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!
250g sourdough starter
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for flouring
300ml oz water
oil, for greasing
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!
And DO NOT deprive yourself: the sourdough magic lasts for life!