With it’s crisp crust, chewy texture and just the right amount of sour, this sourdough bread is easy to assemble and worth the time and effort.
- 3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 oz) white bread flour or all purpose flour, unbleached, plus more as needed
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast (fast rising or bread machine yeast ok)
- 1 tablespoon flavorless vegetable oil (more for coating dough top)
- 2/3 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups ice water, plus more as needed
- heavy 3–4 quart pot with a lid
*If you do not have sourdough starter, you can substitute 1/2 cup chilled plain “active culture” yogurt mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1. First Rise: In a large bowl, stir to combine flour + salt + yeast. (Set aside a few extra tablespoons of flour to add to dough if needed.) In another bowl, blend together oil + sourdough starter + ice water. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture. Using a sturdy spoon or rubber spatula, stir vigorously . Scrape down sides of bowl and mix just until ingredients are well blended. If the mixture seems dry, allow some of the ice to melt; then keep pushing bits of dry flour into the melted ice to bring the dough together. Avoid adding more water – dough should be very stiff. If necessary, add in a little extra flour to stiffen. Brush or use your hands to spread the top of dough with oil. Then cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 18-24 hours. If possible, stir down the dough vigorously with a fork midway through this first rise.
2. Second Rise: Set aside a small bowl of flour with a tablespoon to measure it, a tablespoon of oil, and a large sheet of parchment. Unwrap the dough. Stir vigorously, adding more flour if needed to make dough stiff and hard to stir. Coat a rubber spatula with oil and fold dough in towards the center until you have worked your way all around the bowl. (This helps shape the loaf.) Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Turn dough over so the underside is up. Sprinkle with (no more than) 3-4 tablespoons of flour. Inside the bowl, roll dough into a ball, coating all sides with flour. Use the palm of your hand to push the flour into the dough until it holds its shape. To form a high domed 6-inch diameter round: gently pull the sides of the dough down and firmly tuck the edges under all the way around. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment big enough to fit inside your pot. Dust top with more flour. Use clean kitchen shears to make 3 or 4 parallel slashes / / / / across the loaf top. Use a pastry brush or your hands to spread oil across the top and sides of dough. Pick up parchment and bread loaf and center inside the pot. Trim parchment (with scissors or a sharp knife) so that the sides are no taller than the pot. Cover pot with lid. Let rise until dough doubles in size: either at warm room temperature for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours or in a turned off microwave with 1 cup of boiling hot water for 1- 2 1/2 hours. (If bread has not doubled in size after 2 1/2 hours, you may need to give it more time to expand before baking.)
3. Before baking: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 F. Generously sprinkle the loaf with water.
4. Bake: Reduce oven temperature to 425 F. Bake, covered, on lower rack for 55-60 minutes, until loaf is lightly browned and crusty. Uncover and bake 10- 15 more minutes, until the center registers 207 – 209 F on an instant read thermometer. Bake 5 minutes more to ensure that the center is done. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully lift paper and bread out of pot, onto rack and cool completely.
5. Serving and storing: Cut loaf in half or wedges. It tastes good warm but is easier to cut when cool. Let cool completely before storing. To keep crust crisp, cover with a clean kitchen towel or place in a heavy paper bag. To keep loaf from drying out, place in an airtight plastic bag or wrapped in foil. Although crust will soften, you can reheat, uncovered, in a 400 F oven for a few minutes to re-crisp. Store bread at room temperature for 3 days or in freezer, airtight for up to 2 months.
6. Variation: Make whole wheat sourdough bread by reducing white bread flour to 2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz.) and add 1 cup (5 oz) whole wheat flour.