It is rainy and cold here today. So, I was planning to let the dough that I prepared yesterday rise for two days. Sourdough is very slow to rise, and even slower when it's cool. By letting it ferment for two days, it also becomes more sour, which is nice. But, my 13-yr-old son was standing in the kitchen hollering, "Bread, bread, bread, bread...." So, I relented.
Here is the dough I made yesterday in its happy home--an Anchor Hocking batter bowl that I bought at Walmart for $7.
After I get the loaves on the pan, I use a sharp knife to create slits in the top. I usually go down the entire length in the middle once. I've found this works the best with my recipe as the loaf will not split anywhere but the slit. You can also slit diagonally, as is traditional. When the loaf rises some more in the oven, it needs a bit of room to grow.
I preheat my oven to 475 degrees. While that is heating up, I prepare the dough for the next day.
You can also make the bread in a Lodge 3 Qt. Combo Cooker. I just take the dough out of my mixer and let it rise in the Lodge pot with the lid on (instead of putting it in the batter bowl). It's so easy because you just place it in the preheated oven the next day. Here is a picture of what is left of the bread I made the other day in it. My family calls it "bread pie" because of its shape and how we cut it into wedges.
I'm using a couple of measuring cups (1 cup and 1/2 cup) and a measuring spoon (1 tsp) that are great. It's OK to use stainless when creating the dough. But, be careful when using it when feeding or storing your starter. Metal does not make your sourdough happy. The salt cellar by Miles Kimball is one of my favorite things. Oh, the flour is from Walmart. You can buy much better flour. But, this is affordable. We go through a lot of flour baking as much bread as I do. I like the re-closeable packaging on it too.
Add 3 tsp of Diamond Crystal kosher salt. (The recipe comes out better with Diamond Crystal brand than with Morton.)
Add 1 Cup of purified water. Now, the water you use is important. We had to switch from well water to city tap water this past October (not our choice). So, I bought a Propur G2.0 Big to filter out the chlorine and flouride--both of which can kill off your starter (not especially good for humans either!). Later, I ordered the stand, which is a really nice item to have. Be nice to your starter; use pure water.
Cook bread for 15 to 16 minutes at 475 degrees.
Now that I have the bread in the oven, I will turn on my mixer to the #2 setting for dough with the dough hook.
Here's how to feed the starter:
I keep the starter in a quart-sized Mason jar. Every few days, change out to a clean jar because starter will stick the to side when you pour it and turn to an icky flour cement.
Add 1/2 Cup of flour to the jar of starter. I use a canning funnel for the small-mouthed jars so I don't end up with flour all over my counter.
Now, add 1/2 Cup of purified water to the jar.
Stir with a non-metal utensil. This is pretty important as the starter is alive and sensitive to metal objects. I use a plastic knife. Oh, and when you are done with the utensil (or anything else that touches the starter, like your measuring cup in the dough section), immediately rinse it off. You will not be happy when it is time to wash your dishes if you let starter sit on anything because it turns to flour cement. When stirring, try to incorporate plenty of air into the starter. The starter seems to like that.
My method developed over a period of about five months. It is not fancy. I am confident you could create a prettier loaf. But, here's my situation: I do farm chores in the morning; I teach homeschool until 5 pm; then, I make dinner and do the dishes; After dinner, I do more farm chores and then go to work. I copyedit books for Elsevier until midnight or later. One last check on the animals, and it's time for me to read my Bible and get some shut eye. Rinse and repeat 7 days a week. The only break I get is that I don't have to teach school on the weekends. Freelancing and farm chores don't take a day off though. So, I read all kinds of recipes and such until I had gathered the kind of information I needed to come up with my own way of doing things that fit into my busy schedule. And, here are the results: