Making your own bread is surprisingly easy. It is also extremely cost effective, but more importantly, very satisfying – there’s not much better than taking a fresh, crusty loaf of sourdough out of your own oven in the morning.
Local blogger Napoli Restaurant Alert makes her own sourdough bread every Sunday, using an eight year old sourdough starter she inherited from another blogger. Her starter has been passed around Lane Cove and has spawned a band of home bread bakers. What is a starter? A starter is a living organism that is the base of your dough recipe and makes your bread rise; it is kept in the fridge and “fed” on a weekly basis, with flour and filtered water, to keep it alive.
Each time you want to bake bread, you take out ½ cup of starter from your fridge container and place it in a bowl.
The starter you take out is activated over the course of the day (usually in her case in between kids sport, outings and other activities). A typical baking schedule looks like this:
Saturday 7am: to your ½ cup starter, add ¼ cup filtered and ¼ cup baker’s flour, whisk with a fork, cover with plastic wrap and leave on your kitchen bench or somewhere warm
Saturday 11am: add another ¼ cup filtered water and ¼ cup baker’s flour, whisk with a fork, cover with plastic wrap and leave
Saturday 3pm: repeat 11am step
By 8pm you should have a very bubbly bowl of starter and you are ready to put your dough together.
Here is what you need to make your dough
300g activated starter, measured out from the bowl you’ve been feeding during the day (you can throw out any excess, or give it to a friend to start their own bread making!)
1kg baker’s flour
580ml filtered water
And that’s it – four ingredients. The base ingredient cost of a loaf is around 60c, depending on where you get your flour.
Step 1: combine the four ingredients in a large bowl and squish together. Let sit for half an hour or so
Step 2: knead for 3 or 4 minutes until it comes together.
Cover with plastic wrap and forget about it until the next morning!
By morning you should have a lovely risen dough. This is enough to make 2 large loaves or 2 smaller loaves and a couple of baguettes.
Step 3: separate your dough into the desired amounts for your loaves. Flour your benchtop lightly. Gently press your dough into a rectangle. Fold each side into the centre. Then take each edge and form a seam (there are lots of you tube videos on how to do this). Leave for a second rise for an hour or so. Bread proving baskets are popular but leaving your loaves on a tray is fine.
This long slow process of feeding a starter and allowing the dough to rise for 12 hours or more is considered the artisanal way of making bread and is meant to be much better for digestion.
Step 4: preheat oven to 220 degrees with two baking trays in the oven. Remove one tray from the oven, gently lift your loaf onto a baking tray, seam side down. Slash your bread with a very sharp knife, then return the tray to the oven. On the second baking tray throw a cup of cold water, the steam helps create a nice crust. After about 40 minutes you’ll have a crusty loaf (less for baguettes). You’ll be able to tell its ready by giving it a “knock” on the bottom, it should have a hollow sound.
Once out of the oven, resist the temptation to cut straight into it as it will go gummy; allow it to cool a little first. Delicious.
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