Last year, my mother-in-law gave all of her kids a sourdough starter for Christmas, along with some useful bread accessories and a complicated-looking recipe to go along with it. When she gave it to me, I thought, "This is great and all for the domestic goddess types, but me? Probably not gonna happen." She told me I had to "feed" the starter, too, which sounded like something I'd fail at.
But then she also gave us a loaf of the sourdough bread that she had made. Taste alone convinced me that the bread might be worth making. After studying the recipe thoroughly, reading and re-reading it, I decided to try it out. Turns out it's not that hard.
I've made about six or seven loaves of it now and I'm hooked. Even if you don't think you like sourdough, you should try it. Need a starter? I can share. So can every member of the Campbell family, unless they've let theirs die, which I suspect a few of us have. Oh, and keeping the starter going is not as intimidating as I originally imagined either.
Here's a good video and recipe for a no knead sourdough bread that's very similar to the one I've been making. This approach makes it pretty simple. It also mixes wheat and white flour.
I've learned that the amount of time you let it sit isn't that big of a deal. I've pretty much just done as much time as was convenient for me and it's always turned out. Also, you can add instant yeast if you want, but I've done it with and without and it's turned out exactly the same, so I don't think I'm going to add extra yeast anymore.
If you want to know the way I like to do it, here you go:
1/2 cup starter
4 cups high protein, good quality white flour (I use Lehi Roller Mills)
1 1/2-2 cups filtered, non-chlorinated water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Put 1/2 cup of sourdough starter in a very large bowl and dissolve in 1/2 cup room temperature filtered water. Add 1 cup of flour. Stir until mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 6-12 hours. During this time, the dough will double or triple in size.
Add 3 cups of flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 - 1 1/2 cups of room temperature filtered water to the dough in the large bowl. Use as much water as you need to form the dough into a ball. Mix until consistent. Cover and let it sit for about 4-8 hours.
Turn out dough onto floured surface. Have a long sheet of parchment paper ready. (I've tried it without and it works if you just dump the dough into the dutch oven, but I prefer using parchment paper.) Form dough into a ball and lay it on the parchment paper. I like to put the parchment paper in a large bowl to keep the dough more rounded, but you can lay it flat on a counter as well. Cover for 1-2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. At this time, heat the oven to 475 degrees and put in a dutch oven with the lid on. It needs at least an hour to fully heat.
Thank you, Vie! I never would have tried this without you. We affectionately call this "Grandma Bread" at our house now.