The Sourdough Bread Recipe is a true sourdough starter uses naturally-occurring yeasts to ferment. Dried yeast is a bit of a cheat, but more reliable.
Rising and proofing time:
2–2 1⁄2 hrs
For the sourdough starter
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 1⁄3 cups bread flour
For the sponge
1 1⁄3 cups bread flour, plus extra
For the bread:
1½ tsp dried yeast
2 1⁄4 cups bread flour, plus extra
1 tbsp salt
vegetable oil, for greasing
polenta or fine yellow cornmeal,
1 Make the starter 3–5 days ahead. Dissolve the yeast in 2 cups lukewarm water.
2 Stir in the flour, and cover. Let it ferment in a warm place for 24 hours.
3 Look at the starter; it should have become frothy and have a distinct, sour odor.
4 Stir, cover, and ferment for 2–4 days longer, stirring it each day. Then use, or refrigerate.
5 To make the sponge, mix 1 cup starter with 1 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl.
6 Stir in the flour and mix vigorously. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons flour.
7 Cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let ferment in a warm place overnight.
8 To make the bread, dissolve the yeast in 1⁄4 cup lukewarm water. Mix into the sponge.
9 Stir in half the flour and the salt, and mix well to combine all the ingredients.
10 Gradually add the remaining flour. Mix well, until the dough forms a soft, slightly sticky ball.
11 Knead for 8–10 minutes, until very smooth and elastic. Put in an oiled bowl.
12 Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1–1 1⁄2 hours, until doubled.
13 Line 2 x 8in (20cm) bowls with pieces of cloth, and sprinkle generously with flour.
14 Knock back the dough on a floured surface, cut in half, and shape each half into a ball.
15 Place in the bowls, covering with kitchen towels. Keep warm for 1 hour.
16 Put a pan on the oven floor and heat to 400°F (200°C). Sprinkle 2 baking sheets with polenta.
17 Turn the loaves, seam-side down, onto the baking sheets and remove the cloth.
18 With a sharp knife, make criss-cross slashes in the top of each loaf.
19 Put the loaves in the oven. Drop ice cubes into the roasting pan, then bake for 20 minutes.
20 Reduce to 375°F (190°C) and bake for another 20–25 minutes, until well browned.
21 Transfer to a wire rack. STORE These can be kept for 2–3 days, tightly wrapped in paper.