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Video:Homemade Sourdough Bread

with John Mitzewich

While making homemade sourdough bread does involve some time, it's not hard to do, and the results are the most amazing bread you've ever tasted. This is the real San Francisco treat: fresh-from-the-oven sourdough!See Transcript

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Transcript:Homemade Sourdough Bread

Hi, I'm Chef John Mitzewich for About.com. Today we're making the real San Francisco treat, homemade sourdough bread.

Make the Sourdough Yeast

The first step is mixing some flour and water. That's 1/2 cup of rye flour and 1/2 cup of wheat flour with 1 cup of warm water. Give it a stir and that is called the "starter." So basically we're not going to use any commercial yeast. We're going to grow our own yeast using the wild yeast in the air and the flour.

So cover that loosely and leave it out at room temperature. And then every 24 hours, take out and discard half, and add 1/2 cup of wheat flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Keep doing that for 3-7 days until the starter is fermented and bubbling with wild yeast.

So after 3-7 days, it depends on the weather and your local, this is what its going to look like. It going to be bubbly and smell "beer-y" and its going to have a nice sour smell.

Make the Sourdough Sponge

Now to make the sponge. which is the next step. Pour the starter into a bowl and add 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of water. We're going to cover that and leave it overnight and that's what's called a sponge which is just a fermented batter. That's what we're going to use to make the dough.

Prepare the Sourdough Bread Dough

Give the sponge a stir and add 2 cups to a bowl. Then add:
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup bread flour
Stir that up and that will make a wet, sticky dough. Add another cup of flour and that will make a dough firm enough to pour on to the cutting board. Then we're going to work in approximately a 3rd cup of flour. Go by feel. Add a little at a time and keep kneading until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Should take about 10-15 minutes.

Test the Sourdough Dough

You know you are done if you can stretch a piece of dough and see light through it. This is called the "window pane" test. Once the dough is ready put a teaspoon of oil in a bowl and oil the bowl and dough so it doesn't dry out.

Allow the Dough to Rise

Cover with a wet towel and let rise to double in size, about 18 hours. Sourdough rises much slower than regular yeast dough. When its ready pat it down on the board which will deflate it. Make it into a square shape and roll it into a loaf.

Put it onto a cornmeal coated pan, 2 tbsp of cornmeal, and place it seam-side down. Then, take an oiled piece of plastic wrap, and place it loosely over the dough. Let that double in size, which will take between 8 and 12 hours, so it takes a while.

Bake the Sourdough Bread

When that's ready make some slices in the top of the bread, about 1/2" deep, which are for looks and to help the bread rise in the oven. Put a pan of water in the bottom of a cold oven, and put in the dough. Turn on the oven to 425 degrees F., and bake for 40-45 minutes.

A couple times during the cooking, if you want a nice crispy crust, spray it with plain water, and that really makes that beautiful blistered crust. When it's done it will have a hollow sound when tapped. And, listen to that slice... unreal.

It took a week, but it's not a lot of work, and the results are incredibly delicious. You have to taste homemade sourdough bread. Give this a try. Enjoy.

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