There is a time and place in this world for all types of bread. Sourdough is a favourite here especially with Jules & Clare who are mastering the art of baking it (and keeping the sourdough starter alive!)
Sourdough September run by the Real Bread Campaign is all about getting people out there baking and enjoying sourdough.
While sourdough seems mainstream now and appears in many supermarket bakeries, what is sold isn’t necessarily true sourdough. Additions can be added to the bread dough to give it that distinctive taste without going through the traditional sourdough process. Nothing beats a loaf sourdough warm from the oven, in all it’s tart, chewy, crusty glory slathered in butter.
Book on our new Sourdough course with Andy Tyrrell to learn how to bake the perfect sourdough loaf.
In theory making sourdough (or many other breads for that matter) simply requires flour, water and salt but there are a few other things we like to use to make the bread making process easier:
These baskets are used for helping the dough keep its shape while proving. Usually made of cane, but can also be made of clay and plastic. As well as helping to support the dough they give a nice pattern to the bread when turned out to bake.
A copy of Tartine Bread
Tartine Bread was first recommended to us by our chef Tim Maddams and you could say is now our sourdough bible. It’s a lengthy first recipe, but well worth reading to understand sourdough. You can find an abridged version of the Country Loaf recipe here.
Making cuts into the dough before baking helps the bread to rise properly in the oven. You can use a sharp kitchen knife but a razor blade (or lames/grignettes as they are sometimes called) often give a cleaner cut.
A good heavy casserole dish
There are many ways to bake sourdough, the easiest method is to use a dutch oven. This is simply baking bread inside a lidded casserole dish in the oven. This helps to produce steam and a constant heat environment to get a fabulous crust and rise. Clare uses a trusty Le Creuset, Jules a cast iron cooking pot and we have on good authority from Andy that M&S casserole dishes make great dutch ovens too.
A few large plastic bowls
It’s often easier to make sourdough in batches. We often make two loaves at a time then freeze one while eating the other. Plastic bowls are perfect for making sourdough as you can easily see the dough developing and the bowl won’t get too cold. Large plastic bowls are easy to pick up for a couple of pounds at most homeware shops.
Planning & patience
Lastly and possibly most importantly the top thing you need to make cracking sourdough is planning and patience. Some of the best foods take a while to make and sourdough is no exception. At first the stages of making sourdough can seem laborious but once you’re in the rhythm it easily slots in to the week.
Our favourite supplier for all things bread is Bakery Bits.