Friday, May 13, 2005

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread (Adapted from Canadian Living)

For the starter

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 cups water, divided
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

For the bread dough

1 cup warm water, divided
2 cups white bread flour, divided
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 large egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon water

To prepare the starter

In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, 1 cup water and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until tripled in volume, about 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 3 days. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water - cover and place back into the refrigerator for 3 more days.

Divide the starter in half and place one-half in a large bowl. *You can either discard the other half or see the bottom of the recipe on how to feed it.

To prepare the bread dough

Into the large bowl with the halved starter, stir in 3/4 cup water until smooth. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, beat in 1 1/2 cups of the white bread flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for at least 12 hours or up to 24. Uncover and stir in remaining water.

Stir in whole wheat bread flour and salt. Turn out onto floured surface - knead, dusting with as much of the remaining white bread flour as needed to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray - turn the dough over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until tripled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Scoop the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times to remove air bubbles. Cover lightly with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Press into 1/2" thick circle. Fold the dough 1 1/2" down from top, pressing down in the center. Repeat folding, pressing into torpedo-shaped loaf. Pinch edge and ends to seal.

Place loaf, seam side down, on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise in a draft-free area doubled, roughly 1-1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425

Using a pastry brush, brush the whisked egg mixture over the loaf. With firm strokes, use a serrated knife to cut 3 or 4 slashes on the top.

Place the pan into the oven and bake until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

*To feed the remaining starter - stir in 3/4 cup water and 1 1/4 cups flour. Place into the refrigerator at chill for at least 2 days or for up to 1 week. The starter must be fed once a week - if you won't be making bread at the end of the time, discard half of the starter and feed the remainder for upkeep.

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