A new day, a new loaf, a new recipe, and a new approach. Now, I’ve got it. This recipe is sooooooooo easy you can practically bake bread sleepwalking. Take 2 cups of your wild caught sourdough starter. Add one cup warm water (I put it in the microwave for 20 seconds) and 1 cup bread flour. Whisk well and cover with wrapper and clean dish towel. Put in the microwave and shut the door. (Or a proofing box if you have one). Check on it in an hour. If it is active starter you will have a nice frothy foam on top. If your starter is a bit sluggish, you may need to give it more time but be patient and wait for that froth to form. When it does, you have a “sponge.”
Now you will only need 2 Cups of the sponge for your bread, so you can put the rest in a jar for the next time and refrigerate. To your 2 Cups of sponge add 3 Cups of Bread Flour, 2 T olive oil (or melted butter), 3 t sugar and 2 t salt. This is where a Kitchen Aid mixer with bread hook really makes the difference. Use it to mix well until a solid ball of dough forms. Put the dough in a a large bowl rubbed on the inside with olive oil (not too much). Cover, put back in microwave, and let rise until doubled.
You are now ready to “punch down” and knead to form your loaf (or loaves if you want to divide). Shape anyway you want and put on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise until you can lightly press your pinky into the dough without it springing back. Then its ready to bake. Slice the top. Put in a cold oven set to 350 and 45 minutes. When done your loaf should be brown, smell wonderful, and thump (sound hollow when you tap the bottom). Let it cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour. Sourdough bread develops more flavor as it cools, so if you cut too early you are cheating yourself. I cannot claim originality on this, but unfortunately neither can I offer attribution as I have been pushing through so many recipes lately I lost track of where I found this. But enjoy!