Once again my sourdough starter has come out of the refrigerator, risen from the “dead,” and become a valued member of the family. Dark winter days seem to call out for bread, and while straight dough breads are lovely, nothing can compare to a tangy sourdough loaf.
I got back into the sourdough habit with a few tried and true recipes like my Best Ever Oatmeal Sourdough and Zaatar Bread. Then I was ready to start experimenting again. The cupboard was a little bare, but I did have some aged Havarti. Aged Havarti, unlike its creamy counterpart, has an intense flavor that complements the sourdough. Pepper of all sorts also enhances the cheesy flavor, so don’t be tempted to leave it out.
It really isn’t difficult to make your own sourdough starter. You can use the method I prefer, found on my website Make Your Own Sourdough Starter. Or follow the methods found in earlier MOTHER EARTH NEWS articles, including Creating Homemade Sourdough Bread From a Starter Mix, and a previous blog post, A Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough.
For this particular recipe I used a rye starter. You can make your own rye starter too by following the steps in this post: How to Make a Specialty Starter.
If your sourdough starter has been hanging out in the back of the refrigerator for a while it may need a boost to get it going again. Sometimes you can just stir it up, feed it 1/2 cup of flour (rye flour works well here) and 1/4 cup filtered water, and let it sit on the counter overnight. If that doesn’t work it may need more intensive first-aid, like you can find in How to Revive a Dead Starter.
• 2 cups rye sourdough starter
• 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1-1/4 cups water
• 3/4 cup finely shredded aged Havarti cheese
• 1-1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1. In a large bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine the starter with all ingredients.
2. Knead until the dough is smooth and shiny.
3. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl 3 – 4 hours.
5. Shape into a round, cover and let rise on a parchment lined bakers peel for another 1 – 1-1/2 hours.
6. Preheat oven and baking stone to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Slash the top of the round and slide onto the hot stone.
8. Bake for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is about 205 degrees. Move bread to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.
Like any other warm loaf of homemade bread, slices of Cheesy Pepper Sourdough bread lathered in butter are the perfect treat. But, if you can refrain from eating the loaf before dinner – difficult sometimes I know! – this bread is especially good served with homemade Lentil Soup or Healthy Potato Soup. Toasted slices make a nice base for bruschetta or a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich.
Renee Pottle is an author, Family and Consumer Scientist, and Master Food Preserver. She writes about canning, baking, and real food at Seed to Pantry. Read all of Renee's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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