1 cup sourdough starter, room temperature*
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour**
1 teaspoon Instant Active Dry Yeast
* If you do not presently have a sourdough starter, either make your own sourdough starter or purchase Packaged Sourdough Starter Mix by mail-order.
** The thickness of your sourdough starter can determine how much flour needs to be used. If you think the dough is too moist, add additional flour (a tablespoon at a time). The same is true if the dough is looking dry and gnarly. Add warm water (a tablespoon at a time).
Add all the ingredients in the bread pan of bread machine. Process according to manufacturer's instructions for a dough setting. NOTE: Do not be afraid to open the lid and check the dough. It should form a nice elastic ball. When the bread machine has completed the dough cycle, remove the dough from the pan to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough several times and form the dough into an oval; cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Place a damp towel over the bowl and then cover with plastic wrap (the humidity in the bowl helps in the rising process). Let rise until it doubles in volume (when you can put your finger in the dough and it leaves and indentation and doesn't spring back out) approximately 4 to 8 hours (depending on the temperature and the starter used, the rising time can vary as much as 2 hours).
Oven Bread Rising: Sometimes I use my oven for the rising. Turn the oven on for a minute or so, then turn it off again This will warm the oven and make it a great environment for rising bread. If you can't comfortably press your hand against the inside of the oven door, the oven is too hot. Let it stand open to cool a bit. Sourdough rises more slowly than yeast bread. Always remember, the longer the rise time, the more sourdough flavor.
Cool or Refrigerator Bread Rise: If I don't have the time to wait for the rise to finish or I know that I will be interrupted before the completed rise, I do a cool rise. A cool rise is when the dough is place in the refrigerator and left to rise slowly over night approximately 8 to 12 hours. I usually do this after the first rise and the dough has been shaped into a loaf. As this is a longer rise time, it improves the sourdough flavor in your finished bread.
After dough has risen, remove from bowl, and place on a lightly floured board. Knead in flour to feed it one more time before baking. Shape dough into a oval shape and place on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet that is dusted with cornmeal (I use the Silicone Baking Mats instead of cornmeal). Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. After rising, slash the bread with a bread razor or a very sharp knife making three 1/2-inch deep diagonal slashes. Brush or spray the top of the bread with cold water and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned. A good check is to use an instant digital thermometer to test your bread. The internal temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees F.
This is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. To learn more about this excellent thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined: Thermapen Thermometer.
Remove from oven and place the bread on a wire rack to cool. Let baked loaf cool for 30 minutes before cutting (this is because the bread is still cooking while it is cooling).
Makes 1 large loaf.