Recipe: Sourdough Loaf for Beginners

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There are many, many ways to make a loaf of Sourdough bread. So many methods and techniques, so much conflicting advice online in blogs, books, videos, it's really quite overwhelming and put me off making sourdough for ages. Not to mention that most recipes I saw told me to throw away a portion of my starter on a regular basis!

The truth is that with knowledge of the principle of yeasted bread making, and an understanding of how sourdough bread works, when you actually come to make a loaf you realise how simple it is and really how flexible the process is. In many ways it’s the trickiest bread to make and in many ways the simplest.

Following on from a few sourdough videos I've made recently you guys have been requesting a recipe left, right and centre so here it is. This is the recipe I use week in week out, in the way I do it to fit in with my lifestyle. No waste, no discard. I use a 100% wholemeal rye starter, but you can use whichever you like or already have.

I’ll leave some links at the bottom of the recipe to a few videos you might find helpful.

Have fun!

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Sourdough Loaf for Beginners

This recipe will make one sourdough loaf, to make two double the recipe, follow the same method, and divide the dough at the pre-shape stage.

Before you begin you’ll need to have made a Rye sourdough starter

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Difficulty

Tricky

 36 hours


Ingredients

Day 1

25g         Sourdough Starter

50g         Wholemeal Rye Flour

50g         Water at 35C

 

Day 2

100g       Super excited sourdough starter from above (take this from your pot and leave the scrapings for next time)

450g       Strong white bread flour

310g       Room temperature water

8g           Salt


Method

Day 1 - Feeding your starter

1.       In a large pot mix together your starter, flour and water. Scrape down the edges to level off the mixture and mark on the side of the pot with a pen or elastic band where the mixture comes up to.

2.       Leave this on your kitchen side at room temperature overnight or for 8-12 hours and it will bubble and double in volume at least. If it’s been a while since you baked (two weeks or more) your starter might get a little sleepy in there and require a couple of feeds to get it excited again.

3.       The following morning the starter should have been producing gas and increased in volume. At least doubled in size above your marker.

 

Day 2 - Making your dough

1.       Take 100g of your starter out of the pot and put in in a large bowl. Add the water flour and salt and mix it together into a dough. Mix for a minute or so to make sure everything is combined. Let this mixture rest and soak for 30 minutes.

2.       Spray the work surface with water, and the top of your dough. Turn the dough out onto the wet surface upside down. Work around the dough pinching a piece with your finger and thumb, stretching it out and folding it back over the dough making a ball. 10-12 folds should be enough. Return the dough to the bowl to rest for 2 hours.

3.       After the dough has rested it should have puffed up slightly already. Spray the table and dough again with water. Turn the dough out and reshape into a ball. 6-7 stretches and folds should be enough this time, roll the dough over with the smooth side on top and tuck everything underneath with your hands. Return the dough to the bowl for a further 2 hours

4.       After the dough has rested for this second time there should be clear signs of the dough rising, Stretch and fold the dough once more exactly like the last time, and return the dough to the bowl to rest for 1 hour.

5.       This time after resting it’s time to pre-shape the dough. So dust your surface with flour, turn out your dough and shape the ball really quite tight without tearing it. Rest on the side for 1 hour covered with a cloth.

6.       In the final shaping the aim is to create a tight structure without degassing the dough too much. So be delicate with the folds but still creating tension. Dust your work surface with a little flour, turn the dough upside down and let it relax into a circle. Pick up the side furthest from you and fold it towards you a third of the way over the dough. Fold in the sides so they overlap each other only just, then from the furthest side roll up the dough like a swiss roll and pinch to seal the edge. When you are done, dust your loaf well with semolina or a wholemeal flour, and dust an oval banneton basket too. Place the dough in the basket upside down and let it rest with a cloth on top. If you don’t have a basket, line a colander or bowl with a cloth and dust it well.

7.       At this stage rest your dough in the fridge to prove up nice and slowly overnight.

 

Day 3 - Baking your loaf

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1.       When you are ready to bake, remove your loaf from the fridge and let it rest on the kitchen side while the oven preheats. It should show clear signs of inflation but if it is still not much different in size to when you put it in the fridge you might want to leave it to finish off the puff for an hour or so. Preheat the oven to 230°C fan/gas mark 9 with a baking stone on the middle shelf and a deep tray on the bottom. Boil the kettle too.

2.       Turn out the loaf out onto a floured peel, make a cut in the top with a grignette and slide it onto the baking stone. Pour the hot water from the kettle into the tray to create steam and shut the door.

3.   Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180°C fan/gas mark and bake for a further 30 minutes.

4.   Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Watch

What is Sourdough?

Watch

How to make a Sourdough Starter

Watch

Sourdough - The Scrapings Method