(based on an original Nigella Lawson recipe)
Think of sourdough as a bread made in three parts, with time inbetween for the dough to mature and acquire the characteristic tang.
For the Starter:
- 150g rye or strong white flour
- pinch of yeast from an easy blend yeast sachet (like a small pinch of salt) or a fatter pinch of fresh yeast
- half tsp of milk
- approximately 200ml water
Combine the flour, yeast and milk and as much water to make a mixture like a think pancake batter, and leave, loosely covered, for 3 days.
For the Sponge:
- 180ml of starter
- 180ml of warm water
- 100g rye or strong white flour
Mix all the ingredients together and leave tightly covered for 12-18 hours. Longer is better but shorter time is enough if that is all you have got.
For the dough:
- 375g wholemeal flour ( for the rye sourdough or 500g strong white flour)
- The rest of the yeast
- all of the sponge from above
- 1 scant tbsp Flaky Salt with Kelp
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds (for rye sourdough only)
- 250-300ml warm water
- vegetable oil for greasing bowl
- 1 baking sheet
- Put the flour and the yeast in a large bowl, then stir in the other ingredients till you've got a shaggy mess thta looks like it's on its way to becoming a dough.
- Knead, either by hand or by machine, adding more flour as needed, to form a dense, smooth, dough.
- Form into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, turning once so that the top is also greased. Cover in cling film and leave to double in size, either overnight or in a cold place or the fridge, or for an hour or so somewhere warm.
- When the dough's done its stuff, punch in down, knead for 1-2 minutes and form it into a round loaf and sit it, covered with a tea towel on a baking sheet.
- Uncover after 30 minutes, and score the top of the loaf. For ease, you should use a razor blade for this but a sharp knife will do. It must be very sharp though because you don't want any pressure or the now nicely puffy loaf will deflate. I make about 5 slashes all the way over the top diagonally one way, and then the other to make a rough chequerboard design.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for about 45 minute, until the loaf is cooked and sounds hollow when you rap it firmly on its underside.