Sourdough part V

Food & drink

After a month of preparation, the time has come to bake some bread. My starter has been bubbling away now for a month and tastes and smells of yeast.

Following the Moro recipe, I took 250g of starter and mixed it with 450g of strong white organic flour and 700ml of water. This resulted in a very sloppy dough, more like a thick batter than a traditional bread dough. The recipe indicated that the dough would be moist and that it couldn’t be kneaded in the normal way, needing 5 minutes mixing in a mixer instead. The dough/batter was left overnight to prove.

In the morning, the dough had risen, but looked more like the original starter than a normal dough. Another 450g of flour and 3 teaspoons of salt were added and the dough was poured into a couple of bread tins to prove for about 5 hours before baking.

All types of baking hell then broke out, with the dough rising too much and spilling out of the bread tins. It looked flat, too moist and over risen, but I baked it anyway.

The results were OK, but not great. The bread had a heavy and slightly odd texture, with a sticky and unusual feel to it. It tasted good, sour and filling, but wasn’t the sort of loaf I was hoping for. There was simply way too much liquid in the recipe.

With about a gallon of fertile starter left, I decided to have another go, this time using a Jamie Oliver recipe. Say what you want about Oliver, but he’s got a way with bread – the basic bread recipe from his first book is versatile, dependable and an all round excellent recipe.

Jamie’s sourdough recipe is more traditional – I skipped the parts about making the starter and took about 500g of my starter, and added 1kg of flour, about 3 teaspoons of salt and enough water to draw it all together in the mixer into a soft dough. As the starter was quite wet, not much extra water was needed.

The dough was turned out and kneaded for 5 minutes, and then left to prove overnight in a bowl lined with a floured tea towel.

This morning, the dough had more than risen and seemed in danger of collapse. I gently turned it out onto a baking sheet and baked for an hour at 190c.

With some deep sourdough style slashes on the top, this looks more like the real thing and it has a distinct but not overpowering sour taste. The texture is much better – lighter and more open, with a superb crust. The loaf spread a little in the oven (slightly too much water in the mix, maybe?) but the overall results were superb.

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