Info for the Home Baker

During the Pandemic, lots of people turned to baking which I totally applaud! There was a shortage of flour and also a shortage of yeast. Things are getting back to near normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. How about making your own sourdough? What’s that you say?  Can’t make your own? Bought one of my starters and don’t know what to do with it?  Relax, I got you covered.  Here is all the info that you knead! (see what I did there? Pfnar).

So… you’ve got yourself an Active Starter – maybe from me – yippee!!  I’ll tell you how you can start to prepare you your loaf on Day 3.  

DAY 1: Firstly, take me home soon and put me in the fridge.  You can leave me here for ages (weeks in fact) and I won’t die, I’ll just go into my own LOCKDOWN :-). Next thing to do is give me a name – it will ensure that you are less likely to neglect me.  

If your jar says 50g on it, you can skip the next instruction and start on Day 2.

[If you have acquired a ‘weany pot of goop’ starter, remove what you can from the pot into another jar and mix it with 25g water and 25g of good flour; pop it back in the fridge].

Day 2:  (we’ll forget that 7 or more days may or may not have passed by and still call this day 2) Take me out of the fridge and FEED ME as follows:-
–          If you DON’T want to use me yet, then throw half of me away and then add my bodyweight back into the jar, using half water and half flour.  Stir me up and put me back in the fridge.  If you adopted me at 50g, I should still weight 100g.
–          If you DO want to use me, then transfer me to a BIGGER jar! But make sure you know how much this jar weighs.  Pour/spoon all of me in here and check how much I weigh. Add my bodyweight into this jar, using half water and half flour.  If you adopted me at 50g, you now should have 100g.    Stir me up and put half of me on the side (covered tightly, I’ll get lively!) at room temperature – not too hot!!  Put the other half back in the fridge in a cleaned jar – that’ll be the new ‘me’ for the next time you bake.

The next instructions are for refreshing and invigorating me so that I am nice and active…

Day 2: 8-12 hours after the first feed – (remember, I am sitting on the counter probably in your kitchen) I should be looking thick and bubbly.  Feed me again, doubling my weight – so now, I should weigh 200g, plus the weight of the jar, obvs. 

Day 3: 8-12 hours after the last feed – even bubblier! Feed me again, doubling my weight; you now have 400g, plus the jar weight.   In about 8-12 hours (maybe bit more/less depending upon the temperature) I should be very lively and active so you can use me in your bread dough.  If you don’t need 400g, then maybe gift some to a neighbour (obeying the social distancing rules of course) or make pancakes, or throw away.  What you don’t want to do is collect gallons of the stuff without actually making any bread – trust me, I’m speaking from early experience!

8-12 hours is guide; if your kitchen is colder, you can leave me longer –sometimes 24 hours before the next feed, although always try to make sure it’s no more than about 16 hours before you mix me up into a dough, otherwise I might taste too sour.  Don’t fear experimentation and seeing what different results you get from me.

 After a feed, ensure that I only half-fill the container otherwise I might venture out and explore your kitchen.
Fruit flies love me, so keep me covered.  Tight lids are great, but they need to be secure in case I explode.
You can use any flour but I prefer organic, untreated and preferably stoneground. 
As a guide, use me in recipes at about 30% (roughly a third) of the weight of your flour.  You can use less, I will just take longer to fully prove.  For example, if you use a kilo of flour, you can use 300g of starter.
If you neglect to feed me, I will develop a brown liquid; don’t pour it off as I can be revived with a couple of feeds – if you are going to social distance yourself from me tho, I would prefer you left me to do my bit in the fridge…
It is said, that if you have to, you can always freeze part of me for future use, but I may take a few feeds before I’m back in action.  Jo’s Loaves has never needed to try this, so she doesn’t know from her own experience.

I’ve tried to make a really simple recipe for you to try below, or alternatively, there are tonnes of methods, recipes hints and tips online too.  
Finally, please photograph and share your bready pics with me @josloaves on social media and use the #hashtag #lockdownloafers.  Good Luck and Enjoy!!

THE GREAT WHITE! No Knead Sourdough – Makes Two Loaves

Take a large bowl and mix the following ingredients until into a dough until all the dry flour has been mixed in.  It will be sticky!
300g    –           Active sourdough starter

1000g  –           Strong bread flour

600g    –           Water (If using wholemeal flour, add 100g more water and/or adjust flour

weight)Cover and leave for 40 minutes and then sprinkle on: 16g      –           Salt

Fold the salt into the dough by gently stretching and pulling it over itself until you no longer feel any gritty bits. Cover and leave for another 40mins – 1 hour, then stretch and fold the dough again.  Cover and either put into the fridge* for 12 to 24 hours or carry on with the next steps.
[Non-fridge]: Rest the dough for around 3 hours.  Each hour, stretch and fold the dough by pulling out one of the sides and fold it back on itself over the top of the main bulk of dough and then repeating for the remaining 3 sides.  You should feel the dough tightening as you do this.  Keep the dough covered.[Fridge] Take out, then do one stretch and fold before the next step.When all the stretch and folds are done, remove the dough, and on a lightly floured worktop, divide equally into 2 and shape.  Place into greased tins or floured or lined proving baskets.  Make sure these are covered with oiled cling film or shower caps and leave to rise in an ambient room for 2 – 5 hours, depending upon the time of year, whether your dough came from the fridge and your kitchen temperature.  

The loaves are ready to bake when the dough has risen appreciably and a depression made by a floury finger is very slow to be pushed back out.  Make sure you heat up your oven to the highest setting (250°C +) with baking stones in (if using) for at about half an hour before you bake.   Carefully open the oven door and turn the loaves out on to the stone (if not using tins) and slash the dough with a razor-type blade.  Immediately spray the inside walls of the oven with water to create steam.  Set the oven to 240°C for and bake for about 30 minutes.  An alternative to spraying water is to preheat a tray in the bottom of the oven and then fill with hot water just before you put the loaves in.   Remove the tray after 10 minutes of baking as this helps to keep a nice crust.  Loaves are baked when they have a nice hollow sound when they are tapped with a knuckle; you can also hear a well-baked loaf as the crust crackles!