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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sourdough French Bread (Oven Baked)

Sourdough breads are always a delight. What sets sourdough breads apart from other breads is the slight tangy flavour derived from the sourdough starter. The starter gets it's flavour and leavening properties from wild yeast. Traditionally sourdough breads were a staple in pioneering days. Starters were protected to ensure being able to make future loaves of leavened breads. The started was passed from family member to family member as well as often being dried to keep the starter safe while traveling. I have previously written about plain sourdough bread, sourdough French bread (ABM), and sourdough muffins. Last Saturday I made two loaves of sourdough French bread baked in the oven.

Drying Sourdough Starter

When you have an established starter with just the right flavour you will want to save some of it for future use. To dry sourdough starter thinly spread the starter on a sheet of parchment paper. Allow it to dry naturally out of direct sunlight. Peel off the dried starter and break it into small pieces. It will be quite brittle. Place the dried starter pieces in a mason jar. Vacuum seal and store in a dark cool location.

Sourdough French BreadSourdough French Bread Loaves Cut

This is essentially the same recipe as the sourdough French bread (ABM) however the results are quite different due to the cooking method. This is considerably closer to a traditional sourdough French bread. The addition of yeast ensures a lower rise time however, if you want to make this bread traditional omit the yeast and give it an extended rise time. This may take longer but the results are very good. Trust me on this one, the method is a bit more involved but the bread is oh so good you will want to make it quite often!

Sourdough French Bread

1½ c sourdough starter
½ c water
1½ tsp organic sugar
1½ tsp sea salt
3½ c unbleached flour
3 tsp instant yeast

Measure the dry ingredients in into the bowl of a KitchenAid® stand mixer or similar. Mix on setting 1 and mix thoroughly. With the mixer still on setting 1 mix in starter and water. If necessary add just enough water for the dough to clean the sides of the bowl. Set the mixer to setting 2 and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the dough hook. Cover with a warm, moistened tea towel until dough is doubled in size. Punch down the dough. Divide in half and form into two elongated loaves. Sprinkle ¼ c cornmeal on a Silpat® lined baking sheet. Place the loves on the cornmeal. Cover with a warm, moistened tea towel and let rise until double.

Cut 4 deep, diagonal slices across the tops of the loaves. Combine 1 tsp cornstarch and ½ c water in a sauce pan. Heat to just boiling without boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place a large baking pan with ¼-inch boiling water in the oven. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Brush the loaves with the cornstarch mixture. Place the dough in the oven above the water. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

sourdough French bread oven bakedSourdough French Bread (oven baked)

Sourdough French bread baked in the oven is absolutely wonderful! It is rich and tangy with a beautiful golden, chewy crust due to the baking method. Adding humidity during the baking process is what gives the chewy crust texture.

Pictured is the the beautiful golden crust and lovely inside. The inside is denser than a regular loaf of bread but that adds to it's character. It's very good, piping hot from the over with just a little butter. When cooled cream cheese goes nicely with it or cut on a diagonal for making sandwiches. Two of my favourite ways to use sourdough French bread when entertaining is to use the bread as a base for garlic bread with cheese or lightly grill slices then top with bruschetta in a jar toppings.

2 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your recipe. I made it twice. One time exactly like your recipe and a second time I used 1/3 whole wheat flour. Really good!!!!!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting. I'm so glad you like the recipe. It's nice that the recipe works well using whole wheat flour too. I'll have to try that. Thanks for the tip.