A few weeks ago Louisa posted that she was making sourdough. I hounded her relentlessly on Twitter about the process and she inspired me to try it myself.
I knew it was going to take time, you have to create a starter (a mix of flour and water that creates a natural yeast) and that it would take at least a week for it to be ready. I didn’t realise that actually making the bread would take almost an entire day (PSA: read the recipe from start to finish before you begin), because the yeast is not instant it takes much longer for the dough to proof (rise) than normal bread.
So, yup, not only did I learn how to make sourdough, I got a healthy lesson in patience.
I have to say, the time it took was well worth it. My bread was delicious, especially with a big bowl of homemade chicken soup!
First up: How to make a starter
- Flour (rye is suggested as the easiest flour to use, I used regular flour)
- Warm water
- Glass container with lid
- Make sure your glass jar and any spoons you use are clean.
- Place half a cup flour and half a cup warm water in the glass jar.
- Mix gently and close the jar loosely.
- Leave for 24 hours.
- The next day, pour some of the mixture out and add another half cup flour and half cup water and mix (this is called feeding).
- Again, leave the mixture for 24 hours.
- The next day your mixture should have bubbles and should start increasing in size.
- Continue pouring off a bit and adding flour and water daily.
- Your starter should have a pleasant sour smell to it and should look like marshmallow fluff.
- It should take roughly a week for your starter to be ready to bake with although it can take longer.
- If your starter smells bad or turns green/blue, throw it out and start again.
- I forgot to feed my starter for a few days here and there, the only down side to this is that it took two weeks for it to be ready to use.
- Instead of throwing away the starter that you pour off you can pour it into a 2nd (or 3rd) jar and create another starter.
I wanted something really simple to start with and I found a recipe on BBCGoodFood that looked like it fit the bill. I think my recipe still needs some tweaking but it was delish!
- 300g sourdough starter
- 500g flour of your choice, I used plain white flour
- 225ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey (I left this out)
- Place all ingredients except the salt into a bowl.
- Mix with your hands until the dough starts to come together.
- Add the salt and continue mixing/kneading the dough.
- Add a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky or a bit of water if the dough is too dry.
- Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap and a towel, leave in a warm place to rise for about 3 hours or until doubled in size.
- Remove from the bowl and knead gently to remove air bubbles.
- Gently flour the dough and place it seam side up in a medium sized bowl or proofing bowl to keep it shape.
- Cover in cling wrap and a towel again and leave in a warm space to rise for about 6 hours.
- Heat your oven to 200C and place a baking tray inside to warm up.
- Place a pan with water at the bottom to create steam, this helps form a crispy crust.
- Once the tray is heated, lightly dust the tray with flour and gently tip your bread onto the tray.
- You can cut lines into the top of the dough at this point.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- You can open the oven door 5 - 10 minutes before its done to let the steam escape, prop the door open with a wooden spoon (I forgot this step and my crust burned a bit).