I love baking fresh bread in the colder months. One of the best things I have done lately is to have a good batch of sour dough starter constantly 'growing' in a bowl in the kitchen. Once established I feed it with flour a couple times a week and it's always ready to be added to a bread recipe. My goal is to keep this starter thriving all Winter long. So far so good. I've used it in lots of recipes from biscuits to bread.
My friend Jackie forwarded this recipe onto me for an easy No-Knead bread that I adapted a little into a sour dough version. (Thanks Jackie!). It's super easy and just involves letting the dough sit for at least 8 hours (Longer is fine). Starting the dough on a Sunday morning will assure that it's ready for Sunday dinner. Trust me, everyone will think you spent hours kneading the dough.
One of my other obsessions is Dutch Ovens. Basically I am a sucker for anything slow cooked and these ovens are a necessity for this type of bread. Cast Iron works best for even heating but anything with a lid that can be put into the oven will be fine.
4 Cups Bread Flour (AP works if that is all you have)
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry yeast
1.5 Cups lukewarm water
1 Cup Sourdough Starter
In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Stir in the water and starter using a wooden utensil until it forms a rough shaggy dough. You don't want to over mix the dough so stop after the flour is mixed in and the dough can form stiff peaks. Add flour if needed to get this consistency. This will also depend on the consistency of your starter.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 8-24 hours. The dough will rise and should be bubbly.
When the dough is ready pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees with the dutch oven inside.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently form into a ball. Remember, kneading is not needed here so you just want a nice ball of dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes while the oven is heating.
Carefully transfer the ball of dough into the dutch oven. Place in oven with the cover on the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
Carefully remove the lid from the pot. The dough should already have risen and have a nice crusty top. This part is optional but I think it makes a harder crust. I like to brush the top with egg white, then sprinkle kosher salt and herbs on top.
Bake uncovered for 7-15 minutes until top is golden brown. This time will vary from oven to oven so watch carefully and remove when crust edges start to blacken but not burn. Let rest on a rack until cool.
**As a Variation you can make this without Sourdough starter. Just reduce the flour to 3 Cups.