A simple recipe for delicious open textured bread with a chewy crumb. The process takes two days in total, but with very little actual work. The slower the ferment, the tastier the end result, so try not to rush things, I like to get my dough ready in the evenings and bake in the morning.
Makes 2 large or 4 small loaves
1kg strong white flour
675ml warm water
100g refreshed wheat or rye sour dough starter 10g salt
Refresh/feed your starter with the base flour and warm water. You are aiming for a 100% starter which means equal amounts of flour to water. I usually portion off 50g of my starter and feed it with 100g of flour and 100ml of water. Cover with a cloth and allow this to ferment in a warm environment for 12 – 24 hours. I sometimes feed it twice within 24 hours, but this depends on the weather and how active my starter is. Your starter should be bubbly and smell alcoholically sweet and fruity.
- Mix all of your flour with the water and 100g of starter and mix to form sticky dough. Do not add the salt yet. Return the extra starter to your mother culture, cover and refrigerate.
- Rest the mixture for 10 minutes and then start to knead it. It will feel sticky and wet, but do not fear, as you work it so it tightens up. Work it for a few minutes, return it to an oiled bowl, cover and rest it for up to 60 minutes.
- Now we add the salt. The reason for leaving the salt out of the initial dough is that salt inhibits fermentation and in omitting it initially, we give our dough a flying start. Add the salt and work it into the dough with your fingers and then knead for a few minutes more. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover and leave for a further 30 minutes.
- In the next 90 minutes you will need to turn and fold the dough 2 or 3 times. To do this, turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface, stretch it out to a long rectangle about 50cm by 25cm. Fold the far end over to the centre and the near end over that to form a “letter” fold. Turn tis over, ball it up and return this to the bowl and cover. Repeat this 2 or 3 times over the next 90 minutes.
- Allow this now to prove for up to 8 hours in a cool environment. In hot weather I “retard” or slow the fermentation down by refrigerating the dough. If you do this, you will need an extra two hours to bring the dough back to room temperature before forming and rising your breads.
- On an oiled surface, divide and scale the dough and form into the shape of loaf you want to bake. This dough benefits from being risen in a form, so either use greased bread tins or well-floured forms lined with thick cotton or linen cloth. Prove these in a warm, but not hot place for 60 – 90 minutes.
- Pre heat the oven to its hottest setting. Tins get baked as per any loaf, but those in forms need to be gently turned onto a heavy baking tray or directly onto a pre-heated baking stone.
- Dust with extra flour, then score or slash the loaves and bake for 10 minutes at the hottest setting. Turn the heat down to 200’c and bake large loaves for a further 30 – 35 minutes and small loaves for 20 – 25 minutes. Turn out, cool and enjoy!