CLASSIC SOURDOUGH BREAD
Tartine Bakery Country Bread in San Francisco has achieved cult status among avid bakers, and rightly so.
- 320ml tepid filtered water (or boiled water)
- 60g recently fed sourdough starter
- 500g strong white bread flour
- Rice flour (for dusting)
- 5g teaspoon sea salt
- 2 to 3 hours before you want to start your sourdough bread, take the starter out of the fridge and feed it with 40g filtered water and 40g strong white bread flour. Mix well, cover with cling film (or a shower cap) and set to one side to start working. After 2 to 3 hours the starter should be frothy and light with lots of bubbles and it may be making a noise, as in singing! It's now ready to use. Put the covered starter back in the fridge until it is needed next time you want to bake.
- Place a bowl onto some digital scales and set the tare to zero. Add 60g of sourdough starter and set the tare to zero again; then add the salt and water, again, I find it easier to set the tare to zero before adding the flour. Take the bowl off the scales and mix well, it will look rough and lumpy, but never fear it will soon start to look like bread dough! Cover the dough with cling film/shower cap and set to one side.
- After an hour, uncover it and with your hands, bring the dough from the outside, and fold it into the middle. Do this for about 15 to 20 times - I find it is easier if I rotate the bowl at the same time. Cover it and set to one side.
- Do the folding and turning action two or three more times over the next few hours, by this time the dough will be smooth, elastic and sticky. I start this at about 3pm to 4pm and the dough is ready at about 8pm to 9pm.
- Once the dough is smooth and elastic (see above) and it will have risen by now too, take a 22cm (9") to 24cm (10") banetton basket and dust it with rice flour. Do one more set of folding actions with the dough and then place the ball of dough into the floured banneton basket. Easing the dough up around the sides, sprinkle some more flour around it and then sprinkle some over the top of of the dough. Cover with cling film/shower cap and set to one side in a cool place to prove overnight. (I use my pantry which is about 14 degrees C)
- In the morning, the dough will have risen overnight and you will have a large, round ball of smooth dough that's ready to bake. Pre-heat the oven to 230C/220C Fan/450F/425F Fan/Gas mark 8 and line a large 30cm (15") cast iron casserole dish (Dutch oven) that has a lid, with grease-proof baking paper.
- Uncover and invert the dough into the cast iron pot and then score the top with a lame or a razor blade. Place the lid on the pot and bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes until the bread is well-risen, golden brown and with a crisp crust. NB: if you want a darker crust, take the lid off and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
- Carefully turn the loaf out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing it. Store it in the cooled cooking pot. Enjoy your breakfast!