Ever since I first grew a sourdough starter, I’ve wanted to use it to make a really good loaf of artisan bread. Although I though this sourdough loaf I made shortly after beginning to bake with sourdough was good, I realize now that the reason I thought it was so great was just because it didn’t look like the disaster from the previous week.
What I really wanted was a bread with a better crust, bigger holes inside, and that was easier to make- one similar to my super Easy Artisan Bread which bakes in an enameled cast iron pot.
I should note here that by easy I mean a simple, everyday kind of sourdough loaf that uses cups to measure, few steps, and very little science involved. If you’d like to get really into sourdough – which can quickly become complicated and, frankly, overwhelming to me, I’ve found Northwest Sourdough to be very thorough and not too hard to follow for those wanting to dig a little deeper.
Since my first “success” two years ago, I have been searching for a technique that would produce a loaf of sourdough artisan bread that was all the things I desired. So I was happy to find a great recipe from Gina at Homejoys a few months ago that I have adapted to be even easier, use an enameled pot, and consistently turn out good loaves.
Look at that crust! That’s bread-beauty right there, isn’t it? Blistered and cracked and bubbly. Yeah, I can get all giddy about bread crust – kind of like when I dance in the kitchen when the eggs don’t stick in a cast iron pan. I really am about the simple things around here, I guess!
The sliced loaf pictured above was made with whole wheat bread flour (verses the previous loaf, which was made with whole wheat white flour), so the crust isn’t quite the same, but still passes the test. And the interior is full of holes, chewy, and with just a touch of sourness. Perfection.
Since sourdough is best when it’s used weekly (or every two weeks), I know make this bread has more than my favorite Easy Artisan Bread recipe in our weekly menus. But either is a winner recipe, in my book!
Timing Tip: The timing of sourdough was hard for me to figure out in the beginning. For this loaf, it works great to:
- feed the starter the night before you want to bake
- start the bread recipe the next morning
- let it rise until early afternoon before baking (and cooling) in time for dinner
I have also rushed it when I’ve forgotten the starter the night before (what- you’re shocked?) by feeding it right when I get up in the morning and letting it sit until it’s bubbly (a couple hours) and then proceeding with the recipe. The bread doesn’t have quite the optimum time to cool, but we like it warm anyway, so a bit of squished crumb is OK with us.