Try this 11-step recipe for the ultimate sourdough

Thanks to lockdown, lots of people now have a love-hate relationship with sourdough.

Some mastered the craft (and potentially overdid the amount of loaves they made for loved ones), while others fell flat with stodgy bread and questionable starters. 

If you’re looking to reignite your love for sourdough, there couldn’t be a better time – as tonight marks Bread Week on the Great British Bake Off.

And we have just the thing: an 11-step recipe for the ultimate sourdough, from chef Tommy Banks.

The recipe, which features in his Roots cookbook, breaks the method into three separate stages: mixing, fermentation and shaping, and baking.

But it’s worth pointing out that you’ll already need a thriving sourdough starter to make this recipe.

Here’s how you can give it a go at home:

Ingredients

  • 370ml water, at about 25°C, plus 20ml extra
  • 100g bubbly sourdough starter
  • 420g organic bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 13g sea salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 40g rice flour mixed with 40g bread flour

Method

Mixing

1. With your hands, mix together the water and starter in a mixing bowl, and then work in the bread flour and wholemeal flour until they are just combined. The dough doesn’t need to be smooth at this point, but there should be no pockets of dry flour or pools of water.

2. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for an hour or so at room temperature, until the dough feels soft and relaxed. When the hour is up, attack the mixture with your hands again, scoping underneath the dough, stretching it across the bowl and squashing it back on itself. After five minutes of this, add the salt and extra water and continue to mix for a further five minutes. The dough should now seem very smooth and elastic.

3. Scrape the dough into a clean and lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film

Fermentation and shaping

4. Leave the dough covered at room temperature for about three hours, returning every half an hour to give it four ‘turns’ (grab each edge of the dough in turn, stretch it as far as it will go, and fold it all the way over itself). Then, 30 minutes after the last turn, tip the dough out onto a floured work surface. Fold it over itself from the left, the top, the right, and the bottom and finally turn it over so it is seam side down.

5. Push all the edges underneath with a floured dough scraper until you have a smooth and tight ball of dough.

6. Dust the dough lightly with flour and drape over a loose piece of cling film. Leave to rest like this for about 20 minutes, and in the meantime generously dust the inside of the banneton with some of the rice flour mixture.

7. After 20 minutes, remove the cling film and sprinkle over a little more flour. Flip the dough back over onto its back and repeat the previous folding and work with the dough scraper until you once again have a tight, neat ball. This time, dust the top of the dough with the remaining rice flour mixture and flip it over, floured side down, into the prepared banneton.

8. Loosely wrap the banneton in clingfilm and leave to prove at room temperature for about two hours, before transferring to the fridge for about 20 hours.

Baking

9. Preheat a baking stone and large ovenproof dish in an oven on the hottest possible setting for about an hour. When ready to bake, carefully remove the stone from the oven and place it on the stove.

10. Turn out the loaf from the banneton onto the stone. Quickly score the top with a bread knife and place the dish over it like a cloche. You can also use a dutch oven/cast iron casserole dish and preheat this. Return the stone to the oven and bake at 240°C for 30 minutes.

11. Take the stone out of the oven and carefully remove the dish. Lower the heat to 220°C and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until the crust is very dark and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

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