Friday, 29 March 2013

Simple sourdough


Today, well I started last night actually, I made my first sourdough loaf with Susan the sourdough starter (if I give her a name I remember to feed her!). 
I've made sourdough once before but I think I killed the starter before I baked the bread but I made it anyway, the result was a little flat and dense but tasted okay. I can safely say however that Susan is a great success! 


look at those air bubbles!


While baking her I thought it wasn't going too well though because after the first rise I expected the dough to have doubled in size, it hadn't and when I then knocked it back there was no air to knock out! It was just a huge gunky pile of goo which was virtually impossible to kneed and just had to be dumped in the proving basket without any shaping what soever. When I can back after the second rise this morning nothing seemed to have happened either but I guess there must be a sourdough fairy in our oven or something. 


I looked at a few different sourdough recipes in books and on the web and kinda just mushed them all together into the shortest recipe I could. I was going to use the white leaven recipe from the famous bread book from the award winning baker Dan Lepard but the recipe was absolutely ridiculous to me. I know sourdough is suppose to be a slow labour of love but his recipe took about a week of kneading, knocking, rising, proving. It said to go back every half hour and kneed for 10 seconds, are you serious? Who on earth has the Patience? (Dan Lepard obviously)
After this successful bake with Susan though she has safe and firm place in my heart. I can't wait to try out some more adventurous sourdough recipes, I have a few ideas for sourdough waffles, bagels, crumpets and maybe even hot cross buns! (if you hear no more on any of these ideas you can assume they were all complete failures).


Simple Sourdough 

  • 300 ml of sourdough starter
  • 500 g of plain white bread flour
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 350 ml of tepid water
  • flour to sprinkle
  • semolina to sprinkle
  1. First of all mix the starter, flour, salt and about 300ml of water in a large bowl until it forms a dough. Sourdough dough should be really sticky so if it's quite dry or normal bread dough consistency you might want to add all the water (I did).
  2. take out and kneed for 5- 10 minutes so it becomes smooth and elasticy before placing is a lightly oiled bowl, covered in a warm place for 2 hours
  3. Prepare a basket lined with heavily floured muslin for the dough to prove in
  4. this is where I expected my dough to have doubled but it hadn't changed size dramatically so don't be worried! Also it had become SUPER gooey and gunky. Kneed it again to knock the air out, I gave up after 5 minutes but maybe if you carried on it might form a smooth dough again (I am very lazy). Try to place it in the proving basket as best as you can, cover and leave to rise for 8- 12 hours (I left mine overnight because the longer the better). 
  5. before baking preheat the oven to 220oC/ 425oF/gas mark 7. 
  6. place a heavy baking sheet, or even better a pizza stone in the oven to put the bread on. Fill a roasting tin with about 1cm or less of water and place under the sheet to warm up, this will create steam so the bread will have a nice crust.
  7. take the hot pizza stone out and turn the bread from the basket onto it. Dust with semolina, you might want to make a stencil from paper and dust with flour too, before slicing with your own pattern on the top with a sharp knife
  8. place back in the oven for 35- 45 minutes until the crust is nice and brown. I found that the base didn't go solid and sound hollow because sourdough has quite a chewy texture.
  9. take out and leave on a wire rack to cool before enjoying slathered in butter!
paper stencil 
Tomorrow I'm going to make a kinda Easter themed lunch/ brunch idea to have with sourdough toast because it really does make the best toast ever. I hope you have a nice holiday today and get making some sourdough starters!