I’m so proud of the sourdough starter that Dave made! The sandwich loaves from last weekend were a great success and I feel like we are really getting to know our way around making sourdough.
There are definitely good recipes out there for easy bread and quick pizza dough and many of those are excellent, but they don’t usually make sandwich dough that is “quick,” I think because of the super-soft texture that you’re going for. It seems to me that if you’re making bread at home, most of the time it is going to be a long (but mostly inactive) process and all you really need is a little planning.
Here’s what you need to make two regular loaf pan loaves. Be forewarned: the total time on this recipe (I hate when recipes surprise you with the second rise time) is 7 hours:
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups AP flour
In our past attempts at doing a straight-up loaf, we’ve had trouble with it being too dense. After the online brouhaha about caramelized onions this week, I kind of wonder if sourdough recipes have the same problem – the actual writer recipes really understate the time needed. We finally achieved near-perfect interior texture, but it took almost 7 hours from start to finish, and next time I might even go longer.
Start by mixing all (yes, all!) of the ingredients together in a stand mixer. Remove to a floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed. In my opinion, there are two things you need to make sure of when making a teased dough like pizza crust or sourdough:
A) a baker’s window: you must knead the dough until there is enough gluten that the dough will stretch so thin that it is actually transparent. You can figure this out with just a small chunk, gently stretching it with your fingertips. If the dough tears before it stretches to transparency, knead for another five minutes and then try again. You should be able to see light through your almost-hole.
B) a smooth texture. If your dough is shaggy, it is not ready. If it’s too sticky, add flour. You should be able to knead easily with lightly floured hands. In kind of a funny coincidence, bread dough is ready when it looks nice and pretty.
After the dough is kneaded enough and smooth in texture, place in an oiled bowl, cover in plastic wrap or with a dish towel and allow to rise for 3 hours.
When the first rise is complete, take the dough back out onto a lightly floured surface, separate into halves and form the halves into smooth logs (drag the shaggy edge underneath, so the top of the loaf is smooth). Give your two loaf pans a quick spray with nonstick cooking spray and place the logs inside. Cover and allow to rise for another 2-3 hours or more.
When the loaves have doubled in size again, spray the tops of them with a light misting of water and then make a 1/4-inch-deep cut in the top with a serrated knife to get that pretty split in the top. A small cut will not do – make sure you can see it start to separate rather than the cut just staying as it is in place. It will bake apart further.
Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, and allow to cool on a wire rack afterwards.