Hi! This is my first post here so I wanted to start with the bread I make every week. This is the foundation bread of my baking, the bread we eat for breakfast every day and forms the basis of almost all other sour dough breads I bake.

The original recipe comes from a Swedish baker called Martin Johansson. It was his blog that first made me interested in baking with sourdough and in my next post I’ll share his way of making a sourdough starter.

This bread is a plain levain, a wheat flour sourdough bread with a rye sourdough. I sometimes substitute parts of the wheat flour for spelt or rye or any other flour I have at home. I also add flax seeds, cracked grains, sunflower seeds or whatever else I think might suit the bread. Changing the recipe does alter the way the dough acts though so I suggest getting familiar with the basic bread first.

I’d also,like to add that all flour is not created equal. Different types of strong wheat flour will act differently. You may find¬†that you need to add more or less of flour or water in order to get the dough you can work with. It’s all about trial and error….

In the evening:

  • Rye sourdough starter – 30 grams
  • Strong wheat flour – 120 grams
  • Water – 100 grams

Mix together into a shaggy mess and cover with a lid or cling film. Leave it alone for 8-10 hours in a warm place, a cupboard above the fridge is usually a good place.

In the morning:

The sourdough from last night should have the consistency of mousse, loose and “frothy” with bubbles.

In a bigger bowl, with plenty of room for the dough to grow, add the sourdough mix from last night and:

  • Cold water – 200 grams
  • Mix water and sourdough together and then add:
  • Strong wheat flour – 300 grams
  • Salt – 6-9 grams

Mix until it’s all come together but you don’t need to work at it for long. Cover with a towel or a plate and let rest for 45 minutes.

Resting and folding:

Dip your hand in water and then gently grab the edge of the dough. Pull it up and out a bit and then fold it in towards the middle. Repeat around the edges of the bowl until you’ve done a full lap. Continue to do this a total of three times, letting the dough rest covered 45 minutes each time. When you’ve stretched the dough the third time, let it rest for an hour.

Shaping and proving the bread:

What shape you want the bread is up to you. if I’m making “pretty” bread I use my round bread basket, if I’m making easy to toast bread I use my metal rectangular bread tin. The important thing I’ve learnt is to handle the dough gently so that you don’t break the gluten strands you’ve built up with all this stretching. If you’re new to bread making I suggest looking on YouTube or Instagram for videos on how to shape the dough. @trevorjaywilson on Instagram has excellent videos.

Once you’ve shaped your dough, let it prove for about an hour. The exact time will vary depending on your sourdough, the temperature in your kitchen and, in my experience, any other unknown factor that you won’t be able to figure out and won’t be able to control. At the end of the day, just baking a lot of bread and failing a lot will make you learn exactly when the bread is ready to go in the oven in your kitchen. Baking is science and we home bakers don’t have the instruments to control all parameters. I still struggle with over proving my bread….

Anyway, before you plan to bake, turn your oven on to about 250C (I’m in Europe, I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit so I suggest using an online converter to get the right temperature in F). Keep a baking tray in the oven (unless you have a baking stone, then use that) and a deeper baking tray at the bottom of the oven.

Baking the bread:

Move the dough onto a baking sheet if you’re not baking in a tin. If you’ve folded the bread, make sure the fold is on the bottom. Let the sheet with the dough slide onto the hot oven tray and toss some ice cubes into the bottom tray. Close the door and lower the temperature to 220C and bake for about 30-35 minutes. But keep an eye on the bread, some ovens are hotter than others

When the bread is done, take it out and let it cool on a rack. The bread should sound hollow when you tap the bottom of it.

Best of luck!!