One of the big tips I can tell you is to use semolina in the proving baskets and on the bottom of the bread for one of the best crusts you will ever tast yummmmmmmmmy.
Suzie is my original sourdough starter that I made a few weeks back. Because we are not here in the cottage during the week, she has to sit quietly in the cupboard next to the boiler doing her own thing until I get back and feed her and bring her back to life. This seems to work fine and with almost minutes of feeding her she is bubbling away.
The San Francisco starter wasn't started until Friday - I found a large jar, put in the amount of water, and flour and the little packet and wait for a miracle to happen. By the end of the day Friday there were some tiny bubbles, but nothing compared to Suzie, so I decided I just needed to be patient. Saturday there was a brown layer of water sitting on the top of the starter (this is to be expected) but no bubbles. I gave it another feed of flour and water (I am using a rye flour) along with a feed for Suzie and popped them both back in the cupboard.
Last night I wanted to try the sourdough bread again. I have been trying different techniques, but none seem to have the same height and lift that our local Artisen bakery has with their loaves in London. For this one, I used 300ml of sourdough starter, 200ml of water and 250 g of a mix of white and rye flour with some salt.
I popped the whole lot into my food mixer with a dough hook and kneaded it for almost 15 minutes before popping it in a bowl and letting it prove for about 3 hours. I knocked back the dough, shaped it into a boule (round ball to you and I) and dropped it with the smooth side down into my proving basket that had been coated with semolina. I covered this with a damp tea towel and then popped a plastic bag over the top of that to stop the tea towel from drying out and left it on the kitchen table all night.
When I got up this morning (early) the dough had reached the top of the basket (a first for me) and I could see lots of little air bubbles in the dough. I preheated my oven to around 250c and after about 5 minutes popped the dough onto a a baking tray lined with silicon paper, made some cross hatched slashes into the top of the bread and popped it into the oven. I keep a tray at the bottom of the oven which I pour cold water into - this creates a steamed environment and helps to give that wonderful crust and here is my end result:
|This is Suzie who is now around 3 weeks old|
|This is the San Francisco Sourdough starter which now has lots of bubble.|