I've been cooking and baking a lot these days. I think it might be because I am so partial to the kitchen space in this house and I have finally gotten my hands on some much needed kitchen tools. Also, in Ithaca there are tons of opportunities to buy local - the Piggery, which is right down the road from my home, sells local produce and meats as well as locally grown and milled flours. They are one of my new faves - and because of their great variety and pricing it just adds to my ever growing excitement for cooking and baking happy, healthy foods!
I've been dreaming of the days that I can bake bread on Sundays for the week. It's not always as easy as it seems because often times it can take several hours of commitment and - if you're not graceful (like me) it's likely that you'll have flour all over everything by the time you're finished. I'll ease into this goal, I think. It's something I'd really like to do - I feel like it's much healthier than most of the store bought brands and generally cheaper as well.
I got this cockamamie idea that I wanted to try my hand at sour dough - which meant that I either needed to by a sour dough starter kit or create my own. I decided to have someone get it going for me and went with this amazing little company called Breadtopia. Their site is beautiful - tons of resources and recipes, video tutorials and the like for all types of breads and goodies. They sent me a small sand-dollar sized piece of sour dough starter in a package just a couple of days after my online order. You can also make your own starter or opt for a powdered starter, which you can purchase through the Breadtopia site as well.
It takes a couple of days to get this starter ready for your recipe - but it's absolutely worth it and it's fun. Sort of like a mini-science experiment in your kitchen. After all is said and done - you will feel so excited and proud when you finally get to see (and chomp) the finished product! What's great is you can share your ever-growing starter with friends/family/neighbors or continue to keep it growing with weekly maintenance (or dry/freeze it) for later use. I wish you all the best of luck in your adventures of sour dough if you so choose to do it! I assure you, it is well worth it!
NO-KNEAD SOUR DOUGH RECIPE
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (you can use just about any flour your prefer)
1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups purified water
In a large bowl mix together your flour and salt. In another bowl stir your sourdough starter into your water so it dissolves.
Next, pour the water and starter liquid into your flour mixture and mix. Don't knead too much. Cover your dough tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 18 hours.
Heavily flour your work surface, I put parchment paper down to avoid too much flour going all over the place! Set your dough toward the center of your lightly floured surface and flatten a bit. You want to the fold the dough into thirds on top of itself and then in half again until it forms somewhat of a ball. Cover your dough with plastic wrap on your countertop and let it rest for 15 minutes.
For the final proofing - transfer your ball of dough into a large floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rise for 2 hours
After an hour and a half of rising, pre-heat oven to 500 degrees and place your french oven or other means to bake your bread in the oven to pre-heat as well. (I used a Havill Pottery locally-handcrafted porcelain and white-clay stoneware bowl and lid that Matt's mom gave to me for Christmas. I LOVE cooking and baking with it - and I highly recommend!)
After thirty minutes, carefully remove your hot pot from the oven and gently place your dough inside. You can make a couple of slits on the top of the dough to make it pretty, if you wish!
Cover your french oven or pot and place it into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. After the thirty minutes, remove the lid and reduce your oven temperature to 450. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.