8. At least 45 minutes before you're ready to bake, place a baking stone in the lower third of your oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place an old cake pan or, even better, a cast-iron pan, in the bottom of your oven. Place a small pan of water on the stove and bring to a boil (you will need 1 cup of boiling water when the boules first go in the oven).
9. When the dough is ready to bake and the oven is hot, turn the boules out of the bannetons or proofing baskets onto a piece of parchment paper. Slash the boules with a straight razor or serrated knife: Holding the blade at a 45-degree angle, make one deep cut -- about 4 inches long -- in an arc along the top of the boules.
10. Using a peel or an upside-down cookie tray, slide the parchment paper with the boules onto the baking stone. Using oven mitts and being very careful, quickly pour about a cup of hot water into the pan at the bottom of the oven. (There should be a lot of steam, so you may need to stand back.) Close the door and let the bread bake for 15 minutes. Resist the urge to open the door.
11. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 425 degrees. After 10 minutes at 425 degrees, rotate the loaves for even browning, which you should be able to do by pulling the parchment paper around. (The paper will get very dark, but it will not burn; if you prefer, you can remove it.)
12. Bake the boules until they are a dark golden brown in color and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bread reads 210 degrees, 10 to 20 additional minutes. Using a peel or your oven-mitted hands, remove the boules from the oven. Let the bread cool on a rack to room temperature. Although it will be very difficult, resist the urge to slice the bread while it's hot. Store the bread in a loosely closed plastic or paper bag at room temperature for up to 4 days; alternatively, the bread can be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months. Do not refrigerate the bread to store (this will cause it to go stale).
Each serving: 107 calories; 4 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 0 fat; 0 cholesterol; 289 mg. sodium.
Whole wheat sourdough pancakes
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: About 15 pancakes
Note: This recipe calls for "ripe" starter -- starter that has been fed the night before (see recipe for whole wheat starter).
9 ounces (about 1 cup) "ripe" whole wheat starter
5 ounces (1 cup) flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus a little for the pan
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. In a large bowl, mix together the starter, flour and milk along with one-half cup water until smooth. Let stand 30 minutes while you melt the butter and prepare the other ingredients.
2. Whisk the melted butter, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and baking soda together until smooth, then stir the mixture into the bowl with the starter. Blend only until combined.
3. Heat a skillet or cast-iron pan over medium heat and add a nub of butter. Pour in about one-fourth cup of batter, and cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook until the bottom of the pancake is slightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat, adding more butter to the pan if necessary. Serve immediately.
Each pancake: 103 calories; 3 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 33 mg. cholesterol; 251 mg. sodium.