The following two recipes, for a starter and a sourdough loaf, were cobbled together a couple of years ago using various recipes from the internet. I fiddled and twiddled until I found the right combination for our tastes and my machine (I usually make the dough in the breadmachine, although not always. Sometimes a bit of therapeutic kneading is necessary … it’s also a good school holiday activity and as the children finished Term 2 on Friday, I foresee lots of homemade bread over the next two weeks).
Mix together in a glass or ceramic bowl 2 cups tepid water, 2 cups bread flour (a good quality all purpose flour with a high protein content), and 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast. Mix with a plastic or wooden spoon (do not use metal bowls or implements) and sit, covered, in a warm location for a week, gently stirring once a day. Now your starter is ready to use. (A starter may take a good month to become really sour, but you can use it after a week.)
When you use some of your starter to make a loaf, you must ‘feed’ the remaining starter with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water. If you don’t use your starter once a week, you must throw away a cup of it and feed it with fresh flour and water.
Starters can also be frozen if you are going away on holiday. When you return, thaw the starter in the fridge, and when thawed, remove a cupful and feed as usual.
Usually when I give someone this recipe, I give them a cup of my starter too. We’ll just pretend that bit today.
1/2 cup tepid water
1 cup sourdough starter
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 tbsp yeast
Make the dough, either by hand or in your breadmachine’s dough setting.
Update/amendment: I forgot to say that breadmachines do the mix, knead and first rise. If you make the dough by hand, let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled in size, then punch down. When it's risen a second time, continue on as below ...
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently into a round shape, pulling all creases to the bottom. Place the dough smooth side down into a bowl lined with a floured teatowel. Cover and stand in a warm location for an hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the bowl onto a greased oven tray and gently remove the teatowel. Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
Bake on the middle shelf of a hot (210 celsius) oven with a dish of boiling water on the bottom shelf to create steam, for 20 minutes. Reduce to a moderate (180 celsius) heat and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack.
Sometimes I make it in a loaf shaped pan which makes lunchbox sandwiches easier.
You can throw in a selection of seeds either at the kneading stage, or sprinkle on top before baking.
Or you can turn the dough into rolls of course.
Sourdough makes great toast, is a fabulous accompaniment to soups and stews, and makes a mean cheese sandwich with a hefty dollop of homemade chutney.