Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)

instant sourdough yeast
When I did my last big in-store grocery shopping (how was that 29 days ago???), I spied these little packets of "sourdough" instant yeast and snagged a couple. (I also bought an unreasonable amount of canned chickpeas...still not sure why.)

The description on the package says, "...adds a real sour dough culture - and sourdough flavor - to any yeast bread." I've killed sourdough starter before, so this was appealing.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)
Spoiler alert: while I didn't find this had a lot of sourdough flavor, this recipe DID make the ideal bread for making French Toast. Like, it's perfect. My husband was eating his while on a call working from home yesterday. I think he must have muted himself to yell out, "What BREAD is this? You MADE it?!?" Yeah, it's that perfect.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)
The yeast is supposed to add a sourdough taste to any recipe, so I used King Arthur's Hearth Bread recipe as my base.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)
All of the ingredients get mixed together. No need for a starter or sponge.

After kneading, the dough rises in an oiled bowl for 1-2 hours.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)
Oh so fluffy!!! Risen dough is a beautiful thing.

corn meal bag
One other thing I love about this bread is the crunchy cornmeal-dusted bottom. It just feels so right.

Next is the shaping. I just went with two simple ovals.

Let them rise a bit more, mist with water, then slash the tops.

I've read that steam at the beginning of a bake helps with rising and texture of some bread, so I placed a cookie sheet in the bottom of my oven while it was preheating. When I put the bread in the oven, I poured two cups of ice on the hot cookie sheet to create steam.

Once baked, you can cool the bread on the rack of the oven with the door open several inches to promote a crunchy crust.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)
Let cool completely before slicing. To freeze the second loaf, wrap in plastic wrap, then foil. Thaw at room temperature.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast)
{makes 2 loaves, adapted from King Arthur Flour}

5 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 package Red Star Instant Sourdough Yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups warm water

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and warm water in a large bowl. Mix until a shaggy dough forms. Scoop the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Flour hands and surface as needed, using up to 1/2 cup more flour.

Let the dough rest while you oil a bowl and a piece of plastic wrap. Return to kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough should be smooth. Place in the oiled bowl and cover loosely with the oiled plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and generously sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch the dough down gently and divide in half. Form into two ovals. Place onto the prepared sheet. Cover the bread loosely with oiled parchment. Let rise for 45 minutes.

Place one oven rack on the bottom position and the other in the middle. Put a cookie sheet (one that you're ok with warping) on the bottom rack. Preheat to 425.

Mist the bread with water and slash the tops with a sharp knife. Pour two cups of ice onto the cookie sheet just before placing the bread in the oven. Be cautious of steam.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the bread sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove to a cooling rack, or if extra crunchy crust is desired, place the loaves directly on the oven rack and crack the door several inches. Let bread cool in the oven.

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)
Cool completely before slicing.

[Note: this can be made with regular instant yeast, use 2 1/4 teaspoons.]

Shortcut Sourdough (for the best French Toast!)

Now, go make yourself some French toast! 

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