Sourdough

Sourdough

By
From
Mark Hix On Baking
Makes
1
Photographer
Jason Lowe

The oldest form of bread, sourdough relies on natural air-borne bacteria to cause the bread to rise. Once you’ve got your own sourdough starter ‘activated’, a regular feed of water, rye flour and occasionally a little natural sugar in the form of honey will be enough to keep it going. And the more you use it, the better it becomes. The great thing about sourdough is that it lasts for days – try serving it grilled with sliced ripe tomatoes or anchovy fillets drizzled with olive oil. The options are endless.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons sourdough starter, (see note)
300-350ml water, warmed
1 tablespoon clear honey
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into a mixer set with the dough hook attachment and mix together to form a stiff dough, adding a little more water during mixing if the dough isn’t coming together. Leave the machine to continue to mix together on a low speed for a few minutes, until your dough is pliable but not sticky. Cover the bowl with cling film, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 6–7 hours, or overnight, until the dough has risen to twice its volume.
  2. Lightly flour your hands and transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Using your hands, knock the dough back, adding the olive oil to it as you do so. If the dough feels sticky, just knead a little more strong flour into it. Shape the dough into a rough ball.
  3. Dust a wooden bowl or bread proving basket with flour. Lay in the dough, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size again. Preheat the oven to 240°C.
  4. Carefully turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured baking tray or pizza stone, keeping the bowl or basket over it, and leave it for another hour in a warm place (in case any of the air has been knocked out while moving it). Remove the bowl or basket, transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200°C and cook for a further 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Sourdough starter

  • Take a clean Kilner jar and mix 3 tablespoons of rye flour with half a tablespoon of honey and 3–4 tablespoons of filtered or spring water to form a thick paste. Leave the jar in a warm place like an airing cupboard for 24 hours with the lid unsealed. Mix in another tablespoon of rye flour and a tablespoon of water, leave for 24 hours again and repeat for a further two days. Now leave the starter out in your kitchen until it begins to naturally ferment. (To speed things along, you could try adding a tablespoon each of natural yoghurt and honey at this stage.) It's at this point that the starter is ready to begin making bread.
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