After Hubby went to bed Wednesday night I realized I hadn’t fed my sourdough starter. Thursday evening we had a picnic planned with friends and I’d promised to bring deviled eggs….(my speciality since we have fresh eggs from our 14 happy hens…but I’ll save the chicken stories for another post!) So I figure I can knock those out by midday. But one of my friends has requested my infamous sourdough bread. I am happy to oblige, I just needed to feed my starter before bed so it would be ready for bread baking by morning. I have a wonderful very old sourdough starter that is very happy at our high mt altitude.. Or maybe it likes our mineral rich mountain well water. After feeding it the required flour and water, I then place it on the warm Aga to let the magic happen overnight. If you have not had the experience of using sourdough starters before, it really is like magic. Who knew flour and water and the bacteria from the air could do that! By morning, over the obligatory first cuppa coffee, I checked on my starter to make sure it was alive and well. I always get excited to see it’s active cultures bubbling and gurgling up the sides of the glass because THAT my friends makes the tangiest well risen loaves of bread. YUMM! Oh yes, it definitely grew overnight, the magic occurred. 👍
So that means it’s dough time!
For my friend, I made a rustic sourdough boule with my “everything style topping” consisting of a variety of sesame seeds and onions. The beauty of bread baking in an Aga is you get that brick oven effect with a wonderful crusty exterior and a soft chewy interior crumb. For regular ovens just get a baking stone for the same effect. Oh it smells devine! I think my friend will be pleased. (good thing I doubled my recipe so DH and I can enjoy some hot bread out of the oven……now where’s the butter! 😋
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all purpose flour
1) Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. I like to use my Kitchenaid with dough hook.
2) Allow the dough to rise, in a covered oiled bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 60- 90 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
3) Divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat. A bench cutter helps this task.
4) Shape the dough into two oval or round loaves, lightly kneading. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Tip: sprinkle some cornmeal under the loaf to keep it from sticking as well. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 425°F. (In my Aga I bake the bread directly of the floor of the roasting oven and on another stone pan on the top rack).
5) Spray the loaves with lukewarm water and add your toppings. Optional.
6) Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here, but I prefer the traditional French dough cutting tool, a Lame, …or you can use a razor blade, Be careful!
7) Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack, if you can resist tearing into it that is! 😉