Easy Sourdough Bread

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Name and pronunciation: chleb na zakwasie [h-leh-p • nah • zack-fah-sheh]
Description: sourdough bread
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

There are many different recipes for a sourdough, some more difficult than others. This is a perfect one to start your wild yeast adventure. Sourdough bread always takes a while, but this method does not take a lot of effort, just time, which is a great advantage.

Approximately 1.5 kg loaf (or two smalls ones) • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Resting time: 3 x 12 hours • Baking time: 45 minutes

Tips:

01
I find it easier to bake two smaller loaves than one large one.

02
To bake, use any cake form, but bread crust needs moisture and high temperature, so I get best results using cast iron pots.

03
Always line your forms with parchment paper.

04
If your oven does not have a steam function, place a bowl of hot water next to the forms.

05
Use bread flour of any kind you like. I usually mix white and whole-wheat flours 50/50, but you can also add some rye flour for a nice, strong flavour.

06
It is a good idea to slice and freeze all excess bread. It defrosts in minutes and remains as fresh as on the first day.

07
To make the top crust thicker and crispier, I spray the top with water several times during the last stage of rising. Be generous and make sure you spray your bread with water and generously cover with flour just before baking as well.

Schedule:

01
Morning: prepare your starter for activation and leave it until evening.

02
Evening: make the sponge and leave it overnight.

03
Morning: knead the bread dough, move it to forms, cover and leave it to rise for the whole day.

04
Evening: bake the bread and cool it. Two days before the bread runs out, prepare new starter to activate for new loaves.

Activating starter

Ingredients:

100 g cold starter
 100 g flour
 100 ml water

Method:

01 
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a non-metallic container and leave out in warmth for about 12 hours. Make sure it has space to rise. I always use a 500 ml glass.

Making sponge

Ingredients:

activated starter from previous stage
 500 g bread flour
 500 ml water

Method:

01
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave for about 12 hours in a warm spot.

Kneading dough

Ingredients:

 sponge from previous stage
500 g bread flour
 25 g salt
 seeds, grains and nuts (optional)

Method:

01
Mix all ingredients and knead by pressing and stretching for at least 10 minutes. The dough needs to feel elastic and springy to be ready.

03
Split in two and roll the loafs in flour. You can mix the flour with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or oats for added crust flavour.

04
Place the loaves in forms lined with parchment paper. If you want to score your loaves, do it now. Make sure the cuts are quite deep, because the dough will still rise significantly and shallow scoring will disappear.

05
Cover with tea towels and leave for about 12 hours in a warm spot.

Baking bread

Method:

01
Pre-heat your oven to maximum temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Boil water and fill in a small bowl. Place it in the oven.

02
Bake your loaves for 10 minutes in the maximum heat, then lower it to 200ºC. Bake for another 35-40 minutes.

03
Cool down the loaves before cutting them. If you do not have time to put away the loaves away after they have cooled down, simply wrap them loosely in tea towels and leave them on a kitchen counter until the morning.

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Enjoy!

Sourdough Starter

Tips:

01
Sourdough is nothing more than wild yeast that is all around us. You need to give it time and nutrients to start, and then feed it regularly by adding the same amount of flour and water every week or two. Opt for 50 g of flour on 50 ml of water, or 100 g of flour on 50 ml of water, depends on how much starter you use and need to replenish.

02
Storing your starter is easy. Just keep it in a fridge, take a portion you need for your bread and leave the rest chilled. Every 7-10 days add another equal amount of flour and water (50 g + 50 ml or 100 g + 100 ml), mix thoroughly and put back to the fridge. It will be happy for another week or so.

03
I keep my starter in a bail jar. I cover the lid, but without closing the clasp. This way it receives enough air to live, but at the same time it is protected from drying out.

04
Healthy starter should smell acidic, somewhere between lemony and beery. When you are not sure if your starter is good just by looking or smelling it (although you really should be), taste a small drop. It should taste acidic, but not bitter. If there is any trace of mould on top of it, discard it and start again.

05
If there is a dry layer on the surface and the starter seems fresh underneath, it is all right to just get rid of the dry part and keep the rest.

Ingredients:

100 g of all-purpose flour
 100 ml of water

Method:

01
It is enough to mix the same quantity of flour and water and leave out on a kitchen counter lightly covered with a tea towel or a paper napkin. It is good for 14 hours, then it is time to feed it.

02
Feed your new yeast by adding 100 g of flour and 100 ml of water every day for seven days.

03
On day 2 or 3, you should be able to observe first bubbles and the mixture will start smelling sour. It will become a little more liquid, but should not change its colour. When you mix in fresh flour and water, the bubbles will disappear, but they should re-appear about an hour after each feeding. Sometimes clear liquid will separate on the surface, it is completely normal. Either mix it in or discard it, as you wish.

04
After seven days your starter should be ready, but it can still be a little weak. You can give it one week (the first week without feeding) to get stronger and then start baking your delicious bread.

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Enjoy!