Sourdough. Risen with wild yeast, which come from Bert who lives in my fridge. Something so simple it is literally flour, water and salt. That’s it. It’s as simple as that, yet can be transformed into the most delicious bread. My recipe takes around 36 hours, and while it’s got only a few steps which require a lot of attention, it is well worth the wait. I always make 2 loaves, one to eat fresh on the day, and one sliced and frozen ready for eating later in the week.
If you haven’t got a starter, there’s no reason you can’t make one and have it ready to bake with in a week. Simply start by mixing 50% wholemeal and 50% white plain flour together. Take a handful and mix it with lukewarm water and leave in a cool area for a few days. Once you see bubbles forming, start to feed you starter by discarding about 80%, and adding 1:1 water and 50/50 flour blend to make a thick batter. Repeat this process ever day till it predictively rises and falls between feeds.
For a full tutorial length video visit my YouTube channel.
Makes 2 small loves, 1 large loaf, 3 pizza bases, or 1 large focaccia
- 15g starter
- 25g wholemeal flour
- 25g plain flour + extra for dusting
- 50g strong wholemeal flour
- 450g strong white flour
- 8g salt
- Seeds (optional)
- Rice flour
- Ice cubes
- Start the night before you plan to make the dough. Take 15g of your starter culture, add 50ml lukewarm water, 25g wholemeal flour and 25g plain white flour and mix well. Leave covered overnight at room temperature for around 10 hours. This is your leaven.
- The next morning, mix the strong flours together in a large container. Measure 300ml of 25°C water, add 100g of leaven and mix. Pour over the flour and mix till a stiff dough forms. Cover and leave to rest for 30-45 minutes.
- Measure 50ml of 25°C water and add 8g of salt. Stir to dissolve and pour over the dough. Mix in, scrunching and breaking the dough up. Once fully mixed cover and rest for 45-60 minutes.
- Dipping your hands in water to prevent the dough from sticking to you, perform a coil turn. Start by folding the top half of the dough under itself. Repeat for the bottom half of the dough. Turn the container 90° and repeat the process, folding the top half of the dough underneath itself and the bottom half of the dough underneath itself. This is one coil foil. Cover and leave for 45-60 minutes.
- Repeat the process 3 more times. If you wish to add anything to the dough, do it before performing the second coil fold.
- After a 60 minute rest after the 4th coil fold, use a dough spatula to pull the dough out onto the work surface and dust with a 50/50 mixture of plain flour and rice flour. If making 2 loaves, cut the dough into two and flip so the floured side is not on the bottom. Build tension in the dough by folding the edges into the centre of the dough, trying to incorporate as little flour as possible. Flip the ball over, and, using one hand and the dough spatula, work in a series of turns and pulls to create tension on the surface of the ball. Leave to rest on the worktop covered in a tea towel for 30 minutes.
- Lift each ball off keeping the round shape, flipping it do the underside is now the top. Take care not to knock out air, gently stretch the dough out, folding the bottom half almost to the top. Stretch the sides out, folding the right side into the centre followed by the left side. Finally, take the top, stretch out and fold up and over, and roll the whole ball away so the seams are on the bottom. Round the corners by cupping your hands around and gently pulling to create tension over the surface. Leave to rest for 1 minutes.
- Dust a proving basket and transfer the shaped dough seam side up, pinching to maintain tension. Cover and leave to rise overnight in the fridge.
- The next day, preheat the oven to maximum with a cast iron Dutch oven inside. Allow to reach temperature and leave for a further 20 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the oven and cut a piece of baking parchment larger than your dough. Uncover the dough, place the parchment over the top and gently invert the dough out onto the work surface on the parchment. Dust off any excess flour, and make a deep, yet shallow angled cut across the surface of the bread. This cut will allow for “oven spring”. An unscored loaf will be stunted and may burst.
- Moving as quickly and safely as possible, remove the bottom pan of the Dutch oven from the oven, leaving the lid in the oven, and place the dough and parchment into the pan. Add a few ice cubes to the pan under the parchment and immediately return to the oven, close the lid to trap the steam, shut the oven door and drop the oven temperature to 230°C and bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for a further 20 minutes till the crust is dark and crispy. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack. Listen to your bread sing from the oven as the crust cools and crackles.
- Once cooled slightly, slice and dip into balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.