Did you know it is Sourdough September? Well, now you do!

There are plenty of amazing bakers across Dorset offering their own sourdough recipes, but have you ever wanted to make your own? If so, here is a simple recipe to get you on the right track!

First though, what is sourdough?
Out of all the breads, we’re told that sourdough is the healthiest, though you wouldn’t know that from how good it tastes! If you’ve ever wondered how it differs from other types of bread, it is basically all in the ingredients. Sourdough is made using the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria that is found in flour, it doesn’t need any additional yeast, milk, oils, sugars or anything else that you might think goes into baking bread. That’s what makes it so popular among those who are healthy eating – you can’t get much more natural than a sourdough loaf. Other than the ingredients, sourdough is set apart from other breads because of its taste, it has a unique tang to it that isn’t found in other bread doughs and this flavour is how you know you’ve done it right!

Ready to make your own sourdough loaf? First, you need a sourdough starter, this can take several days, so its an idea to do this bit at the beginning of the month and then get started with the baking a few days in.

For your starter

The easiest way to do this is to combine flour and water and leaving it to sit for a few days.
Add 110g flour (self raising is fine, but feel free to use whatever flour you like!) to 120ml of cold water. You’ll need to stir it into a smooth batter and then cover loosely before leaving it in room temperature for 24 hours.
After the first 24 hours, weigh out the same amount of flour and water, check the starter for small bubbles (this is good but don’t panic if they don’t appear straight away), add the next lot of flour and water, stir and cover again for a further 24 hours.
The next day add more flour and water (the same amount again), stir vigorously until combined and smooth, at this point the dough should start to smell a bit but don’t panic, this is normal! Cover again and leave overnight. Repeat this the following day, at this point the dough should really start to smell quite sour. Once again, cover and leave overnight. The starter will be ready to use after that.

Ingredients for a sourdough loaf

Your starter
300g water
500g strong white flour

Method:

In a large bowl, mix your water and the starter until combined. Add the flour and mix until the ingredients come together in a large ball.
Leave the ball under cover for at least 30 minutes.

Lift and fold the dough over several time throughout the bowl much like you would with a regular bread dough.

Shape it lightly and dust with flour and then leave to one side to prove until it has grown by 50%. Transfer it to the fridge and leave overnight. Bake the next morning.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees, slash the top of the dough with a large knife and then bake for an hour. Turn the heat down to 180 degrees and bake for up to a further 15 minutes until you’re happy with the colour of the bread – some people like it a light golden brown, while others like it with a deeper brown – it’s up to you!

As tempting as it might be to dive straight in, sourdough is best left to completely cool. Some might even tell you to leave it for a day to let the flavour develop more, but again, that’s up to you!

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