Herbed Sourdough Bread
A savory herbed loaf that is perfect to accompany a fall supper. It is best to start the process just before going to bed as the dough needs to rise 8-10 hours.
1/4 cup sourdough starter*
1 ? cups warm spring water (95º to 100º F) *Note: Do NOT use tap water
4 ¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
¾ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
4- or 5-quart Dutch oven with lid (or any heavy ovenproof pan at least 9 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep with a lid)
In a large bowl, place the starter and mix in the warm, filtered water, stirring well. Add bread flour, salt, pepper, and herbs. Stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated and a wet dough forms. Cover with a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
On a well-floured countertop, dump the dough out and stretch and fold it over for about three minutes, rotating the dough as you go. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise at least 8-10 hours or overnight at room temperature.
In the morning, lightly flour your countertop and shape the dough by stretching and folding it over several times. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Line a medium bowl with a towel and dust heavily with flour. (You may also use a banneton proofing basket ) Let the dough rise in it for 45-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the dough bowl with a piece of parchment paper and flip the dough out onto the countertop. Cut a cross onto the top of the loaf with a sharp serrated knife. Carefully place the parchment paper dough into a heavy pot and place the lid on.
Put the pot in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 15 minutes longer. Then, remove the bread from the pot using oven mitts and bake it directly on the oven rack for 10 minutes to slightly brown the crust.
Remove bread and let cool for 45 minutes or longer. Store sourdough bread at room temperature in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.
*You can easily make your own sourdough starter using a recipe from Pinterest or purchase some from Amazon here.