Max's 5 top tips for a great Sourdough
1. Feed the Mother starter every day - for a good Sourdough you need a good healthy Mother, not one that's been languishing in the back of the fridge on a starvation diet for the last 2 weeks. If its not fed, then its metabolism will slow down and it takes time to get back into shape. Give it a small feed every day and this should make sure its always ready for action and will give you a good rise. If you fancy making your own then check out a really easy recipe here
2. Follow the recipe & be precise! It may sound basic, but baking is a precision business so be careful to follow every step to the letter - including any instructions on time & temperature as these just as important to the process as the ingredients themselves. Digital scales and a good digital thermometer can both be bought online for around £10 each and can make a huge difference to your baking results.
3. Make a bigger batch - If you can manage it then consider making a batch of 3-4 loaves at a time as this has 2 advantages. Firstly by making a single loaf your dough will have a larger surface area relative to the volume inside - which risks drying out the top surface of the dough and hindering gluten development. Secondly, Baking is all about practice and by making more than one loaf you can practice you skills and observe how small differences in what you did to each loaf effect the final product. Fresh bread makes a great little gift for friends and you can always freeze some to enjoy later.
4. Don't use a fan oven - firstly it will struggle to hold the highest temperatures as it is constantly forcing hot air out of the oven, and secondly the fan will likely be focussed on one point on your loaf, which will crust prematurely and either limit the rise or make it lopsided (or both)!
5. Use a Dutch oven or a Baking stone - Domestic ovens are just not a match for a professional deck oven as they don't get hot enough. However, you can come close by baking your bread in a Dutch oven - this holds the oven heat as high as possible to give your bread a good spring, and the lid will also keep the steam from your loaf contained, making a delicous crust with a natural sheen. If you can't get a Dutch oven then the next best thing is to use a baking stone and ensure the oven has lots of steam by keeping a tray of boiling water at the base and then using a few sprays of a demister when you pop your loaf in.
We run regular courses with Max in the evenings and at the weekends. If you'd like to find out more info then please click here