You’ve made your sourdough starter, using the instructions in my last blog. Now it’s time to make a delicious loaf!
About 12 hours before you want to start baking:
Take 100g of sourdough starter from your pot in the fridge and put it in a bowl. Add 100g white wheat flour and 100g tepid water and mix well. Cover the bowl and leave it on your kitchen worktop overnight or all day. When it’s bubbly and active it’s ready to bake with. You can also use this method to top up your fridge supply of starter – just pop it all back in the fridge when you’ve finished.
Now, let’s get baking! Use the recipe below to make one big loaf or two small ones.
460g wheat flour (white, wholemeal, granary or a mix). If you use whole grain your loaf will be more dense than a pure white loaf so make what you like to eat
300g of refreshed white wheat starter (see above)
230mls of water – you want your dough to be sticky, not dry, so add more if required
Mix all the ingredients together.
This dough should be wet and sticky at first, so don’t be tempted to add more flour. Just keep kneading! You’ll need to keep going for at least ten minutes and work the dough until it’s soft and really stretchy.
Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover and leave somewhere cool for 3-4 hours.
After 3-4 hours remove the dough from your bowl carefully. You don’t want to knock out all the air. You’re now ready to shape the loaf. Check out www.virtuousbread.com for tips on how to shape your bread. A tin is always the easiest option or a bowl lined with a floured tea cloth. You can go the whole hog and buy a banneton basket but make sure you flour this really well so the loaf doesn’t stick.
Cover the shaped dough and leave again somewhere cool for approximately 8-10 hours. You will have to experiment with this stage as it really depends on your house temperature. You may find you need less time in winter but on a hot summer’s day you may need to adjust or even use the fridge to cool everything down. Ideally you want a long, slow prove to get a sourdough with great flavour and texture.
Heat the oven to 240 degrees centigrade. If your loaf is already in a tin then just spray the top of the loaf with water and put in your oven. If you went for a bowl/banneton then empty the loaf carefully onto a hot baking tray and spray well with water before placing in the oven.
After 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 220 degrees centigrade and continue to bake for another 25-45 minutes depending on your oven and how much crust you like on your loaf. If it starts to darken too much, simply turn the heat down again or cover with tin foil.
Allow to cool completely (you’ll have to be patient!) then slice, eat and enjoy.