Sourdough Bread

Yesterday morning was the big day. I was determined to start sourdough bread from the homemade starter, stirred up on Saturday 2/12, as it was 5 days now and the time was here. I perused my resources, numerous cookbooks, magazines, catalogs, the King Arthur website, and my favorite blogs. I choose to adapt a recipe from Annie's Eats as she does a spectacular job and as usual I was not disappointed.

Here is what you need for my version:
1 1/2 C. warm water (100 degree F.)
4 t. active dry or instant yeast
1 T. honey
1 C. sourdough starter
2 C. first clear flour (King Arthur specialty)
3 1/2 - 4 C. bread flour plus more if needed
1 T. butter at room temperature
2 lg. eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 t salt
1 t. bread flour mixed with 1 T. yellow corn meal

NOTE: The bread will be successful if you use 5 1/2 - 6 C. bread flour instead of partial amount of first clear. I just prefer to use it and have for many years.

Fit the whisk attachment to your electric mixer and whisk together the water, honey, yeast, and sourdough starter until just smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about an hour and is slightly increased in bulk and bubbly.

Using the flat beater attachment on low speed add 3 C. of the flour, butter, eggs, and salt. Increase the speed to medium low and mix another minute until smooth. Add 2 C. more of the flour and beat for 2 minutes.
Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to low speed. Add all of the remaining flour 1/4 C. at a time until a very soft dough is formed and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on low speed for about 6 minutes adding a tablespoon of flour at a time if the dough begins to stick to the sides of the bowl. The dough should be smooth and elastic, tacky but not sticky.
Prepare a heavy glass or pottery bowl for the dough to rise in by filling it to the top with hot tap water. Let it heat through then empty the water, dry the bowl, and quickly butter or oil it.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the prepared bowl. Turn the dough once to coat all sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 -2 hours.

Meanwhile line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle generously with the flour and cornmeal.
When the dough has completed it's rise turn it out onto a floured work surface and divide it into two equal portions. Form each into a tight oval loaf. Place the loaves on the prepared sheet several inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with the flour and cornmeal pressing it in gently. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise in the refrigerator for 8 - 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place the rack to the lowest position in the oven. If you have a baking stone place it on the rack and let it preheat too. If you do not have a baking stone use an overturned baking sheet. Using a thin sharp knife make three slashes atop each loaf. Place the baking sheet on the baking stone and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and continue baking for 25-30 more minutes until the loaves are golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

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