I began making my own bread a few years back, first using a bread machine and then by hand. I produced white bread, whole meal bread and mixed grain bread along with French baguettes and pizzas. All produced using dried yeast with good results (after some initial teething troubles) but I always had a yearning to try sourdough bread. Two things put me off: the many conflicting methods and the need to produce a sourdough starter before being able to make sourdough bread. It all sounded a bit tricky and time consuming but I was wrong, it turned out to be simplicity itself!
The basic sourdough bread making process consists of just four steps:
Step 1: produce the sourdough starter
Step 2: mix the ingredients to form the dough
Step 3: knead the dough and leave it to prove
Step 4: bake the bread and leave it to cool
The final three steps are exactly the same as baking with baker’s yeast, the only difference is that the proving time is much longer (typically six to twelve hours rather than two hours). The longer proving time is because the natural yeast in the sourdough takes longer to prove than commercial baker’s yeast.
I will expand on the four steps over the next four blogs, starting with producing the sourdough starter, so watch this space.