Sourdough Bread

The sourdough starter is the only raising agent in this bread and should be prepared at least 5 days before baking the bread. Since the starter can be affected by temperature and humidity, it flourishes better sometimes than others, so if you are not sure whether the starter is ‘alive’, add h ounce of fresh yeast mixed to a paste with ½ teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lukewarm milk to the dough as well. Do not use a metal container for storing the starter as it will discolour and may give it an unpleasant taste. If granary meal flour is not available, substitute

1 pound of rye flour and

1 lb. wholewheat flour .

14 ‘

2 lb. plus

3 tablespoons granary meal flour

12 fl. oz. lukewarm water

2 tablespoons dark treacle or molasses

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 oz. wholewheat or rye flour

3 oz. strong white flour

2 oz. sugar

8 fl. oz. milk

2 teaspoons salt dissolved in

4 tablespoons water

First prepare the starter. Place the flours, sugar and milk in a large, screw-top jar or earthenware crock. Using a kitchen fork, beat the ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Cover the jar or crock and set aside at room temperature for 5 days or until the mixture is frothy and has a strong, sour smell.

Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of flour over three baking sheets. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining flour, water, sourdough starter, treacle or molasses, salt and oil. Using your fingers or a spatula, gradually draw the flour mixture into the liquid. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board or marble slab and knead it for 8 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and set it in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours.

Turn the dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes. Cut the dough into three equal pieces.

Form the dough into smooth oval loaf shapes and place one on each baking sheet. Return the dough to a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, brushing frequently with a little of the glaze.

Preheat the oven to hot 425 °F (Gas Mark 7, 220°C).

Brush the loaves with the remaining glaze and place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Tip the loaves off the sheets and rap the under-sides with your knuckles. If the bread sounds hollow, like a drum, it is cooked. If it does not sound hollow, lower the oven temperature to fairly hot

375 °F (Gas MARK 5,190°C), return the loaves, upside-down, to the oven and bake for a further

8 minutes.

Cool the loaves on a wire rack.

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