Yield 1 medium sized loaf
3 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour †
3 teaspoons of Instant Yeast ‡
2 teaspoons salt
1 dollop sourdough starter (about 1/2 – 1 cup) ‡‡
1 1/4 cup warm water
Extra flour for kneading (and the proofing basket)
Cornmeal for the breadpot
Bring your sourdough starter to room temperature, either early the day of baking, or the day before.
In a 5 quart mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Stir to combine. Purist will do this without yeast, but I’m not a pure 🙂
Dollop the sourdough into the bowl and combine with the dry ingredients and stir. The consistency will be dry and flakey.
Slowly begin pouring the warm water into the bowl and using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon work the water into the dry ingredients. Depending on temperature and humidity, you may not need all of the water, so go slowly until the dough becomes tacky, but not too pasty. This will require some experimentation, and don’t be afraid to add more flour if it gets too pasty. Use your hands to finish kneading the dough into a ball, making sure to scrape bits of flour off the sides of the bowl until it is nearly all incorporated into the dough.
Lightly spray a lidded rectangular proofing container with neutral cooking spray and transfer the dough to it. I use a 24 cup Rubbermaid container, but you can skip this step and proof in a bowl, or on your flour dusted countertop with a towel on top of the dough. Make sure the container is out of direct light (and at room temperature) and put it aside to proof for 60-90 minutes.
After the first rise (the dough will typically double), lightly dust it with flour and fold it into itself from both sides. Then stretch it out. Put the top back on and put it aside for another 60-90 minutes.
Dust your counter with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Now form a round shaped loaf with your hands. If you don’t have a banneton proofing basket, cover the loaf with a tea towel and let sit for the final step before baking. If you have a banneton proofing basket, lightly dust it with flour. Transfer the loaf to it and cover with a tea towel. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and while the oven comes up to temperature let the dough finish its shaping.
Dust the bottom of your bread pot with corn meal, or cut a circular round out of parchment for the bottom of the pot. Turn the loaf into the breadpot and make sure its centered at the bottom. With the bread in the pot, use a sharp knife to make 3 or more slashes in the top of the loaf. Using a spray bottle on mist setting, spritz the top a few times. Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and transfer the bread pot to the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid of the breadpot and return it to the oven. The bread is ready when the internal temperature is ~206 degrees.
Remove the bread from the breadpot and turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool for 15-30 minutes (longer is better, but I will admit to ignoring this). Once the bread is cool store it in a paper bag.
† I like King Arthur. Also, I sometimes I substitute 1 cup of Whole Wheat