500g strong organic white flour
500g organic wholemeal flour
150g fed sourdough starter.
This is as simple as it gets. I can do it in a rolling sailing boat!
12 hours before baking feed the starter
Put the flour and salt into a large bowl (salt first)
Make a well in the flour and add the starter then gradually mix in the water. You will have a very sticky dough. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until smooth and stretchy and a lot less sticky, rubbing a little dry flour on your hands to release what is stuck to them.
Form the dough into a ball and put in a covered bowl to rise until more than doubled in volume. At home I cover the mixing bowl with a plate and leave it overnight. It usually lifts the plate by morning. Aboard Kate I use a large sandwich box with a vented lid.
Once risen scrape the dough out of the bowl and stretch and fold it into a sausage shape then cut in half. Tease, and persuade it into two loaf shapes, rolling each loaf in white flour before placing in a well floured proving basket. I line mine with a muslin cloth well dusted with flour.
Leave to rise until doubled in size but take care not to over prove. A small dent from poking with a finger should spring gently back. Experience is the only way really know this.
Heat the oven to 265c (or as hot as it will go)
Put a small shallow tin in the bottom.
Tip the dough onto a greased baking sheet, leaving as much space between the two loaves as available. Cut a deep (about 2cm) slash down each then put it in the oven, about mid height.
Take a kettle of boiling water and tip this into the tray in the oven bottom and quickly close the door.
Turn the oven down to 250c and bake for 15 mins.
Remove the steaming tray, turn the oven down to 210c and bake for another 20 mins.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Where do I get starter from???
My starter is called Patrick because he began on 17th March 2012.
Take 150g wholemeal rye flour and mix to a paste with 150g water. Leave it in a bowl outside overnight, somewhere safe from wildlife but with a free flow of air. Wild yeasts will colonise the mixture.
Bring the bowl in, cover with a cloth and leave it in a warm place for 2 days.
Feed it by stirring in 75g rye and 75ml water. Leave for another two days. It should now be a bit grey and beginning to bubble.
Repeat the feeding every two days, discarding the excess, for about a week, by which time it should be gurgling away like a happy newborn and have a rich beery, yeasty smell.
You now have a starter culture. Keep it at the back of the fridge. I keep Patrick in a 1.5ltr glass preserving jar without the rubber seal. (Airtight will go pop)
Take it out 12 hours or more before baking, feeding it with enough half rye flour, half water mix to replace what your recipe will need.
Early loaves will not taste great. The sourness will vary from an acquired taste to character building but persevere. Gradually it will acquire the mellow subtlety of maturity and will give you an endless supply of tasty, satisfying bread that is uniquely yours.
The yeasts in your starter have been around for millennia and are survivors. I have left my main jar of starter unattended in the back of the fridge for over 4 months. A couple of feeds and a bit of TLC and it was soon back on form.