I love the look of a free form artisan loaf of bread, but i found it tedious in a home oven baking enough loaves at a time to feed our crew so i changed my recipe around to bake in a loaf pan. This way i bake 6 at a time and its a much more efficient use of my time!
This is a very customizable recipe to make your own. Swap some of the flour for whole wheat. Add in 1/2c oats, or some seeds such as sunflower, sesame or flax! Add in raisins and cinnamon. As a guide, 1/2 c of add ins and you wont need to change the recipe. 1 c of flour can be swapped out for whole wheat without needing to tweak anything either. 9
For one loaf-
1/2-3/4 cup sourdough starter (if your starter is runny, add less, thick, add more)
1-2 tbsp honey or sugar (more honey/sugar makes a softer bread. Double this if you want a soft soft bread!)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil/fat of choice
1 to 1 1/4 c water
3 – 3 1/2 c white flour
Mix starter, honey, salt, oil and water together in a mixer or by hand. I love my danish dough whisk for this! Add flour in until you have a kneadable consistency that either a) the dough doesnt stick to side of mixer bowl or b) dough doesnt stick to your hands when you knead it. Knead it for a few minutes then cover with a damp towel and choose your path for first rise depending on your schedule and weather. Warmth speeds up sourdough, cold slows it. This is all on counter unless specified
Winter- let sit 12-18 hrs/shape/second rise 2-3hrs
Summer- let sit 6-8 hrs/shape/second rise 1-2 hrs
Alternative Winter- let sit 4-6 hrs/shape/put in fridge for 12-18hrs/take out an hour before baking. Our laundry room is fridge-ish temp so we put them back there. Before baking when I use this method, i put bread pans in oven, turn oven on for 2 min then turn it off. Let sit in warm oven an hour, take out, then preheat oven for baking. This is my current favourite method.
After your first rise, its time to shape! Dump your dough onto a floured surface. Press dough roughly into a 6x8inch rectangle, fold like a letter with long sides in, flip seam side down and let sit about 10 minutes. This is called a preshape/bench rest and makes your loaves taller!
Prep your loaf pan by lining with parchment or greasing the pan. After the bench rest, flip seam side up, press into rectangle again but this time roll it up, and tuck sides under to make a tidy loaf, then put into the loaf pan.
Let rise for second rise depending on which path you choose. Preheat oven to 425F. Using your sharpest knife, slash the loaf by slicing a one inch deep line down the length of the bread. You can get artistic or just leave it at that. This allows the bread to expand and rise in the oven better.
Put pan into oven and bake for 25 min, turn around and then bake 20 more. Remove bread from oven and put on a cooling rack. Remove from pan and let cool until around room temp. Its hard to wait but i promise its worth it! The bread is still finishing up baking as it cools.
I make this in a x6 recipe cause its our favourite and it freezes well!