You probably envision sourdough bread as a crusty, chewy boule, but this version is a richly flavored, soft-textured loaf. It’s the perfect bread for your ultimate grilled cheese. Another option is to rub fresh garlic on a slice of toasted sourdough and top it with perfectly ripe tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and fresh basil. Or enjoy the most wonderful slice of toast simply slathered with butter and sprinkled with flaked salt.
Clear glass, enameled crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic containers all work for a starter – just ensure it’s large enough to contain the starter as it grows. Other metals are not recommended for long-term storage. At the beginning of day 3, mark your container with a piece of tape or a rubber band to indicate the post-feeding starter level to make it easy to track how much your starter has risen.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together flours and salt. Add 1 1/4 cutps (33 grams) warm water, Sourdough Starter, and oil; stir together until a shaggy dough forms and no dry spots remain. cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest after a quick, gentle mix like this will start gluten development without the risk of overworking the dough and allows for the flour to hydrate. This simple pause in making the bread dough is called autolyse.
1. Give the dough the first of 4 folds. Carefully pull and stretch one side of the dough and fold it over on itself; repeat on remaining 3 sides. Cover and let stand for another hour. Repeat the process 3 more times, for a total for 4 folds over the course of 4 hours. After the final fold, cover and refrigerate the dough to let rest for at least 8 hours or up to 24. At this time, the starter is beginning to feed on the new flour in the dough. Folding the dough builds strength through the bulk fermentation process by doing a series of folds. Keep a small bowl of water next to you; wetting your hands periodically will keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
1. Lightly dust work surface with all-purpose flour. Turn out dough onto surface. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Pat dough into a 9×7-inch rectangle, with one short side closest to you. Fold bottom thrid of dough up; starting at short side where dough is folded, roll up dough into a log. Pull log, seam side down toward you to create tension on surface. Folding and rolling up the dough creates tension , and that tension helps the loaf rise up and out.
2. Lightly spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with baking spray with flour. Place dough, seam side down, in prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size and risen just above sides of pan, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. After its final rise, you can tell the dough has been proofed by seeing if the dough is relaxed. Test this by pushing your finger into the dough gently. If the indentation springs back slowly, it’s ready to bake.
1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
2. Lightly dudst top of dough with all-purpose flour. Place in oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 425°F (220°C).
Bake until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 30 minutes, covering with foil during final 10 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. As tempting as it is to tear into warm freshly baked bread, resist the temptation. There is steam inside the bread that you don’t want to release by cutting into it, and that will dry out the loaf.