My friend Julie gave me some sourdough starter* which she got from a popular bakery which I can't remember the name of. I am extremely grateful to receive this gift. I made a boule, my favorite kind of bread. It is hearty and tasty. I love it toasted and slathered with butter. I was lazy and used my bread machine for making the dough. This is how I did it; I put about 2 cups of the sourdough starter and 1 cup of water in machine. I added about 2 Tablespoons vital gluten (I used my fingers, no measuring spoons) about 3/4 cup dark rye flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose flour, a small pinch of yeast and about a tablespoon of course grey sea salt. Set machine to dough only cycle setting. When cycle was done I removed dough from machine and punched out. I shaped into a round and place on a piece of parchment and covered with a floured towel. I left it for a few hours to rise again. (We went out to dinner) When we returned, I pre-heated the oven to 500 degrees with my le creuset dutch oven inside. When heated, I slashed the top of the bread and lift it up by parchment and dropped the whole loaf parchment and all, into dutch oven and covered with lid**. Baked 30 minutes. Then removed cover and baked 5 additional minutes.
This baking method is part of the Jim Layey no knead bread method as seen in the NYT. Baking in the covered pot catches the steam released from the bread and creates a crisp crust. I think my oven was too hot and next time will cook at 450 degrees as the bottom was quite dark. Other than that, the bread came out very good with good size bubbles and a nice chew.
*Not everyone has a Julie to gift them sourdough starters. You can look on the web for instructions to start your own or buy freeze dried starter. I have started several starters over the years, but I have to admit none have been as good as this one. Thanks Julie!!
**If your Le Creuset or dutch oven lid has a plastic handle on top cover the handle with foil to avoid melting/smoking of plastic. There is a metal substitute available. I covered mine with foil and it was fine.