The basis for any authentic sour dough is a living starter of fizzing and bubbling natural yeasts. It smells boozy and looks thick and sticky. The resulting bread has a unmistakable sour tang. Although the method is fairly straightforward, making your own sour dough takes a fair amount of time as there are many different stages involved in bringing it to life. Here they are:
Stage 1 – making the starter
- Day 1: Place 50g of strong white flour and 50g of strong wholemeal flour in a bowl.
- Add enough warm water to make a thick batter – think double cream.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 24 hours in a constantly warm spot (airing cupboard). This is important as the natural yeasts need a warm temperature to grow.
- Day 2: The next day it should have a film of bubbles on the surface. Add 100g of strong white flour & enough warm water to maintain the thick batter consistency.
- Leave for another 24 hours at room temperature (the natural yeasts have established themselves now so a cooler environment is preferable.
- Day 3: The following day discard half the starter. Add 100g of strong white flour and enough water to maintain the batter.
- Day 4: The following day discard half the starter. Add 100g of strong white flour and enough water to maintain the batter.
- On Day 5 you have our starter. It should be bubbly, thick, sticky and smell hoppy and boozy. If it smells unpleasant you will need to start again.
Looking after your starter
- Your starter is alive and has needs. You don’t need a double buggy, or piano lessons, but you do need to look after it or it will die.
- The best thing to do is keep it in the fridge and feed it every few days, either by replacing the starter you remove to make the bread with fresh flour and water, or by discarding some and feeding it as in stage 1.
Stage 2 – making the sour dough
- The night before you want to make your bread – mix 150ml of starter with 250g of strong white flour & 275ml of warm water in a large bowl.
- Cover & leave overnight at room temperature – it should be bubbly, thick & sticky.
- Add 300g of strong white flour, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil and knead for 10 minutes.
- If it is too sticky add a little more flour.
- Place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm, and prove until it doubles in size.
- Knock the the air out of it and shape into your desired loaf.
- Cover with greased clingfilm and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper & dusted with flour.
- Leave to prove until doubled in size. The slower this happens the more flavour. At Inside Restaurant we prove our bread overnight in the fridge. The results are amazing.
- Score the top with a sharp knife and dust with flour.
- Bake at 220C for about 30 minutes until golden and crispy. Turning the oven down after 20 minutes if it colours to much.
- Remove the loaf. It should sound hollow when tapped.
- Place immediately on a wire rack. This allows the steam to escape, keeping the bread light and the crust crispy.
Good luck! In just 7 days you will have a delicious loaf of homemade sour dough. To most people this is madness, but if you’ve read this far then you are the sort of person who understands why it’s worth the trouble.