We make this bread at least once a month. It makes four medium size loaves. We usually eat one on the day we make it and freeze the other three. It is a perfect bread sliced in a basket for a side at the dinner table, but we also use it instead of pastry puffs and in place of biscuits with various recipes. It is healthier and so flavorful that we do not miss the heavier counterparts. While this bread is made with the “sourdough starter,” it is not sour like a San Francisco sourdough or a sourdough from a mix. The starter definitely adds a great depth of flavor, but the reason we simply call it Basic Bread from Starter is because it is not, in fact, at all sour.
Ingredients for Basic Bread from Starter
Bring your starter to room temperature. (I usually take the whole container of starter out of the fridge the night before I am going to use it. I measure out the amount I need the next day, then feed the rest of the starter accordingly.)
Combine 2 1/2 C. flour and the yeast in your electric mixer (Kitchen Aid) bowl. In a separate bowl, combine another 2 1/2 C. flour with the baking soda. Heat water, sugar, butter and 1 t. salt until warm and butter almost melts (about 120°).
Add the water mixture and sourdough starter to the flour and yeast mixture and beat with the whisk attachment on low speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl well, then beat on high speed for about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl to a counter and, using a wooden spoon, mix in as much of the additional flour as you can by hand.
Return the bowl to the stand mixer and, using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed for 10 minutes, adding the rest of the flour to make a smooth, soft and elastic dough. (Or, if you do not have a stand mixer, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand adding the remaining flour until you have a smooth, soft and elastic dough. This also should take about 10 minutes.)
Shape the dough into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl, turning once to cover the surface, cover and let rise until double. (Approximately 1 hour.)
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Using a food scale, divide into 4 equal parts and shape into balls. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Have two lightly greased baking sheets, or baking sheets with silicone mats (this is what we use) ready before you shape your loaves.
Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball, one at a time, into about a 8″ by 12″ rectangular shape. Have some water in a small dish ready to dab your fingers in and wet the top edge of the rectangle, where your seam will be, with the water. Roll your rectangle into a loaf, starting at the edge closest to you and ending at the end you have dabbed with water. Gently pinch the edge together with the rest of the dough to form a seam. Turn the dough seam side down and tuck the ends under to form rounded ends. Remove to baking sheet and slash the top several times with a sharp knife. Cover lightly with a dish towel and let rise until double. (About 30 minutes.)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake loaves for 30 – 35 minutes, rotating at 15 minutes. Lightly cover with foil for last 10 minutes if the crust appears to be getting too dark. Cool on baking racks. Wrap loaves that are going to be frozen immediately, once cooled, in foil and place in freezer bags. These can be heated straight from the freezer in the foil and taste fresh as the day you made them. Makes 4 loaves.