As a teenager, on Saturdays and a lot of my holidays, I cycled in the early morning, when most people were still in bed enjoying a good night sleep, to the bakery run by one of my uncles. Year round, even in winter with knee deep snow, I assisted him from about 5 AM up to noon, being fascinated to lend a hand to get bread, cookies, cakes, pastries, pralines and even ice cream, all made in-house in the bakery shop.

That is probably the reason I adore flour-based food. When making my own bread, cakes and pastries, I still think about all the hours spend in the bakery, after all these years still recollecting the smell of a fresh baked loaf.

Although not the first time, at the beginning of March of this year, I started making a new sourdough starter to bake my own bread without the use of additional yeast. I call it slow bread. Because the production proces for a sourdough bread takes quite some time. For sure you have to wait a lot… And baking sourdough bread is trial and error… So, be patient!

Here is the recipe – a three stage proces – for a basic wholemeal sourdough bread.

Ingredients

  • Sourdough starter
  • Wholemeal flour and white bread flour, in total 600 g
  • Salt
  • Water

Kitchen utensils

  • 2 bowls
  • Proving basket or baking tin

Here we go

Stage 1. Production sourdough

Take 150 g wholewheat starter and break it up with 120 ml of warm (35°C) water. Add 200 g wholemeal flour and mix until the dough comes together. Tip it out onto the kitchen worktop and give it a 30 seconds knead. All the lumps have to be gone.

Sourdough starter, water and wholemeal flour.

Back in the bowl, cover with a polyethylene bag or a towel, and leave it for a minimal of 4 hours in a warm place, out of draughts. The dough should rise, at least doubling in volume.

Production sourdough before and after the 4 hour rest.

Stage 2. Final dough

Take 300 g wholemeal flour, 100 g white bread flour and 10 g salt and mix.

Production sourdough, flour and salt, and water.

Add 300 ml lukewarm (30°C) water and mix with one hand until all the flour is wet and there are no very big lumps. Leave it for about half an hour.

Turn the dough on a slightly wet worktop, so the dough can’t stick. Knead it for about 5 minutes, stretching and folding the soaker dough.

Production sourdough and the soaker.

Add 300 g of the production sourdough (the rest goes back in the sourdough starter) and work it into the soaker dough until it is thoroughly mixed. This can be sticky work. No more than another 5 minutes of kneading is required.

Rest the dough for a few minutes while preparing a proving basket (dusted with flour) or a baking tin (great with some vegetable oil and dust with flour).

Gather the dough piece and gently slide it in the proving basket (if using the basket I roll the dough gently in some extra flour) or the baking tin. Cover the basket or the tin lightly and put in a warm place out of draughts. Give it 4 to 5 hours to double in volume.

Final dough before and after a 5 hour rest.

Stage 3. Baking

Pre-heat the oven to 230°C. A tin loaf goes straight in the oven. If using a proving basket, very gently (this needs some practice – I am still struggling with this part) flip over the proven loaf on a baking mat and shove it in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 200-210°C and bake for another 25-30 minutes.

Bon appétit!

The flour used is bought at Shipton Mill – Home of Organic Flour.

This recipe is based on the book Do Sourdough by Andrew Whitley.

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