Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: sourdough

Sourdough September – how to make the king of loaves

There is something quite magical about sourdough, this glorious loaf that miraculously rises from some water, flour and salt. When you explain to someone for the first time how it’s made they never quite believe that it’s possible or for that matter just how easy it is. Sure the process to make sourdough takes some time and some patience, but in terms of actually doing something to make it the time taken is less than 20 minutes. Once you have a starter that works and get into the cycle of feeding it and making a loaf you will soon become addicted to baking what is rightly known as the king of loaves.

Being the good social media user that I am I of course post photos of these wonderful loaves when I bake them at the weekend just to make sure folk know exactly how awesome I am. Over the past month or so this has resulted in a few people asking me for the recipe so they can have a go at baking a sourdough loaf themselves. I happily obliged and wrote up my method and recipe to share because what can be better than spreading the sourdough love? Unfortunately they are now doing their best to upstage me and make better sourdough than I do, but I shall try not to hold a grudge.

The recipe is mostly based on one from the Fabulous Baking Brothers (of Hobbs House bakery, makers of truly amazing bread) with a few tweaks I’ve learnt along the way. I thought it would be useful to share the recipe here also rather than sending it out on email each time. There are a few approaches to making sourdough but some seem a lot more complicated than this and this simple, straightforward approach seems to work well so why make things harder?

If you ever wondered about sourdough and the mystery of how to make it please do give it a go, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make something so tasty. There is definitely no better time of year to start either, as the days get noticeably shorter and colder a warm slice of sourdough with butter on is just the tonic! If you do decide to have a go please do share the results, I’d love to see them. Always happy to answer any questions you may have too.

Before moving onto the recipe I thought I’d share some photos of the loaves others have made with this recipe, if this doesn’t convince you to have a try I don’t know what will.

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Wild thing, you make my loaf spring

Ok, first an admission, I stole the post title from the lovely people at the real bread campaign. But I’m not sorry, it’s an awesome title and I just had to use it. You see this month is officially Sourdough September, Britain’s first celebration of the mighty Sourdough.

There seems to be weeks and months dedicated to all sorts of random causes these day but finally one that is truly a worthy cause.

You all know how much of a fan I am of making bread with those magical little natural yeasts and if you follow me on Instagram you are no doubt already bored of my regular loaf photos at the weekend.

Once you get into the routine of feeding your starter and making a loaf every day or every weekend it’s really the easiest thing and with just 15 minutes work in the evening you can have an awesome fresh loaf the next day.

I’ve blogged a few times about making Sourdough and you can find my recipe here which is taken from the Fabulous Baking Brothers. There seems to be a few variations out there on making a loaf but this one has worked well for me and is simple to use.

So why not join me in celebrating Sourdough September and get your own starter bubbling away in the kitchen? Once you start you really won’t regret it and I can assure that a fresh Sourdough loaf makes the most amazing bacon sandwich. If I can help at all then let me know. If you do make a loaf I’d love to see some photos too.

You can also get more information on making sourdough and finding bread making courses near you by checking out the real bread campaign website here.

I’ll leave you with some bread porn as inspiration.

Sourdough loaf

Sourdough bread porn

Kitchen helpers

You already know that baking sourdough is at least a weekly occurrence in this house and normally I start the process once the kids are in bed. But yesterday I was working from home so had time before they went to bed to make the dough.

The second I started gathering the ingredients and a bowl a little voice piped up “what you doing daddy?”. Then moments later a chair was pushed up against the worktop and a little child appeared for a closer look. Of course as soon as Matilda was up there Henry also wanted to be and who am I to say no? I love getting them involved with food already and letting them see how their meals are created. Plus of course making bread is a lot like playing with Play-Doh which they do oh so well.

So I give you my new commis chef’s, not a bad kneading technique for a first attempt 🙂

P.S. Not the greatest photos, took them on my phone and the kids were constantly moving!

Matilda and Henry kneading bread

Matilda and Henry kneading

Sourdough Sunday

You all know that I have had an obsession with the king of bread, the sourdough, for some time now. Last time I blogged about it (and yes my obsession is sufficient to have written more than one post already) I talked about the routine and the enjoyment of having fresh bread every weekend.

Since then I have taken things up a level. Upped my game. Moved into the big leagues. When once I was happy with a loaf that looked like this.

Sourdough tin

I now consider this the very minimum that is required.

Sourdough loaf

As with a lot of cooking it’s part science and part art and the art is what was missing. The first big change has been taking the starter out of the fridge permanently rather than keeping it in there between bakes. This has made those awesome little natural yeasts so much more active and as a result the bread is much lighter and full of bubbles.

It does mean you have to feed it every day, but actually if you’re making more than one loaf a week you need to do this anyway really to have sufficient volume of starter to use. You do need to remember to do it though otherwise you risk killing your starter for ever.

The second big change is that I finally bought a proving basket. A very simple wooden bowl that you use to prove the dough overnight in. It gives that amazing patter on the top and seems to give a really nice and consistent rise.

What I also like about sourdough is that it doesn’t give you that bloated feeling that bread can, while I have no scientific research to prove it I think the natural yeasts and slow rise are better for your digestion. Maybe I’m just making excuses for baking more bread, but I certainly notice the difference if I eat supermarket bread now.

The next challenge is getting myself a sharp enough knife to slash the top before baking and start getting some even better shapes. I’m always worried that cutting it will mean it collapses and all that time is wasted, but the last few loaves have had a big air bubble near the top which the cutting should help alleviate. But for now Sunday’s are always sourdough days and will soon also be sourdough sausage sandwich days.

Oh yes! Get in my belly!

P.S. If you want to know how to get started in making sourdough then you’ll need this post.

Sourdough magic

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.

sourdough 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:

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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.

  1. For your starter you’ll need a jar with a secure lid, I use a Kilner style one so it’s nice a secure.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. photo 3In a bowl put 460g of strong white bread flour, add 10g of salt and 300g of your starter.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. photo 1Just 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.
  7. 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.

Let me introduce you to the other woman in my life

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet on this here blog over the last week or so. Mainly because we’ve been trying to sell our house and quite honestly the combination of that and work has been all my brain can handle. But amazingly our house sold in less than a week and we’re pretty close to buying a house also, all of which means I now have the brain power to tell you about the other woman in my life.

This, ladies and gentlemen is Susie, or to give her her full name Susie the sourdough starter. The new love of my life, a woman who makes me salivate just at the thought of her.

She is my latest obsession, a never ending mission to make the perfect sourdough loaf. It’s truly fascinating being able to make bread when no yeast at all is added, just some water, flour and magic fairy dust from the air. I think it also appeals to that little boy scientist inside making a magic potion, mixing and stirring and then watching as it bubbles away to itself in its jar.

Of course the main reason for doing this is that sourdough bread makes the greatest toast in the world, add a couple of rashers of bacon and a poached egg and you have the perfect sunday brunch.

Susie is now 2 weeks old and spends weekdays relaxing in the fridge, then on Friday morning she’s awaken from her slumber with a nice feed ready to make the dough on Friday evening and then baked in a loaf on Saturday morning. In theory if you keep this process going your starter will last forever and just gets better with age, plus if you keep the routine going you have an awesome fresh loaf of bread every weekend. What more could a man want?

Food porn photos to follow on Instagram….