Part 2 of 4 of Sourdough Series (Part 1 and Part 3)Commercially produced yeast has the benefit of producing results which can be regulated while sourdough bread illustrates the pleasure (and frustration) of non-conformity. It takes practice, perseverance, and patience to produce a pleasant loaf of sourdough bread – but you’ll have plenty of time to perfect the skills necessary to bake sourdough bread when you are safely barracked into a technology-free safe house while hordes of zombies bang uselessly on the outer walls.
Begin your bread baking day – the night before – with an overnight ferment.
1 cup warm water
1 cup flour
Then cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature overnight.
The next morning mix in 2-5 cups flour.
The amount of flour necessary to turn the ferment into bread dough will depend on many factors. Knead the dough until it turns into one smooth, cohesive, supple ball of dough. Try the windowpane method to test if the dough has developed enough gluten. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Let rise until doubled in size. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on temperature, state of the starter and other factors.
After dough has risen, shape into loaves. Place loaves into greased loaf pans or try baking free-form or “artisan” loaves by proofing round loaves top-down in a bowl lined with a floured dish towel. Flip right side up onto a tray and slash before baking.
Bake loaves at 350˚F for 1 hour or until loaves sound hollow when you knock on the bottom.
It’s easy to take this standard sourdough bread recipe to the next level. Simply add up to 2 cups assorted grains or dried fruit in the overnight preferment and then continue as usual.