A few years ago, I started baking sourdough and it's become such a wonderful, weekly ritual that I've come to love so much.
There's something incredibly soothing about watching the rise and fall after feeding the mother, the gentle process of making the dough as it changes in your hands and the satisfaction when that crusty, bubbly loaf is lifted from the oven.
The real satisfaction of course comes with that first cut. The smell of freshly baked bread that you've created yourself and that slightly warm, soft, open crumb that lends itself so perfectly to an abundance of different toppings.
I love classic avocado, cherry tomatoes and feta with a generous squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of pepper, topped with a runny egg. Ricotta, fig and raw honey is also a fave, plus simply dipped into a good olive oil with sea salt is heaven.
A delicious Dahl with a side of freshly baked sourdough, a spiced carrot salad and Greek yogurt is also a staple in our house.
There's an assumption that sourdough is time consuming and it is in a way, as you need to be in the house for most of the day. But the actual handling of the dough takes very little time, with ample wait time in between each step, so you can go about your day.
I often post photos of my loaves on Instagram and have had so many requests for the recipe, so I thought it was about time that I dedicated some time to it.
This recipe calls for an already established "Mother" so this is something you will need to have. The mother is a mix of flour and water that has been fed repeatedly until it ferments. This is then kept in your fridge and fed once a week (you also dispose of a portion each week, which can be used to make other recipes like pancakes and cinnamon rolls or given to friends).
If you don't have a mother, you can easily create one. Just click here for simple instructions.
Once you have your mother, you can start making beautiful loaves.
I've included the recipe I use below after a little trial and error and I hope you love it as much as I do.
Step 1 ~ Feed the Mother
Feed the mother the day before so it's ready to make bread the following day. This will ensure it's at it's strongest and will create the best rise and texture.
Step 2 ~ Levain
25g Strong White Flour (I use Doves Farm)
25g Wholemeal Flour
25g of Mother
50g Water at 27 degrees
Mix the above ingredients well so there are no lumps of flour and scrape any excess from the sides of the bowl.
Cover tightly and leave for 3 hours.
Step 3 ~ Bread Dough
450g Strong White Flour
50g White Spelt Flour
365g Water at 27 degrees
Mix the above ingredients well so the flour is completely hydrated and scrape any excess from the sides of the bowl.
Cover tightly and leave for 2 hours.
Step 4 ~ Levain Check
After 2 hours, check the levain is ready by dropping a around half a teaspoon into a glass of water. If it floats, it's ready for the next step.
Step 5 ~ Add Levain to Dough
Mix 100g of levain into the bread dough (you can dispose of any leftover). Ensure this is mixed in very well while aiming not to knock too much air out of the dough. The mix will be very sticky at this stage.
Cover tightly and leave for 30 mins.
Step 6 ~ Add Salt
Add 12g of sea salt to the dough and add a sprinkling of water to dissolve the salt. Mix in well ensuring there are no lumps.
Cover tightly and leave for 1 hour.
Step 7 ~ Folding the Dough
Lift up and gently stretch one edge of the dough folding it over to the opposite side. If you think of the dough to have corners, you will do this to each "corner" and then repeat.
Fold the bread in this way four times, waiting 1 hour between each fold.
Step 8 ~ Shaping the Dough
After the fourth and final fold. Add a little white flour to your worktop and gently pour the dough out. Shape the dough into a ball (it will be quite sticky so can take a little practise). Try to avoid using too much flour as this can create lumps within the final bread.
Cover with a tea towel and leave for 30 mins before shaping again.
Step 9 ~ Proofing the Dough
After the second shape, place the dough upside down into a rattan banneton. Ensure to sprinkle the banneton with rice flour so it doesn't stick. Wrap in a tea towel and place in a cloth bag then leave in the fridge overnight.
Step 10 ~ Baking the Dough
The next morning, place your pan in the oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour to heat up. I use a Lodge Cast Iron Pan. They're quite pricey but make all the difference.
After an hour, take your dough from the fridge, add a very small amount of oil into the shallow section of the heated pan and place the dough in. Use a sharp blade to add a few deep cuts to the top.
Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for a further 15 mins. If it gets darker than you would like, you can cover with foil.
Once the bake is finished, turn off and open the oven but don't remove the bread just yet. Allowing it to cool within the oven will ensure the crust stays lovely and crunchy.
You can also use this recipe and add additional ingredients for flavour. I add these into the first fold of step 7.
I love roasted garlic and pepper with oregano and parmesan or for a sweeter take, add dried cranberries soaked in earl grey tea with cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest.
If you make a loaf, I'd love to know how you found the recipe. Feel free to ask if you're unsure of any of the steps.