I have been playing around with different sourdough recipes for a couple of weeks now but these past few days I have been really focusing on my starter trying to increase the wild yeast and making sure it was active enough to bake with. I feel this is the main component to getting a good rise out of your bread and great flavour too. I actually discarded half of my starter (made pancakes) and fed it 75 g of stone ground wholemeal flour and 75 g of warm water and used it 12 hours later. It was so active and happy! So from getting what I wanted out of my starter I wanted to try a tried and tested recipe so I chose the River Cottage Sourdough Recipe.
I used the following recipe which can be found in the River Cottage Handbook No.3 ;
My (hughs) Sourdough - Page 117
650ml warm water
500 g strong wholemeal flour
A ladleful of starter
First of all mix all the sponge ingredients together until its no longer lumpy and leave in a fairly warm place over night. ( I left mine next to a radiator)
Then in the morning mix the following
For the Dough
600 g wholemeal flour
25 g Salt
Then you need to kneed the dough until its smooth and satiny roughly about 10 mins, I used my Kenwood mixer with the dough hook with the addition of a bit of elbow grease at the end. Then shape the dough into a tight round and place in a clean bowl for an hour.
After an hour, flour the dough and tip out onto the surface and press it out flat with your hands and shape into a tight round again. Put it back into the bowl, cover and leave for another hour. Do this twice or even more. You will feel the dough becoming smoother, shinier and more airy.
After roughly 4 hours of deflating and shaping you need to knock the air out again and divide the dough into two or three and shape into loaves, use a bowl or loaf tin lined with tea towels or even better a bread proving basket and flour the loaves and put in the lined bowl or tin bottom up.
Leave the loaves for another 2-3 hours to double and turn up the oven to full and place an old tray in the very bottom of the oven. Once the loaves and oven is ready turn loaves out onto hot baking trays and slash with a serrated knife using the pattern of your choice, don't be shy though and be creative! Put the kettle on and once the loaves are in the oven pour hot water from the kettle into the tray in the bottom of the oven - stand back and close the door! Turn the heat down after about 10 mins to 200 degrees and allow 30-40 mins for small loaves or 40-50 for large loaves. When baked they should sound hollow when base is tapped and they should be lovely and dark. If in doubt bake for 5 more mins.
Leave to cool on a wire rack, then devour with butter!
I had some for lunch with avocado and pate, it was delicious!
Happy Hump Day, only 2 more sleeps until Friday!