The day before you want to bake, remove the starter from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Then feed it with ½ cup of flour and 1/3 cup of water and let it sit at room temperature for several hours. If you have an active starter, it should double or triple in size. Do not put the lid on too tight, the gases need room to expand. I usually take the starter out of the refrigerator around 7 AM, and then feed it about 10 AM.
In the evening I mix the dough and let it proof overnight.
- 1 cup (5 oz. by weight) whole wheat flour and 2½ cups (11 oz. by weight) white bread flour, or
- 3½ cups of white bread flour, or
- (3½ cups of all purpose flour with 1/3 cup of vital wheat gluten, or)
- (1¾ cups of bread flour + 1 ¾ cups of whole wheat)
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1½ cups purified water
- ¼ cup sourdough starter (The starter will have risen considerably, so stir it down before measuring.
- Mix together the dry ingredients.
- Dissolve 1/4 cup starter into the purified water
- Add water / starter to dry ingredients and stir until the water is incorporated.
- Cover with plastic and let sit 12-16 hours.
- Gently dump the dough out onto a floured board or counter top.
- Gently stretch the dough out into a rectangle about 12” by 9” in size. Fold 1/3 of the dough in on itself, and then fold the other 1/3 on top. Then fold it in half.
- Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes.
- Gently transfer the dough to well floured towel or proofing basket or bowl. (I use parchment paper in the bowl to make it easy to transfer to La Cloche, or Dutch Oven.)
- Cover with towel and let rise about 1½ - 2 hours. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you prefer to bake in a loaf pan, skip the proofing basket or bowl, and gently transfer the dough to a lightly greased loaf pan (I use Baker’s Secret), cover with a towel and let it rise about 1½ - 2 hours.
- You will need a longer proofing time if you have a cold kitchen.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F about 30 minutes before baking. (If you use a loaf pan, place a small oven safe pan or crock in the oven and add water for steam just before you bake.)
- Bake in covered La Cloche, Dutch Oven, or loaf pan preheated to 450 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Remove cover; REDUCE heat to 425 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.
- The bread is done when it has an internal temperature between 195°F and 205°F.
- Remove the baked loaf from the pan and let cool about 20 minutes on a rack before slicing.
Eat bread, be happy!
Don’t forget to return the starter to the refrigerator with a loose lid. Starter needs to be feed every 2 weeks if not baking regularly.