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Use your loaf

01:54 01 August 2012

Use your loaf

Use your loaf

Sam Woor rises to the challenge of breadmaking

Sam Woor rises to the challenge of breadmaking

Now I have never been much of a bread baker. Recently, though, I have been venturing into baking my own bread and can say that the feeling of cutting open something that you have made by hand from very humble ingredients is incredibly satisfying.

Bread straight from the oven, spread with butter, has to be one of the best experiences and its simple and incredibly cheap to produce. This week why not try out a simple sourdough loaf?


Sourdough is the great big floury elephant in the room in the world of baking, but few people understand how easy it is to make at home. Just a few minutes a day to feed your starter and a few hours set aside at the weekend to bake the bread is all you need. Most of the time youre letting the sourdough do its own thing and gently rise or ferment in the background of your everyday life.

Sourdough is grown. A paste of flour and water is all that is needed to start a loaf. This is the starter, which needs to be made at least four days before you want to bake your bread. The longer it is allowed to ferment, the stronger it gets.

To make your starter, combine 150g of strong white bread flour with 150ml of luke-warm water in an airtight container to form a smooth consistency, similar to thick paint. Seal and leave in a dark place at room temperature. Every day, add 1 heaped tablespoon of strong white bread flower and enough warm water to once again bring it back to the thick paint consistency. After a few days you should see bubbles and it should smell like its fermenting yeasty, as if beer is brewing. Continue this every day before you want to bake with it.

Now youve made the starter, follow the recipe, right, to enjoy delicious, fresh, homebaked bread!

Sam's Sourdough bread


For the sponge:

350g sourdough starter

200g strong white bread flour

200ml luke warm water

For the dough:

Sourdough sponge

800g strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)

1tbsp fine table salt

400ml luke warm water

The night before you want to bake your bread make your sponge. Beat together 350g of sourdough starter, 200g flour and 200ml warm water into a smooth paste in a large mixing bowl. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight. By the morning it should be bubbly and fermented.

In the morning, add 800g bread flour, 1 tablespoon salt and 400ml warm water and mix to form a wet dough. Dust a work surface with flour and drop your dough on to it. Using a little flour on your hands knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until it is silky and springs back when a floured finger is gently pressed into it. Oil a clean mixing bowl and place the dough into it. Pat a little more oil on top to stop the dough drying out. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place, like an airing cupboard, for 2-4 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat an oven to 220C/Gas 7. Place a roasting tin of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to give a steamy atmosphere. Punch the dough down to release the air and divide in two. On a floured surface, shape each half of dough into a round. Dust two baking trays with a little flour and place a round of dough on each. Leave, covered with a tea towel, for 30 minutes to rise slightly again before baking. Dust the tops of the bread with more flour and slash a few times with a sharp knife for a pattern of your choosing a criss-cross or a simple cross, for example. Bake for 15 minutes at 215C, then turn the oven down to 200C/Gas 6 for another 15 minutes, until its well risen and sounds hollow when the base is tapped. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.


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