Basic White Wheat Sour Dough Bread (no yeast)

by Jane Mason Sour Dough Recipes

I am going to be honest with you.  This bread is a hassle to make because there are lots of steps and lots of elapsed time involved.  However, if you have a rainy week end and you are sort of pottering around with no particular commitments, this is a rewarding bread to make.  You need to make it in stages.
Stage 1:  Refresh your sour dough:
1.  Scrape the sour dough (1 cup/225 g) out of its container into a mixing bowl.
2.  Add 1 cup of warm water (240 grams) and 1 and 1/4 cups of flour (190 grams) to your sour dough starter. 
3.  Mix and cover and leave 12-24 hours in a warm place – it should be the consistency of thick custard or runny honey.
4.  After 12-24 hours there should be liquid on the top of the dough and the dough itself should have bubbles in it.  If it does not look like this, leave it for another 12 hours or so (ma ke sure it is warm) and it will come back to life.
Remember:  take one cup (225 grams) out when it is sour enough for you and pop it back in the fridge for future use! 
Stage 2:  Prepare your refreshed sour dough for this bread by mixing together:
3/4 cup (160 grams) of your newly refreshed sour dough
1/2 cup (120 g) warm water
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups (around 200 grams) of flour (all or mostly white will give a better loaf because it is  lighter but a bit of whole wheat is nice in this)
You are going to have to add the flour gradually to acheive a thick, sticky dough.  Not too dry – err on the side of sticky but not liquidy.  It will be a very different consist ency – thicker –  from your newly refreshed sour dough.
Cover this and leave it for about 4 hours in warm place or overnight in the fridge.
Stage 3:  Prepare your final dough in two steps:
Step 1.  knead together for 10 minutes (5 minutes by machine):

2 and 3/4 cups (400 grams) of flour (again mostly white because it is lighter but adding brown – up to 1/3 is nice too)
1 tsp (7 g) salt
1 and 1/4 cups (10 fluid oz/300 grams) warm water

Step 2:  add your sour dough from stage 2 and then give the bread a very good stir.  It will be very thick and very sticky.

Stage 4:  first rise

Pop the dough back in the bowl, cover it with cling film and let it rest for 1 hour

Stage 5:  Stretch and shape

With really wet hands, scoop the very sticky and elastic dough out of the bowl and stretch it and fold it 4-6 times.  It is helpful to do this by the sink with the water running.  That way you can continue to wet your hands.  Just let gravity take over.  Hold the dough from the top and let it drop a bit and then fold it back onto itself. 

Once you have stretched four or five times, shape the dough into a ball or an oblong (depending on how the form in which you are baking it), roll the bread gently in plenty of flour,  and gently place it into a well greased tin or in a rising basket.  Don’t squash or  shake it because what little air there is will come out.  Fill the tin 1/3 full if all white or 1/2 full if you have used whole grain. 

Stage 6:  Second rise

Let the dough rise again until doubled in bulk again (this will take 3-5 hours).  Slash the dough if you would like to.  If you have let it rise in a basket you need to roll it gently out of the basket onto a well floured baking sheet.  In fact, put the baking tray (with greasproof paper on it) on top of the basket and gently invert the whole thing.  Try not to bump it or all the air will escape and your bread will be flatter than you may want it!

Stage 7:  bake

Bake at 425 F (230 C) for 10 minutes and then a further 30 mins at 400 F (200 C).  If you are making baguettes, check them after 20 minutes.