This is my regular bread recipe. I bake these loaves 2-4 times a month.They are delicate, fine-crumbed, high-rising loaves and they slice very thinly and freeze beautifully. The recipe is based on the Sourdough Sandwich Bread in Sara Pitzer's excellent book, Baking with Sourdough. I add some Trader Joe's White Wheat whole-grain flour and use non-dairy ingredients. There is no active dry yeast in this recipe - the sourdough starter and the long rises do all the work.
Makes two large loaves
Start the night before you bake. Take a large bowl and mix in:
1 cup sourdough starter, refreshed (I take my starter, about the thickness of pancake batter, out of the refrigerator, add about 1/4 c. unbleached flour and water, stir, and wait about an hour until it is bubbly and foamy)
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
Stir well. Cover loosely with a tea towel and put in a warm place overnight or up to 24 hours. When you are ready to add the remaining ingredients the mixture should look like this, with some bubbles or foam.
1 1/2 cups rice milk (you may use a less sweet non-dairy milk but then you might want to add another Tbsp of agave nectar)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cups white wheat whole-grain flour
approx 3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
NOTE: I have not had much luck kneading sourdoughs with my Kitchenaid or food processor. The dough is much denser and I think it is best to knead by hand.
Mix all ingredients except for the last cup of unbleached flour well. (I like to use my Swedish dough hook for mixing wet bread doughs.) Turn the dough out onto a floared board or table and cover with a tea towel. Let rest for 15 minutes before kneading. Knead by hand for about 15 minutes, adding unbleached flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and soft. Put dough into a lightly greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Once it has doubled, punch it down, and allow it to rise a second time until it has doubled again, for another 45 minutes to an hour. Keep the dough covered with a damp tea towel while it is rising.
Punch dough down and divide into two equal pieces. Roll into a loaf shape and place each into a greased loaf pan. Brush tops of loaves with a little canola oil or melted and cooled non-dairy, non-hydrogenated margarine such as Earth Balance. Cover again and let rise until dough rises above the edges of the loaf pans, for about another hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the loaves for 30 to 45 minutes or until they are golden brown and they sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Place loaves on a wire rack to cool and brush with additional canola oil or non-dairy margarine to keep the crust soft.
VARIATION: For even higher rising loaves (shown below), you can make this recipe with all white flour. Instead of the 2 cups white wheat and 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour, knead in approximately 6 1/2 cups unbleached flour or as much is needed to make a soft dough.