- for the sourdough starter:
- 200 g (1. cups) strong white bread flour
- 200 ml (1 cup) distilled water (or use tap water that has been allowed to stand in a glass for 24 hours)
- for the bread:
- 500 g (32⁄3 cups) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 200 ml (1 cup) warm water
- 20 g (3. tsp) salt
- 1 tblsp caster (superfine) sugar
- To make the sourdough starter place 100g (. cup) of the flour with 100ml of the water in a plastic or glass container and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Seal the container loosely with clingfilm (plastic wrap) or a clean towel to allow the dough to breath. Store the container at room temperature. ‘Feed’ the starter every day for 5 days with 20ml (4 tsp) water and 20g (2. tbsp) flour, mixing a little with a wooden spoon.
- The result after 5 days should be light and aerated. The process traps natural airborne yeast particles in the flour-and-water mix, creating a living yeast colony. The sourdough mixture is ready 24 hours after the fifth and final feed, at which point you can continue with the bread recipe.
- Put the flour into a bowl and add 300ml (1. cups) of your sourdough starter. Then add the warm water, salt and sugar. Mix it all altogether, then turn out the mixture onto a table for kneading.
- Knead the dough for about 10–15 minutes or until it starts to come away from the table. If you prefer, you can use a bread machine to knead the bread, or you can use an electric food mixer with the bread hook attached.
- Once the dough is stretchy, put it into a bowl and leave it somewhere warm for 2 hours to rise.
- Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use your hands to beat the dough a few times.
- Dust the proving baskets or loaf tins with flour and roll the 2 pieces of dough in flour to stop them from sticking. Put them into the baskets or tins, cover with a tea (dish) towel and leave in a warm place, this time for 4–8 hours, to rise again.
- To bake the loaves without loaf tins, you will need a baking stone or a heavy metal baking sheet. Get your oven very hot at 240°C/475oF/gas mark 9 and heat the tray or stone.
- Carefully turn the pieces of dough out of the proving baskets onto the hot baking sheet – be careful not to knock any air out of them. Give each piece of dough a cut along the top, then put the hot tray in the oven and throw a cup of water into the bottom of the oven to create steam. If you are baking loaves in the tins, simply place them in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
- Remove the bread from the oven, dust with flour and allow the loaves to cool down on a wire rack before serving. These loaves will keep fresh for 2–3 days.
Kevin says, "Although this traditional bread-making method can take a while, it’s definitely worth the wait because it produces, without a doubt, the best-tasting bread. The first step is to make a starter dough and feed it every day with flour and water. It’s very important to use natural spring water, because chlorinated water will not work so well."
Makes 2 x 500g (8 inch) loaves