Easy-Peasy Bread Recipe Using Sourdough
These days it's very easy to make bread using dried yeast, ready-mixed flours, bread-making machines and such like. But how much better would it be to experience the satisfaction and kudos of making your own bread from scratch, in the traditional way?
Before there were such things as fast-acting cultivated yeasts, bakers used starters to make their loaves. Anf contrary to what you might think, it's pretty easy. The only draw-back (and it's a small one), is the time you have to wait in-between stages.
What if I don't have a starter?
Some of you will already have your own starter that's been fizzing away for week, months or even years, However, if you don't have a ready-made one, don't fret - this recipe uses my own formula that's really easy to make. Have a look at my previous Hub for details.
Do I need special Skills or Equipment?
No. You will of course need something to keep your starter in - such as a large jar or Tupperware container - but aside from that, it's pretty much bowls, jars and spoons. (I'm assuming you already have an oven and baking trays).
- 500g strong white bread flour (it's important to use strong flour for at least part of the mix, as this will give help generate the gluten necessary, however, you could also use a mix of different flours, such as half strong white & half brown/wholemeal)
- 300g sourdough starter
- 250ml/9fl oz water
- 1 dessert spoon of Demerara sugar, or similar (this isn't essential, but helps your bread get a good crust)
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt
- Olive oil, for kneading
As I said, this recipe uses my own sourdough starter instead of dried yeast - see my Hub on making a sourdough starter.
In a bowl, mix together the flour and the sourdough starter. Add sugar and salt and slowly add the water (tap water is fine, you don't need it to be warm). Take care adding the water since if you add too much, you'll end up having to add more flour.
When the dough is in a manageable state, turn it out onto a clean surface. Now, years ago I always used flour for kneading, but then I started using Paul Hollywood's advice, so now I use olive oil. You don't need much, just spread a little on your worktop and you'll find the whole thing is much easier.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Not 5, or 7, but 10. Ideally you should be able to achieve what they call the 'windowpane effect' where dough can be stretched so it becomes almost transparent. However, don't worry if it doesn't happen the first time. The main thing is to get your dough looking smooth.
Oil a clean bowl and put the dough into it, then put the bowl into a large, clean plastic bag, allowing plenty of room for the dough to rise. Leave it to prove for 2 or 3 hours. I often leave mine for much longer (sometimes overnight). You'll notice dough made with a sourdough starter doesn't rise as much as other doughs. Don't worry, this is normal.
Oil your worktop again and knock the dough back. This is to knock the air out of it. Cut the dough in half and shape it into two rounds.
At this stage you can either put each round into oiled bowls, or as I do, place them on baking trays. Cover with plastic bags again, ensuring there's room for the dough to rise without allowing the air to get to it, and leave for another 2 or 3 hours. Again, you can leave it longer if you like.
Cut a cross, or some other interesting shape, into the top of each loaf and put it in the oven.
Bake in a preheated oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. It's useful to pop a tray of cold water, or a few ice cubes at the bottom of the oven. This generates steam, which helps your loaf rise. (Don't forget this bit - I did once and it makes a BIG difference!)
In theory, you should be able to leave it for 35-40 minutes, but my own oven is temperamental, so sometimes 20-25 minutes is enough.
Your bread is done when you can get a good hollow sound by tapping on the base of the loaf.
Let me know what you think...
Eric Rusch's No-Knead Recipe
The BBC's blue-eyed British Bake-Off Judge gives you the best tips on making bread, with recipes on sourdough, flatbreads and continental breads. A must for all would-be artisan bakers.