Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Starter
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 cup bread flour

Heat the milk to 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir in the yogurt and place in a non-reactive container (glass quart jar works fine) with the lid on loosely. Let it stand in a warm place for around a day. Once the entire mix takes on the consistency of yogurt it is ready to use. Mix in the flour and place back into a non-reactive container. Let it stand on the counter for 3-5 days. You want a sour smell, though an aroma similar to beer is not unheard of. Bubbles will form so make certain the lid is on loosely. Some separation is expected but the surface should be clear – milky. If it ever takes on a pink or reddish tinge, it has gone bad and should be discarded. This generally happens if the container was not clean and contained bacteria. At the end of the 3-5 day stretch it is ready for use and is considered a fed starter.

Sourdough bread
3/4 cup fed sourdough starter
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour

I cheat and use a stand mixer with a dough hook. You can make this by hand and get a workout too. This recipe provides a fairly sour sourdough. If you prefer one with a milder flavor, use less starter and more water.
Mix the starter with the water, sugar, yeast, and salt, along with 1 cup of the flour. Blend this with the paddle attachment for around a minute, just to get rid of lumps. Scrape the paddle clean and then put on the dough hook attachment. Add flour and run on low speed. The goal is to have the dough form into a ball that does not stick to the bowl. You’ll need to turn the mixer off and occasionally check the dough to see how wet it is. Once you’ve gotten the proper moisture content, let the mixer run for 5 minutes on medium-low speed. Check the consistency of the dough at the end of five minutes and add more flour if necessary. Run the mixer for another 5 minutes on medium-low speed. After it’s all said and done you want a dough that is smooth and springs back when you press on it.

Let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl for an hour in a warm, draft-free place. When doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spray the surface of the dough with water, then cover the dough with a stock pot or some other metallic object that is oven-safe. Heat the over to 425. Bake the dough for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and spray the surface of the dough with water again. Cover with the pot/bowl and bake another 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven, spray it, cover it again and place it back in the oven for another ten minutes. At this point it should have baked for a half hour. Remove the bowl from the bread and let it bake for another ten minutes uncovered. The bread should be lightly browned when it is done. Remove it from the oven and let it stand for a half hour to cool off.

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