art. I was thrilled when I was able to get a starter and a recipe from Mary Jayne Child. I'm not going to talk about how to make a starter, because I didn't do that, but I will include a link to a website I found talking about how to make and care for one. Mary Jayne knows how best to make the bread and it turned out delicious, it was really fun to make too! It does take awhile, but most of the time the dough is just sitting at room temperature. I can't wait to make it again and show you an amazing grilled cheese sandwich!
Sourdough starter, get one or find out how to make your own here.
Bread flour, unbleached
Room temperature filtered water (I just used bottled, tap water contains chlorine which will kill the starter.)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon yeast (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling on top
Remove your sourdough starter from fridge, put the entire starter into a medium sized glass bowl. You can rinse the container that your starter was in if it needs it, but don't wash the container. Remove 1/2 heaping cup and place back in your starter container, then add about 1/2 cup bread flour, and 3 ounces of filtered water (just over 1/3 cup). Mix until combined. Place the lid back on the starter container and allow to sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Refrigerate for up to a week before refreshing again, but don't use the new starter for at least 12 hours.
To remaining dough in the bowl add 1 cup bread flour and 1/2 cup filtered water. Mix until combined and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Scrape out into the bowl of your stand mixer, using the dough hook of your mixer. Here is where you can add the optional yeast, add 3 heaping cups of the bread flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. Have 1 1/2 cups of filtered water ready to add, but like most bread, you most likely won't use it all. Have a large bowl ready to rise the dough in, it doesn't need to be greased, I used the extra mixing bowl for my stand mixer. Start your mixer with the starter, yeast, salt and flour. Add water a little bit at a time until the dough comes together and forms a ball, being careful not to add too much. You will probably use around a cup. If you add too much and the dough gets too soft, you can add a bit more flour. Only mix for a few minutes, if you over mix the dough ball will come apart. Turn the dough out to the bowl you set aside to raise it in. Put on a lid or lightly cover with plastic wrap for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Have a square of parchment paper ready to set the dough ball on. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Turn over to make a ball, and tuck the ends underneath. Lay the ball on the parchment paper with the smooth side up. Cover and allow to raise for 2-4 hours, or until doubled in size. About 1 hour before baking, start heating your oven to 475 degrees with your dutch oven or pizza stone inside. I used a pizza stone, but I think it maybe needs to cook a bit longer that way, because if you use a dutch oven, you're going to get radiant heat all the way around. Just before baking cut 3 slits with a knife, don't forget this like I did, I ended up with a nice burn when I remembered during the cooking. You can also sprinkle the top with kosher salt if you want, or even some spices like rosemary.
Pull your heated cooking stone, or dutch oven out of the oven and using the parchment paper, carefully place on the stone or in the dutch oven. If using the dutch oven, put the lid back on, I used tin foil with the pizza stone. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid or foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. When it's done, remove the stone or dutch oven and remove the bread from the hot surface. Allow to cool for 1/2 hour before slicing the loaf.