It may seem odd that my first recipe is for sourdough but bread is such an integral ingredient to good eating and I have mastered a very quick and simple two stage technique. This dough also makes fabulous pizzas and flat breads . Firstly you need to get hold of a culture. I have seen dried commercial cultures for sale on the net but I have no idea how these work. If you email me directly I can send some for a flat rate of £12 including postage.
400gms very strong white flour ( I especially like Waitrose Strong Canadian )
tbspn malden salt
400 ml water
Firstly I empty the entire culture in to a bowl and then add enough water and flour to double the quantity keeping the original consistency so basically you have doubled the quantity of your culture . Put half back into the container for the next loaf and keep the other half in the bowl to work with.
Now add the 400 gms of flour an water and mix with a firm spatula until claggy. if it is sloppy add more flour and if it is too dry to work into a dough add more water. To master this stage really just requires practice. It took about two months before I had shop like loaves. Before that they were perfectly edible just rather flat!
Now work, knead the dough into a soft ball. it should take a few minutes but again with practice this time lessens.
Put the dough into a slightly olive oiled bowl, cover with a plastic and leave in a warm place for a minimum of 4 hours and no longer than 6.
The dough should now have doubled in quantity and be soft and hopefully bubbly. The longer you leave it the bubblier it gets! Turn this out onto a well floured board and knead again until the dough is soft and elastic. This usually only takes a minute or so.
Now put the dough into a well floured proving basket or tin, anything rally to shape the loaf. Cover it with a plastic back and put in the fridge overnight.
First thing in the morning put a baking sheet or pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and heat it up to its hottest . As soon as it has reached temperature take out the hot baking sheet and immediately turn out the dough onto the sheet. Slash with a sharp knife and put it in the oven for half an hour at this temperature ( for the loaf to rise ) and then another half an hour at about 120 to cook through.
The loaf should be golden brown and crusty.