To make the Poolish: Stir together sourdough starter, flour and water in a medium bowl until thoroughly blended. This dough will be like thick cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight or up to 24 hours at room temperature. The dough will become frothy and have lots of little bubbles.
To make the Dough: Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water in a large bowl. Stir in Poolish, mixing until thoroughly blended. (This will make it easier to incorporate the other ingredients.) Add 2 cups of the flour and salt. Stir until combined. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky like biscuit dough. Add more bread flour, if necessary. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 20 minutes.
Turning Dough: With a slightly wet hand give the dough several turns by sliding the hand down the edge of the bowl, lifting and stretching the dough up and over the center. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat 7 times until you have gone around the bowl twice. Cover and let rest 30 minutes. Repeat turning and resting 3 more times for a total of 2 hours rising time.
Primary Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With floured hands gently press to deflate dough. Divide in half. If dough is too sticky, dust surface lightly with bread flour and use a dough scraper to pick up and fold over dough several times as for kneading. Return to Primary Shaping. Working with each half separately, pull an edge of the dough from the outside to the center gently stretching the side of the dough to the center. Give the dough 1/6th of a turn clockwise and repeat going around the dough 2 or 3 times shaping it into a rough ball. Cover and let rest seam side up on a lightly floured surface for 20 minutes.
Final Shaping: Working with the seam side up, slightly flatten the dough. Repeat the edge pulling shaping as above going around the ball twice. Turn the ball over and cupping the side of the ball with one hand, work the other hand from top to bottom slightly pulling the dough around to the bottom as you spin the dough approximately 1/8th of a clockwise turn. Work until the ball is smooth. Turn over seam side up onto parchment paper generously dusted with bread flour or rice flour. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise 2 to 3 hours or until double.
For best baking results, place a baking stone, pizza stone or unglazed ceramic tile on bottom oven rack. Preheat oven to 475°F for 20 minutes to allow stone to get to temperature. Depending on the size of your baking stone, bake 1 or 2 loaves at a time, placing seam side down on parchment paper. Score each loaf with 2 to 4 slashes using a sharp knife or blade. Slide the dough with parchment onto bread peel or rimless baking sheet. Carefully slide onto heated baking stone, immediately spritzing the oven with water around the dough 7 or 10 times. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes spritzing every 5 minutes 3 more times. Bake loaves to an internal temperature of 195°F. Remove from oven and parchment; cool on wire rack. Bake remaining loaf.
Recipe Tip: For optimum sour dough flavor, use starter that is at least 2 weeks old. Sour dough starter develops more flavor as it ages.
These loaves may be baked in a covered Dutch oven – See baking instructions on Artisan Stone Ground Wheat Bread.
Sourdough Starter for Artisan Breads
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 envelope Fleischmann’s® RapidRise OR Quick Rise Yeast
2 cups lukewarm water (90° to 100°F)
1 teaspoon honey
Combine whole wheat and bread flours and yeast in a large container. Gradually stir in water. Stir in honey, beating with a spoon or whisk until thoroughly blended. Cover loosely with cheesecloth. Let sit at room temperature 3 to 5 days or until bubbly, sour smelling and a clear liquid has formed on top, stirring 2 or 3 times a day.
Transfer to a 2-quart or larger plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Use Sourdough Starter:
Stir starter to blend in any liquid on top. Remove amount for recipe. For each 1/2 cup starter you remove, stir in 1/3 cup bread flour, 1/4 cup lukewarm water (90° to 100°F) and 1/2 teaspoon honey until blended. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature 12 to 24 hours or until bubbly. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
To Keep Starter Alive:
Once every 1 to 2 weeks, stir in 1 tablespoon bread flour, 1 tablespoon lukewarm water (90° to 100°F) and 1/2 teaspoon honey until blended. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature 12 to 24 hours or until bubbly. Cover tightly and return to refrigerator.
Note: After several days the sourdough starter will develop a layer of liquid on top. This layer will probably be a drab greenish gray color. If the color is pinkish or if it smells bad, then the starter has developed the wrong bacteria and should be discarded. If there is mold growing around the edges or on top, discard the starter.
Aged starters provide the most sour dough flavor.