When I first created a yeast starter, I found it very difficult to find recipes that didn't call for commercial yeast. I searched for how to convert recipes from using commercial yeast to yeast starter and I also experimented using different amounts of starter before I found a combination that worked.
This is the first bread I made with a yeast starter and it is a simple bread to make. I have since made this a number of times and have tried different techniques and flours. Each time it has turned out great with a crispy crust and a delicious flavor.
Unlike instant or quick rise yeast, making bread with a starter takes time. I make the dough the night before and let it rise overnight. That way, I don't lose patience.
Ingredients 1/4 cup Active Starter* (Instructions to create a starter)
1 1/3 cups of warm water
4 cups flour**
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
*If the starter is kept in the refrigerator, wake it up a couple of days before by taking it out and feeding it.
** I have used both unbleached white flour and bread flour. The bread flour produces a bread which is more airy. Other than that, I have noticed little difference.
Note: I have tried to make the dough both by hand and with a bread machine. I prefer to do this by hand because I can see when it is fully mixed.
1. Whisk together starter and water.
2. Add flour and salt and combine. The dough will be a little sticky.
NOTE: I have read a few recipes which suggest combining the salt after the flour as salt kills the yeast. I tried that once and the dough doubled in size both with and without separating it. So for this recipe, I add it together.
3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes. During this time, replenish the starter.
4. After 30 minutes, work dough into a smooth ball.
5. Cover and let the dough rise for 8-10 hours or until it has doubled in size. The amount of time it takes to rise will vary, depending on the temperature of the room. It will take 8-10 hours in 70° F. Colder rooms will take a longer time and warmer rooms will take a shorter time.
6. Once the dough has doubled, careful remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
7. Shape the loaf by taking a piece of the side a folding it toward the center. Repeat this all the way around the dough.
8. Turn the dough over and let it rest for 10 minutes.
9. After 10 minutes, move the dough to a bowl, folds on the top. I have tried both a bowl lined with a towel dusted with flour and a bowl dusted with flour without a towel. The towel keeps the flour spread more evenly but without the towel works just as well.
10. Cover the bowl and let it rest for an hour. It should rise again, but not double in size.
11. During this time, line a baking pot with parchment. I use extra parchment so I can use the ends to life the loaf.
12. Preheat the oven to 450°.
13. When the dough has risen for a second time, place the parchment over the bowl and carefully turn the bowl upside down so the dough is now on the parchment (and the loaf is right side up).
14. Place the parchment and dough in the baking pot.
15. Score the top with a serrated knife. You can make any pattern you like, I just make a simple x.
15. Bake covered for 20 minutes.
16. Remove the cover and bake and additional 30 minutes.
17. Using the parchment, life the loaf out of the baking pot and put it on a tray. Bake an additional 10 minutes on the tray.
18. Cool for an hour on a wire rack. The loaf will make cracking sounds while cooling.
19. Slice and enjoy!
Since there are no preservatives, this loaf is best eaten the same day.