We have a new tradition in the Fool’s household and that is eating a whole sourdough loaf on Saturday’s (and possibly another one on Sunday’s).
And you know what? We don’t even feel guilty.
Let me explain, you know I love bread and more than that have become a little bit obsessed with baking my own. It started around this time last year with trying to make the ultimate white loaf. It took a bit of a backseat after Henry was born as spare time became non existent for a few months. But with the discovery of how to make sourdough the urge to bake bread every week has been awoken.
Sourdough is bread making wizardry, just flour and water used to make the most amazing bread. I’m still not convinced that some little pixies don’t creep in at night and sprinkle some yeast in there. But however it works I don’t think there is a loaf better than sourdough and there certainly isn’t toast better than sourdough toast.
Making sourdough is all about routine, once you get into the habit of the weekly cycle you can have a fresh loaf every Saturday morning with less than 20 mins work. Sound good? Then read on:
First you need to get your starter going and I warn you this definitely gets better with age so don’t be surprised if the first loaf you make isn’t amazing, just be patient.
- For your starter you’ll need a jar with a secure lid, I use a Kilner style one so it’s nice a secure.
- In the jar put 75g of wholemeal or dark Rye flour (I really like the Rye for flavour) and enough water to make a mixture like thick paint. Give it a good stir then pop it on your kitchen worktop.
- Repeat this every day for the next 4 days, you should start to see bubbles forming in the mixture as the natural yeasts work their magic.
Now you’re ready to make a loaf, if you want to eat your loaf on Saturday then make up the dough on Friday evening. It then proves overnight ready to be baked when you get up. With no yeast added it needs a nice long, slow prove.
- In a bowl put 460g of strong white bread flour, add 10g of salt and 300g of your starter.
- Now add enough warm water to make quite a wet mix that should hold together well but be a bit sticky on your hands. A wetter mixture is definitely better than a drier one.
- Turn out onto the worktop and knead for 10-15 minutes until you have a nice smooth and springy dough. The best way to kneed is to put one hand on the end of the dough nearest you and then use the other hand to stretch the dough out away from you. Then fold it back up and repeat.
- Once you’ve finished kneading place the dough in a bowl and cover it. The best thing to use to cover it is a shower cap, which sounds a bit random but it keeps the moisture in and can be reused unlike cling film. Leave it to rise like this for 3-4 hours.
- Now you also need to feed your starter again with 75g of wholemeal or rye flour and some water, but this time pop the starter in the fridge. This slows down the fermentation and means you don’t need to feed it again.
- Just before you go to bed, take the dough out of the bowl and gently shape it into a loaf. So far I’ve only used a loaf tin to cook it in so you just make the dough into a rectangle and pop into a well floured 2lb loaf tin. Cover it again with the shower cap.
- In the morning the loaf should have nicely risen, heat up the over to 230 degrees and pop the loaf in. After 10 minutes turn the over down to 200 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes.
Pretty simple isn’t it? Now you just need to get into the cycle of taking the starter out of the fridge on a Friday morning, giving it a feed and then making your bread on Friday evening. Feeding the starter again after you make your loaf and then popping it back in the fridge and so on.