18 oz (2 1/4 cups) starter
6 oz water
3 oz canned milk
1 TB oil
1 1/2 lbs (4 3/4 cups) flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
In a mixing bowl, combine the starter, water, milk, oil and flour. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix on low - medium speed for about 3 minutes. I did it by hand with a wooden spoon until everything was well combined for a little longer than the 3 minutes.
Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Add the salt and then mix (on the lowest speed or like me, by hand) for 5 minutes.
The instructions said to put the dough in a folding trough. I don't have one. I used a large casserole dish....sprayed with a little non-stick cooking spray. It's a sticky dough. Here it will sit for the next 4 hours on the kitchen counter, covered with plastic wrap. But don't leave. At least for long. You have work to do every hour. Not hard work...but important work. Once an hour, fold the dough, left to right, like a letter. And then side to side like a letter.
This is called the "bulk fermentation stage". Once the 4 hours are up (and I'm sure you're ready to go to bed, unless you're a night owl...in which case, your dough is ready to go to bed) place the dough in a bowl, covered lightly, and put it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning...wake up...yawn....stretch. Shuffle out to the fridge and place the bowl on the counter. Go back to bed or grab a cup of coffee and the newspaper. The dough will need to warm up a bit....which takes about 2 hours. Unless you have a proofing box, in which case it will only take an hour. I don't have a proofing box....so there it sat, on my kitchen counter for the full two hours. While I drank coffee. Started the laundry. Poked around on my Facebook Fan Page and did whatever else fluttered through my head that morning.
Once the time is up, thoroughly flour your counter surface and divide the dough in half. Set one aside (in the bowl works) while you form the first loaf.
Fold the dough over, just like you did when it was in the folding trough casserole dish. Since the dough is so sticky, keep your hands only on the floured parts. Keep in mind, that you are not kneading the bread. You are folding and forming. Do this a couple of times...you'll notice that the dough firms up a bit. Place the dough on a floured baking sheet (I used the back side of a cookie sheet....covered with parchment paper). Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to proof for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
You can tell with it's finished with the final proofing by poking it with your finger and seeing that it doesn't spring bag quickly.
Preheat your oven to 450' F when there's about 30 minutes left in the final proofing time.
Just before popping these beauties in the oven, "dimple"the tops with your fingers and then stretch the dough out a little bit, lengthwise.
I placed a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven and poured 1 cup of water inside (for steam) and baked for about 15 minutes. (I also had my baking stone in the oven.) Remove the parchment paper, turn the oven down to 425'F and continued baking, either directly on the cookie sheet or directly on your baking stone if you have one, for an additional 15 - 18 minutes....until your bread is a deep golden, reddish brown.
Pairs Well With
Over a month ago, I started a new adventure. Sourdough. I made my starter and have been baking various sourdough breads every weekend, since. And am loving it. I love the flavor, the texture and the end results. It's amazing! If you want a sourdough starter recipe, you can find one on my blog: PeacefulCooking.blogspot.com