Baking Sourdough Bread
Having made the Sourdough Starter (Levain) you can now embark on making your own Sourdough Loaves.
If your starter has been dormant you will need to bring it back to life by feeding and watering it a few days before using. As mentioned last week, we have a routine of feeding on a Thursday, making the sponge overnight Friday and baking on Saturday. The Quantities I have used will make three loaves, suitable for 2-4 people per loaf. We freeze 2 loaves after cooling and they can easily be reheated from frozen by baking on 200oC for 10-15 minutes. Thus we tend to bake every other weekend and have a steady supply of sourdough as a treat for weekends or as required.
Make the ‘sponge.’
The night before baking place 500g of Wholemeal bread flour into a mixing bowl. Add 600mls of warm water and 2 ladleful’s of your Active Starter.
Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place or in an oven with a proving setting!
Next Morning – make the dough
Take the ‘sponge’ and add a further 600g of wholemeal bread flour and 25g of salt
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes
Place back into the mixing bowl, cover and prove for one hour. This can be done in a warm place or better still in an oven with a proving setting.
After the hour take the dough out and turn it out onto the floured work surface gentle pressing it down with your fingers
Form into a round and place back into the container, cover and prove again for another hour
Do this again twice
Finally turn out the now 3 times proved dough (proving helps make the dough lighter and have better structure), knock it back – deflating by pressing into it with your fingers.
Divide into 3 rounded loaves, place into proving baskets if you have them (this helps the loaves keep their shape) but the loaves pictured were just placed on a lined baking tray
Place in the proving drawer or warm place for the final prove, allowing the dough again to rise.
When the hour is up, remove the loaves. Slash the tops with a bread knife with three diagonal cuts and set aside
Turn the oven onto a high heat 220-250 oC and have the kettle full ready to boil.
Place a deep tray in the oven that you will be able to pour about a litre of boiling water into.
When the oven is at temperature, place the three loaves in and carefully pour the boiling water into the deep sided tray.
Bake on the high heat for the first 10 minutes to form the crust, then turn the oven down to 200oC and bake for a further 20-30 minutes depending on size. (Total baking time 30-40 minutes)
You may need to turn down the temperature further depending on how dark you want the crust to be!
Once baked – remove the loaves from the oven and place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. As mentioned, they freeze really well.