Basic sourdough bread

Baking is something which has always fascinated me, ever since we had cooking lessons in school and when baking christmas cakes at home. Making pizza has always been a favorite and a hit with the girls, while bread making has been more of an occasional habit, until earlier this year when we started making sourdough based bread.

It is something more real about bread made without any artificial ingredients, no special yeast or other additives, just flour, water and salt, after all the sourdough is just flour and water. By allowing the bread to slowly develop we also create a far better tasting end result.

Makes 2 Small & 1 Large bread

Preperation time 45 min (over a 3hour period)
Cooking time 35-40 min

Ingredients
250 g Sourdough starter, newly refreshed.
850 g Organic Untreated White Flour – Shipton Mill
150 g Organic Rye Flour (Type 997)
675 g Water
20 g Salt

Method

  1. Sourdough bread take a while longer to prove than bread made with commercial yeast, and I would recommend mixing the dough in the afternoon/evening and leaving it to prove overnight either in the fridge or somewhere cool. Long proving time will only help the taste and gluten develop.
  2. First start by weighing the ingredients, the more precise the better. There is a very fine balance between the amount of flour & water, and adding too much of either will not necessarily improve the result.
  3. Mixing flour and water quickly, and leave it covered in a bowl for 20 min.
  4. Add the sourdough starter to the mix, and knead for 10-15 min, then leave for another 30 min. The dough will feel sticky in the beginning but as you continue to knead the gluten will stretch and bind more water and the dough will start to stick more together. Try not to be tempted to add flour when kneading, it will only make the bread feel like a brick and also dry out much quicker.
  5. Finally add the salt and knead for another 10-15 min. When done the dough should be nice and elastic, it should not feel heavy and firm.
  6. After waiting another 30 min, stretch the dough and fold a few times, this helps the gluten develop. Repeat 3-4 times.
  7. When done with the kneading and stretching, it is time for shaping the bread either in bread tins or more traditional proving baskets lined with linen or cane bannetons. Bakery Bits has some nice ones.
  8. It is now time for the breads to rest, depending in the ambient temperature they will have to prove for 6-12 hours (even up to 24 hours) depending on the activity in the sourdough starter and the temperature. I tend to make the bread late afternoon so the Scandinavian Girls can enjoy fresh homemade bread the next morning, there is nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh bread in the morning.
  9. Baked the bread in the oven at about 240ºC (depends on your oven) for 35-40 minutes. You need to keep an eye on them so they don’t get burnt, that is the last thing you want after having followed the 8 steps above.

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