- 1 cup \"fed\" sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp salt
Combine the starter, water, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously.
Cover, and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours. Refrigerate overnight, for about 12 hours.
Add the remaining ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough.
Allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl until it's relaxed, smoothed out, and risen. Depending on the vigor of your starter, it may become REALLY puffy, as pictured; or it may just rise a bit. This can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. Understand this: sourdough bread (especially sourdough without added yeast) is as much art as science; everyone's timetable will be different. So please allow yourself to go with the flow, and not treat this as an exact, to-the-minute process.
Gently divide the dough in half.
Gently shape the dough into two oval loaves, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 2 to 4 hours. Don't worry if the loaves spread more than they rise; they'll pick up once they hit the oven's heat. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Spray the loaves with lukewarm water.
Make two fairly deep horizontal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here.
Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's a very deep golden brown. Remove it form the oven, and cool on a rack.