August 16, 2011

Wheat Sourdough French Bread

The trick to engaging my husband in bread-making adventures is to promise the reward of French bread. Although this isn't the crustiest, chewiest bread I've made, it still had enough promise in its name that my husband willingly traveled up and down the basement stairs to help me gather supplies. (It was worth it!)

Sourdough Starter
1 cup warm water, between 105ºF and 115ºF
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp. active dry yeast

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Cover tightly, and let stand 24 to 36 hours, until the starter is bubbly and has a sweet-sour aroma. Cover and refrigerate for storage or use immediately. Replenish after each use with a mixture of half water and half flour. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours, until bubbly. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Wheat Sourdough French Bread
2 tsp. yeast
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cups sourdough starter
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast and room temperature sourdough starter. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add salt, wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.

Add remaining bread flour. Knead the dough until soft and springy but soft to the touch. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Turn dough onto lightly greased or floured surface, and punch dough down. Divide dough into two pieces, and shape each into a round loaf. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Using a sharp knife, slash the top of each loaf. (One of my loaves collapsed when I slashed it, so I left the other untouched.) Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until golden.Cool on a wire rack.

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