I’ve been thinking about trying sourdough bread for a while. I like making bread and sourdough tastes great. Also in May I found and now follow this blog by Annalisa Barbieri who waxes lyrical about sourdough and likes the same duralex glasses as me!
It seemed a bit complicated though, with making a starter and feeding it and then working out how to make the bread, if there’s one thing I’m pretty much allergic to in cooking, it’s complication. I kept the article from the Guardian a few weeks ago but didn’t do anything with it in, largely because it required wholemeal bread flour which I didn’t have and chucking half of it away which seemed a bit fussy not to mention wasteful, wholemeal bread flour is quite expensive and I was in a funk and it was all too much effort. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that there was a recipe on the back of the white bread flour packet for a starter that seemed easy. 70g flour with 70ml water in a jar, add the same amount every day for 7 days, then you can either use or stick in the fridge. It didn’t say that the flour had to be wholemeal or organic, it didn’t want you to chuck half of it away. So I pulled out a jar, gave it a quick wash and started.
I was so proud when after 2 days there were bubbles and a slightly funky smell. Every morning while I was making coffee, I added flour and water and gave it a stir. By day 5, I had bought some wholemeal bread flour and started to add half wholemeal, half white flour. I was and am ridiculously attached to my starter, I fed it for two weeks and then got worried, was it bubbling enough? It smelled like ripe bananas, was that right? There were two days when I forget to feed it, would that kill it? Did I need to start throwing it away? The jar cracked, I needed to make some bread and soon.
On Saturday morning at about 8am, I took 150g of my starter, added 250g of strong white bread flour, mixed it together and left it for the day.
On Saturday evening, I added 300g of bread flour (250g white, 50g brown wholemeal), a tablespoon of olive oil and 10g of sea salt and made a rough dough. I hate kneading dough. Hate it, I wish I found it therapeutic but mostly I find it a pain in the arse and tiring, so I decided to follow the Dan Lepard method as described in Annalisa’s blog. Partly because Annalisa seems to know what she’s talking about and I love Dan Lepard’s method for baps which is similar and has never let me down, in fact I was baking a batch of them for the freezer at the same time as I was faffing with the sourdough.
So the method is mix the dough, rest for 10 mins, knead for 10 seconds on an oiled surface, repeat twice, rest for 30 minutes, knead for 10 seconds, rest for an hour, knead for 10 seconds twice. Then follow the recipe. It’s easier than it sounds but it takes three hours. Then I was supposed to prove for another couple of hours and give it an overnight rise. However, I was totally out of time and one of the things, I’ve become very relaxed about with all sorts of dough is just leaving it on the side in my kitchen and letting it do it’s thing. This is because I’m mostly quite forgetful and I’ve only had a ‘that bread done riz’ (if you can guess where the quote is from, I will love you forever!) disaster once in the last four years.
This is a really long winded explanation of why the dough only got an hour and a half to prove before I stuck it in a container for it’s overnight rise and didn’t put it in the fridge. Long story short, I ran out of time, which I kind of knew was going to happen and left it out on the counter overnight, praying that it could handle this kind of treatment because if it couldn’t it would be the last sourdough loaf I ever made!
On Sunday morning, it looked pretty good and ready. I heated the oven and put two baking trays in it. Then I turned my dough out onto one of them, put a glass of ice cubes in the other and put everything back in the oven and left it for a bit. I didn’t have a spray to spray water on it, so I didn’t do that.
Finally about 40 minutes later, I had bread.
Yes is was amazing, yes I should have let it cool a bit more before I started to eat it!
Since then I’ve made another two loaves, one above that was mostly white flour with a bit of wholemeal and one that was mostly wholemeal with a bit of white.
I started them on Thursday morning and baked one on Saturday morning and one on Sunday morning. The white turned out better than the brown but both tasted amazing and I can see this being a regular part of my weekly cooking.