Ready To Bake?
If you’re not ready to start baking yet, the dried starter can be stored for years in this state.
When you are ready, you’ll need to activate the starter and feed it until it’s ready for baking.
Make sure you use a starter that has been fed in the last 24 hours when baking.
The starter usually "peaks" about 3-4 hours after a feed.
Your starter level will rise and fall with feeding. Mine usually “peaks” about 3 – 4 hours after a feed. Try and use the starter at its “peak” when it is at its most active. When baking, always keep back a small amount of starter, say 50g, and feed it equal amounts of flour and water to build up the quantity again.
If you’re making a rye loaf, be aware that rye doesn’t have as much gluten as white flour and the loaf will rise less. I recommend starting with 1/4 rye to 3/4 white flour as you still get the nutty rye flavour with the beauty of the white loaf. Once you’re comfortable with that, experiment with the proportions and flour types.
You’ll easily find sourdough recipes online. After trying multiple recipes and techniques, this is the one I use most. It takes about 24 hours from start to finish. The times can vary according to the temperature of the house. In Spring and Summer, I do most of the proving in the fridge.
Morning - complete steps 1, 2 & 3
Afternoon - complete steps 4 & 5
Morning - complete steps 6, 7 & 8
Afternoon - EAT Nom-Nom
You will need
- 400g strong bread flour
(organic if possible)
- 10 g salt
- 200g sourdough starter
(white or rye)
- 275g cold water
- Semolina or flour for dusting
- A baking surface / loaf tin / lidded casserole dish
Method for Bread
- Mix the flour and salt until it is combined. Add the starter and water and mix until it comes together in a wet dough. Cover and leave it for 30 minutes (this will allow the gluten to develop)
- Knead by hand for 15 – 20 minutes until it passes the Window Pain Test. If you are using a mixer, about 10 – 15 minutes on a medium setting should do it.
- Cover and rest the dough for 6 hours at room temperature or put it in the fridge overnight until it has doubled in size
- Turn the dough out and shape it. This basically involves shaping it into a round lump rather than the amorphous lump it is now
- If you’re going to be using a baking surface or lidded pot, transfer the dough to a floured proving basket and leave for 3 – 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge) until it has got larger again and it springs back when you touch it. If you’re using a loaf tin, just put the dough in the tin at this point.
- Preheat the oven and your baking surface or lidded pot to 240C / gas mark 9
- Turn the oven down to 210C / gas mark 8. Turn out the dough from the basket onto the preheated surface or lidded pot and bake for 40 minutes. Use flour or semolina to dust the surface and prevent the loaf from sticking. If you’re using a loaf tin, pop the tin in the oven. If you’re using a lidded dish, take the lid off the pot half way through cooking. The dough should rise significantly during the first part of cooking; this is called the “oven spring”.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. If the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with a finger you will know it is cooked. If you want a softer crust, wrap the loaf in a tea towel while it is cooling.