It all started peacefully enough, the mixing of water and flour in the hope of making a sour dough starter. After a week and a couple of floury feeds to my hungry new born I had this, a happy little fellow indeed, burping away. And then disaster struck, the oven died on the very same day that the central heating did. Hubby ordered the parts for the cooker and phoned British Gas and I looked at my sourdough baby and wondered what to do and decided to make the bread as far as I could and slow it down in the fridge if need be and hope that the cooker would spring back to life with a new part – there was no guarantee at this point.
I made the dough by adding water and flour until I had a dough that I felt was about right, adding a little salt with the flour and then kneaded for fifteen minutes. I think it was just slightly too wet but it was a lovely dough and was springing to life under my hands, it really was a pleasure to work. I did a bulk rise, which took longer than expected, we had a very cold snap so it was sat in an icy kitchen and this happened to be a good thing as when the mail arrived the cooker part was not with it. Oh, so I finished the bulk rise overnight in the fridge with fingers crossed that it would arrive soon.
The next day the part came and hubby fitted it and ‘hurrah’ the cooker sprang back to life and I was able to knock back the dough and set it for its second rise in a heavily floured tea towel sat in a bowl. And that rose for about three hours, I then plopped it into a heavily floured cold cast iron dutch oven, slashed it with a knife, covered it with the lid and popped it into a cold oven, whacking the temperature up to its highest as I did so. I quite like the cold oven baking, I think it gives you a nicely flavoured bread without the burnt bits. The dough was very soft, so spread a little, I wonder if it is worth baking in a bread tin in a dutch oven? I took the lid off for the last twenty minutes to colour the bread. And 50 minutes later we had a lovely sourdough loaf to go with some home made butternut squash soup and slithers of vintage cheddar cheese. Time taken 9 days. But you know it was worth it.