Friday, 23 January 2015

Country Sourdough

The recipe for this bread from Tartine Bread has been making the rounds on food blogs world wide for a while now. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I tried my hand at it and today was that day. Actually, that day was about 20 days ago if you count the making of the starter. And no wonder it's such a featured recipe. It's a cracker. Chewy, tangy, with structure and substance. I made a few little changes to the original to suit my style and timetable. Sourdough is such an individual thing. It depends on temperature, environment, feel. That's what makes it so interesting and delicious. About the only thing I would change, is I would make a *deeper slash in the dough before baking next time. And there will be a next time.

Country Sourdough
adapted from here
Makes 2 loaves

For the Starter:
1kg baker's flour
1kg fine wholemeal flour (I used Atta flour)
455g lukewarm water

For the Leaven:
First Feed:
200g lukewarm water
200g flour mixture
Second Feed:
100g lukewarm water
90g flour mixture

For the Dough:
200g leaven
750g lukewarm water
900g baker's flour
100g fine wholemeal flour (I used Atta flour)
20g fine sea salt

Corn meal for dusting the pan

Make the Starter:
Mix the baker's flour and the wholemeal flour together and put them in a large container.

Put the water into a bowl and add 315g of the flour mixture (reserving the remaining flour mixture to feed your start over the coming days). Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until you have a thick paste. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool, dark place for about 2 days or until bubbles start to form.

Feed your Starter:
Discard all but 75g of the starter. Add 150g of the reserved flour mixture and 150g lukewarm water. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until you have a thick paste. Repeat this procedure every day for about 15 days. Once the starter is alive (rises and falls between feeds), you can make your leaven.

Make the Leaven:
First Feed:
Keep 75g of the starter discarding the rest, and add 200g of the reserved flour mixture and the 200g of lukewarm water, mix to a paste and cover with a lid. Leave it to rest for 3 hours.

Second Feed:
Add 100g flour mixture and 90g lukewarm water mix to a paste and cover with a lid. Leave it to rest for 3 hours.

Your leaven should be bubbling with life and will have a slightly beer-y smell. To test if it is ready, drop a spoonful into a cup of room temperature water. If it sinks, it's not ready and will need more time or another feed. If it floats, you're good to go.

Make the Dough:
Put the leaven and 700g of the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl and stir. (Keep the reserved leaven as it will be the beginning of your new starter to make future loaves. Feed it as described in the Make the Starter step.) Add both the baker's flour and the wholemeal flour and mix until fully combined. Leave to rest in a the bowl covered with a damp tea towel in a cool, dark place for 35 minutes.

Add the salt and the remaining 50g lukewarm water and mix, folding the dough over itself. Transfer the dough to a large clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel in a cool, dark place and leave it to rest for 3 - 4 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Knead it briefly then cut it into 2 even portions. Put the dough into two large mixing bowls lined with flour-dusted tea towels. Cover with damp tea towels and pop them in the refrigerator overnight. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I baked one loaf after a night in the fridge and another loaf two days later, leaving the dough in the fridge until I was ready.

The next morning, take them out of the fridge and leave them in a warm spot to rise. They should rise by about a third.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape them into balls, cupping your hands around the base and tucking the sides underneath the loaf as you turn it. The dough should have a taut, smooth surface,

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Dust the bottom of a large Dutch oven with corn meal. Place one of the balls of dough into the pan, cover with  the lid and leave to rest in a warm spot for 30 - 60 minutes. Once puffy, make a *deep slash down the centre of the dough with a sharp knife or blade, clap the lid on and put it in the oven, reducing the oven temperature to 200C immediately. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 40 minutes.

Place on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Waiting is torture I know, but slicing into the loaf too early will result in a gummy texture, and we don't want that.

Bake the second loaf exactly the same way.


  1. Gosh, sourdough. It's been a long time since I started a batch. I never saw this recipe and now, it's going on my list and I should really do it soon. Your bread looks incredibly good! It's so nice to make bread at home :) It's like a free therapy mouaha!

  2. I'm going to feed my starter tomorrow and give this a try. Gosh it looks good!