Plain sourdough loafSo far I have covered making & caring for your starter, plus how to do an intermediate refreshment & some trouble shooting should things appear to be going a bit pear shaped!  You should now be ready to make your first sourdough loaf, (if you haven't done so already!)

 

Firstly you will need to make a "production sourdough"  from your starter.  Remember, if it's too acidic, which it may well be if it's been sat in the fridge for a few weeks, you will need to do an intermediate refreshment first.  The instructions for this are in my previous blog. 


Production Sourdough

Take 50g of your starter & mix with 100g of warm water.  Next add 225g of strong wholemeal flour.  Mix well, cover & leave to ferment for 12 to 24 hours, depending upon the room temperature.  The production sourdough will be ready to use once it has doubled in size.  You will now have 375g of production sourdough.  300g will be used to make your first loaf & 75g will be replaced into your starter & left to use another time.

 

Plain Sourdough

Ingredients

460g strong white flour.

300g production sourdough

230g warm water

10g of sea salt

 

Method

In a large bowl, mix the water & production sourdough together first.  Next add the rest of the ingredients.  Get your hands in to the bowl & give the contents a good mix about until they are all well combined & have formed a rough, wet dough. 

Turn onto a floured work surface & knead vigorously for about 15 minutes, until you have a well developed, stretchy dough which will be slightly shiny on the surface & not too sticky to touch.

Place the dough in to an oiled bowl or plastic container, cover & leave to prove until doubled in size.  I tend to leave my doughs over night to give the lactobacillus chance to provide me with that lovely unique sour flavour so I like to place them in a slightly cooler area to work their magic.

Once proved, this is the time to add any extra ingredients if you wish.  With a light dusting of flour on the work surface, empty the dough out of it’s container &, if you are doing so, add your extra ingredients & work through until well dispersed.   Shape your dough in to the desired shape, dust your proving basket generously with flour & semolina, (this gives a nice crust on the finished loaf), & place into your proving basket seam side up.  Cover with cling film or a plastic bag & leave in a warm place to rise for approximately 4 to 6 hours.  If you want to slow things right down, you can place your proving basket into the fridge overnight & then take out to bake at your leisure.  When your loaf is ready to bake it will have risen appreciably & be quite firm & springy to touch still.  If it has risen too far if will not spring back when pressed.  If this happens, take it out of the basket, knock it back, reshape & leave to prove again, but keep an eye on it this time.

Once ready to bake, gently turn your loaf on to a pre heated baking stone.  Give it a quick couple of slashes with a sharp knife to allow it to rise further in the oven.  The loaf will be baked in a pre heated oven, 230 degrees celsuis, for about 30 minutes.  Make sure to leave a large tray of hot water in the base of your oven to give you a nice crust on your loaf.  I always check after about 20 minutes, in case it needs a quick turn to ensure an even colour all over.  Once baked all the way through, the loaf will make a hollow sound when tapped on its bottom. 

So there you have it.  A simple, delicious sourdough containing just 4 ingredients, flour, water salt & your starter.  This loaf will keep for a good week & will actually improve it's flavour as it ages.