by Ellen Regos
Photos by Josephine Newman
Edited extract from Earth Garden No.167
Lately I have been experimenting with the no knead approach which I am really loving! As I am lazy by nature, I find this recipe so easy to make and it costs me less than half a commercially bought loaf.
The secret to a good rise is the starter culture. It is possible to make ones own but I have found that one inherited from a fellow maker provides a connection to the long history and tradition of bread making and is a great way to start if it is a first attempt.
Once the starter culture is obtained, have a go at this very simple recipe below, which makes one loaf of sourdough bread:
Starter culture in a 300g jar
I kg organic plain flour
2 tsp salt
2 cups water
Up to 1 cup of optional ingredients (seeds, nuts, herbs, oil, fruit, olives, sprouted grains, etc.)
Ceramic or glass bowl (4-6 L)
Butter knife or small whisk
Tea towel and elastic band
Pyrex dish with lid
Sharp knife or razor blade
- Take the starter culture out of fridge and add it to the ceramic or glass bowl, putting the jar back into the fridge (no need to wash the jar).
- Add one cup of flour and one cup of water to the bowl and mix in with a butter knife or small whisk (no need to remove all the lumps).
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel using an elastic band to hold it in place and leave the bowl on a bench for 24 hours (or overnight).
- Remove the tea towel and elastic band (the culture will be frothy and there will be lots of bubbles)
- Remove the empty jar from the fridge and refill it with mixture from the bowl, placing the jar back in the fridge for the next loaf (there will be some starter culture that remains in the bowl).
- Add one cup of water, three cups of flour and two teaspoons of salt to the remaining starter culture. Add any additional items to flavor the bread (see optional ingredients list above) at this stage.
- Stir ingredients with a butter knife and mix well.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel, using an elastic band to hold it in place and leave the bowl on the bench for 24-36 hours (the soft dough will double in size during this time).
- Remove the tea towel and elastic band from the bowl.
- Use the spatula to scrape the dough onto a lightly floured bench and lightly sprinkle flour on top of the dough, using hands to flatten out to a flat oblong shape around 1cm thick.
- Brush off any excess flour from on top of the dough before folding opposite edges into the center with the seam at the top.
- Flip the bread into a floured Pyrex dish so the seam is at the bottom.
- Slash the bread with a sharp knife or razor blade to desired pattern.
- Put the lid on the Pyrex dish and place on the bottom shelf of a cold oven.
- Turn the oven to 260 degrees Celsius and cook the bread for 45 min (this time includes 15 minutes for the oven to heat up).
- Open the oven and remove the lid, turning the oven down to 200 degrees Celsius and cook for a further 15 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and remove the bread.
Turn the bread onto a rack and cool for an hour before devouring!
Sourdough proving in a bowl
Sourdough scraped onto a floured surface
Final dust of flour before putting into an enclosed Pyrex dish for baking
Ellen demonstrates sourdough bread making at work