HOW TO MAKE SOURDOUGH BREAD
When I mix up yeast breads I prefer to use my stand mixer to knead the dough. If you happen to have a bread maker, you could use the dough setting and knead the dough that way. But don’t worry…if you don’t have either of those appliances you can still make this bread! Simply mix the dough up in a large bowl and then knead the dough by hand for about 5-6 minutes.
- About the milk: You want the milk to be warm, about 110-115 degrees so that the yeast can start to activate. Be sure it isn’t too hot!
- About the yeast: The most important thing to remember about yeast is to make sure it is fresh. There’s nothing worse than getting part way through your homemade bread recipe and realize that the bread isn’t rising due to old yeast. Our favorite yeast is Red Star Platinum Yeast. It produces beautiful, tall loaves, every time. This yeast is an instant yeast so you don’t have to wait 5 minutes for the yeast to “proof”. Add the yeast to the warmed milk and then you’re immediately ready to add in the rest of the ingredients and mix.
- About the flour: To make a rustic, chewy loaf of bread, you’ll want to use bread flour, which is a high gluten flour. If you want your bread softer in texture you can use all-purpose flour. The recipe calls for 4 1/2 cups of flour. The dough should be slightly tacky when you touch it. If you feel you need to add a little more flour (especially if kneading by hand), add the flour a tablespoon at a time. I wouldn’t add more than an additional 1/2 cup flour. The more flour you add, the drier and harder your bread will be.
- About rising bread dough: To allow the bread dough to rise until it is almost double in size. I like to set my oven to 170 degrees for a minute or two to let it warm. Then turn off the oven and place the covered bowl (with the dough inside) on the oven rack. Close the oven door and your dough will have a cozy, warm place to rise. My dough normally takes about 30-35 minutes to rise. This can potentially take around 60 minutes though, so be sure you plan enough time. Temperature, humidity and altitude can all play a part in how long it takes bread dough to rise.
- The second bread dough rise: After the dough has risen once, you’ll divide the two in two, shape them into loaves and place them in a greased 9×5 or 8×4 loaf pan. Either size will work. Cover the pans and allow the loaves to rise for an additional 20-25 minutes before you bake them.