This is an easy basic sourdough recipe. It can be modified with different types of flour and the addition of nuts, seeds and dried fruit if you are adventurous. I have split it up into stages so it can be fitted around a busy working week. I recommend starting on a Friday morning so the bread is ready for baking on a Saturday morning.
150g Sourdough Starter
250g Strong White Bread Flour
300g Strong White Bread Flour
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Some extra Strong White Bread Flour for dusting
1. Friday Morning - Create your Superstarter
Mix together 150g of your sourdough starter, 250g strong bread flour, and 275ml of water that has been warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds in a medium size bowl. Leave the superstarter in a warm place and wait for it to go bubbly.
2. Friday Evening - Make the dough
Mix the sponge together with 300g of strong white bread flour and 10g of salt. I do this with a mixer and a dough hook but you can do this by hand if you have time. When the dough comes together add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Knead with the mixer for 10 minutes or until the dough becomes silky. When done transfer to a large bowl greased with 1 tbsp olive oil for the first rise. I will then either leave the dough to rise overnight or until it has doubled in size .
3. Saturday Morning - Knock back the dough
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock all of the air out by folding the dough in half and pressing together few times.
Shape the dough into the shape you want by cupping your hands and gently rolling and rotating the dough across your work surface. Then place your dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Alternatively if you have a baking stone and a proving basket you can do the final prove in the basket. Dust your proving basket with a little flour. Shape the dough to roughly match the shape of your proving basket by cupping your hands and gently rolling and rotating the dough across your work surface. When you are happy with the shape you can gently place the dough into the basket.
Place your basket/tray in a large plastic bag (large enough that the dough has room to rise without touching the inside of the bag) and place somewhere warm for the final prove (around 30 mins).
4. Saturday Morning - Bake
Preheat your oven to 250c or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone heat this with the oven to prevent the stone from cracking). When the dough is ready for baking it will spring back when lightly pressed. It should have increased in size by about a third.
Slash the top of the dough to help the loaf expand in the oven and transfer your dough on the tray to your preheated oven.
Take your baking stone out from the oven and place on a heatproof surface (I place mine on the pan supports of a gas hob). Tip your dough from the proving basket directly onto the hot baking stone being careful to not knock to much air out. Then slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife to help the loaf expand in the oven.
Adding a glass of water to a tray at the bottom of the oven will give the bread good crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven to 200c and bake for a further 25 minutes.
5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.