The wait is finally over. Sourdough bread reigns supreme in our kitchen. It turns out, the starter is the hardest part. After that, if you have a bit of patience, some flour, water, and salt the rest is easy-peasy.
Sourdough French Bread:
adapted from What's Cooking America
Mix one cup sourdough starter, 3/4 cup luke warm water, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook to knead the ingredients until they begin to come together into a ball. Untangle the dough ball from the hook and let it rest in the mixer for about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead well for about 5+ minutes. Shape the dough into a loose loaf. Coat the inside of the mixing bowl with a light layer of olive oil and return the loaf/ball the the bowl. Now, it's time for the longest wait. Cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 4-8 hours. I've found that about 6 hours is the minimum for me. The dough should double in size and not spring back when touched.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Form into a loaf and set on a cookie sheet. I set mine on a silicon baking mat - those things are the best! You could also sprinkle the cookie sheet with a light layer of cornmeal to keep the bread from sticking when it bakes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap for the second rise - this time on 1-3 hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, remove plastic wrap, slash dough 2-4 times with a sharp knife and brush with water. I use my husbands silicon grill brush and it works great! Bake the bread for about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 400° or until the outside is a nice light brown and the inside reads 200-210° on an instant-read thermometer. Set bread on a cutting board to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.
Then all that's left to do is keep yourself from eating the entire loaf in one sitting!