There is nothing more satisfying than creating something from scratch, especially a delicious batch of wood fired sourdough bread!
- 1200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp fine salt
- 1tbsp honey
- 300g sourdough starter
- Oil, for greasing
The first thing you need to do is to make the sourdough starter. In a large jar (a 1L Kilner jar is good) or plastic container, mix 100g of the flour with 125ml slightly warm water using a whisk until the batter is lump free and smooth. By using a whisk you will help incorporate some airborneyeast particles to get your starter going. Leave the lid of your jar or container slightly ajar for about an hour in a warm place, ideally around 25°C. Then seal the lid and set aside for 24 hours.
Your starter will need ‘feeding’ for the next six days. You will need to tip half of the original starter away, add an extra 100g flour and 125ml warm water and whisk well each time. Note, it is best to try and do this at the same time each day. After 3-4 days, bubbles should start appearing on the surface and it should smell yeasty and a little acidic. The time for fermentation to begin can vary between 1-5 days depending on the environment and temperature. Try to persevere for up to 6 days but if you don’t see any signs of life, or if it starts to smell unpleasant, you will need to throw it away and start again. On the 8th day your starter should be quite bubbly and ready to bake with.
Now it is time to make your loaf. Tip 500g of the strong white flour, 225ml of warm water, salt, honey and 300g of your sourdough starter into a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little extra flour and if the mixture is too dry, add a little extra warm water.
Once the ingredients are combined, tip onto a work surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes until soft and elastic. The dough is ready when it bounces back when gently pressed with a finger.
Next, place the dough in a well oiled, large bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Find a warm place and allow the dough to rise for about 3 hours. Note, sourdough takes much longer to rise than conventional yeasted bread.
After three hours, line a medium-sized bowl with a clean tea towel and flour it well. Tip your dough back on to a floured work surface and knead briefly to knock out any air bubbles. Roll the dough into a ball and place the dough into the medium-sized bowl with the seam facing up. Cover with some oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 6-8 hours, until doubled in size.
Now you can fire up your wood fired oven to it’s optimum temperature, allowing time for your oven to cool to 160-180°C. Next, fill a small roasting tin with a little water and place in your oven to create a small amount of steam.
Once you can see the steam building, you can place your loaf directly onto the cooking floor. Bake for around 35-45 minutes or until your sourdough is golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Leave to cool for twenty minutes.
Once cool, slice or tear your sourdough and serve with lashings of butter. Tasty!
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