For a long time, I used to think sourdough bread and soda bread were the same thing; it was only after watching some cooking programmes that I realised that they were different. It is the similarity in the name that confuses me. Even now, with all the 's's 'o's and 'd's I still mix up their names. I guess that means it is 'sod' trying to remember.
Apart from the similar sounding names, soda and sourdough bread are in fact very different. Soda bread is a quick bread that you can make with bicarbonate of soda so you don't have to spend the time proving it. Sourdough on the other hand requires a lot of preparation. It is well worth the effort though.
You can't just make sourdough bread when you feel like it, you need to decide five days in advance. At least when it is your first time making it. The reason for this is because you need to make your own yeast culture. This is known as a starter. Starters are very easy to make, and just require flour and water. You can also add yoghurt, which is what I like to do. Not only does it give the fermentation process a kick start, but it makes the bread a little milder in taste. Whether you use yoghurt or not depends on whether you prefer a strong rustic loaf, or something a little softer.
With this recipe you should be able to get twenty slices of bread (depending on how thick you like it), and based on the brands I used, each slice should be about 103 calories.
Ingredients 300g sourdough starter (see method)
500g wholemeal bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
To make your starter mix equal parts bread flour, yoghurt, and water everyday for five days (75g each is a good guide). Keep the bowl covered with cling film, or keep the starter in an air tight container. By this point, your starter should be frothy and bubbling.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 ༠C/ 180 ༠C fan/400 ༠F/6 Gas
Mix 300g of your starter with 500g of flour and 1/2 tsp of salt. Keep the remainder of your starter so that you can keep adding to it. This way you don't have to start from scratch when you want to make your next loaf. In true Blue Peter fashion, you'll have one you prepared earlier.
Gradually pour in the water and bring the mixture together to make a dough.
Knead the dough for ten minutes.
Leave the dough to prove. This takes longer than most breads. Some recipes recommend proving it for as long as twelve hours, but I find that this is unnecessary. Prove it for three hours, then if it needs reshaping, prove it again for another three hours. If you do not need to reshape your dough, then you can settle with just one proving. The length of the prove can all depend on the temperature. If it is a cold day, it may need longer. The basic rule of thumb is that it is ready once it has doubled in size.
Cut a noughts and crosses grid across the top of the loaf and dust with flour.
Sounds great, but confused by quantities. If you need 300g of starter to 500g flour in the bread recipe, will there be enough of the starter for this recipe if you're only using 75g each of water, yoghourt and flour for the starter?
You add 75g flour, 75ml/g water, and an optional 75g yoghurt every day for up to 5 days (minimum of three) so that it is bubbling. Out of that mixture you use 300g of it to make the bread by mixing it with 500g flour.