His Majesty, the Sourdough

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The first time I ever saw this great bread I was in the USA in Washington state. I’ve made a lot of bread over the years but I’ve NEVER made bread like what I was seeing. The world of bread changed at that moment for me. Since then, with a lot of practice (I mean a lot when I say a lot), my bread has been perfected. I had committed myself to simply making good, crusty, real bread since I saw the famous San Francisco sourdough loaves. For over years now my kitchen, my heart and my soul  is ruled  by this activity, and it pays: the results have been magical!

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Ingredients

250g sourdough starter
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for flouring
300ml oz water
10g honey
10g salt
oil, for greasing

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Preparation method

Mix together the starter, flour and water in a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt. Turn out on to a clean kitchen surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough can be stretched so thin that it becomes transparent.

Place the dough into an oiled container, cover with a damp tea towel and let it prove for 8-10 hours.

Turn out the dough onto a clean kitchen surface and knock back by gentle kneading. Cut the dough in two portions and shape into two loaves. Flour generously, and place each loaf seam side up in a bowl, lined with a floured cloth or tea towel  and l leave it to prove for a further 2-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. Put a few ice cubes or cold water into a baking tin and place in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Turn the loaves out onto a baking tray or hot baking stone. Using a thin sharp knife the top of the loaves and place them in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a dark brown crust has formed and the base of the loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Remember the basic rules: only by good ingredients and DO allow it time!

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And DO NOT deprive yourself: the sourdough magic  lasts for life!

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