Always a little scary to bake your first loaf f bread from a brand new starter … and if you are new to nurturing your sourdough starter you may be at the point of wondering “what is all this alchemy?”
So . Last night I left this little boule of dough sitting safe under a cover overnight. Parked next to my cooker in a pretty chilly kitchen …..
It nevertheless gently bubbled its way through the night and this morning has doubled in size.
I love the long slow overnight rise .. it really gives the bread time to develop a great flavour and a “chew” that supermarket bread never quite matches. Supermarket loaves made in a factory setting are heavily yeasted to make them quick to rise and baked in steamy ovens to help then puff up and look much bigger than their weight might suggest.
Homemade “slow-food” bread .. is the antithesis! Its denser, tasty, chewy and filling .. in fact a slice with jam or honey is perfect for a breakfast and a slice with butter and a bowl of soup a very filling main meal.
So to get your first loaf on the table for breakfast .. pre heat your oven to 220.
You can of course bake your loaf on a floured baking tray .. but I love the crust and chewy texture of a loaf made in in my cast iron casserole pot.
If you like – pop your pot in to the oven during the heat up time .. it needs to get really hot too before popping the loaf in. If not – slap the baking sheet in there to get toasty too!
Flour a piece of greasproof paper and set aside.
Gently ease the dough from the bowl and move onto a floured surface.
Gently, gently, gently .. cradle the dough in your palm and start to draw the edges underneath to create a tight “boule” that is smooth and shiny looking on top.
What you don’t need to do is “knead” the dough again. This process is a gentle moulding not a punch down and reprove.
See how compact the loaf is? This is going to be great!
You need to cover your loaf for one last rising .. this time to cover I just upend my bowl over the top, set my timer to 30 minutes and get on with my morning whilst it gently rises, the oven heats and I do the little cleanup that needs doing. (Like whipping up a quick blog post!!)
Off with your bowl – a quick slash through your loaf with a VERY sharp knife.
Then lift the whole thing into your very hot pot – or slide it onto your hot baking tray, paper and all.
Lid on and into the hot oven for 20 minutes at 220 then remove the lid.
Another twenty minutes will see your loaf perfectly finished.
So pop it out of your pot and set on a cooling rack so that your crust can stay crispy as they loaf cools slightly.
Now that is what I call a loaf of sourdough!!! Kind of odd to think that a week ago that was nothing but a cup of plain flour and some water!
Now- letting this cool slightly before it gets sliced up and fed to the boys slightly warm with butter and honey .. and tomorrow slightly toasted with poached eggs!
Keep going with your sourdough starters .. if we are going to be at home with our kids until school starts again after the summer we are going to need all the tips we have gathered to keep them fed, watered and occupied without us losing the plot.
Share your pictures when you get your first loaf – and keep an eye open for some other great recipes of how to use your pet starter xX