|this used a mix country malt, wholemeal and white bread flours|
Based on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe - http://bit.ly/hughfwsourdough see how to make your sourdough starter there, or look for sourdough starter recipes online.
For the sponge
About 150ml active starter
About 150ml active starter
250g strong flour (white, wholemeal or a mixture)
For the loaf
300g strong bread flour (white, wholemeal or a combination)
10g fine sea salt
At least 8h before you want to bake your loaf, mix up a 'sponge'. This is a combination of some active starter, water and flour: 150ml of starter, 250g flour and 275ml warm water. Stir well, cover and leave overnight or the equivalent. In the morning it will look thick and bubbly. (don't forget to replenish your starter)
Once the sponge has had time to get to work, mix it with 300g of flour, along with the salt. Tip the dough on to an oiled surface and knead until it feels smooth, probably about 10 minutes. Enjoy yourself, that is about three songs worth of kneading. If it stays sticky, add a little flour, but if you keep your hands and the surface oiled, it usually transforms as the gluten starts to bind everything together. Once it is kneaded put your dough into an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise. You can’t rush it, let it do its stuff for a few hours in a warm spot, overnight (or equivalent) in a cool spot. You should see when it’s ready, it will be about twice the size of when it started.
Knock it back by kneading, or do the stretch and fold (see below). Oil the surface you are working on, and oil your hands, to stop the dough from sticking. Let it sit for a while – ie ‘prove’ – until it has risen again, the knock back by knead or stretch method and make a round loaf by tucking in the raggy edges together, leaving a smooth top.
You may have a proving basket, lined with cloth, or you might like to improvise one. I use a drying up cloth to line the inside of my salad spinner. Whatever you use, it should be around twice as tall as the dough. Sprinkle the cloth and the loaf generously with flour – if you mix in a litte cornmeal it makes the crust crisper. Put the smooth side of your loaf down into the basket (or equivalent). Make sure the edges of the loaf are good and floury, because it is very annoying if the dough sticks.
The top of the loaf needs to be covered while it rises. You can use oiled plastic – bag or cling fim – or flour the upside end of the dough liberally and fold over the dish cloth. It will take around1 ½ - 3h for it to double in size.
The oven needs to heat up to as hot as it will go before you put in your loaf. Once it’s hot enough, put a bowlful of boiling water in, on the shelf below, to make it nice and steamy.
Turn out your loaf onto a lined/greased baking tray. Don’t worry if it’s covered in flour. Use a very sharp knife to make slashes in it – I dip mine in water to keep the slashes open. Put the loaf in the oven and cook at the highest temperature for 20m, then turn it down to 200 C and cook for another 20m. It is cooked when the base sounds hollow when it's tapped, if it doesn’t sound hollow, give it another 10m.
Leave to cool before cutting.
|I thought I'd lost the talent for making bread, but it turned out I was just rushing it. Phew.|
Stretch and fold or fold and stretch
Fold and Stretch – from here on the dough should be handled as gently as possible to retain all of the rise and bubbles that it are building.
Dust flour around and under the dough while it’s in the bowl and scoop it out onto a smooth and floured countertop or large floured cutting board.
Place a dough scraper under one edge, then grab as much dough as you can, and lift up without tearing it, and pull back toward the middle of the dough ball. Think of this round ball as a clock. Pull and stretch the four sides at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
Stretching and folding takes the place of kneading and you will get a feel for how many times you want to do this before your final proof and bake. Two or three times is a rule of thumb. Don’t do it so often that it’s too stiff to bake. Each time of stretching and folding, the dough should become a little stiffer. Make sure you space these 30 to 40 minutes apart to allow the dough to relax between the stretch and folds.