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Sourdough Bread

Introduction & method

Sourdough bread has become pretty trendy in the last decade or two, and with good reason. The crunchy crust and slighlty sour-tasting but chewy interior add up to something utterly marvellous. This is more or less the bread that everybody ate before commercial yeasts and industrial-scale baking were introduced.

Sourdough Bread Recipe

Make the Dough

MIx all the dry ingredients together, then slowly add the water. Keep mixing until the dough forms a ball. If you are using a stand mixer, swap the paddle for the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. If you are doing this by hand, you have my sympathy. Tip the ball of dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for ten minutes.

Prove It

Put your ball of dough into a bowl, cover with plastic film and leave in a warm place to prove for 2½ - 3 hours. It should increase in volume, but don't expect it to double like conventional bread dough.

Knock Back, Prove Again

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch all of the air out of it, knead it for 5-10 minutes, and form into a ball. Now you need to prove it again. If you have a proving basket (banneton), generously sprinkle the inside of that with rice flour. Otherwise flour the inside of a mixing bowl with bread flour. Put the ball of dough in, cover it and leave it in a warm place to prove again for 8-12 hours. The reason for using rice flour in the banetton is that it doesn't draw moisture out of the dough and so doesn't create a layer of unhelpful glue.

Bake Your Sourdough Loaf

Heat your oven to 210°C (410°F) fan, 230°C (446°F) conventional, gas 8. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper sprinkled with flour. Place the ball of dough in the centre. If you've used a banetton, you will need to be very careful when tipping out the dough in case it does stick - just tease it away from the basket with your fingers. Many banettons are sold with a lamé - basically a razor blade with a handle - use this to make some slashes in the top, about a centimetre (half an inch) deep. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, turning it round halfway through. When it is properly baked it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Allow the loaf to cool down for 30 minutes before cutting it open. We keep our sourdough bread in a large zip-lock bag to stop it developing a rock-hard, teeth-breaking crust.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Sourdough Bread on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 500 grams strong white bread flour
 300 ml sourdough starter
 2 tsp demerara sugar
 2 tsp salt
 250 ml lukewarm water


2 tsp rice flour if using a proving basket (banneton)

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 1 large loaf
Prep time: 20 minutes.
Proving time: 16 hours.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.
Total time: 17 hours.