If you know about bread making, you may think it takes a lot of different ingrediants to make bread that wouldn’t necessarily be cheaper than just buying yourself a loaf of bread. With sourdough however, the only thing you need to buy is flour (unless you have foraged it yourself of course).
Sourdough does take some looking after however, I tend to fit it in alongside other daily chores such as feeding the animals so it doesn’t get forgotten about. To make sourdough bread, you first need to make a sourdough starter:
How to Make Sourdough Starter
- Plain Flour (I prefer “Strong Bread Flour”)
- Large lidless Jar
- Piece of cloth big enough to fit over the jar top
- Elastic band or hair bobble
Add 2-3 heaped tablespoons of flour to the jar and enough water to create a thick liquid that is easy to stir. Cover with the cloth and keep it in place with the elastic band.
- You do not need to buy yeast for sourdough. The sourdough will activate with the natural yeast already there.
After a day or two, the mixture will begin to form bubbles of the surface and a separate liquid will form at the top. It will smell yeasty/alcoholic. This means it’s working! If you see or smell mould (distinctive and hard to miss), the mixture has not activated or the yeast has died, if this happens you will need to throw it away and start again.
- Once the mixture has activated, “feed” every other day with 1-2 tablespoons of flour and a bit of extra water to mix in well.
How to Make Sourdough Bread
- Sourdough Starter
- Plain Flour
There are a few different methods of creating the perfect sourdough bread. I found I had to undergo a lot of research and experimentation until I found a method that worked for me. This is the method I use currently and has been reliably providing better bread but you may wish to adapt it slightly or improve it if you can!
When your sourdough starter has filled the jar it’s time to separate off some of the liquid. Pour half of it into a bowl to be made into bread. Always feed the starter after removing some of it to make sure it stays strong and healthy.
You can make the sough as big as you want, so I do not tend to measure out the flour. Mix in as much flour as required to make a rough dough at this stage though, you can add more later if you want it bigger.
Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight. This prevents the yeast from exhausting itself too quickly.
The next day take out the bowl and flour a work surface to knead the dough. Add more flour and water at this stage before kneading to get the size and consistency you want. The dough should be stretchy and elastic. Knead the dough so that you push and stretch it out without breaking it. Try to do this for at least 10 minutes, I normally watch a program while I’m doing it so I can zone out and not feel like it’s taking forever.
Make a rough loaf shape and place into a loaf tin. It does not have to touch the sides it will spread out as it rises. Leave the dough for a day in a warm location – I keep it on the kitchen counter near to the oven top so it’s nice and warm.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C when the dough has risen well. If in doubt leave the dough longer, it need to have risen enough so that the inside is fluffy and airy. If it spills over the side of your tin do not worry, trim off the excess and chuck it in separately as nibbles. Do not squash or touch the dough when it has risen – you want to keep it intact as it is.
Place the loaf tin in the oven on a tray in the middle of the oven. When the loaf looks ready – it’s not. Place a skewer in it and you will see the middle is still slightly doughy. You should have a good crust at this point though, if you do now is the time to turn it down to 140 degrees to make sure it cooks well throughout. Most sourdough books recommend keeping it on high throughout but every single time I did this the middle did not cook and the outside over cooked, and a low heat also fails to cook it properly. This is just the way I found it works well for me, your oven may be different. When the bread smell starts to leak into the next room it’s ready to come out.
Wrap the bread in greaseproof paper to keep it fresh.