After the success of managing to get a sourdough starter going – it was time to put it to test! We are big fans of sourdough bread in the Little Birdie household and after the semi-success of my last two loaves of bread this had a lot to live up to! Luckily it was a relative success. My only disappointment was that I didn’t slash the top before cooking so it looked a little boring. This is a Paul Hollywood recipe from the BBC website. I do have the Paul Hollywood ‘How To Bake’ book and was going to try a recipe from there but wasn’t sure how much starter I had so opted for this recipe to make just one loaf. You will need 250g of sourdough starter.
This is not a quick loaf to make. I started mine in the morning and it ended up going in the oven at a about seven o’ clock in the evening. It needs a lot of proving time so you need to be patient. You will also need something to prove your bread in. Ideally use a proving basket (I bought mine for about £8 on eBay) but you can improvise by using a glass bowl with a clean tea towel.
375g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
250g sourdough starter
130-175ml tepid water
olive oil (for kneading)
1) Combine the flour, starter and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, and mix with your hands to make a soft dough (you may not need all of the water).
2) Coat a chopping board or work surface with olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough forms is smooth and elastic.
3) Tip the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for five hours, or until at least doubled in size.
4) Knead the dough until it’s smooth, knocking the air out. Roll into a ball and dust with flour.
5) Tip the dough into a well-floured proving basket and leave to rise for 4-8 hours.
6) Put a tray half filled with water on the bottom oven shelf and preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
Gently tip the risen dough onto a lined baking tray (at this point you might want to slash the top). Bake the loaf for 30 minutes at this heat, then reduce the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.