Recipe makes one fairly large loaf or two smaller ones.
- 125g sourdough leaven
- 500g plain/bread flour *
- 75g light rye flour
- 25ml olive oil
- 360ml water
- 12g salt
* The loaf pictured here uses Shipton Mill French Bread Flour.
Note. This recipe produces a delicate dough that is initially quite wet and sticky. It will elasticise gradually over time so don't panic when you first mix it. If your dough really is much too wet (this depends on the how absorbent your flour is and how wet your leaven is) then sprinkle in some more flour, but ONLY AS MUCH AS IS NECESSARY TO ALLOW THE DOUGH TO COME LOOSELY TOGETHER. The resulting dough is quite delicate so if you want it to rise well you need to handle it carefully so don't pummel it like a boxing bag. Sourdough loaves take a long time to rise - you can't hurry it. This loaf will take the best part of a saturday to make but can also be made overnight ready to bake in the morning or left while you go to work and baked in the evening. It's worth every slow minute it takes...
- Add the rye flour to the plain flour and stir in the salt
- Stir the water gently into the leaven till it's not lumpy
- Add leaven/water mix to flours along with half the olive oil and bring it together with your hands or a wooden spoon.
- When it has come together in a sticky mess, cover the bowl with a damp tea towell and leave it alone for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes, spread 1tsp of the remaining olive oil on to a clean work surface and tip your dough on to it.
- Knead it lightly for 10-15 seconds. cover with the tea towel again and leave it for another 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, lightly knead the dough again for 10-15 seonds. if the surface is sticky add a bit more olive oil so the dough turns over without sticking. By now the loaf should no longer be sticky. It should be very soft and beginning to stretch. The correct kneading technique for this loaf (or any sourdough loaf) is more to gently fold and stretch than to bash or squeeze.
- Cover with the towel and leave now for an hour.
- After an hour repeat the kneading process and cover again for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours the dough should be risen quite well. Knead it again briefly and tip the dough into a rye basket if you have one. If you prefer (or don't have a basket) you can continue rising the loaf on the worktop or in a bowl. Leave it now for 3-4 hours depending on how risen it is.
- When the loaf has about doubled in size pre-heat the oven to 230C.
- Tip the dough onto a well floured surface and form into a shape. The loaf in the picture is round but you can make it any shape you like.
- Then tip the loaf gently onto a well-floured baking tray.
- Slash the dough with a razor balde or other very sharp knife to help it expand in the oven.
- Optional: set a roasting tin with some water in it in a low shelf in the oven. The steam can help the loaf rise and form a better crust.
- Gently slide the baking tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes turn the heat down to 190C and continue baking for another 30 minutes.
- Check the loaf is cooked by tapping the bottom. It shold sound hollow. If not, put it back for another 5-10 minutes.
- If you like a thicker crust you can add another 10-15 minutes to the baking time. You can leave a loaf like this in the oven for up to an hour before it starts to spoil.