Whether I make it in the bread machine or do it the artisan way in the oven, this bread is a staple in our household. Before continuing on, you need a good sourdough starter. You can buy a great one at King Arthur Flour. I keep mine in the fridge and "feed" it from week to week so we never run out. (Artisan bread recipe below.)
This is unfed sourdough starter. It's been sitting in the fridge for a week.
All you do is give it 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour, and then you can use it right away or return it to the fridge for later use. (I might add that the KAF site uses all-purpose flour but I alternate with whole wheat flour and though it's a little heavy, it works just fine.)
After feeding the starter, use 1/2 cup of it for the bread machine, one cup of it to make two artisan loaves in the oven, or stick it back into the fridge and decide next week.
I keep the starter in a dough-rising bucket bought from KAF and here's a tip: Poke a small hole in the top so the starter can breathe.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread (for the bread machine)
1/2 cup "fed" sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon yeast
Add all ingredients and set your bread machine on the medium, whole wheat bread setting. After the first kneading, be prepared to adjust the water and flour as needed. The dough should form a moist ball but this depends on the starter (is it dry, wet..?) and so you may need to add a bit of water or a dusting of flour, etc.
After the bread is finished, let it cool completely before slicing. Take it out and set it on a towel, turning it periodically. This bread turns out about 25% smaller than other bread recipes because I just don't like how the bread can sometimes tower over the top of the baking pan, creating crazy oblong slices of bread, you know?
This is the perfect sandwich bread. It's soft enough so when you take your biggest bite, you can do it with ease, yet just firm enough to hold up to mayo, mustard and all that goes in between.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Artisan Loaves
1 cup "fed" sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
canola or olive oil
Optional: Pizza peel and baking stone
Add all ingredients reserving 1 cup flour for later. Let dough sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Using the remaining cup of flour, knead bread for one minute. Oil a large bowl and let the dough rise in it for an hour. Divide dough in half, forming two loaves. Dust your pizza peel with cornmeal and place the loaves onto it, side by side, letting them rise for another hour. Or, if using a baking sheet, lightly dust it with cornmeal to keep the loaves from sticking. Preheat oven to 425. Slice* the tops of the loaves and let rise and additional 1/2 hour. Bake for 30 minutes.
Slice me off a piece of that!
*Tip: Making slits, or slices across the tops of the loaves helps the bread to bake evenly. Use a sharp knife and lightly dust it with flour.
Tip: For a hard outer crust, place an oven-safe bowl in the oven while preheating it; then add one cup of hot water to it immediately after the loaves go in to create steam while they bake.
Tip: Using a pastry brush, brush the loaves with an egg wash before slicing them for a shiny crust.
Tip: Add toppings by brushing the loaves with water and then sprinkle on things like sesame seed, poppy seed, chopped rosemary, quick oats, Parmesan cheese and more.