For me there is something magical about making your own bread, there’s something therapeutic about the whole ritual of dusting flour over the table top, getting your hands submerged in a big pudgy lump of dough while listening to a rocking song.
Then you have the choice of shaping, molding the dough into some kind of sexy masterpiece before it hits the oven and rises like a pregnant bread belly. I love it!
The magic only increases when you get into making Sourdough bread! Why you ask? Because you get to make a live Sourdough starter, a living culture in a little jam jar in your very own kitchen!
What you are creating here is a symbiotic culture of lactic acid bacteria and yeast. The bacteria (Lactobacillus) live on the grain (flour) and the wild yeasts come from the environment of your kitchen.
It makes you stop and think about the unseen world of bacteria, what are they? And what on earth are they all up too?
It is estimated that up to 1,000 species of bacteria live in the human gut. It is thought that there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in the body and by the time you’re an adult, gut flora may account for up to 80% of your immune system! so eating fermented foods on a regular basis replenishes the good bacteria in our guts, building up our immune systems to be strong and healthy again.
Fortunately for our health and tastebuds, fermented food is slowly making a come back and long may it continue, with people being prescribed antibiotics willy nilly, it’s no wonder our health is failing us! Are gut bacteria have been wiped out and we need these fermented foods to build them up again.
This recipe bakes up a spongy, tasty loaf that can hold up to a bread knife but still has the lightness of a regular loaf.
This Sourdough bread takes around 12 hours from start to finish.
- • • 300g sourdough starter (my starter is roughly the consistency of pancake batter)
- • • 20g of salt dissolved in 560g water
- • • 600g plain flour
- • • 400g wholemeal flour
- • • 35g olive oil
- START THE NIGHT BEFORE OR EARLY IN THE MORNING-Weigh all of the above ingredients into a large bowl, do not use metal and make sure the bowl is large enough that the dough can rise to almost double in size. Give it a good mix for about 2mins, get your hands in there and give it a good squish about until all the flour is absorbed and the sides of the bowl are cleaned up and incorporated into the dough mixture. That’s all you need to do, don’t worry and think you need to knead just make sure everything is well mixed.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it overnight in a warmish spot for a good 8-12 hours.
- MORNING OR LATE EVENING-Before you remove the clingfilm lightly oil the top of it then carefully remove and put to the side to use in a moment.
- Divide your work surface in half, flour one half and keep the other half clean.
- Remove the dough and place on the floured surface, you will not need to punch the air out as the dough will collapse as you will fold it in the next stage and that will sufficiently let the air out.
- Take the sides of the dough and gather them into the centre working your way around the dough a couple of times, turn the dough over so the seam is on the under side and shape the sides with your hands gently squeezing and turning until you are happy with your shape, transfer the dough to the unfloured side to give the dough something to cling too which will help the dough form a tight ball.
- Cover the dough in the oiled sheet of clingfilm, oily side down and leave to rise for 30mins.
- Put the oven on low to start warming it up and place your casserole pot in to preheat (with the lid on) set the timer for 30 mins.
- When the dough has finished its second rise (you wont see much of a rise at this stage) turn the oven up to gas mark 8/230°C/450°F.
- Take out your casserole pot and lightly dust the bottom with a layer of corn flour. Take the dough (don’t worry if it’s a floppy mess) and place it straight in the casserole pot, put the lid on and place in the middle of the oven on for 30mins (set the timer), then take the lid off and continue to bake for another 30-40mins or until the top looks lovely and brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you give it a tap.
Freezes really well.
Here are two fantastic books I would highly recommend if you were interested in learning more about fermented foods and gut bacteria:
The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz
Gut by Giulia Enders
other fermented recipes on this blog.