This is without a doubt the best bread I have ever made!
I have made it using my homemade sourdough starter that I made from organic apples (see post on creating your own starter) and then baked it in my Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pot. This technique was created by Jim Lahey from the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. It is a way to get a home oven hotter to create a bread with a gorgeous bakery style crust. You have got to try this recipe just once to become hooked on how extraordinary the bread is made using this method.
You can then adapt it to create your favourite bread.
You will need:
- 1 cup of sourdough starter
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 cups white flour (bread flour or all purpose)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp regular dry yeast
You will need to start your bread a day before you bake it. When you use a sourdough starter the bread typically takes more time to rise and develop better flavour. This bread also requires less kneading. It is so worth the wait I promise you!
Step 1: take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and let come to room temperature (this may take 1-2 hours) Once it is at room temperature add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup warm water. Stir and leave at least 1 hour. It will start to bubble and ferment again because you are feeding it the additional flour.
Once it is bubbly you can remove 1 cup of your starter for your bread.
Cover and return your starter to the fridge to store.
Step 2: add 1 cup starter, 1 cup warm water , 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 tsp yeast (this is a tiny amount just for an added boost) honey and 1 cup whole wheat flour to your large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix well. Leave this mix uncovered for 30 minutes.
Step 3: add remaining 2 1/4 cups flour and salt. You can also add additional flour if/as necessary. I like to use a plastic scraper to make sure I scrape off all the dough from the counter while I am kneading the bread and incorporating the flour.
I roll the dough and use the heel of my palm to press and turn always making sure to add flour as necessary.You are feeling the dough as you knead it. When it feels smooth and no longer feels sticky you have added enough flour. (this may take 4-5 minutes) You can also press the smooth finished dough and if it starts to spring back from your press it is ready. You do not need to knead the bread very long in this recipe because you are giving the bread lots of time to develop. Once it has absorbed all the flour you are done!
Step 4: I lightly oil a large bowl rub the oil on both sides of your dough and cover with plastic wrap. I leave it on the counter for 12-14 hours. You want it to more than double in size. When you make a bread using a natural starter it takes much longer to rise than when using a commercial yeast. If I was making this bread with a commercial yeast I could still leave it overnight however, I would leave it in the fridge to slow down the rise while in this example the natural yeast in my starter is much slower to develop so I have left it on the counter.
This photo shows when the dough has risen almost too long.and if left much longer it will start to fall in on itself and will lose it's structure and ability to have beautiful air pockets. You don't want to lose all the power that the yeast has developed in your bread. My bread had a 13 hour rise to reach the perfect rise. Scrape out dough on a lightly floured counter and lightly knead for a minute or two until smooth again.
Step 5: once your ball is kneaded. I take the same bowl and place a sheet of parchment paper in the bowl and place the dough on top. I slash the dough with a sharp knife and cover with plastic to rise again for 2 hours.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F and place your enamelled cast iron pan with the lid on it in the oven to heat for 30 minutes to get very hot. (so... at the 1 1/2 hour point of your second rise turn on oven.When the pot is heated your bread will be ready to put in the oven)
Step 6: Remove lid carefully because it is very hot. Gently lift the bread with the parchment paper and place in pot. Cover with the lid and place in hot oven for 20 minutes.
Step 7: after 20 minutes remove lid and bake another 15-20 minutes uncovered.
Carefully remove bread to a cooling rack. The smell is out of this world. It smells sour and slightly of apple. The sound of the crust crackling as it cools is wonderful to compliment the aroma.....ah heaven must surely smell like this! Let cool completely before cutting. I know it's hard but, you will squish the beautiful interior if you don't wait.
The interior is soft and fluffy and the exterior has that wonderful chewy, crusty texture of good bakery bread. Served with butter and honey or along with some homemade soup this is an awesome loaf of good bread made in your kitchen.