200g Strong bread flour
1 tsp sugar *
Apple peel from one Organic Bramley Apple *
Additional 50g, 50ml water… per day see instructions
* This is my mix, traditionally these ingredients are not used as the flour and water will work on their own. However, this speeds things up a little bit!
150g Sourdough starter
350g Strong bread flour
1 tsp salt preferably sea salt
Preparation Time (not including starter time) 20 min, Proving 2hr plus
Cooking Time 35-40 min
Oven Temperature 230c / 450F / gas mark 8
Sourdough bread is coming back into fashion and many artisan breads use a sourdough starter to make the bread rise rather than using a live yeast or instant yeast. However, unless you bake bread on a regular basis then you may find the upkeep of the starter a bit of a chore. Some bakers have starters that are years old, using part each day to make bread and then adding more ingredients back into the starter to keep it alive and to make more bread.
To make a sourdough starter you basically just need flour and water and leave it this mixture covered with a tea towel for several days until it starts to bubble. The mixture and the make its own natural yeast and start to foment. However, a little help can speed thing up.
The way I make mine is to first use apple peel taken from an organic apple, preferably a tart cooking apple such as a Bramley, (using the apple itself to make an apple pie!)
Making the sourdough starter
I place the peel in about a pint of lukewarm water and add a little sugar, some say no sugar but this does help it to work a little better. Leave this overnight and pour the water into a container such as a large plastic lidded sandwich box or a bit larger. Add to the water a couple of cups of bread flour sometimes known as strong flour, mix and leave until it bubbles, this usually takes a day. Stir and feed the starter with more flour, water over the following days to keep it alive.
Sift the flour into a large bowl add the salt and sourdough.
Pour the water mixture into the flour and mix first with a wooden spoon before taking over with your hand.
Mix the ingredients well together until it has formed a dough then remove from the bowl and place onto a floured surface.
Knead the dough for 5-8 minutes adding a little extra flour if needed. The dough should become silky smooth.
Kneading: Stretch the dough, pull back into a ball turn and re-peat. Do this for a couple of minutes until the dough is small and silky. If you start to feel resistance in the knead, stop, it is done. Do not over knead, this as this can make the bread tight and do not under do this part because you will need the dough to become.
The biggest mistake made by people making bread for the first time is to over knead the dough.
Replace the dough into a clean bowl and cover with click film. Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This will take 2 hours depending on the temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knock back the dough and knead it for a further five minutes. i.e. push the air out, form and shape. If you use the dough and bake it like it is at this stage you will have air holes inside the finished bread.
Form the dough into a loaf shape.
Using a very sharp knife, razor or a bread dough knife 'lame' (pronounced lame) cut the top to form a pattern of choice. DO NOT USE A BLUNT KNIFE as this will pull on the dough and you want a clean cut.
Leave the dough to rise again for 20-30min
Preheat your oven to 230c / 450F / gas mark 8
If you like your bread with a nice crust place a metal rimmed tray / shallow metal container in the bottom of the oven and allow this to heat up while the oven is getting to temperature. Place you’re bread into the oven pour in a pour a quarter of a cup of water onto the tray and shut the oven door quickly. The instant steam it generates will give your bread that extra crust. Professional bakery ovens have a feature to add water / stream during this process but the same effect can be achieved at home.
Bake the loaves for 35-40min.
With the remaining Starter add additional 50g bread flour and 50g water and mix. This will keep the starter alive and do this every day or two. Use again for your next loaf and then keep added more to flout and water to the remaining starter. Regular bakers of sour dough can keep their starter for years!