When you start baking sourdough there is so much to learn so I recommend that you begin with a tin loaf. It gives you time to get into the rhythm of the schedule and get to know your flour.
This recipe has my suggestions on timings and temperatures that suit a typical 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. working day. So the timings mean that you to refresh your starter before you go to/start work and then bake to a convenient schedule. When starting out baking sourdough is easy, you are much more likely to bake.
It only takes about 15 minutes of total effort to make. I make 2 loaves. If two loaves is too much bread for you then simply halve the recipe or you can pay my free recipe forward, make two loaves and give one away.
This long, slow fermentation and using some wholegrain flour, combined with the oil, makes this loaf moist and wholesome, but not too heavy. It’s a great starting point.
How to build a starter:
Please follow how to create a sourdough starter. Alternatively, if you know someone who already bakes sourdough then just ask them for some of their starter.
- A large mixing bowl
- 2 x 900g (2lb) loaf tins, or 4 small ones
- A Thermometer
- 2x clean tea towels
- a wooden spoon
- 2 sheet of greaseproof paper to line the tins
Time and temperature guidelines:
Day 1 – Thursday
9pm – refresh your sourdough starter. Use tap water at about 22°C
Day 2 – Friday
8am – refresh your sourdough starter. Use tap water at about 22°C
Day 2 – Friday
8pm – prepare and weigh out the ingredients
Day 2 – Friday
8.30pm – mix the dough. Use your bubbly, lively starter. Try to mix your dough at a temperature of 23°C. Leave the dough in the tin on the kitchen side overnight. When you’re done making the dough, put your starter back in the fridge at a temperature of about 5°C.
Day 3 – Saturday
8am onwards – you can bake at any time from 8 a.m, or you can store the dough in the fridge and bake any time until 4 p.m.
Makes: 2 large 900g (2lb) loaves or 4 smaller loaves (reduce baking time accordingly)
- 700g water at 27°C + 50g reserved
- 500g stoneground organic wholegrain flour
- 500g organic strong white 13% protein flour
- 200g bubbly lively sourdough starter (this is called second build – starter that has been refreshed twice)
- 20g fine sea salt
- butter/ghee or coconut oil, to grease the tin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle over the top and around the sides of the loaf (we used olive oil)
It is very important to build the microbes in the starter especially if you only bake once a week. This is called a double refreshment as outlined in the timetable above and it will make a beautiful loaf.
In a large bowl, mix 700g of your water with your sourdough starter, remember to pay attention to the temperature of the water. Mix well – getting plenty of oxygen in at this point helps the yeast to reproduce. Add the flour and salt and mix until all the ingredients come together. Then mix well.
You don’t need to knead: just mixing well is enough, then wait 10 minutes. You can then add the last 50g water, incrementally (2 x 25g), over the course of 5–10 minutes, allowing each addition to absorb. This technique helps create that beautiful open crumb because the gluten can form stronger bonds when the dough is less hydrated.
Prepare the tin by greasing a sheet of baking parchment lightly with butter, ghee, coconut oil or lard (but not olive oil.) Then line the tins with the baking parchment. Transfer the dough to the tins.
Leave the tin overnight on the kitchen table, covered with either a bowl with a wet tea towel over it or reusable shower cap. Make sure to give enough space when you cover it to allow for space to rise without the dough sticking. As a general guide, the ambient temperature here, at the School, is generally about 23°C.
In the morning, your loaf will be 50% bigger. You can make your loaf sourer and therefore more digestible, by transferring it to the fridge for another 3–4 hours before baking.
Next, preheat the oven to 220°C/428F/Gas mark 7 for 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. Place a small pan of boiling water at the bottom of the oven (or use a Dutch oven if you can fit your tin inside one). The extra steam from the water will help to form a beautiful crust.
Drizzle the olive oil over the top and around the sides of the loaf. Just as you put the bread in the oven reduce the heat to 180°C/355F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for about 45–50 minutes. I don’t give exact timings, because everyone’s oven is slightly different. However, bake to the point that you like the look of the loaf – it should be a beautiful copper colour.
Sourdough needs to cool in the tin for a few minutes before cooling completely out of the tin, preferably on a wire rack. I store my loaves once they are cool wrapped in a clean teatowel.
How to refresh your starter
You can see my video here on how to refresh your sourdough starter.
It feels wasteful to discard when refreshing, but this gives the yeast a boost and is a necessary step because the acidity retards yeast. You will get flat, sour bread if you don’t. You can use the leftover starter in many other recipes such as pancakes or muffins, or if you are a Sourdough Club we have many recipes for the leftover starter or you can also compost it.
Love Vanessa x