Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sourdough Starter for Boule Bread

This is a recipe adapted from the book Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day.  I say adapted because of the type of flour I use.  I recently purchased Hard White Wheat, Soft White Wheat and Hard Red Wheat berries and I am working on adapting all my recipes to include these flours instead of the all-purpose white flour.  My changes are in italics.

The purpose of a sourdough starter is one for the flavor and two for the convenience (for me) of having fresh dough readily available to bake bread quickly.  Since we started milling our own flour the time involved in baking bread has slightly increased and for me that is not a good thing.

Here is the recipe. If you can get through all the wording (it does seem extensive) and just follow the steps one by one you will realize making fresh bread every day really is not that daunting.  Once you have your starter you will have 4 lbs of fresh dough to make bread with for the next 2 weeks.


  • cups lukewarm water

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or 1 1/2 tablespoons other coarse salt

  • 6 1/2 cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose (not strong) I used my Hard White Wheat flour

  • 1 Preparing Dough for Storage:

  • 2 Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. With cold water it will need 3-4 hours.

  • 3 Add the yeast to the water in a 5 quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.

  • 4 Mix in the flour and salt - kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula. Don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurement. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you're hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead, it isn't necessary. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

  • 5 Allow to rise. Cover with lid (not airtight or it could explode the lid off). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature Longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won't harm the result.

  • 6 You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.

  • 7 On Baking Day:

  • 8 prepare your loaf tin, tray, or whatever you're baking it in/on. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with four. Pull up and cut of a grapefruit-size piece of dough (c 1 lb), using a serrated knife.

  • 9 Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off - that's fine, it isn't meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.

  • 10 The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 - 60 seconds.

  • 11 Rest the loaf and let it rise in the form, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That's fine, more rising will occur during baking.

  • 12 Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

  • 13 Dust and Slash. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.

  • 14 After a 20 min preheat you're ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won't be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.

  • 15 Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.

  • 16 Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.


  • The flavour and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavour.

  • 17 This is the standard bread. There are loads of variations - both savory and sweet - in the book.

  • I would highly recommend buying this book or borrowing it from your local library.  

  • Recipe posted by: Tracy Lytle

  • Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/5-minute-artisan-bread-325571#ixzz1NH4CBBeQ


    Mrs. M said...

    Thanks for this, Tracy, I've been on a whole grain rye kick with the Artisan no-knead recipe, and this one looks great, too. Is the photo your bread? Wow! Because I tend to make a massive 2-week batch and keep it in the fridge, I've been playing around with how long it takes for whole grain bread to 'settle' after being refrigerated. For me, anything less than 2 hours sitting out on the counter produces heavy overly dense bread. I'm sure this kind of thing varies, but, anyway...happy baking!

    Mrs. M said...

    PS - also, if I don't feel like digging up the boiler tray, I've had good luck baking the bread inside a dutch oven (preheated with lid in the oven, but not on). I let the bread do its last 'rise' on parchment paper and then plop the whole thing into the preheated dutch oven, mist it a bit with water and then keep the lid on for the first 15 minutes. Then mist again when I take the lid off for the rest of the cooking. Gorgeous crust!