Firm Sour Dough Loaf Starter (From The Bread Baker's Apprentice)
Final Sourdough Loaf
1) Bring barm to room temperature before you can start this dough. Measure out the 2/3 Cups and let it sit for about an hour to warm.
2) Add flour to barm and then add just enough water to pull the dough together (about 1/4 Cup of water)
3) You don’t really need to knead this dough, although do work it with your hands for a minute or so just to make sure the flour is all hydrated and everything is mixed together.
4) Lightly oil a small bowl (I like using spray oil just to get a light mist), turn the dough ball to cover every side and then cover it with plastic wrap.
5) Ferment this starter at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it doubles in size. Stick this in the fridge overnight.
6) After an overnight chill out in the fridge, take firm starter out, cut it into a few pieces (like a dozen) and let those pieces sit for an hour or so to come to room temperature. Spray them with oil lightly so they don’t dry out.
7) Mix flour and salt together and then add firm starter chunks.
8) If you’re using a mixer, mix this with the paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. If you’re doing it by hand, nothing beats a good old wooden spoon.
9) Sprinkle your counter or any clean surface with flour and start kneading the dough! You’ll need to knead this guy for 12 to 15 minutes. You could also mix it for four minutes in a mixer on medium-low speed, let it rest for 5 minutes, and then mix for another 4 minutes. Mix it until the dough passes the infamous windowpane test.
10) Make a ball out of this dough and add it to an oiled bowl.
11) Ferment this ball for 3 or 4 hours or until the dough has doubled.
12) After the dough has doubled, remove it and shape it as you want it. Basically just fold the dough under itself to form surface tension.
13) Proofed the loaf on a pizza peel with a dusting of cornmeal for another 2 or 3 hours. Again, be sure spritz the loaf with oil and cover it loosely with a towel
14) Put the pizza stone in the oven if you are using one and preheat it to 500 degrees. Also, put an empty metal pan a few minutes before the bread is going in to heat up.
15) Score the dough by slicing some slits using a straight razor or serrated blade.
16) Slide this right onto the stone or bake it on a sheet pan.
17) Add 1 Cup hot water to the steam pan and also spritz the interior walls with water to create additional steam. Just do the spritzing a few times once the dough is in the oven.
18) Bake 35 to 45 minutes.
19) Transfer the loaf after baking to a wire rack to cool. Let it cool for at least an hour before eating!