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SA & Beyond

30 June 2020

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Naturally Leavened Sourdough Bread


  • 500g Stoneground White Bread Flour
  • 200g Stoneground Wholemeal Flour
  • 200g Ripe Sourdough starter
  • 300g Room-temperature water
  • 11g Salt

1. Making the dough: Combine the starter, flour, and water (hold off on the salt) in a large bowl and mix well, until all of the flour is moistened and the dough has formed a cohesive mass which is soft and sticky. Add the salt to the top of the mass of dough without mixing into the dough

2. Autolyse: Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes. This rest, known as an autolyse, allows the flour to absorb the water, which starts the dough’s gluten formation, and makes it easier to knead.

3. Knead: After the rest, knead the dough until its smooth and supple, though still somewhat soft and tacky. When fully kneaded, place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 min.

4. Fold: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and, using a dough scraper, fold it like a business letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees. Gently flatten it a bit, and repeat the letter fold. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let it rise for another 30 min. Repeat until 4 folds have been done.

5. Pre-Shape: Wait 30 min after the last fold and thereafter turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Portion it into a 700g and 300g piece. Gently shape the 700g into a round and the 300g piece into an elongated shape, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes. Pre-shaping dough creates the basic shape the loaf will eventually be, without refining that shape. Why pre-shape? Any time you handle dough its gluten tightens up, making it more resistant to further shaping. Pre-shaping dough then letting it rest before its final shaping relaxes its gluten, making it much easier to shape into its final form.

6. Shape into a boule/baguette: After this rest, shape the round loaf into a tight round and the elongated shape into a baguette, and place them seam side up in bowl lined with floured cloth for the loaf, and on a baker’s couche for the baguette. Cover and let rise until light and airy, about 2 hours.

7. Prepare your oven: About 30 minutes before the bread is ready to bake, preheat the oven with a baking stone in it, if available to 240°F.

8. Score: Sprinkle some semolina on a piece of parchment paper. After the loaf and baguette have risen, gently turn them out onto the parchment paper and score with a sharp knife or lame.

Scoring a risen loaf just before putting it into the oven helps it retain its shape by giving it a pre-designated spot — the score — to expand. Without scoring, bread may bulge, or “blow out” its side or top, creating a misshapen loaf. Scoring can be a simple series of straight-line cuts made with a baker’s lame, razor, or sharp knife; or it may be both intricate and decorative.

9. Steam: Slide the parchment directly onto the stone in the oven. If you’re not using a stone, place it on a baking sheet in the oven. Spray mist with a spray bottle into the oven, being careful not to burn yourself nor spray on the element itself. Adding steam during baking is critical to the final look and taste of your bread. Steam doesn’t just enable a great rise in the oven, and help develop a beautiful, crackly crust. It also promotes an open crumb structure, as well as rich flavour and colour.

10. Bake: Bake the bread until it’s crusty and golden, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing.