HOW WE TEACH YOU TO MAKE SOURDOUGH
The Sourdough Club is where we teach you how to make our amazing bread. It is the part of the Sourdough School where we share our recipes, tutorials, tips and lessons, and support you so that you can learn how to make Sourdough wherever you are.
When you start baking sourdough, there is a lot 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 for timings and temperatures that suit a typical 9 am to 5.30 pm working day, meaning that you refresh your starter in the evenings or before you go to/start work, and then bake to a convenient schedule. If you make things easy when you’re starting out, you’re much more likely to bake.
This loaf only takes about 15 minutes active work to make. I make two loaves: if that’s too much bread for you, then simply halve the recipe (or you can pay it forward by making two loaves and giving one away).
The long, slow fermentation process and the use of 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 my guide on 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
- 2 clean tea towels
- a wooden spoon
- 2 sheets 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 tins on the kitchen side overnight, and remember to 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 8am, or you can store the dough in the fridge and bake a bit later (up until 4pm).
Makes: 2 large 900g (2lb) loaves or 4 smaller loaves (reduce baking time accordingly)
- 750g water at 27°C d
- 500g stoneground organic wholegrain flour
- 500g organic strong white flour (13% protein)
- 200g bubbly, lively sourdough starter (this is called your second build – a 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
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’ or ‘second build’, 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 and are well combined.
You don’t need to knead: just mixing well is enough. Wait for 10 minutes, then add the remaining 50g water, incrementally (2 additions of 25g each), over the course of 5–10 minutes. Allow each addition to absorb before adding more. 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 or coconut oil (but not olive oil), then line the tins with the baking parchment. Transfer the dough to the tins.
Leave the tins overnight on the kitchen table, each one covered with either a bowl with a wet tea towel over it or a reusable shower cap. Make sure to allow enough space for the dough to rise without the 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.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/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 loaves. Just as you put the bread in the oven, reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/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.
Let the loaves cool in their tin for a few minutes before cooling completely out of the tins, preferably on a wire rack. Once cool, I store my loaves wrapped in a clean tea towel.
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 remove some of your starter. You can use the leftover starter in to make things like pancakes or muffins – we have plenty of recipes for leftover starter on the Sourdough Club. It can also be composted.
Love Vanessa x