The classic sourdough loaf should be a staple on any kitchen table. Cut into chunks alongside a smorgasboard of charcuterie and cheeses, or with an unctuous layer of melty drippy cheese in between 2 wedges, or perhaps large hunks of it with a silky smooth & warming soup. In the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening - sourdough can be used for any meal.
Now you've got your sourdough starter ready, we're on track for it to be made into a crusty sourdough loaf. There is perception that surrounds sourdough that it is really difficult to get right. This isn't the case at all. Sourdough needs nothing but a lot of time and care. We suggest that you take your time, and only start to make your loaves on a rainy day or if you have time to potter around.
We're certain that you will devour this loaf as soon as it's made, but if you do have any crusts lying around, why don't you try our Chicken Thigh Panzanella?
10g of Pure Sea Salt
200g Homemade Sourdough Starter (either a wholemeal or white flour starter is ideal)
450g tepid water
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, both flours and the starter until well mixed together. Leave for 1 hour, covered at room temperature.
After an hour has passed, combine into the dough the salt. The salt needs to be mixed fully into the dough in order to sufficiently distribute the salt crystals throughout. Scrunch it up until fully combined with the dough and you can't feel any salt crystals left.
Leave to one side for half an hour.
After half an hour, you will be starting your folding dough method. Sourdough requires 3 folds every ½ an hour. To fold sourdough dough, it is easiest to do with lightly wet hands.
To gently fold the dough, lift the dough away from the bowl and tuck it underneath itself and then turn it 90 degrees and repeat. Repeat that every half an hour for an hour and a half, therefore 3 times. After every time you fold the dough, cover it and leave again room temp for approx. an hour.
At the end of this process, the dough will be ready for be pre-shaped into a nice round. The key at this point is to as gentle as possible with the dough, whilst also being assertive.
In order to pre-shape the dough, turn out the dough from the bowl onto the bench. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and then, using a dough scraper or bench knife, under cut the dough rotating slightly each time, forming a tighter bond on the top of the dough. As you go, the dough should form a ball shape, and feel stronger and more cohesive.
Rest the dough for half an hour and then the dough will be ready to shape.
To shape the dough, flour the top and then turn the dough upside down. Pinch one edge of the dough and pull into the centre and work your way around the dough (should be about 6 times).
Once the dough has been shaped, place it into a lightly floured bread basket, knot side up. Dust the top of the loaf with flour and then place into the fridge and allow to prove overnight.
After it has proved overnight and you're ready to bake, place a cast iron pan (make sure it will fit your dough!) into the oven at the highest possible temp it will go. The hot pan is necessary in order to form a gloriously crusty loaf. Leave the empty pan in the oven for an hour to pre-heat.
Be extremely careful in taking the hot pan out of the oven. The next bit needs to be done relatively quickly so the heat doesn't dissipate too quickly, so make sure you have all of your equipment to hand. Carefully, without touching the sides of the hot pan, turn the dough out of the proving dish upside down into the pot. Be careful as the pot will be extremely hot. When it’s in the pot score the loaf with either a serrated knife or a razor blade with about a centimetre deep cut running the length of the loaf.
Back into the hot oven it goes with the lid on at 240C for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes is completed, take the lid off and put back in the oven for another 20 mins. It should be gloriously brown and crusty and super hot.
We like to bake our sourdough to form a dark crust, don't be afraid of a darker colour than your usual loaves.