This is a fun bread for Sunday lunch. I do it in my stand mixer and it is easy.
Start before you go to bed at night:
Combine in mixing bowl:
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. yeast
3 T sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 T melted butter (or canola oil)
1 c. sourdough starter (room temp.)
mix for 3 minutes, scraping bowl
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2-1 c. flour (gradually, until dough pulls away from side of bowl and forms a nice ball
Knead another 5-6 minutes on a low setting with the mixer
Place in greased bowl, turn once. Cover with a towel and allow to rise overnight *.
In the morning, punch down and allow to rest 10 minutes. Then form 2 loaves and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cut with criss-cross slashes if you wish. Cover and allow to rise 2-4 hours; until double.
Bake in 375 oven for 30-35 min. (cover with foil the last 10 min.). Remove from baking sheet. For a soft crust, cool under a clean dishtowel. For a harder European type crust, cool without.
Delicious with soup (have one ready in your crockpot when you get home!) or for deli sandwiches, or grilled cheese with tomato soup.
Speed Version (will not be as sourdough-y):
use 1 T of yeast and allow ~ 40 min for each rise.
Here is my favorite play on this recipe, try it Friday night and get a nice red loaf for Valentine's Day :)
Italian Tomato Sourdough Bread
replace 1 c. of the water with warm tomato or vegetable juice
optional: add 1/2 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (oil packed or reconstituted dry), 4 minced cloves garlic, and 1 tsp. basil with second addition of flour (use more spices if you like!)