It doesn’t matter if your loved one only gives your magnificent loaf a cursory glance, you can marvel as the crust sings; you can run your fingers along those sought-after ears; you can peer closely at those beautiful stretch marks or stand back for a panoramic view. You can turn it around to see which is its best side and then smile, smugly, when you realise it looks beautiful from whatever angle you view it. This is a truly wonderful feeling.
If you have never baked a loaf of bread, you are missing out on one of life’s great pleasures.
I cannot think of a better thing to do than sit in front of an oven, with a glass of wine in my hand and watch my bread rise. I don’t even know why it is so much fun. It just is.
This recipe is based on a recipe in Wild Sourdough by Yoke Mardewi. It makes one large loaf.
The evening before you wish to make your bread:
Take your wheat starter out of the fridge and prepare:
- 140g old starter (That is as much as I had. Basically you will need 400g for the bread and enough to rebuild – 160g of each would be ideal)
- 170g rainwater or filtered water
- 170g bread flour
Measure out 400g starter.
Take 50g of the remaining starter, feed with 50g of bread flour and 50g rainwater or filtered water and put back in the fridge.
- 400g wheat starter (100% hydration)
- 300g rainwater or filtered water
- 350g bread flour
- 200g fine durum semolina flour.
If you are in Perth, you can buy Granoro Semola de grano duro rimacinata at Balcatta Fresh on Karrinyup Road. The ‘All About Bread’ durum semolina flour is not fine enough – though if you have a Thermomix or a Vitamix and blend it for about 4 minutes in 4 x 1 minute bursts, it will be fine.
- 3 tsp salt
- Mix all the ingredients in your mixer bowl (except the salt) until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes.
- Add the salt and knead the dough in an electric mixer for 5 minutes or by hand until it is smooth (about 10 minutes).
The dough should clear the sides of the bowl of the mixer and, near the end of the 5 minutes, begin to clear the bottom of the bowl. If it clears the sides and the bottom early in the kneading process, add a bit more water.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and leave for 50 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and do a stretch and fold. Return the dough to the oiled bowl.
- After 50 more minutes, do another stretch and fold and shape the dough into a boule.
- Line a bowl with a cloth and generously sprinkle it with semolina flour or generously sprinkle a banneton with semolina flour.
- Place the boule upside down in the bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with water and oil.
- Leave the dough at room temperature and allow it to nearly double in size. Mine took about 5 hours.
- An hour before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to the highest it will go.
I baked this loaf in my cast iron pot. For more details on baking bread in a pot, check out my previous post. If you are also baking your bread in a pot, put your oven proof pot (any will do, but cast iron is best) in the oven. If you are baking on a tile, put your tile in the oven.
- When you are ready to bake, either follow the instructions on this previous post (if baking on a tile) or keep reading (if baking in a pot).
- Generously sprinkle your dough with semolina flour.
- Put some baking paper (make sure you use enough to lift the dough with the paper) on your peel (or cutting board or tray) and then gently place them over the bread. Flip it. The dough is now upright.
- Generously sprinkle semolina flour on your boule.
- Slash your boule with a razor blade. Make a big cut across the boule and another at ninety degrees (or any other pattern you fancy).
- Take the pot out of the oven, remove the lid, lift up your dough by the baking paper and put it in the pot. Spray your loaf with some water.
- Put the lid back on the pot and return it to the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Take the lid off the pot. Turn the oven down to 220˚C. Return the pot to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Experience the delights of bread baking.
Remember, if you live in Perth or thereabouts, you are more than welcome to my sourdough starters. I have a wheat starter and a rye starter.