Thursday, 5 November 2015

Sourdough Bread, Perfected, I think

Kneeding bread is a good exercise. No kneed bread is fine but a little kneeding makes better bread.

IMPORTANT INFO: Using antibacterial spray on your work surfaces prior to kneeding bread will kill the yeast. It makes no difference if it's bakers yeast or sourdough.

Those of you who have been following this blog over the years will know that I have been dabbling with sourdough for quite some time. I've had lots of failures as using sourdough is not as straightforward as using yeast. Now we need a drum roll as I believe that I have it sussed.  The result is a light soft bread with a crunchy crust that is all too good to eat. I just wish that I could share it with you all.

I actually cooked this bread in a cast iron pan as this helps to steam the outside of the loaf and create this crust.

Now, it takes time to make sourdough bread but it doesn't take much effort. A little weighing and mixing and leaving is all you have to know. It's the way that you do theses things that gets the results. You can even go wild and kneed it for a bit. I promise that it will make better bread if you do.

You will need a sourdough starter.

200g (100% hydration starter) This should be active and bubbly.
250g white bread flour
250g wholemeal flour
2 or 3 level teaspoons of salt. This depends on how salty you like your bread.
260g water. I always weigh mine as it is the most accurate way of doing it.

Put everything into a large mixing bowl. Mix together vigorously.

Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth and leave to stand at room temperature for about half an hour.
Now you will need to lift the dough on one side, pull it up as high as it will go and fold it over  the middle remaining dough. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat this. Repeat the turning and pulling until all four sides of the dough have been folded over the middle of the dough.

If you can't be bothered to do this, I have found that if you turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and give it a kneed for about ten minutes, it achieves the same thing.

Cover and set aside for about another half an hour and repeat either of the stages that you choose from above.

Now cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours. By this time your bread will have tripled in size. It's a good idea to start this dough in the late evening and leave it overningt to bake next day. This way, you won't be tempted to cook it too early.

Shape your bread and leave to at least double in size. This could take anything up to 4 hours so be prepared to wait.

When you think that your bread is about half an hour away from being ready to cook, put your cast iron pan in the oven and heat the oven to 240C.

Remove the pan from the oven pop in the bread. Slash the top return to the oven with the lid on and bake for about 45 minutes. You should remove the lid about 25 minutes into the bake. This will help to crisp the crust.


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