At the start of the year we welcomed a new addition to our house – Alex, the sourdough starter!
And since Alex’s birth, several weeks ago now, we’ve been nurturing him, feeding him and keeping him nice and warm in the under the stairs room. It’s the ideal place for proving bread. Following Alex’s birth, he grew from a gunky flour and water goo, to a fully fledged bubbling starter, with a slightly sour smell. Perfect!
Ian’s the bread maker in our house, every weekend there’s fresh bread and rolls for his lunchbox being baked. He’s very proud of his creations, and quite rightly so, they’re pretty darn good. There’s nothing on earth better than fresh, warm bread spread with luscious butter. Ian’s usual recipe is for a yeasted white loaf, there’s nothing pappy about it like supermarket ones. It has a lovely colour, crust and flavour, and… we’ve run out! Friday morning’s arrival of snow, also saw the bread tin turning up empty *gasp*
Well, what is one to do? Trudge through the snow to the village shop and hope that the shelves haven’t been stripped bare, or crack open the sourdough and get started on a new loaf. Ian took the lead on this one, as I said the bread baking is his area. I’m really lucky that he enjoys being in the kitchen as much as I do. When you’re in one all day for work, it’s nice to come home and have someone else do the cooking for a change.
Now with the sourdough starter, you can’t get stuck straight into the baking. First up, you need to make a ‘sponge’. It’s basically taking away part of your starter and giving it a feed to really get it’s juices bubbling! You need to leave your sponge overnight, to give it a good go at fermenting before making your dough.
The following morning, it’s time to get your bake on!
I’ve popped Ian’s method and recipe for sourdough below, and you can find his post with photos of the process over on his blog – Bubbleless. I can hand on my heart say this is a fab introduction loaf for sourdough, it’s tasty with a hint of sourness from the starter. We cut our first slices and ate it with soup. It also goes well with cheese and chutney and I’ve just made croutons with it for another soup-fest… Bready-goodness!
Basic Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf
Using a sourdough starter, to create a wholemeal sourdough loaf
- For the Sponge
- 100 ml Sourdough Starter
- 250 g Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour
- 275 ml Warm Water
- For the Loaf
- 300 g Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour
- 1 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
- 1 tsp salt
- For the Sponge
- Before you make the loaf, you’ll need to prepare your sourdough starter, to make the ‘sponge’
- Take approximately 100ml of the sourdough starter and place it in a clean bowl
- Add the flour and the warm water to the starter
- Mix together and cover with clingfilm
- Leave overnight in a warm place
- For the Loaf
- The following morning, check your ‘sponge’ – it should be bubbling nicely after being fed and left overnight
- In a clean bowl, mix the flour, rapeseed oil and salt
- Add your sponge to the mixed ingredients and mix together with your hands. This is the messy bit, and your dough should be quick sticky
- Knead your dough until it is smooth
- Oil the sides of a clean bowl with a little rapeseed oil and pop the dough in the bowl
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise until it’s about twice it’s size. This could be a couple of hours or all day in our case!
- When the dough is risen, it’s time to shape it and let it prove, for another 2-3 hours
- When you’re ready to bake your loaf, preheat your oven to 250ºC
- Flour a baking sheet and turn your loaf out onto it. We use semolina instead of flour on our baking sheet
- When you’re ready to pop the loaf in the oven, flick water over the bottom of the oven to create steam. Or if you’ve got a water sprayer spritz the oven
- Pop the loaf in the oven and for 15 minutes
- After 15mins, reduce the temperature to 200ºC and bake for another 25 minutes
- To check your bread is baked, tap the bottom of your loaf and if it sounds hollow, you’re done. If not pop them back in for another 5 minutes