I've been messing around with my bread recipes lately. I've made some killer wheat loaves, some rustic loaves and yummy, melt in your mouth sour dough loaves. Sour Dough is easy but you have to think ahead to do it, at least 72 hours ahead.
I've been doing my sourdough starter in a gallon ziploc. I put in 1/2 c of flour and 1/4 c of water and mush it in the bag until it is well combined. Feed it again, 1/2 c flour and 1/4 c water, morning and night, until the starter has a faint sour tang in the aroma and is bubbly and fills the bag with gases, about 2-4 days. You will have enough to make your loaves and still have leftovers to start the next batch of starter without going from scratch again.
If you want to take a break from feeding your sourdough but don't want to get rid of it toss the bag in the refrig after a feeding. It will be good in there for weeks unfed. When you're ready to use it again just pull it out and let it warm on the counter for 12 hours before using.
Here's the Sourdough bread recipe I've been using from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook
In your KitchenAid bowl combine:
2 cups Sourdough Starter
1 1/2 cups warm water (100 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
Mix until a sticky dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 12-14 hours letting it rise until almost doubled. Let warm at room temperature for 2 hours. Add:
1/2 cup bread flour
4 teaspoons sea salt
Knead for 7-10 minutes until smoooth and elastic but sticky to the touch. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape, let rise 1-1 1/2 hours. Score the top of the loaves with a sharp knife or razor blade.
Preheat your oven and baking stone to 450 degrees. Spritz the interior of the oven with water and close for 1 minute. Quickly slide the loaves into the oven and spritz the oven walls again.
The recipe book says to cook the loaves at 450 degrees for 45 minutes but I don't like how dark the loaves turn at this temp. So instead I keep the temp high for the first 10 minutes and then reduce it to 375 degrees for the rest of the time. I find it only needs about 35 minutes total in my oven. However long you end up cooking it make sure the bottom sounds hollow when you thump it or it's still raw inside. Cool on a wire rack and don't cut into it for at least 25 minutes.