Sourdough Baguettes

I’m having a go at sourdough again. It’s a funny thing – something that seems a little scary, looks a little weird and smells quite strong. But it makes amazing bread, like nothing you can buy (except from lovely bakeries) and it feels like such an achievement to make yourself.

I made my own starter a few years ago but it didn’t go so well, it came out smelling a bit like paint and the bread I made also had a very chemical taste. Fellow Cambridge food blogger Ivana offered up some sourdough on Twitter so I thought it was about time to have another go – plus maybe an already active and healthy starter was the way to go this time.

This starter is very low maintenance, it stayed in it’s jar for a good 5 days before I started to prepare it for baking – I think you can leave it along for up to a week between feeds. It becomes more of a pet when you are preparing for a bake, requiring a feed every 12 hours.

For the actual dough it takes about a day of going in and out of the kitchen to knead, rest, knead again, prove etc. Ivana gave me a Hilary Cacchia recipe which I’m not sure if I am allowed to reproduce but this Dan Lepard recipe looks similar. I used 150g starter, 225 very strong white bread flour, 5g salt and 100ml room temperature water.

It’s then a case of kneading for a few minutes, leaving for 30 minutes. Then a process of kneading for 20 seconds, leaving for 10, then repeating 3 times. Then leave to double in size. Then dividing the dough, leaving for 15, shaping into baguettes and placing on the baking tray. Leaving to double in size. Then bake for about 15 minutes in a hot oven til golden.

I think the crumb could have been a little more ‘open’ but overall the bread was fantastic. A beautiful crispy top and soft fluffy interior. I sliced them lengthways and we had them simply with fried garlic mushrooms and a little parmesan on top.

I’ve still got plenty of starter left, sitting happily in my fridge, so hopefully there will be more recipes coming here soon! Watch this space :)

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