Here I have stripped down Artisan bread baking into a very simple procedure. You simply make a sourdough starter, using whole rye flour, water and starter culture. You allow this sourdough sufficient time to ferment to full activity and then just add the rest of the flour, some other ingredients for flavor and form a nice soft well hydrated dough that will rise beautifully.
Using the whole grain variety of rye flour is important for 2 reasons; Firstly, you will gain all the health benefits of the whole grain, including higher fibre. Secondly, whole grain flour is more effective as a starter culture, as it naturally contains more lactobacilli and wild yeasts, and will give you a more active sourdough.
Don’t worry about fitting sourdough baking in and around your working life, it is actually easier since the fermentation times are very versatile, and there is no problem with over fermentation, if you are busy and must leave your sourdough for a long time it will be just fine.
I baked this loaf in a dutch oven, but you could just as well bake it as a free form round loaf on a baking stone or sheet, just be sure to add a tray of water into your oven to provide steam during your bake and give you that wonderful crust.
Recipe for Easy artisan sourdough bread
Total time;24-36 hours, of which very little is hands on time
Ingredients for 1 large round loaf
400g whole rye flour
40g sourdough starter culture from the fridge, recently used or activated
All of the above fermented sourdough minus the 40g you retain as your fridge starter.
400 g all purpose flour (german 550 flour)
180g warm water
40g liquid malt (optional)
3g instant yeast
- Combine all the ingredients for the sourdough. Cover with cling wrap and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours until nice and bubbly with a slightly sour and not at all unpleasant fragrance.
- Take out a 40-ish g measure of your fermented sourdough and retain it in the fridge for future use. Then add the rest of the ingredients and knead using an electric mixer with a dough hook for 10 minutes. If you are kneading by hand its best to wet your hands first.
- Form the dough into a tight ball, and place in a large bowl or container. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour (this depends on how active your sourdough is at room temperature.
- If after 1 hour your dough has not double leave it a little longer. Then turn out your risen dough onto a well floured work surface, form into a round and place into a floured proving basket for the final rise. Leave at room temperature for 45 minutes or until almost doubled. In this time pre-heat your oven, and dutch oven if using, to 250 degrees C.
- when ready to bake, just gently tip out your dough into your dutch oven or onto your baking sheet and bake with steam for about an hour. I do not cut the dough surface before baking and simply allow the bread crust to form its natural cracks, of course, if you prefer to have nice neat opening then do cut into the surface of the loaf before baking.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack before enjoying the deliciously sour, malty flavour with good salted butter.