My son Rob is the @NunheadBaker on Instagram and after I had unsuccessfully tried making bread a few times in the past he gave me detailed instructions which I initially wrote on the kitchen cupboard doors with dry wipe markers.
I have now baked about 15 times and have evolved a reliable recipe based on Rob's method but adjusted to suit my limitations.
1. I wanted the process to be a simple as possible and not too time critical. The break-through came when Rob suggested making the levain and autolysing the dough slowly in parallel then combining them with the salt in a single stage. The result, great flavour, simpler and less critical on timing.
2. The big lesson that I learned was to bake when the dough was rising as opposed to when it has risen.
3. I found that tins gave me a better result and noted that the conductivity of the heavy non-stick tins I bought baked the bottom of the loaf better than the dough sitting on the baking stone.
4. Always bake two loaves, one is never enough and my sour dough mother seemed happy to be used once every 3 or 4 days.
B r e a d
Based on the Nunhead Baker’s Method
Preparation - of two tin loaves - one is never enough!
Levain (assume 50/50 water and flour)
flour (any but better if not white) 160g
Flour (exc levain)
Strong White Wheat 300g 20%
Khorasan 400g 27%
Spelt 400g 27%
Dark Rye 200g 13%
Tepid water at 29C 850g
Thus Hydration = 850+200 / 1,300+200 = 70%
(Water + levain water / flour + levin flour)
14g salt added dry per loaf - so 28g for the two loaf mix = 1.1% Salt Total or 1.9% Salt : Flour
Good olive oil for oiling work surface
2 x bowls ~ 12” in dia for handling dough
2 x small ~ 8” in dia for measuring ingredients
1 x digital scale
1 x silicone scraper
1 x medium wooden spoon
1 clean smooth work surface - I use the glass top of the electric hob
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TIMINGS ARE ONLY APPROXIMATE - A SUGGESTION
YOU WILL FIND THE RIGHT TIMING TO SUIT YOUR ENVIRONMENT AND LIFESTYLE
AIM TO HAVE YOUR BAKING FIT AROUND YOUR LIFE NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
M O R N I N G or L A T E E V E N I N G
Step 1 - prepare Levain & make shaggy Dough
1. 40gm Mother + 80gm flour mix + 80gm water
2. Mix flour + water roughly until the water is incorporated into the dough
3. Leave both in a reasonably warm place for several hours
NB: Longer at cooler is better for flavour - warmer for less time is faster
So if you do this in the late evening aim for cooler and longer.
L U N C H T I M E or M O R N I N G
Step 2 - some hours later - combine Dough Levain and Salt - stretch & turn
1. Mix the Dough, the Levain and the salt
2. Stretch and turn for at least 4 full turns
3. Invert the ball of dough in the bowl
4. Flour the top and sides and tuck under
5. Return to a reasonably warm spot with a damp tea towel over the bowl
E A R L Y E V E N I N G or L A T E M O R N I N G
Step 3 - some hours later - final shaping
1. When the dough shows a reasonable level of expansion turn out onto a clean smooth surface. I used the glass top of the hob lightly oiled, so a light oiling or flouring is required to enable the dough to be worked without sticking.
2. About 8 x 1/4 turns of gentle stretching and folding opposite edges to the centre
3. Flour the top of the dough and the work surface sparsely with Dark Rye Flour
4. Form an even sausage and cut in two
5. Reserve one
6. Final shape the first half by stretching and folding to the centre 3 more times ending up with an even sausage slightly shorter then your tin, place the sausage in the tin with the seam at the bottom
7. Repeat for the second half
8. Place both in a warm place to rise
L A T E E V E N I N G or M I D A F T E R N O O N
Step 4 - pre-heat oven including a baking stone
1. When the dough has risen a little above the top of the tin pre-heat oven to 240C - cooking stone in the middle of oven - grill tray at bottom
2. The correct time to bake is when the dough is still expanding, this will result in oven rise - if the dough has stopped expanding there will be no oven rise. Judge this by looking at the edges of the dough above the tin, these will sag down onto the edges of the tin as soon as the rise stops - so you need to bake before that happens.
Step 5 - slash - bake - add steam
1. Slash the top of the loaf if you wish
2. Grind some salt over the top
3. Put the tin(s) into the oven at 240C
4. Pour just 1 cup of boiling water from the kettle into the grill tray.
Step 6 - remove from tins
1. After 20 min at 240C remove tins from oven - remove from tins - return to oven
2. After a further 30 min remove from oven and place on wire tray to cool for 60 min before cutting
NOTES: any errors are mine and I welcome suggestions for improvements.
Equally if it works for you that would be good to hear!