April Danann’s Sour Dough Bread
- Sour dough starter culture (try April's LOL)
- Flours (mixed rye and white or mixed spelt and white or whole wheat and white)
- Water (chlorine free)
- Sea salt
In a deep bowl add flour – how much depends on how big your bowl is….and what kind of flour depends on what you have on hand! I like to mix flours, especially for sour dough because it makes them lighter and easier to work with. You will also find the dough rises better with some lighter flours added in to the mixture.
For 4 to 6 cups of flour, add at least ½ cup of starter. I have a few on the go in my fridge, so need to use them up frequently. Now, add enough water to make a dough, while mixing with a wooden spoon. It should not be sloppy or wet, just a slightly wet dough – watch out if using spelt flours, they require less water.
Leave the dough (now called the sponge) in this bowl for anywhere from 8 to 18 hours or so to ferment. I use a warm space with some hot water in a cup for steam to get the process going if the kitchen is too cold. A box or the oven works great or leave it in a cool area for a longer period of time.
Once this has fermented, add 1 Tablespoon sea salt, a handful of flour over the top and start stirring with a long handled spoon to mix in the flours and get the sponge into a doughy texture. Leave it in the bowl to ferment at least another 2 or 3 hours, this is the second rise. Cover it always with cling film or a wet cloth to keep in moisture.
After the second rise, mix in more flour and start pulling out handfuls onto a floured board to gently knead it. Let it rest for 10 minutes on the board (I don’t know why, it seems to just help!).
Once it has risen this time, repeat the process of flour and kneading on a board until you have a lovely silky dough. Then cut pieces off for loaf tins (450 g small and 750 g large) and allow to rise again in the tins. Usually about 2 hours or so.
Bake in a hot oven (225-250C) for 17 to 23 minutes, turn down oven to 200C (do not open door) then bake for 20 – 24 minutes, depending on how many loaves are in there and the size of them. Take out and cool on rack. Enjoy!
**** If you want to add anything such as herbs, spices, sultanas, sugar, butter etc - do this at the end if it's a heavy ingredient. Anything you add in the beginning will weigh down your bread and you could end up with a heavy loaf. Once you get used to making sourdough bread, you can get more adventurous and add a little flavour at the beginning....my favourites tend to be herbed bread (Rosemary & Seasalt and Cinnamon & Rose with brown sugar...)
*******Trouble shooting tips - did you add enough water? Sourdough is sensitive to water and requires more than commercial yeasts. Make sure you use enough lighter flours and you will get a lighter fluffy bread. The oven should be hot when it goes in, then gradually reduce the temperature as it bakes. Add in your flavours during the last rise, just before the dough goes into the baking tins.