All-machine white sourdough bread

This is a recipe for white sourdough bread that I have worked out over
the last couple of months.  It allows me to make a tasty, well-risen
loaf with minimal effort and using my bread machine to do almost all the
work.

A few notes

  • I am using Carl’s sourdough starter,
    which was given to me by a friend last New Year’s Eve.  An awesome gift
    indeed.
  • This recipe makes a big loaf!  It weighs about 1 kg, or
    two pounds, when done.  It’d be pretty easy to scale back to a half or
    two thirds of these quantities, though, and I will probably do that
    myself in the future, especially since my other half doesn’t much like
    sourdough.  🙁
  • This bread doesn’t keep spectacularly well.  A bit of oil would probably help in this regard, or some powdered milk added along with the flour of the main recipe.  But it doesn’t worry me, so I don’t add it.
  • I keep a minimal quantity of sourdough starter in the fridge, which takes a day or so to work up to baking quantities.  This means you never have to throw any out, but it does mean that you can’t bake immediately.  If you start a loaf on Thursday evening, you will have fresh bread an hour after you wake on Saturday morning.  Or you could use this method continuously, by re-starting the process with your new minimal starter on Friday evening, and have more fresh bread on Sunday…
  • Lots of people say you shouldn’t use tap water for sourdough.  I do, and I haven’t had any problems.  But then, my tap water isn’t particularly heavily chlorinated.
  • By ‘flour’, in this recipe, I mean ‘strong white bread flour’.  Specifically, I’ve been using organic white bread flour from Glebe Farm for my bread, but use whatever is good (and ideally local) for you.

My bread machine

There is nothing particularly special about my bread machine, apart from the following capabilities, which make this recipe possible:

  • A dough-only cycle, which mixes ingredients, kneads the dough and lets it rise.
  • A bake-only cycle, which just turns up the heat.
  • A timer functionality, which allows me to specify when I want the selected program to end.

Feeding:

  • Evening 1: Transfer starter from the fridge to ‘feeding
    jar’ and feed with 0.5 cups of flour and 0.5 cups water.
  • Morning 2: Feed starter with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.
  • Evening 2: Starter should now be really active and bubbly.  Feed
    with 1 cup flour and 0.5 cups water, transfer 2 tbsp to a clean storage jar,
    and transfer the rest to the bread machine bucket.
  • Feed your reserved portion of starter 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp water, mix well and pop it in the fridge.
  • Go straight to the
    main recipe.

The main recipe:

Add the following to the top of your just-fed starter, but do
not
stir it in (the bread machine will do that for you in the
middle of the night…):

  • 2 cups flour;
  • 1.5 tsp salt;
  • 1.5 tsp sugar.

Set your bread machine to start its dough cycle sometime overnight,
so the dough is risen and ready to bake when you get up.  I have found
that three to four hours’ rising time is ideal for this recipe, so I set
the machine so that the dough cycle will finish around three in the
morning, ready for when I get up at around half six.  You may have to
experiment a bit to find out what works for your starter, with your
flour, in your kitchen.

When you get up, you can immediately start
the ‘bake’ cycle on the machine.  An hour or so later you will have
wonderful, fresh sourdough bread, with minimal effort.

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