Friday, 18 July 2014

Best Sourdough Bread

By incorporating the use of a banneton and cloche (see last week's post) you can produce what in my humble opinion is the best ever sourdough bread. I like to bake in the morning (fresh baked bread for lunch) so this starts in the evening but if you want to bake in the evening just start in the morning.

This recipe makes a loaf of around 650g (about 1½lb). 

400g   strong white bread flour
220ml  filtered water at room temperature
100ml  sourdough starter at room temperature
1 teaspoon sea salt

Sponge Proof
In the evening, get the sourdough starter out of the fridge and bring it up to room temperature for about 2 hours (it should foam and bubble). Make the sponge by mixing the sourdough starter, water and half the flour but not the salt and leave in a bowl covered with cling-film overnight.

Loaf Proof
In the morning the sponge should be fermenting (thick and bubbly). Add the other half of the flour and salt and mix well. Add more flour or water if necessary but keep the dough as sticky as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny (around 10 minutes). 

Shape the dough and place it in the floured banneton, sprinkle flour on top, cover with a tea towel and prove in a warm place for two to three hours until nearly doubled in size.

Invert the dough onto a baking dish, slash the top, cover with the cloche, put into a cold oven and bake at 230°C (190°C fan), 450°F or gas mark 8 for 25 minutes once the oven has come up to temperature. 

Remove the cloche and bake for another 25 minutes until golden. 

Turn the oven off and leave the bread in the cooling oven, with the oven door slightly open, for another 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool for at least an hour.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Banneton and Cloche

There are two further improvements that can be made to the better sourdough method and that is to use a banneton and cloche. 

A banneton is a proving basket (used instead of a bread tin to form the loaf). They come in different sizes and shapes (although most are round) so you should be able to find one for the size of loaf you want to bake. 

Simply shape the dough into a ball (or sausage if you are using a long banneton), put it in the floured banneton, sprinkle some flour on top, cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place.

Once the dough has risen, put the baking sheet or dish upside down on top of the banneton, invert the two and carefully lift off the banneton, leaving the dough on the baking sheet or dish.

A cloche is a cover that will improve the rise of the bread by trapping the steam given off and produce a nicer crust, without the need for water in the oven. The La Cloche baking dome is currently the best on the market but it costs around £50 in the UK ($50 in the USA).  But there is a much cheaper alternative. I use a bread baking dish with a three litre Pyrex mixing bowl at a total cost around £15 (and you can see what's happening inside it, see below).

To use the cloche simply place it over the dough (after slashing the top) so that it sits on the baking sheet or dish, put it in a cold oven and bake for 25 minutes after the oven comes up to temperature. 

Then carefully remove the cloche (take care, it will be very hot) and bake for a further 25 minutes (or until the loaf is a nice golden colour). Then turn the oven off and leave the loaf in the cooling oven, with the door slightly open for a further 5 minutes. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Sourdough Bread Made Easy

Just published by CreateSpace and available from Amazon in print (softback) and Kindle formats and The Topsham Bookshop (softback). Priced at £5 for the softback print version and £1.29 for the Kindle version.

This link will take you to it:

Sourdough Bread Made Easy

at and it is also available from all other Amazon sites in equivalent local currency prices.

I would greatly value any feedback on the book, via this blog and of course any questions or problems on the blog itself.

Meantime happy baking,