Savoury

Sourdough Bread


Well, sort of. My husband said I needed to tell an honest story so in this instance, my bake didn’t go according to plan!
For some reason I woke on Easter Monday and decided I wanted to make some sourdough bread. Unlike other bread, sourdough uses a fermented starter to act as the rising agent and to give it the flavour so you need to plan this one in advance if you want to make your own starter, as I did. I used the starter recipe from Hobbs House Bakery.

To make the starter, you will need a suitable container – I used a kilner jar – 75g bread flour and 75g warm water. Pour the flour and water into the container and mix together then leave the lid ajar and put it in a warm place. Every day for a week, repeat the process of feeding the starter by adding the flour and water in equal quantities (75g each). By day 5 you should notice bubbles in the starter and you can use it now if you like but if you leave it longer, it will work better. I found I had bubbles in mine from day 3 – not sure if this was a bad thing but I went with it – and I fed mine for 7 days before I used it.

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I decided to stick with Hobbs House Bakery for the actual sourdough bread too. You will need:

  • 300g sourdough starter (as above)
  • 250g warm water
  • 500g white bread flour
  • Big pinch of salt

Put the flour into a bowl, add 300g of sourdough starter then add the warm water and salt. Mix it together – I used my stand mixer with the dough attachment – and then turn it out onto a floured surface to knead. It is a very wet dough so you have to work it for a long time before it will start to come away from the table – I did 15 minutes then roped my husband in for another 10 as I didn’t think it was done as it was still sticking. In the end we decided that was more than enough! The finished dough should be very soft but doesn’t stick to the back of your dry hand. If it does, work in a little more flour.

Once you’ve finished kneading, put it into a bowl and leave it somewhere warm to rise for 2 hours. Next, shape the dough on a lightly floured surface to fit a proving basket or loaf tin. To do this, stretch the dough out into a long rectangle then fold each outer third inwards. Knuckle down a seam at the bottom of the dough nearest to you, then roll the dough down from top creating a tight loaf shape. This may have been the first place I went wrong. I tried to follow this instruction but don’t think I did it properly – my father tells me there is a knack to this which clearly I need practice in!

Dust the proving basket or loaf tin with flour and roll the dough in flour to stop it sticking. Put it into the basket, cover it and leave it to rise in a warm place for a second time, for about 8 – 12 hours. I would grease with a little oil, including the cling film which I used to cover it as my dough stuck to both!

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In order to bake the bread, you will need a baking stone or a heavy metal baking tray. Turn the oven to 240C/220C Fan/Gas 9, heating the stone or tray. Carefully turn the loaf out onto the hot stone or tray – be careful not to knock any air out. As my dough had slightly stuck to the tray, mine dropped out in a bit of a gloopy mess – I thought it was going to go over the edge of the baking stone! My poor performance in the folding of the dough likely didn’t help. Put the dough in the oven and throw a cup of water into the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.

Anyway I persevered and cooked the loaf and ta da…

The more open texture is what I was hoping for so I suppose you could say its part way there but the rest of it was too closely textured and it hadn’t risen as much as I’d have hoped. I’m going to give it another go at the weekend but with less water – I think it used too much water considering the starter itself was liquid so I might check out a few other recipes and see what they use – and I’ll look up the folding technique. I’ll let you know how I get on!

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