Gosh, I love bread.
I really really really love bread. Especially crusty bread. ESPECIALLY SOURDOUGH. The flavourful crumb and chewy crust (crisp, if it’s straight out of the oven!)… just makes me really happy. I’ve proclaimed my love for so many things on this blog (strawberries, matcha, macarons…) but this, this, is special. Sourdough bread has a very special place in my heart.
Sourdough is basically bread made with a sourdough starter instead of store-bought yeast. A sourdough starter, is a mixture of flour, water and time, which develops into a slurry of cultivated wild yeast. It sounds gross, and I admit I was slightly more than apprehensive about kneading a funky smelling goo into my precious bread. But. It’s good. And it gets better with age (and more feedings!)
So, meet Arnold, he’s the latest addition to the kitchen.
He’s a glorious jar of goodness in the form of wild yeast. (Our first sourdough starter! He’s kinda like a yeasty child/pet fungi) He’s normally a little more grody than in the photo but we cleaned him up for his big debut. Also because leaking/ exploding sourdough starter isn’t funny. Not going into detail about how to start and maintain a sourdough starter (let’s leave that for next time yes?) because we want to focus on the bread now. It takes time (approximately 6 hours of proofing time in total, plus 40 minutes baking time) so you want to start this loaf early… Not at midnight when the cravings strike, unfortunately!
This is also one of those loaves which knead beautifully by hand. I’m lucky enough to have my human-sized kitchen-aid (you know, that’s what boyfriends are for. Heh heh.) to knead all the bread I want because I am frankly rubbish at kneading. Let’s make sourdough!
(makes 2 loaves)
recipe from Patrick Ryan
- 500g strong bread flour, plus extra for flouring
- 300g sourdough starter (you can either buy it, or make your own)
- 250ml water
- 10g brown sugar
- 10g salt
- flavourless oil, for greasing
- Ice cubes (for baking)
You will also need: 2 deep round bowls (about 20cm in diameter) and 2 tea towels for proofing.
1. Combine flour, brown sugar, salt and sourdough starter in a large bowl.
2. Add the water, holding back a bit, to the mixture and stir to combine.
3. When the mixture starts to come together, turn it out on a smooth surface and start kneading!
4. If the dough feels too dry, add the reserved water from step 2.
5. Knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. You should be able to stretch a small piece until it is thin and translucent (windowpane effect).
6. Oil a bowl, and pop the dough in. Cover with cling/a damp tea towel/a shower cap, and let it proof for 3 hours.
7. After 3 hours, knock back the dough to release the air. Divide it into two equal portions and shape into round loaves.
8. Flour a tea towel heavily, using your hands to rub the flour into the cloth. This prevents the dough from sticking to it.
9. Place the floured tea towel into a deep round bowl, flour side up, and place each loaf in, seam side up.
10. Repeat 8 and 9 for the other loaf, and let them proof for a further 2.5 hours.
11. After 2.5 hours, preheat the oven to 230°C. Turn out the loaves onto a baking tray.
12. Score each loaf with a sharp knife just before popping them into the oven.
13. Fill an additional tray with ice cubes, and place this at the bottom of the oven. This creates steam in the oven when the ice melts, and ensures a beautiful crust!
14. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and crusty. The bottom of the loaf should have a hollow sound when tapped.
15. Let the loaves cool for about an hour before slicing/tearing into them!
There is absolutely nothing quite as wonderful as the smell of bread baking in the oven. Except, maybe the taste of freshly baked bread with a creamy pat of butter. #Ireallyreallyreallylovebread.