Basic Sourdough Bread
Use only glazed crock, glass, or plastic bowls, wooden spoon and non-metal utensils.
This recipe makes 2 loaves in 9-1/4 x 5-1/4 loaf pans.
The entire recipe process will take about 6 hours. You will have two intervals of about 2 hours each and then one interval of 1 hour (while the dough is rising) when you can plan to do other things.
Yield: 2 Servings Ready in 6 hours
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Basic Sourdough Bread Preparation
Put YEAST and SUGAR into bowl. Add WARM WATER slowly. Stir gently with wooden spoon until YEAST is dissolved. Let mixture rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Slowly pour STARTER in liquid mixture. Add SUGAR and SALT, stir gently. Pour WARM WATER in slowly, stir well. Pour BEATEN EGG into mixture. Stir slowly until almost all the egg is blended. Some unblended egg white may float on the surface---this is OK.
Add BREAD FLOUR to mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir well, stir slowly. This will begin to create the bread dough. After about 3 1/2 cups of flour, the dough will get difficult to stir by hand. Continue to add flour and stir by hand as long as possible. When you are no longer able to mix in flour, dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface (be sure to get all the unmixed flour/dough off the bottom of the bowl). Begin to knead bread, adding the remaining flour.
Continue to knead until dough is smooth and dry. Add small amounts of BREAD FLOUR as necessary---AVOID ADDING TOO MUCH!! You may not use all of the Group 4 flour. Just remember "smooth and dry." (Sourdough bread dough will absorb as much flour as you add, but it will result in a very heavy textured bread that doesn't rise too well.)
It should take about 7-10 minutes of kneading. You can test the dough by making a firm, quick indentation in the dough with two knuckles. The dough should spring back into place. If this does not happen, knead dough a little more, test again. When done kneading, shape dough into a ball, smooth a light coat of flour over entire surface.
Pick up dough ball and place top down into the well-greased larger bowl. Turn dough ball over and check that surface is very slightly greased. (If necessary, dab a little cooking oil with your fingertips and spread lightly over uncoated surface spots. The purpose here is to allow the dough to rise freely in the bowl, without sticking to the bottom or sides.)
The dough is now ready to RISE.
Set the dough to rise in your favorite "warm spot." A warm spot should be about 85 degrees, and be a fairly constant temperature.
1-1/2 to 2 hours. Dough should double in bulk. Punch down. (Yes, ball your hand into a fist and PUNCH---lots of air will escape, punch down all the big bubbles.)
1-1/2 to 2 hours. Dough should double in bulk. Punch down and transfer dough onto a well-floured surface.
Knead dough for a few seconds, dough should now feel almost silky, smooth and dry. Divide dough into 2 pieces, as equal in size as possible.
Shape into loaves.
With one piece of dough, flatten dough on well-floured surface and, using your fingertips, form dough into a "pear" shape. Beginning at the wider end, using your fingertips, roll dough toward narrow end. As you roll, "fold" the rolled edges of the dough back in toward the middle. This way, you will end up with a very firm dough roll, with smooth, rounded edges.
Continue rolling until dough roll is "sitting" on the narrow end.
Put the dough roll, narrow end down, into well greased loaf pan.
Form second loaf.
Let the loaves rise IN THE PANS for about 1 hour. The dough should rise so that it fills the pan and is just starting to "crown" over the top of the pan.
For bread with golden brown crust, lightly brush loaves with beaten egg. For light brown crust, use egg white only. For soft crust, do not use any egg topping.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (be sure oven is at full temperature BEFORE beginning to bake).
To test doneness, "roll" loaf out of pan into a clean towel. Bottom should be a light golden brown. Grasp loaf very loosely, "thump" bottom of loaf. You should get a nice hollow sound. Return loaf to pan, test second loaf, return to pan.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Then remove from pans and allow to cool on wire rack.
Good Luck...and Happy Baking!
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