I had to refresh my sourdough bread the other day so I went ahead and made a loaf of bread.
If you have a sourdough starter already here is the recipe I use. If you don't have a starter you can either get one from someone who does or order your own from GEM Cultures. This is where I ordered my sourdough starter. At the end of the recipe I will give my own notes on what I do different.
Basic Sourdough Bread - Makes 1 standard loaf
Combine 1/2 cup fresh starter, 1-1/4 cups warm, non-chlorinated water, and 1-1/2 cups flour (any flour can be used). Set in a warm place until bubbly (several hours).
To this batter add:
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking yeast (optional)
Mix well and turn onto floured board. Knead, using enough additional flour so that the bread no longer sticks to the board. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
Put the dough into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dough. Cover with a towel and place in a warm area until nearly double. With a very active culture at optimum temperature, this could take only 2 hours. With other conditions it may take as long as 4-5 hours. Once mixture rises to approximately one and half to double its size scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead slightly to expel any large air bubbles. Place into oiled bread pan, cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and allow to rise to nearly double. Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes until it "thumps" done, sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf. Remove loaf from pan and cool on a wire rack.
My notes: I don't know about all of you but I like to make things homemade but also don't want to take my time forever doing it, so I have adapted this recipe slightly to makes things go a little faster with minimal clean-up. I have a kitchenaid mixer that has a dough hook. I put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and slide in the dough hook. I mix it with the hook and then as the mixture begins to mix thoroughly I add more flour until the dough isn't sticking to the sides of the bowl. I add just enough flour to the mixer with the mixer running and continue mixing until the dough smooth and elastic. I then add the mixture to bowl that I warmed with hot water and wiped off. I then add just a very small amount of oil to the bowl and then add the dough, move the dough around in the bowl so that the oil coats the top and bottom of the dough ball. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. The oil makes the dough easier to get out without sticking to everything. When it is time to place the dough into the pan instead of turning the bread out onto a floured surface, I add just a little flour to my hands and the top of the dough and punch it down to remove air bubbles. I then add it to the loaf pan.
I will on occasion do everything by hand as the recipe calls but when I don't have the time I go the quick route. I have not found any difference in the texture of the bread by doing it a different way.