I bake this bread in a loaf tin to keep it simple. No special shaping is required and the loaf is suitable for cutting and toasting. It makes one loaf and takes only a few hours to produce a nice loaf. It's as simple as making a sourdough loaf can get.
I don't necessarily refresh my starter prior to making this loaf if I'm confident that my starter is viable. If your starter hasn't been used or fed for more than a week, it would be wise to refresh it the night before beginning this loaf.
My starter is a wet mix in the proportions 3:4:4, starter:water:flour by weight.
- 150g sourdough starter
- 300ml water (not chlorinate)
- 600g white bread flour (approx)
- 12g sea salt flakes
- Add starter, water and 150g of flour to a 2-3 litre plastic container with a lid and stir to combine
- cover and leave in a warm spot to proof for about 1 hour - there should be bubbles at the end of this time.
- mix in another 150g of flour, cover and leave for another 2 to 3 hours. There should be considerable activity and some rising
- add another 150g of flour and tip the dough onto a floured bench
- knead the dough, adding more flour as needed and gradually incorporate all the salt. Continue kneading until the dough is silky
- shape the dough and put it into a greased loaf tin. Slash the loaf for controlled expansion.
- cover with cling wrap that's been sprayed with a little oil and leave it to double in a warm spot - this step could take another 2 to 3 hours
- heat your oven to 250C and bake the loaf for 10 minutes at this temperature. Lower the oven heat to 200C and bake for another 30 minutes.
- Cool and wrap the loaf.
Proofing times will vary due to ambient temperatures but it's my experience that you don't want to leave the dough too long or it becomes exhausted and you get a soupy dough with little oven spring. If you don't have enough time in the day to complete the baking, you can cover and proof in the fridge for longer periods to slow down the rise.