Sour dough bread baking is divided into 2 sessions, making preparation ideal for the busy woman. The night before, the starter is mixed with a few other ingredients to create the sponge. The sponge sits overnight in a warm place, allowing the starter to work its magic. In the morning, the sponge will have risen double in size and be alive and bubbly. A bit of the sponge is taken out and added back into the crock and a few more ingredients are mixed into the sponge. The dough is kneaded, shaped into loaves, given a second rising and then baked.
Sour Dough Bread
The night before:
- 8 cups flour
- 1 cup starter
- 2 cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- In a large bowl, add 4 cups of the flour, starter, warm water, sugar and salt. Stir well with a large wooden spoon. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise overnight. (A warm spot in the kitchen or in the oven with the pilot light on is ideal. The goal is to keep it around 90 degrees overnight.)
- The starter can be fed now by adding back in 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water and letting it sit in a warm place overnight.
The next morning:
- 1 packet yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- The starter can be fed now by taking out one cup of sponge and adding it back into the starter.
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir into the sponge.
- Sift baking soda into remaining 4 cups flour. Stir into sponge.
- Turn onto a floured surface and needed until smooth. Add more flour if necessary.
- Shape into 2 loaves and place in well greased loaf pans. Or, shape into round loaves and place on well greased cookie sheets
- Let rise in a warm place until double. (This takes around 2 hours, but depends upon temperature.)
- Make 3 diagonal slashes across the top of the bread with a sharp knife.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
- If you’d like a darker crust, brush bread with a beaten egg before baking.
- If you ‘d like a crustier bread, brush with water before baking.
- If you’d like a more sour flavor, let the sponge sit for 24 hours before baking.