A good friend of mine donated some of their sourdough starter to me, which they had previously inherited from their brother.
I'd never really paid much attention to this sourdough craze going around. I vaguely knew there was something about having to have a starter, which I assumed was some complicated process and didn't have the interest to find out anything more. But, my friend gave me a quick run-down and sent a link to a YouTube video which explained it all, so I thought I'd have a go. How hard could it be?
The building blocks...
Quite simply, I followed the process set out in this video. It's labelled as if it's for seasoned bakers, but actually it covers everything you need to know to bake your first sourdough (if you already have a starter) and gives some excellent tips and a clear step-by-step method.
In a nutshell:
- Mix the flour and water together (autolyse) and leave to rest for 45 minutes.
- Fold in the salt and sourdough starter. No need to mix. Leave for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, complete one stretch-and-fold. Repeat four times over the next two hours
- Cover and place in the fridge overnight
- Remove from the fridge, pre-shape and leave to rest on a floured surface for 30 minutes.
- Shape into a boule and then transfer to a banneton/floured tea-towel in a bowl.
- Leave to rise for 2-3 hours until proofed
- Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 260C and add Dutch Oven for at least 45 minutes.
- When proofed, transfer dough from banneton to parchment paper and add to Dutch Oven.
- Bake with lid on for 20 minutes.
- Remove lid, reduce heat to 230C and bake for a further 20 minutes.
- At the end of the bake, turn the oven off but leave pan in the oven and leave the oven door cracked.
- Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and leave to cool for at least an hour.
After four sets of stretch-and-folds, I wrapped the bowl in cling-film and placed it in the fridge at about 9.30pm to bulk-rise overnight. Fast-forward to the following morning, I took it out of the fridge at 10.20am and bench rested for 30 minutes. Then, shaped and placed into my homemade banneton (a well-floured tea-towel placed inside a colander) for two hours. It was then in the oven at 1.10pm.
For a first attempt, I was very pleased. It didn't rise as much as I hoped, and I'm not sure whether that's because my starter wasn't ready (i.e. it was under-fermented) or because it was under-proofed. Who knows? It could be either, it could be both. Ultimately, it had a beautiful crunchy outside and tasted great. Definitely more-ish and certainly not sour.