Payton provided me with some of his sourdough starter (aka Barm aka Wild Poolish - what a great name) a week or so ago and yesterday I finally got around to baking my first loaf of Sourdough bread. Very exciting!
Actually, the work began on Sunday, because there is a lot of doing one step and then waiting several hours, then doing another step. I will outline what I did and what worked for me after the jump.
I can't wait to make my next batch!
Begin with wet starter (barm). To get barm.. well.. i'll have to expand on that some other time, since I got this barm from Payton. But I do want to try my own.
Note that the instructions below assume making two loaves. For one loaf, halve the recipe, obvs (including halving this firm starter).
Next make firm starter by stirring 2 cups of flour and 2 cups barm together in a mixing bowl. This should make a dough. If it is too stiff or dry, add a few drops of water (literally, only a few drops at a time until you get the proper consistency. You don't want it to be too wet and sticky either).
Knead the dough for several minutes until smooth.
Coat lightly with oil and return to bowl and cover with plastic wrap or damp towel.
Let it rise (at room temp) for a few hours until the dough is 1 and a half to double in size.
Now remove the firm starter from the fridge and set aside.
Mix 6 cups of flour with 1 TBSP Salt and 1 1/4 tsp Sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Cut (do not tear) the firm starter into 5 or 6 pieces and mix it into the dough. Slowly add 2 cups of water and mix. Stop adding water when the dough is soft and before it gets too wet (if it gets too wet, add a touch more flour).
Knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Coat the dough lightly with oil and return to the bowl and cover with a damp towel.
Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour.
Then shape the dough and/or place in loaf pan. OR, refrigerate overnight and then shape and/or place in loaf pan the next day.
Allow to rise a little bit more for another 1 - 4 hours.
Now it's ready to bake!
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When it's at about 350, fill a cast iron skillet with about 2 cups of water and place at the bottom of the oven.
Using a sharp knife, slice a few slits in the bread loaves. This will allow the bread to rise and expand better as it cooks. The slices you see below were originally thin cuts made with a sharp knife in the uncooked dough, about half an inch deep. Now look at 'em! Pretty.
When the oven's preheated, put the bread in (leaving the skillet in also).
If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, just spritz the bread and the sides of the oven with water.
Watch out for hot steam.
Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the loaves. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. When done, place on a cooling rack until cooled. Then enjoy!
Hopefully you can slice bread better than I can. I can only bake it, it seems.