Further to the post on cups and spoons it struck me that I have not actually given the recipe for refreshing and baking with the 1857 sourdough. Without further ado (get your cups and spoons ready).
To make three medium sized loaves
24-48 hours before you want to bake take the 1857 sourdough out of the fridge. If you are working from what you have received from me or a sourdough share save schemer, you will have 1 cup (that is 8 fluid oz) of sourdough. Scrape it all out of it’s jar into a big mixing bowl and add 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of white wheat flour. Cover and let it sit on the counter for 12-24 hours.
After 12-24 hours it will be foamy. Give it a stir and take one cup out and put it back in the fridge for another day. If you do not do this you will have lost your starter! So, don’t forget: “a cup in, a cup out.”
Add the following to your mixing bowl of sourdough:
4 cups of flour (Any kind will do – seriously. Wheat, rye, spelt, dark, white, or a blend – whatever you have on hand)
1.25 cups of warm water (10 fluid oz)
Give it a stir. It will be really thick but have no fear, after 12 hours it will be bubbly. Cover it and leave it for 12 hours (24 if in fridge).
To the mixture in the bowl, add:
1 -2 cups more flour (at least).
Begin to knead. You will have to knead for a good 10 minutes and you will probably have to add more flour. The dough will be sticky (that is the nature of sourdough dough). After 10 minutes, add:
3 tsp salt
any other ingredients you fancy (honey, molasses, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, olives, cheese, etc). If you are going to add dry ingredients you might want to soak them first over night so they don’t take moisture from the dough)
Knead for another 5 minutes or so. A plastic dough scraper helps enormously if you are kneading by hand on a table.
When you have finished kneading, put the dough back in a bowl (or a big tupperware box) and cover it. Let it rest for an hour or so.
Now, there are at least a million ways of dealing with the dough so the world is your oyster. You can:
a) Stretch and fold it for another several hours (at least 4) in its bowl or box before GENTLY dividing it, shaping it, rolling it in flour, letting it sit for another hour or so and baking it. You will need a fairly stiff dough to bake it this way – if it is too slack it will just collapse and spread out while baking. Probably tasty but not very good looking. When I say “stretch and fold” I really mean “stretch and fold.” Grasp a handful of dough and pull it away from you before folding it back on itself. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and do it again. Do it four times at the four “corners” of the dough. When you do this you strengthen the dough and you allow it to rise more easily by creating space in the dough itself for bubbles to form.
b) Divide it into loaves, give each loaf a little stretch and fold, roll them gently in flour and put them in a tin or a basket to continue rising for 5 hours or so. If you are rising in a basket, roll the dough out of the basket and onto a baking tray GENTLY to bake it. Don’t put the basket in the oven.
To test whether the dough has risen enough, gently poke it. If the indentation comes out again within about 1 minute, it’s ready. You can always rise bread in the fridge. As long as it is above zero, the bread will rise. If you find yourself caught short of time, stick it in the fridge (at any stage).
Bake the dough at 230 for ten minutes and then at 200 for 30 minutes.
Persevere. This is an art, not a science. There are a million ways of baking sourdough bread. All of them work. And remember, it’s all good toasted.