Early morning the day before baking:
* Remove your starter from the fridge, feed it and let it sit at 75 degrees for 3-4 hours until very bubbly.
* Take 12 oz. of the starter and put it in the bowl of your mixer. I am using weights rather than measures because it gives me the exact mixture I am looking for. Feed the remaining starter and let it sit again for several hours and then refrigerate it.
* Add 1 tsp. of instant rise yeast to the starter, 1 T. salt, 2 pounds and 2 ounces of flour and 18 ounces of water.
* Knead this until you have a strong smooth dough. Split it into two balls and let rise at 75 degrees for 3-4 hours until doubled in bulk. Oil the bowl a bit so the dough will not stick and cover with plastic wrap.
* After it has doubled, gently fold it into a tight ball and place it back into it's bowl. Cover with plastic and place it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. This will retard the rising and let it develop the sour flavor. I am leaving mine in the fridge for 48 hours to develop a stronger flavor.
* When you are ready to bake your bread, remove it from the fridge and let it rise again until doubled.
* Preheat your oven, with 2 covered bowls in it, to 450 degrees.
* When the oven and bowls reach 450 degrees, carefully remove the bowls from the oven. Using pot holders, remove the lids being careful not to get burned from the steam. They are HOT!!! Spray the inside of the bowls with cooking spray then gently roll the dough into the bowls. Immediately cover the bowl with their lids. Remember, the lids are VERY HOT too!
* Return the covered bowls to the oven and let them bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the lids and slide the breads onto the oven rack. I keep a pizza stone in my oven at all times so I just roll the bread out onto it.
* Let the bread bake for another 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
You can see pics of the baking steps below.
This is what the loaves look like just before baking.
I couldn't take photos of transferring the dough to the preheated bowls because you have to work fast and the bowls are so hot you should not let yourself be distracted.
Beautiful loaves of bread. This recipe is fussy but once you get into the routine it is very simple. It is soooo worth it!
The coating of oil from the rising bowls and the enclosed intense heat and moisture causes the crust to blister and gives you the chewy crisp crust which is also very desirable.