As we head into another week of COVID-19 alert level 3 lockdown, many Aucklanders will be turning to relaxing kitchen pursuits to help pass the time - and keep us fed without having to head to the supermarket.
Last week Newshub published a guide on making your own sourdough starter, which hopefully has been fermenting away over the weekend.
If your starter is ready, it's time to put it to use and get the prize for all that hard work: a delicious loaf of crusty sourdough bread.
Along with banana bread, sourdough fast became a staple for many Kiwis during the first lockdown, so it's likely it will be of interest to many more this time around. Of course, if you want to enjoy delicious sourdough for lunch this week but can't face the baking process, many local Auckland bakeries are operating for takeaway during the level 3 lockdown including Daily Bread and Wild Wheat.
If you're keen to try your hand at baking it, this recipe from the Sourdough School in the UK is a great one as they are world leaders in sourdough making.
You'll find many different recipes online if you prefer, and as with so much baking, it's all about trial and error.
A traditionally French shaped sourdough boule. Allow yourself about four hours for the dough to be mixed, folded and shaped, ready to place in the coldest part of the fridge to prove overnight.
Note: If you are new to bread making, instead of shaping the dough and putting it into a banneton, you can grease a 1kg bread tin liberally with butter, let the dough rise in it overnight in the fridge and then bake as per the recipe instructions below.
- A large mixing bowl
- A round cane banneton (or a clean tea towel dusted with flour inside a colander)
- 2 clean tea towels
- A Dutch oven or La Cloche
- A large heatproof pan, a sharp knife or 'lame' to slash the dough with
- 300g water
- 100g sourdough leaven* (made with your starter)
- 100g of stoneground organic wholemeal flour
- 400g organic strong white flour
- 10g fine sea salt mixed with 15g of cold water
- 25g rice flour mixed with 25g of stone-ground white flour (for dusting your banneton)
- Semolina to dust the bottom of the baking surface
Begin in the late afternoon for best results
In a large bowl whisk your water and starter and mix well. Add all the flour and mix until all the ingredients come together into a large ball.
Cover with a clean damp cloth and let the dough rest on the side in the kitchen for between 30 minutes and two hours - this what bakers call Autolyse.
Add the salt mixed with the water and dimple your fingers into the dough to allow the salty water and salt to distribute evenly throughout the dough. Leave for 10 minutes.
Next, lift and fold your dough over, do a quarter turn of your bowl and repeat three more times. Repeat three times at 30-minute intervals with a final 15-minute rest at the end.
Shape the dough lightly into a ball then place into a round banneton dusted with flour (if you don't have a banneton then use a clean tea towel dusted with flour inside a colander). Dust the top with flour, then cover with a damp tea-towel
Leave your dough to one side until it is 50 percent bigger, then transfer to the fridge, and leave to prove there for 8 - 12 hours.
Bake the following morning
The next morning preheat your oven to 220°C for at least 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. Place your cloche or baking stone in the oven and a large pan of boiling water underneath (or use a Dutch oven). The hydration helps form a beautiful crust.
Once the oven is up to full heat, carefully remove the baking stone from the oven, taking care not to burn yourself dust with a fine layer of semolina, which stops the bread sticking, then put your dough onto the baking stone and slash the top with your blade. This decides where the bread will tear as it rises. Bake for an hour.
Turn the heat down to 180°C (and remove the lid if you are using a Dutch oven) and bake for another 10 -15 minutes. You need to choose just how dark you like your crust but I suggest that you bake until it is a dark brown - it tastes much better.