1988 Sourdough French Bread

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    1988 Sourdough French Bread 2BakerAunt

    his recipe originally appeared in Sunset magazine (May 1988). It uses a milk and flour sourdough starter that the magazine featured. It’s of a viscous liquid consistency. Depending on your sourdough, you may need to adjust the flour. I’ve re-written the directions based on my experience with baking this bread.

    I have not baked the recipe for a while, as my husband is not a sourdough fan, but when I bake it again, I’d probably think about reducing the salt and the yeast a bit.

    1/2 cup water
    1 cup sourdough starter
    1 cup flour (I use King Arthur AP)

    In large ceramic bowl, stir water, starter and 1 cup of flour. Whisk until smooth. For sourest flavor, cover tightly with saran and let stand on counter until bubbly and sour smelling, for 12-24 hours. Depending on your starter, the time will vary. You want it active, but before clear liquid begins to form on top; while the liquid can be stirred back in, it will increase the “alcohol” flavor. However, if you are in a hurry, or do not want the intense flavor, you can mix it up and proceed to the next step.

    1/4 cup water
    1 tsp. active yeast
    1 tsp. sugar
    2 to 2 1/2 Cups flour (I use KAF AP)
    1 tsp. salt

    Proof yeast for five minutes in 1/4 cup warm water (no warmer than 110F) with a bit of the sugar. Add to sourdough mixture, along with rest of sugar. Stir in 1 1 /2 cup flour, then another 1/2 cup with the salt. Only add additional flour to make a kneadable dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes, adding as little flour as possible to keep dough from sticking. Place in lightly oiled 1 quart dough bucket with snap-on lid, or else in a lightly oiled bowl with saran stretched tightly over the top. Let rise in warm place (about 68-70F works) until double. (Although I’ve not tried it, you could probably put the dough in the refrigerator overnight and let it double there.)

    Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, which will de-gas it. Form into a roll, 12-inches long with tapered ends. You can put it on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or I often use a greased French bread pan with holes in the bottom. Cover and let rise in warm place until puffy, about 10-30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400F. When dough is ready, make four diagonal slashes on top. Spray bread all over with water and put into the oven.

    Bake for 5 minutes, then spray again with water. After another 5 minutes, spray it again. Bake another 25-30 minutes until a deep golden color. If desired, you can remove it from the pan in the last 5 minutes and finish baking directly on the oven rack.

    Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

    Makes 1 loaf (about 1 1/2 lbs.) As the bread has almost no fat (I use 1% milk in my starter), it is at its best the first and second day, although it makes wonderful toast, and I’ve also used it for French toast.

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    1988 Sourdough French Bread 4aaronatthedoublef

    Thanks BA. This is great. I have to test it.

    The Epicurious article on starters said that hooch is bad for sourdough as it kills the yeast.

    1988 Sourdough French Bread 6Mike Nolan

    Hooch is largely the alcohol produced by the yeast, which could stunt or kill the yeast if there was enough of it.

    If a starter is left idle for a long time (lost at the back of the fridge), it can reach a point where the yeast and the alcohol reach an equilibrium.

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