I have not always been a sourdough fan. I will admit, my fondness for the bread is relatively recent. Usually when picking out bread at the store, I've done just about everything to avoid it. Digging through the stacks of loaves, sniffing and squeezing my way (hygienically, of course) around and through the bins looking for anything that is not sourdough. Yes, you've been wondering all along who's the jerk that's been messin with the bread at the store. Well, I'm here to to tell you it's me. Guilty as charged. But I'm also here to tell you that while I will take the blame for past offenses, I won't any longer.
Why is this you ask? Well, I've recently experienced a conversion. Of the sourdough kind, and I have my aunt to thank for it.
My aunt Christy is without a doubt one of the best cookie and bread bakers I've ever known and recently she honored my request for a lovely sourdough boule at Christmas. Gorgeously round and striated with flour rings from it's proofing bowl it was a sight to behold. So delicious it was devoured by us all in one day.
It got me to thinking that while I had labored for years making kneaded bread doughs, I had yet to step into the world of no knead, slow rise breads. This world is clearly one that I know little if anything about. Endless tomes have been written on the glories and intricacies of this type of bread making and baking. Feeling a bit overwhelmed and more than a bit unsure where to start, I pleaded with my aunt for some guidance. She pointed me in many very helpful directions and consequently I spent hours digesting and learning all I could about sourdough and other naturally yeasted breads.
The abundance of information available on the web is truly astounding and one could simply read for years all the great information out there with regard to the subject. The most helpful site for me has been the Breadtopia site. Chock full of great videos and recipes, this site should be the first stop for anyone looking to learn the basics.
The recipe for the sourdough loaf that I've had the most success with is found here at The Stone Soup blog. There are great videos and a very simple recipe to follow. Instructions on how to begin your own yogurt based sourdough starter and a simple easy to understand tutorial video.
This recipe is so fail proof and forgiving that I have yet to mess it up. For those that know me on a personal level you are shaking your heads in astonishment and picking your jaws up off the floor. I know, my reputation for clumsy and forgetful in the kitchen is legendary, but truly you can't mess this one up. How do I know this? Well that photo up there of that beautiful loaf, was taken this morning, Sunday, after I failed to bake the bread the night before. The bread sat proofing on my counter for 24 hours yesterday, while the recommended proof time falls between 8-12 hours. Ahem.
So I strongly encourage you to hop on over to The Stone Soup blog and give the recipe a try. There is even a recipe for a rustic loaf without a sourdough starter so that if you don't want the hassle of waiting 3 days to have your starter mature you can dive right in.
The only other thing I would add with regard to the recipe is that in the early days of growing your starter, it can be more liquid and a bit runnier than it will be once it develops to full maturity. I altered the recipe by adding 380 g of flour and place of the 325 g the recipe suggests. Also, since I began making bread on day 3 of my starter I have needed to add a small amount of yeast to help along the natural fermentation. The recipe suggests 1/4 tsp. additional yeast until your starter reaches full maturity. This works beautifully.
Finally I must say that the ease of this recipe is astounding. It's really stupid easy. Just requires a bit of patience and a warm kitchen. I will never again be digging around for any other bread in the bin at the store. Ever. And I will enjoy spending virtually pennies as opposed to many dollars on bread so fresh and outstanding it's spoiled me for all others.