My sourdough starter is now around six/seven months old so think I can start calling it Mother, which is rather nice. I’ve kept feeding it regularly over holidays but didn’t use it to make bread until yesterday. Having made a few other breads over holidays using different recipes (Ottolenghi, Leith’s, Paul Hollywood and Nigel Slater), I thought I’d experiment a little with my usual sourdough method and the results are most excellent, see here – ignoring the poor photo quality, just focus on all the air:
I tend to use 500g flour total, usually 300g white and 200g wholemeal bread flours, 60% water (300ml) a ladleful of Mother and a teaspoon of salt. When I made the sponge with 200g white, 100g wholemeal, the Mother and the water, this struck me as way too dry and I added around 80-90ml more water – other breads I’ve made recently have all had quite a high liquid content, so I thought let’s see what happens if I just add more water to my sourdough. Over the night, the sponge had bubbled up nicely and I added the rest of the flours and the salt and decided to use the mixer as opposed to knead by hand. Several reasons for this – I did wake up late with lots to do so thought mixer would save time but at the same time, I wanted to see how much more elastic the dough would be. Six minutes later (on a fairly slow speed), it felt wonderful. It’s quite possible that my tiny amount of work space in the kitchen doesn’t really allow for proper stretching when kneading, which is why the dough is never quite as elastic when I knead by hand. Coming back to deflate and shape every hour was just fabulous and as I left it to prove and rushed off to meet a friend for lunch I was very cheery (she probably thought it a bit much to get so excited about bread). In the end, it did expand width more than height wise so I guess I really should look into getting a proving basket. Taste is most excellent and clearly lighter than all my previous attempts, am so impressed with all that air! It proved for around 3 hours before being baked at 245C for ten minutes then at 180C for further 30 in a steamed up oven.
I now also have Fergus Henderson’s Complete Nose to Tail book (woohoo!) and have had a little look at their sourdough recipe (don’t think I’ve ever had better sourdough than at various St. Johns) which contains quite a bit of water too so think this is how I’ll continue. So happy.