Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sourdough Bread

From Williams-Sonoma Bread Cookbook 2002

1-1/2 cups warm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon honey
6 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed
1 tablespoon butter, melted (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray)
2 large eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal mixed with 2 tablespoons flour

In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the water, yeast, sourdough starter, and honey. Beat on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Switch to paddle attachment and stir the starter mixture on low speed. Add 3 cups of the flour, the butter, eggs, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add 2 more cups of the flour and beat for 2 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook. Beating on low speed, add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until a very soft dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on low speed, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth, springy, and moist, about 6 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Spray the bowl with cooking spray and turn the dough to coat it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until slightly more than doubled in bulk, 1-1/2-2 hours.

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with the cornmeal mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and shape each into a tight, round loaf. Place the loaves on the prepared sheets. Sprinkle the tops with flour and rub it in. Cover loosely with a double layer of plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator 8-12 hours.

Place a baking stone on the bottom oven rack and preheat the oven to 450. Using a knife place 3 gentle slashed across the top of each loaf. Place one loaf on the baking stone (keep it on the parchment paper). Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Repeat process for remaining loaves.

The recipe says to put the loaves on 1 pan 4 inches apart. I don't have a pan that big so I used individual baking sheets. I also only have one round baking stone so that is why they were baked separately.