In a previous post we showed you how to cultivate your own sourdough starter (Read how to do that here). Within this post we will show you how to use that now cultivated starter to make delicious homemade bread. Unfortunately, between the writing on these two posts my very own starter randomly died on me. This can happen sometimes and it usually never your own fault; getting the balance right to keep it alive can be tricky and sometimes a sudden spike of temperature can have dire results. The best thing to do in this instance is to just start over and make a new starter.
Before we start making the bread you should make sure your starter has been fed about an hour before starting. The starter should be about double the size it was before feeding. you want to know that your starter is really strong this is what will give your bread its fluffy texture.
- 500g flour
- 300g starter
- 1 cup of water (slightly warm)
- 1tsp salt
- 1tbsp sweetener (honey, brown sugar, white sugar, golden syrup, treacle any kind of sugar apart from plant-based or artificial sweetener)
Firstly, mix the sugar and the salt into the warm water. then mix the water and the flour and the together. Add the starter. knead, either with a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. The mixture shouldn’t be too wet or too dry and it may be sticky.
If using a mixer, knead it with a dough hook for about 5 minutes. if it is overly sticky add more flour slowly. Sourdough is not a dry dough and it may be sticky for a while. You want the dough to be able to come together to form a ball but not bone dry. You don’t want so much flour that it is one combined ball but you don’t want it too wet that you can’t work with it.
If kneading by hand you need to turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead. (see below GIF) for about 10 minutes. When it is soft and elastic (you can pull it without tearing.
Once finished kneading put into a oiled bowl, cover loosly with a tea towel and put somewhere without a draft. This could be by a radiator, on a windowsill, in an oven thats turned off or in a microwave for about 2-3 hours or until it has doubled in size (don’t be worried if it takes longer, sourdough can be stubborn about rising) . Anywhere that is out of a draft. If you are wanting to bake it later on in the day you can rise it fridge but be aware it can take up to 12 hours to double in size if you do it this way.
Once your dough has doubled in size, line a medium-sized bowl with a clean tea towel and flour it really well. Set aside. If you wanting to speed up the proving time set your oven onto the lowest heat setting for 5 minutes, then turn it off. tip the dough back onto your work surface and knead for about 1 minute, just to knock out any air bubbles. shape the dough into a smooth ball, dust with flour and then put it seam side up into the bowl with the tea towel. cover lightly with a second flowered tea towel and leave to rise again until doubled in size. If you’re using the oven to cut down proving time, put your dough in now, it should take about 1 hour, otherwise, your dough should take about 2 hours to double in size.
How you bake your bread now depends on the equipment you have available.
If you have a Dutch oven or a Roasting Dish with a lid then once your dough has almost doubled in size, in an empty oven put your Dutch oven/roasting dish in and preheat at 230C/210C fan assisted/Gas mark 8 for 20-30 minutes. Once heated, take out of the oven, put a small piece of greaseproof paper in the bottom (this will assist you in removing your bread afterwards) sprinkle lightly with flour and carefully tip your now-risen dough into your dutch oven/roasting dish. Slash the top of the loaf with a really sharp knife however you would like to ensure that the bread cooks evenly, put the lid on and pop back into the oven for 30 minutes with the lid on and then for a further 15 minutes with the lid off. You will know when your bread is done when it is a dark-golden brown colour and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
If you haven’t got a dutch oven then place a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven and place another baking tray in the middle of the oven. Put the oven on to pre-heat at 230C/210C fan assisted/Gas mark 8. Once the oven has pre-heated, remove the middle baking tray, cover with greaseproof paper and sprinkle with flour. Turn the dough onto the baking tray and slash with a sharp knife. In the roasting dish at the bottom of the oven, pour in two mugfulls of water. This will emulate the steam that would be created in the dutch oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a dark golden brown and sounds hollow in the middle.
Cool your loaf on a wire rack for about an hour then tuck and enjoy!