Carbs! Carbs! They’re here!
If there is one thing I want you to do, it is to bake this loaf, leave it on the kitchen counter, sit back and watch your family walk past it. Their heads will turn, their noses will lift and their eyes will close. I promise!
Isn’t it weird how just the scent of homemade bread is enough to take us back to our childhood?
When I think of a homemade loaf, I think of my dad and I, both covered in flour from our heads to our toes. I think of my childhood, and how we always got do ‘cool’ things in the kitchen. We always made our own pizza dough, our own rolls and warm crusty loaves.
Dad used to make at least a loaf a day. It is now much more of a rarity to find families who bake their own bread on a regular basis. However, I do try to keep that tradition as part of my own life.
I first made sourdough at the age of 19. I had no clue what I was doing. I remember taking it out of the oven, and I must say it looked good.. until I cut into it. Let’s put it this way.. Imagine a giant air pocket with a thick crust around it. The crust was good though, so I still ate it. One has to start somewhere, right?
Fast forward a few bakes and a few “aha” moments, and I quickly learned where I was going wrong. My starter wasn’t ready, the timings were off and the temperature was not right (I probably should not be admitting that I baked the first loaf at just 180C, should I?). I very quickly found myself descending into a sourdough baking obsession. I found the whole process so fascinating, from making your own starter by mixing together such simple ingredients, to baking that perfect, full of flavour crusty loaf.
Let’s get in the kitchen and make bread together, shall we?
Traditional Sourdough Loaf
For the levain starter
- 30 g sourdough starter
- 75 g strong white flour
- 75 g water
For the dough
- 300 g plain flour
- 200 g strong white bread flour
- 350 ml lukewarm water
- 2 tsp salt
To prepare the levain starter (make this 12 hours before)
- Combine the ingredients at least 12 hours before you plan to start making the dough. Place in a container with enough space for the starter to double in size. Cover with lid and leave to rest for at least 12 hours, until the starter is full of bubbles and has doubled in size.
For the dough
- To make the dough, place the prepared levain starter, water, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients together to form a wet but firm dough. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. This will let the flour absorb the water, making it easier to knead.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for around 10 minutes then place it in a lightly floured mixing bowl and cover with a lightly floured tea towel. Let the dough rise for 3 hours. Halfway through the rise (after 1 hour 30 minutes), give the dough a few folds.
- After 3 hours, turn the dough out onto a floured countertop give it a gentle fold. Let the dough rest on the work surface for 30 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a boule.
- Line a mixing bowl with a well-floured tea towel. Place the dough, seam-side up into the bowl and cover with another tea towel. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours (this is the final rise).
- While the dough is proofing, preheat your oven with an empty cast iron casserole dish to 245C | Gas mark 9.
- Once the dough is ready, carefully take your casserole dish out of the oven (be careful, it will be VERY hot!). Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, then make 2 deep slashes in the top of the dough using a sharp knife, making a big X. Gently pick up the dough with your hands and drop it into the hot cast iron dish.
- Cover with the lid and place in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, take the lid off the casserole dish and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.
- Let cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before cutting.