Homemade Bread from Sourdough Starter

Hi! I'm currently at the helm of the @Ireland account (13 - 19 Nov 2017) and have been tweeting all week about what I get up to.  One of the things I regularly do is make my own bread from sourdough starter.  A few kind peops have asked for the recipe so I thought I'd share it (below).  Enjoy!

Sourdough Starter

You can buy or make your own.  Making your own costs practically nothing and just takes time.

Add  about 1 & 1/2 cups warm water to 1 cup flour and mix together.  Mixture should resemble a thin soup.  Cover with tea cloth and leave for 5-7 days, after which it should start to be a bit stinky (that's good).   There should also be loads of bubbles on the surface.  Its alive!
Your sourdough starter will now need to be feed every day or every other day, about 1/2 cup flour to 1/4 cup warm water (mix thoroughly).  If going away for the weekend or on hols, you can put in fridge for up to maybe 10 days.
Homemade bread

Okay, this is the tricky part because bread is really temperamental and very sensitive to temperature, humidity, everything.  Even if you follow the instructions exactly, expect the result to be slightly different because the conditions in your home are slightly different to mine.  Play around with it.  I found this to work for me but only after many weeks of tweeking the recipe.

Take 1 & 1/2 cups of sourdough starter and add to about 2 cups flour in a large bowl.  Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cups warm water so that the resulting dough is elastic but not dry enough to break apart.  Knead for about two minutes by hand in large bowl, cover with tea towel and then leave to rise in a warm, dark place with lots of air ventilation (this is the first rise).
After 2-3hrs, the dough should have risen somewhat.  Punch down and leave for second rise, approximately 2hrs.

If you want to add herbs such as crushed rosemary, etc.  You can add them now.  I particularly like adding sea salt & rosemary together and mixing throughout the dough.
After the second rise punch down bread again and put into cloche (don't forget to line with baking paper!) for last rise (if you are using a cloche to bake in).  This is where you may transfer to a proofing basket, if you are using one.  After 2-3hrs, place cloche lid on and bake in an oven at 200C for 50 minutes to 1 hr.  If you are using a proofing basket, remove bread from basket and put on baking stone/iron etc.  For this method, putting a pan with water at bottom of oven can help to add humidity while cooking.  If you are using a cloche you do not need to use the pan with water in it.

You will know the bread is done not only when it has taken on a golden brown colour but if you turn it over and thump the bottom, it should sound hollow.
Homemade bread cooked in cloche
Homemade bread using proofing basket and baking iron

Leave the bread to cool for about 20 minutes, if you can! Eat & Enjoy! This bread also makes great bread pudding, if there are any leftovers. 

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