One of my friends has a phenomenal green thumb. Her gardens are always beautiful. The plants are happy ones and the colors she uses and shapes go so well together that it is a joy to visit her home and see the gardens. Since I like to use nicknames on the blog instead of true names, she deserves the name Greenthumb Girl.
Greenthumb Girl is also a sweetie and she lent me a favorite recipe of hers for French Bread. Being almost always unable to stay to a recipe as written I don't think that she will mind that I used her recipe to make Sourdough French Bread.
The nice thing about French Bread is its simplicity. Yeast, water, salt and flour are the basic building blocks. This recipe adds a little bit of sugar because yeast really does like a little sugar almost as much as I do. There is also a tiny bit of oil. I ended up using olive oil because it was at hand. It's a mild one so it didn't add much flavor. In fact the sourdough flavor was pretty mild, too, but it still is a wonderful bread.
Greenthumb Girl's French Bread
1 pkg yeast
1 1/4 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening oil
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
4 or more cups flour
Punch down every 10 minutes...5 times. Let rise 10 minutes. Score before baking. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.
Makes 2 loaves
Drawing on the recipe card shows two long loaves with scoring like done on baguettes.
Elle's Sourdough Version
Take 1 cup sourdough starter. To it add a mixture of 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon honey or sugar. Mix to combine and let sit on counter 2 hours, uncovered. Then add a mixture of 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup water. Mix to combine, cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in fridge overnight.
Warm the mixture by letting it sit on the counter for an hour. Place sourdough mixture in bowl of an electric stand mixer. Attach the dough hook.
To the starter in the bowl add 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil and 1/2 cup barely warm water. Mix to combine.
In another bowl combine 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 5 cups bread flour. Gradually add the flour mixture to the mixture in the bowl until a soft dough forms. Continue adding just enough flour (it may take 6 cups or more) so that dough can knead in the bowl and that it cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead for 10 minutes this way.
Turn kneaded dough into a very large bowl that has been lightly oiled, or into a raising bucket prepared the same way. Turn dough over to coat with oil. Place oiled plastic wrap loosely on top of the dough, cover with a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour. Pull dough over itself in the bowl or bucket, cover again and let rise another 30 minutes. Repeat the dough pulling and rising twice more. (I allowed much longer rising times because often my sourdough starter takes longer.)
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes to release trapped gas. Divide dough and shape into loaves (I made two long loaves and one large (1/2 of the dough) round boule.