How do I make…sourdough?

Ah, sourdough…the bread du jour! Crusty god of every artisan bakery…where do I start?

Well, with a starter. That’s the bummer, really. You need a starter to get started and that takes time…

To create a starter:

250g bread flour
250 ml tepid water
7 seedless grapes (many people use other things — google!)

To make:

Slice grapes and mix with the flour and the water.

Put in an airtight tub or jar for 3 days (room temp) and then get rid of half the mixture. ‘Feed’ the remainder with 100g bread flour and 100ml water. Mix well.

Leave for another 24hrs, and it should be bubbling and ready to use. If it’s not bubbling, give it another ‘feed’ and leave it for a couple of days.

If you plan to make bread every week, you will need  to discard half and feed every couple of days, keeping it at room temperature.

If you plan to make bread once a month, you can keep it in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before you use it.

I confess — I had as much success with my first starter as I did with my gluten-free rolls (which featured in the first ever Bake Off Extra Slice series as an utter failure!). However, the second attempt was a corker!




To make sourdough bread

You will need:

750g bread flour
500g sourdough starter
15g salt
350-450ml tepid water

Now, I’m a lazy so-and-so and use a kitchenaid for kneading. Feel free to go acoustic!

Put the flour, starter and salt into the bowl, fix on your dough hook and set on no.1 (lowest) setting. Slowly add as much water as you need for it to form a soft dough and so have picked up all the flour. Leave ‘kneading’ for about 4/5 minutes until dough forms a smooth skin. (You may need to place the timings by ear a little…).

Pop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise for about 5 hours. I should have said that at the start. When I first made sourdough I started about 7pm and then realised it was going to be a loooong night.

Hopefully, your dough will have doubled in size. Put the dough on a floured surface and fold inwards to knock out the air — be gentle with it though! Divide into two, and shape each piece in to a smooth ball. Now, I invested in some banetton baskets, because I wanted it to look all posh and swirly, but you can just put them on a floured board. If you do have baskets, be sure to heavily flour them (again — my first attempt led to the dough stuck fast to the basket. Erk.) If no baskets, do dust your balls with flour. Snigger.

Cover with a plastic bag (a bin bag works well) and leave somewhere nice and warm for 10-13 hours. Yep, 10-13 hours — not a typo! It should look doubled up and not wrinkly. Wrinkly is not good.

Finally, heat your oven to 200C, line two baking trays with parchment and turn upside down on to trays. Bake for 30-40 mins until the loaf is brown and sounds hollow when you tap the base. Cool on a wire rack.