I have been making sourdough loaves since I got my starter about once a week in between making loaves with commercial yeast. While sourdough is delicious it can be quite a lengthy process so I tend make it when I can, rather than when I need a quick loaf of bread. It often takes a couple of days to wake up my starter from the fridge and sometimes I leave it so long I actually have to start the process of adding another cup of flour and water all over again. I have been sticking with the same basic recipe so was looking for something a bit different. And while sourdough might take a bit longer to make, the finished result is worth it: this bread is absolutely delicious and probably the most authentic tasting “artisan” bread I have made. The kids would eat it all day if they could. I need to work on my presentation though as mine doesn’t look anything like the picture accompanying the recipe in Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake“. Time to invest in a proving basket!
It’s a very chewy bread that will give your jaw a proper workout. It’s great on its own with some oil and vinegar or butter when it is fresh, and is also brilliant as toast.
The original recipe makes two loaves but I worked out the amounts needed to use the amount of starter I ended up with, which very usefully turned out to be exactly 300g. I made one large loaf and these are the amounts I used:
300g sourdough starter
400g strong white flour
60g rye flour
When your starter is ready to be used, put it, the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add enough water to give a soft dough. I used nearly all my water but it will depend on how wet your starter is.
Knead for about 5-10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and silky. Put into an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel. Leave for about 5 hours, or until at least doubled in size. Again, the amount of time will depend on your starter.
When the dough is ready to be knocked back, prepare a tin or proving basket. Paul Hollywood’s instructions are to cover the tray with a cloth and dust heavily with flour. I did as instructed and I think that is why my loaf turned out to be a bit strangely shaped at the sides.
Tip the dough out onto a surface and fold repeatedly inwards until the air is knocked out. Shape into an oval and taper the ends. I tried this but the tin I used wasn’t really big enough.
Put the loaf into the proving basket or prepared tin, cover and leave to prove. Paul Hollywood says a minimum of 13 hours, until the dough is at least doubled in size. Mine didn’t seem to need this long and instead of putting it inside a plastic bag I covered it with a tea towel. The dough developed a skin but this didn’t seem to impact the taste.
Set the oven to 190ºC and transfer the loaf to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Make a deep cut along the middle of the loaf and two diagonal slashes on either side. I think because my dough had developed a skin this didn’t work very well.
Bake for around 40 minutes, until well browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.