Wayne's Brown-Crown Pan Bread

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Sponge:

2 cups active starter (medium batter consistency)
1 cup water
1 -1/2 cup bread flour

This makes about 4 Cups of sponge.
Let sponge work until it rises to about 6 cups of volume.
(I make my sponge in an 8 quart measuring bowl.)

Dough:

Mix together and add to sponge:

3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup good oil

This gives me a soft moist dough.
If dough seems too dry, add 1 tbs. water and knead it in.
If too wet, add 1 tbs. flour.

When it feels right, turn out on a floured surface and knead until the dough feels smooth and it wants to pull back when you roll it out. Don't over knead, good bread flour doesn't want to be worked too long, or it will get a torn look to the surface and will start to stick to everything.

Let it rest while you clean up the mess and oil a bowl. Form a ball with the dough, put in the bowl and turn over until dough is coated with oil.

Cover and let dough rise until it has doubled at least, tripled is better. Plastic bowls with snap on lids work well here. (Tupperware)

Turn out on floured surface and press dough down, forming a circle and pressing out most of the gas. This step sounds like it goes against logic, at least it did to me, until someone explained that the sourdough culture needs fresh food to get a final rise.

Divide dough and form 2 lumps.

Let dough rest for 15-30 minutes, until it relaxes, then form lumps into 2 loaves, and put in pans.

Spray with a water mist, let it rest until the wet look goes away. Spray with cooking oil and cover. (I use Saran Quick Covers).

Let rise until ready to bake.

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(After 8 hours in the fridge at 44 degrees, loaves had risen to the top of the pans. Carl's sure is flexible in it's ability to rise under varying temps.)

Spray loaf tops with water mist and put in oven. (This gives you a nice crust, some will use an egg wash, but I get really nice crusts by misting the dough just as I put it in the oven).

Here is where you have to do a little experimenting. No two ovens bake the same. My oven is a small wall unit and is ~25 degrees hotter in the back then in the front, so the loaves have to be turned end for end during the bake to get an even crust.

I put the oven rack 2 notches up from the middle, so I am baking in the upper 1/3 of the oven.

I bake at 350 degrees F. from a cold oven for 35-40 minutes. I use a small cooking thermometer and try for 195 to 210 degrees. Most times, I'll be right at 200 degrees when I pull the loaves. Tonight it fooled me and I had 210 degrees. Go figure....

-Wayne DeLisle Oct. 25, 2002

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