While most sour dough breads are free-form, this recipe is designed to be baked in two large loaf pans.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup sourdough starter
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling

  • Pour 1/2 cup of the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl using electric mixer, combine sourdough starter, the remaining water, sugar, melted butter, salt, 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft shaggy dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
  • Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Gently deflate the dough. Lightly grease the loaf pans and sprinkle with the cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 equal portions. Shape the portions into rectangular loaves and place in the pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, and the dough rises about 1 inch above the rim of the pans, about 1hour.
  • Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 34 to 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown, the sides are contracted from the pan, and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your fingers.
  • Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Source: The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger

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