One of my favorite things about making bread is the simplicity. As long as you have flour, salt, yeast, and water, you can make some delicious carbs!
I’ve been posting a few things about sourdough, but I haven’t posted one of my most basic recipes. So here it is! Italian-herb flavored sourdough bread.
This is my go-to technique because it’s easy to just leave it overnight to rise in the pans.
First, I get my sourdough starter out, about noon. I learned how to make a starter from this recipe here. I put 1/4 cup of starter in a bowl, and feed it 1 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup of water. I set it in the microwave until I’m ready to make my dough in the evening.
So here’s my starter after it’s ‘woken up’, and all the little yeast are eating the flour I fed them at lunchtime. It’s not the most appealing to look at, but without it… how sad our bread would be! If you look hard enough, you can see a couple of bubbles coming up. That means it’s working. It has definitely grown since I fed it.
Next, I put the bowl under the electric mixer. I add the water, salt, and herbs, and add 1 cup of flour at a time. Every once in a while you need to scrape the sides of the bowl to get all the dough mixed in well.
After about 5 cups of flour, the dough gets a little hard for the mixer to handle, so I take it out and start kneading by hand the rest of the flour. Once the dough is tacky, but not a sticky mess anymore, it’s ready to be put into pans.
I don’t worry too much about shaping the loaves nicely, because they will change so much while they sit overnight. So dividing the dough in half, I place the loaves in two greased bread pans, cover with plastic wrap, and say goodnight.
At about 8 am, I move to the kitchen all zombie-like (it’s Saturday morning) and preheat the oven to 400º.
I usually leave the dough on the counter, but for a larger rise, I suggest putting the dough in the microwave or the oven overnight. This will act as a nice warm cocoon for the dough, and the yeast will party all night. Personally I worried about it rising too much, but that didn’t seem to be an issue. I put 3 slits in each loaf (this helps guide the bread where to split when it rises) and put them in the oven for 30 minutes.
And that’s it! Now I’ve got tasty bread for lunch. The Italian Herb is really flavorful, but there’s so many variations one could do. You could add jalepeno and cheddar, sesame and poppy seeds, etc. Just add it to the starter instead of the herbs, but NEVER leave out the salt. Tasty bread becomes nasty brick without salt. Trust me.
One of the biggest issues I have with sourdough is the appearance of the final product. It’s less predictable than regular active yeast, so it’s hard to tell how big it will grow, and in which direction! As you can see the difference between where I cut the loaves, and how they did not really split in those areas. Another thing with sourdough is the bread tends to turned out pretty colorless, but I found that melting butter and brushing it on the top brings out a nice light brown.
Overnight Sourdough Loaves *Italian Herb*
- 1 c fed sourdough starter
- 2 c water
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 5-6 c flour
DirectionsCombine all the ingredients except flour into a mixer, and using the dough hook, mix in one cup of flour at a time. Once the dough becomes too thick for the mixer, take it out and knead in the rest of the flour by hand. Mix in enough flour to make the dough tacky and no longer sticky, about 5-6 cups. Divide the dough in half, and place into two greased bread pans. Cover and put in a warm place overnight.
In the morning, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle with flour or cornmeal (optional), then make cuts in the top of each loaf. Bake for 30 minutes.