Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sourdough French Bread

Was it worth re-injuring the disk in my neck to make these breads? Um, yes. Yes it was. They may not look like much (shaping isn't my strong area) but the crust crackled, the inside was chewy and moist and look at that crumb! As my husband pointed out, people would happily pay money for bread like this. It was, perfect. Except for the shaping, but eh, I can't fuss too much over that. I really wish I had some good cheese to eat with it. At least I have plenty of marmalade.

Here's what I did:

1 cup fed sourdough starter (I've been feeding it with First Clear Flour for the last couple feedings)
3 cups all purpose flour
1-tablespoon salt
1-tablespoon sugar
1-2 cups additional all purpose flour

To the fed starter add the sugar, salt and 3 cups all-purpose flour. Let sit, covered for 6 hours. Add additional flour ½ cup at a time leaving the dough much wetter than you think will work. At this point, you won't be so much kneading as using your fingers as a sort of mixer. Try to work it until it begins to form some gluten and then place it in a bowl. Cover the dough and let it rise 1 hour. Deflate the dough and fold it once in each direction and return to bowl for another hour. Remove and fold again. Let rest another hour. Remove, fold again and then let sit ten minutes. Divide and let sit another ten minutes.

Shape loaves and place on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours or until almost doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Slash loaves, create steam and load bread. Bake 20 minutes. Carefully open oven (stand aside in case any steam remains) and turn the sheet around. Bake another ten minutes. Check for doneness. This bread will be fine with an internal temperature of 210 degrees F. But don't burn it. You may need an additional ten minutes. Cool on racks.

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