Baking your own bread is a fantastic way to hide wholefood and veggies for those in the family who don’t normally eat them for breakfast (or lunch or dinner!!!) and sometimes a good way to use up leftovers that would otherwise be tossed out!
To start your first bread get started with a pre- dough:
Use half the sourdough starter , three tablespoons of (any) flour and about 1 cup of water. Mix roughly and leave for as long as you have time. I mostly start mine in the morning and leave till the kids come home from school at 3 pm
When you get back to it, you should see tiny bubbles on the surface – stir!
Add the rest of the ingredients about 500 gr in weight.
And this is when making bread gets exciting, because you can add so many different things; I have done breads with: white wheat, wholemeal, oats, cornflakes, quinoa, lentils, small beans, ground up potatoes, ground up pumpkin, carrots, roasted onions, barley whole, barley shredded, coconut, all nuts, dried fruit, all seeds, leftover rice, leftover pasta, mashed potatoes, barley, buckwheat, polenta, spelt, bulgur…and two teaspoons of salt!
You can use these finely ground, cracked as bran or whole – all to your taste.
It’s easiest to soak whole grains in water before adding to the pre-dough. This is a good spot to put your salt in, too!
If you like the sour taste of sourdough use a bit of rye flour – but never too much as it doesn’t rise very well and makes the bread a bit sticky.
I would always suggest to go with 2/3 wheat flour as it has the most gluten and raises the best. Gluten is natures glue and gives the bread the ability to stretch enough to stretch over the air bubbles that the starter (or the yeast) will produce.
Add some more water – amount greatly depending on what you have added so far – some grains soak up more than others. You also have to decide here whether you want to bake you bread ‘free’ as in form a loaf shape and sit it on a baking tray (or pizza stone), or you want to bake it in a loaf tin.
I decide this as I go and how it turns out. I find free loafs have more crusty area but loaf ones are easier to cut and more uniform to fit into lunchboxes.
Now you need to kneed! As much as you or your machine can muster. The more you do a stretching motion rather than just a mixing one, the longer the gluten gets and the bigger air bubbles it can accommodate and the fluffier the bread gets.
Leave to rise one final time – anything between ½ and 2 hours.
Heat the oven to ‘full speed’ – this is the time you would put your pizza stone in if you have one, and if you are baking a free bread – loaf tins don’t benefit from a pizza stone; and put it into very hot oven for 10 min. Then turn it down to 150 and bake for 1 hour.
For a great crust, spray with water ever so often.
Take out and leave to cool for at least 20 min (although this might be hard!!!) otherwise you burn your tongue and smash the bread when trying to cut!
Best eaten at night, when everyone in the family is quietly asleep with some salted lard and chives!!!!