Since receiving the recipe for the Sourdough Starter, I've made this French bread countless times. In fact, one year I donated 2 dozen loaves for a benefit dinner! These loaves rival any found in stores and can be made with relative ease.
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1-3/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
- 1/4 cup Sourdough Starter
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- CORNSTARCH WASH:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the Sourdough Starter, oil, sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough additional flour to form a soft ball.
- Turn onto a floured surface; gently knead 20-30 times (dough will be slightly sticky). Place in a greased bow, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each into a 12-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch ends to seal. Place, seam side down, on two greased baking sheets; tuck ends under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- With a sharp knife, make four shallow diagonal slashes across top of each loaves. In a small saucepan, combine water and cornstarch. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Brush some over loaves.
- Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Brush loaves with the remaining cornstarch wash. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (10 slices each).
Originally published as Sourdough French Bread in Best of Country Breads 2000, p53
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