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Sourdough French Bread Recipe


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     Sourdough French Bread

Category   Desserts - Breads
Sub Category   None

2 cups starter
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt

First of all, you need to make a 'starter' which is just a mix of flour and water that you leave to 'ferment' for a while. Mix a cup of flour and water each in bowl until you have a sticky paste. Cover with a damp teatowel (don't use clingfilm) and leave on the kitchen counter. After a couple of days (sometimes up to 4), it should start to smell like its fermenting (a little like beer). It shouldn't smell 'bad' though, and it shouldn't be mouldy - if it is, you'll need to throw it out and start again.
Next, you need to 'feed' the starter. Add a cup of flour and enough water (around a cup) to form a dough and mix (ideally with your hands or a wooden spoon - try not to use metal). Then leave it for another 24 hours. The mixture will start to bubble a bit now. You then need to throw out half the mix, then add another cup of water and flour like you did before. Leave for another 12 hours or so. Take a look again - if it looks really bubbly and has that 'beer' smell, then this is a sign that it is 'ready'; if it doesn't look like it's doing much at all, it might need another 'feed'.
Add oil, sugar and salt to the starter. Add the flour a little bit at a time, mixing as you go. Once you have added all the flour, knead the dough until it has a nice soft texture. If it's sticky, you may need to add more flour; if its dry and crumbly, add a little more water. Then, cover with a damp teatowel and leave in a warm place, until it has doubled in size. This can take from 1 to 8 hours.
Knead some more then let it rest again until it has doubled in size (this can take a few hours again). Set the oven to 350F, put the dough in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes

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