Sourdough Boules – for reals!

SourdoughbfLOWhen first we lit up this new, improved version of, a comment was made about how prominent “sourdough” was in the word cloud generated by said new, improved blog software-thingy (thingy-software?).

This post will do little to mitigate that prominence.



RyeSourdoughSLicebfLOAfter my initial failure at starting the sourdough process, I recently ventured back into the world of this mysterious, somewhat arcane method after coming across a formula for starter, and then bread, for a bread machine.

SourdoughLoughbfLOThe resulting bread? NICE – but sometimes a bit funky in overall form and, ermmm, rather dense in texture.

Then I came across a recipe for ‘easy sourdough rye bread‘ – which is WICKED tasty, and perfect, lightly toasted, with pimiento cheese burgers, but does nothing to deal with my weekly need to manage that jar of sourdough starter I’ve worked so hard to establish.


THEN, thanks to da Google (and someone else, marvelous person, can’t recall the name), I came across a recipe that looked doable; I could use my sourdough starter, but make the bread in more or less of a conventional way – sans bread machine, but adapting the recipe so’s I could use the dough hook so thoughtfully provided with my trusty stand mixer to do all that heavy lifting and kneading.

Worked a treat – wanna try?

•1 cup sourdough starter
•6 cups all-purpose flour
•1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp)
•1-1/2 cup water
•3 tbsp sugar
•3 tbsp unsalted butter
•1 tsp salt

FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT; when you measure out your sourdough starter, don’t forget to replenish your base by stirring in 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup water, and 1 tsp sugar; covering loosely, and setting aside to mellow overnight on the counter before covering tightly and stashing back in the fridge.

WaterButterSaltSugarReadybfLOAllow the cup of starter to come to room temperature before starting.

Combine 2-1/2 cups of the flour with the yeast in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Stir the water, sugar, salt, and butter together in a small saucepan over moderate heat until warm (120º to 130º), and the butter is mostly melted.

DoughReadyToRisebfLOPour into the flour mixture along with the cup of sourdough starter and beat until well mixed and smooth (I used the paddle attachment for this).

Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and add enough of the remaining six cups of flour to form a smooth, elastic, and somewhat stiff dough. I used all six cups, and kept the mixer running until the dough DoughRisenPartialPunchbfLOpulled together away from the sides of the mixing bowl and into a ball, thus saving me from tossing the dough onto a floured surface and kneading by hand.

However you get there, shape your well kneaded dough into a ball and place into a bowl lightly coated with olive oil, giving the dough a turn or two to coat all sides.

Cover and set aside to rise until doubled in size – about an hour worked for me.

Punch the dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half, cover again and let rest for ten minutes.

SourdoughBoulesScoredbfLOLightly grease a baking sheet and dust it with cornmeal. I used butter and went a touch heavy on the cornmeal, but that’s how I like my sourdough bread.

Shape each half of the dough into a ball (or boule), place on the baking sheet, and flatten into a six inch or so circle, then cut 1/4 inch deep criss crossing slashes across the top of each with a sharp knife.

BouleReadyToBakebfLOFull disclosure; my baking sheets are kind of a funky size, so I buttered and cornmealed and shaped and scored on two separate baking sheets.

Cover and set aside to rise for thirty minutes, heating your oven to 375º after the first fifteen.

After the final rise, I adjusted the shape of my loaves to fit on one baking sheet and set in the preheated oven on the middle rack SourdoughBouleBakedbfLOabove a small baking pan of water – da Google recipe said to ‘steam’ the bread in the oven, but didn’t offer any methods, so I punted. Seemed to work.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread tests done – again, this recipe didn’t go into details, but I assumed it was until the bread was crusty and browned and sounded hollow when thumped – again it seemed to work.

Remove from the oven and cool – or just tear into one of those lovely loaves, slather it with butter and count yourself lucky.

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