Sourdough french bread #4

Yield: 6 servings

Measure Ingredient
2¼ cup Bread flour
1 cup Starter, at room temp.
½ tablespoon Yeast (I use Fermipan or Red Star)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
½ cup Tepid water (between 80 and 90 F)

I take the starter out of the fridge 4 to 8 hours before I plan to start the bread. I feed it, then let it come up to room temp as it is digesting the feeding (½ cup A.P. Flour and ½ cup water). To start the bread, I measure everything but the water into the machine, set it for French Bread, and turn it on. I then drizzle the water into the machine slowly while it is running. That allows me to stop before ½ cup is added, should the flour have absorbed a lot of humidity from the air. For an extra crispy crust, I spray the dough lightly with water during the final rise (after the loaf-forming stage) and slash the top if I'm in the mood for a fancy look.

Rye Variation

Substitute ½ cup rye for ¼ cup bread flour. Add 1 tsp caraway seed. May need a Tbs or so extra water.

Sourdough Starter

This starter is from the Food Processor Bread Book by the Editors of Consumer Guide. Published in 1980 by Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-25201-1. I have been using and abusing this starter for years.

1 cup warm water 1 package active dry yeast ½ cup instant nonfat dry milk solids ½ cup unflavored natural yogurt 1½ cups all purpose flour

1. Combine water and yeast in large glass bowl, crock or other non-metallic container. Stir to dissolve yeast.

2. Add dry milk and yogurt to yeast mixture. Beat with whisk until blended. Add flour and beat until smooth.

3. Cover bowl tightly*. Let stand in warm place (85F) until starter has developed a sour aroma and is bubbly, 24 to 36 hours. Stir occasionally.

4. Keep starter tightly covered in refrigerator. * 5. To use, stir and pour off as much as recipe requires. Replenish remaining starter by blending in equal parts of flour and milk*. Cover tightly and let stand at room temperature until bubbly. Refrigerate.

Starter should be used and replenished every two weeks.* In case you are wondering about those asterisks. Those are places where I have learned to depart from the stated instructions. BY NO MEANS, should you ever store your starter tightly covered! This is a great way to end up spending at least an hour cleaning your fridge. I keep the starter in an old instant coffee jar which has had the cardboard liner removed from the lid.

This leaves a bit of a space when you screw down the lid for gas to escape. Even so, I don't screw down the lid all that tightly. I don't waste bread flour on the starter, all purpose is fine. I also have given up feeding milk to the starter, though I occasionally use whey leftover from making yogurt cheese. I have left this starter in the fridge unfed for up to six months and found only an inch of booze on the top that smells like cheap sherry. I generally stir that down with a dishwasher-safe plastic chopsticks and feed the beast. By next morning it is happily bubbling and ready to use. You will note that I feed first and then use. That way the starter can be doing something while it's coming up to room temperature, which is the best temperature to use it.

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