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Sourdough Bread

by Adam Elabd from Fermenting Food

Enjoy the distinctive taste of sourdough bread with this step-by-step by step guide showing you how to make a loaf and the fermented sourdough starter. This bread, with its crunchy crust and fluffy inner crumb, tastes just as delicious in a sandwich as it does plain, with a spreading of creamy butter.

Introduction

This chewy loaf has tart overtones and a unique expression of wheat flavour. The crunchy crust contrasts beautifully with the fluffy inner crumb. Enjoy plain, with cultured butter, dipped in olive oil, or as part of a sauerkraut sandwich.

Try adding seeds or whole spices to the surface of your loaf. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cumin or caraway are all good options. Mix and match to suit your tastes.

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Ingredients

100g (1/2 cup) sourdough starter
425g ( 3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
7g (1 tsp) salt
2 tbsp whole seeds and spices (optional)
276g (1 1/4 cups) water
For the starter:
whole wheat or all-purpose flour
water

Method

For the sourdough starter:

In a 2-quart/litre jar, combine 2 cups flour (whole wheat or all-purpose) and 2 cups water. Stir to mix thoroughly. Cover the mouth of the jar with breathable fabric and secure with a rubber band. Set in a warm place to ferment.

Feed the starter once a day until it begins bubbling (usually about 7-10 days). Each day add 1/4 cup flour and 2 tbsp water and stir well. Once the starter begins bubbling, it is ready to be primed for use in baking. To prime, add 1/4 cup flour and 2 tbsp water once every 8 hours for 24 hours, mixing well after each addition.

For the sourdough loaf:

In a large mixing bowl combine water and sourdough starter.

Add flour, mix until the water is fully absorbed and a shaggy dough forms. Cover with a towel and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle salt evenly on surface and knead dough for 5 -10 minutes or until a completely consistent dough is achieved.

Cover with a damp dishtowel and let sit for 1 1/2 hours. Every 30 minutes, fold the dough into itself from all four corners. Keep the dough covered between foldings.

Cover dough with a damp towel and let sit undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours or until it has doubled in size.

Fold and shape dough into a ball, cover and then let rest for 20 minutes. (At this point, if using seeds or spices, spread them on a clean surface and roll dough over them to coat.)

Shape again, tightly this time, and transfer, upside down, to a bowl coated with olive oil. Cover and allow to rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 245°C/ 475°F. Transfer dough directly onto hot baking surface, score the top with a bread knife and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 204°C/400°F and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board or cooling rack. Allow to rest for 15 to 30 minutes before slicing.

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