You know how they tell you that the smell of freshly baked bread makes people more likely to buy a house? Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but oh my days, the smell of my second sourdough loaf was incredible. I kept coming back and smelling it again!
This particular loaf was made in the following way:
1 tablespoon of bubbly starter in 2oz strong white flour mixed with 2oz water, left to ferment overnight in a bowl covered with clingfilm.
In the morning, mix it with another 5oz of water until it is dissolved.
Half way through, realise you might wake your housemate up because it’s only 6:30am and you’re a bit keen!
Weigh out 200g (yes, I know that’s inconsistent!) of wholemeal plain flour, and 400g (I think) of strong white flour.
Mix the water/starter mix with the flour to make a dough. Then realise you don’t have enough water, and add some more until it just comes together to make a dough!
Leave to autolyse (i.e. absorb the water) for 1.5 hours.
Knead the dough by hand for ten minutes and then shape into a ball. (It’s worth Googling how to do this properly, you want to create surface tension.)
Put into a big, lightly-oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise for 8 – 9 hours, moving it half-way through to a sunny spot on the window sill because it doesn’t seem to be rising very well.
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 9. – Every time I bake bread, this sounds ridiculously hot! – And put a thick-bottomed metal casserole dish into the oven to pre-heat.
Wander round trying to find the craft knife you used to score the top of the bread last time, give up and use a knife to score it. This didn’t work. You really need a super sharp knife.
Once the oven has heated up, attempt to move ball from the bowl into the casserole dish using a metal spatula and your hands. Accidentally deflate one of the sides.
Note to self: next time, try allowing the dough to rise in the casserole dish and see whether this affects the cooking.
Cook for 20 minutes with the lid on (so the trapped steam makes the crust crisp), and another 20 minutes with the lid off.
Take it out, tap on the bottom to see if it is cooked. It should sound hollow. Stand there knocking on it, not convinced whether it does sound hollow or not, and put it back in the oven for five minutes, just in case!
Cool on a rack, and keep coming back to smell it.
By the time the loaf had cooled, I had eaten my dinner and didn’t have room to eat any bread. So some time later, I had a couple of slices as belated desert!
Sadly, the natural light had gone by then, so this picture isn’t great:
As you can see, the ‘crumb’ (i.e. the texture) is different to the last loaf I made; more like conventional bread. I think that it was probably caused by a combination of using a different technique (the previous recipe was fold rather than knead); a much dryer dough this time; a lower protein percentage (plain flour has less protein than strong flour), and the use of a percentage of wholemeal flour.
It tasted really good! I love a wholemeal loaf, generally. But all my previous attempts (prior to sourdough) were a bit disappointing – just a bit tasteless. The sourdough really lifts the flavour – it’s like a whole different product. Delicious.