Wednesday, 13 April 2011

a right proper loaf...

as you all know, I had a complete disaster with my sourdough baking last weekend... but did I give up..? hell no!...  I have been feeding my sourdough pet for nearly six months now and whilst i've been really happy with the results I have never really reached that sourdough loaf nirvana...

... I wanted that classic, chewy, crispy loaf, full of air holes and intense sour flavour...

... well i've been scouring books and of course, the net and there are a lot of varying recipes out there, it's a mad crazy sourdough world out there, one that I don't think i'll ever truly get to grips with but I do know that my sourdough starter, which has grown in the clear fresh air of the Lincolnshire Wolds is a very good quality sourdough, so there should be no reason why I can't achieve the loaf i'm after, it's just about finding that recipe... and that's where the wonderful Luc Martin comes in.  Luc's blog is an excellent example of a truly dedicated lover of food... from curing and hanging his own pancetta to making his own puff pastry (which is pure dedication to the cause if you ask me...)

... anyway, Luc uses the same sourdough starter recipe as me, however his final bread recipe is very different... as you'll see...

Sourdough Loaf

This recipe takes a good 36 hours from start to finish so don't expect fresh baked bread for breakfast. need to start by making a sourdough sponge

200g sourdough starter
200g strong white flour
200g water

- place the ingredients in a bowl and mix it all up thoroughly making sure you have no lumps, cover and place in a dry place and leave overnight until frothy and risen.

250g - 300g strong white flour (exact measurements will depend on the moistness of your sponge, so add it in portions)
12g sea salt (not added until the final 2 mins of kneading)

and yes friends, that's it... no butter, no oil, no sugar.... just good old flour and salt!

- pour the flour and sponge into the bowl of a mixer and mix on the machines lowest setting for 18 minutes. this should give the dough a smooth and very elastic feel

- let the dough sit in a bowl and rest for around 2 hours for it to do its magic whilst rising

- after 2 hours gently ease the dough out onto a floured surface and form into your loaf.  Be gentle with the dough during this stage and some that amazing air from the rising will stay in the final loaf, giving you the much desired air bubbles... I'm following Luc's advice and going for a baguette, using this video as guidance.

- once you've shaped your loaf cover with a damp cloth or loosely with a sheet of plastic and let it rise for a further 2-3 hours or until doubled in size

- to bake, heat the oven to its highest setting and place a pan of water on the bottom shelf to get it nice and steamy inside.  Now spray or dampen the loaf with water, this will give the bread that classic crunchy blistering crust.

- now, as quick as you can place the tray in the oven and close the door so as not too lose too much steam. Set a timer for 11 minutes (this is the specific time for Luc's oven, you may have to adjust accordingly... I went 12 minutes)

- after this time, take the tray of water out of the oven and lower the temp to 180 and set another timer for 11 minutes.  when this time is done, take the tray out, take the loaves off the the tray and place them upside down, directly on the oven rack and bake for another 12-13 minutes until the underside is as well coloured and crisp as the top.

- remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

and so, yes, they're not as golden brown as Luc's and they don't have that true sourdough holey texture but they are amazing in both taste and crunch... i've not quite got there yet but this is a first very good step and i'm really really happy!

eat and of course, enjoy!



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