Slow White Sourdough

I’ve finally been shamed into updating my blog – can’t believe how rubbish I’ve been. Especially as I did promise to improve last time I posted on here. Lesson learnt – don’t make promises, full stop
In my defence, I do have an excuse for the lack of posts, last three months were a bit hectic to say the least, we finally got on the property ladder and now I am officially a co-homeowner! Moving houses a week before Christmas has made the holidays ever so special and stressful.
New house is wonderful, thanks for asking, with lots of room and a lovely garden, but the most important thing – a different oven, and a gas one too.
What I forgot to mention is that the house is a Victorian house, and the oven seems to be near-Victorian one too. I decided to take that as a challenge rather than an obstacle and week 2 in the new house I had made a sourdough. Well…… Its been a while since I had such a disaster – flat (poor shaping), under-proofed (cold Victorian house), under-baked on the bottom and burnt on top (“wonderful” new oven) loaf of bread. If was so bad, it went straight in the bin.
To be honest that experience has put me off bread baking, for a while. Then proper cold days kicked in and I knew that my starter as much chance to survive as ex-Pope Benedict to live through another year,  so I didn’t even bother with it.
I did bake some yeasted breads meanwhile, but I will leave it for another post on quick yeasted breads.
So, finally spring is slowly creeping in and the weather is getting warmer, so I decided to have another go at waking up my starter. White flour did nothing to it, it stayed flat and smelly (a bit like Tracey Emin) so it was time to bring the big guns in, warm water and rye flour did the trick and I had if not bubbling, but at least  a half-awake starter – time to bake!!!
Then came the challenge of fitting bread making into my work schedule – how to plan for sourdough bread when I leave for work first thing in the morning and don’t get home till late at night? That’s where the powers of fridge and cold weather comes in! But I am getting ahead of myself, here is the recipe with all the details
Slow White Sourdough
120g rye starter
305g cold water
450g white bread flour
50g dark rye flout
1 tsp salt
In the evening, around 9 pm :
Place water, starter and flours in a free standing mixer and mix everything on speed 1 for 6 minutes.
Don’t worry if you don’t have rye starter, use any starter you have, but you might want to re-adjust water a little bit if you are using wholemeal or white starter – rye is very thirsty, so it takes a lot of water, the “whiter” your starter is, the less water you will need. I’d say 290g for wholemeal starter and 280g for white starter.
I am a huge fan of Shipton Mill flours, but I ran out if their plain white flour, so I had to go for Hovis White Bread flour. But honestly, you can use any white strong or bread flour, use any brand you like.
I do like Shipton Mill flours and I have a lot, and I mean a lot of different flours from them – rye, Canadian, wholemeal, seeded, sodabread, malt, and a few other ones. – I am still finding bags of flour as we are unpacking last boxes from the move. I also got given a whole selection or “rare” flours from a former neighbour, gluten-free flours that I don’t really know what to do with. Anyway, I have so much flour that Ranty Man has placed me under a flour-buying ban until I use at least some of my current stash. What he doesn’t understand is that even though I have all these bags, I still need, and I mean NEED more flour, cause the one I have is not the right one.
Actually I wonder if I can use the same argument on him – he has a lot of whiskeys and still wants to buy more. I shall place him under a whiskey-buying ban until he drinks more of the ones he has. That’s right, that’ll show him!!
Errrr….hold on, that won’t work ……………….
Anyway, where was I?
Leave the dough coved for 20 minutes. Add salt (just plain table salt variety) and mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic (or a shower cap in my case) and leave overnight (8-12 hours) at room temperature. My room thermometer is showing about 18-20C at the moment (and I have a huge heating bill to prove it) which I thought might be too warm for overnight proofing. So just to be on the safe side, I have turned all of the radiators off in the kitchen and opened windows too for good measure. Nights are still quite chilly, around 1 to 2C, so I figured that should do the trick.
Next day – morning
Well, I am not sure about the dough, but I did feel the cold when I walked in the kitchen this morning – brrr!!
The dough is looking quite good, at least double the volume and doesn’t look too puffy, which tells me it hasn’t over-proofed.
Flour a banneton generously with rye flour, shape the dough, place it in the banneton, dust the top lightly with more rye flour and cover with plastic again (or shower cap again). Flouring the top will prevent the dough from sticking to plastic, which means that you won’t tear the surface when you take the plastic off.
Place the dough in the fridge for 8-10 hours.
Next day – evening
Take the dough out of the fridge as soon as you get home and place in a warm place – under a radiator is the warmest place in my house – and leave it there for an hour or two, until its well risen.
Preheat the oven to 200-220C for an hour or so before baking, remove plastic from the banneton, flip it out on a baking tray, slash it and bake for 40 minutes, turning the bread around half way through.
Take the bread out and place it on a cooling rack. Cover it with a towel if you prefer a softer crust.
Cool for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before cutting.
So, in summary the schedule for this bread 24 hours in total :
Day 1 evening – mix dough
Day 1 overnight – first proofing
Day 2 morning – shape
Day 2 – second proofing
Day 2 evening – bake


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