Good things come to those who wait...
Everyone knows that you can't beat the smell of freshly baked bread. Making 'artisan' bread is actually quite easy to master, and with a little time and patience (around 16 hours) you can produce a loaf every bit as good as your local bakery.
It all starts with... the 'starter' which is a simple combination of flour and water that's had a chance to develop natural wild yeasts and lactobacilli. Your starter will keep you in yeast forever, so long as you feed it. Simply store in a jam jar in the fridge.
We begin our bread at around 8pm with a 'leaven' (or sponge) of starter, flour and water and leave for 12 hours. After everything has got to know each other a little better, it's time to add more flour and water to form a dough, but wait 20 minutes or so before adding the salt. This allows the cells in the flour to soak up all that precious moisture.
After mixing in the salt, our dough gets a few folds every 30 mins for a couple of hours. A low effort method that leaves plenty of time to sip your coffee, read the morning paper and let that typical 'sour' flavour develop. There's no need to knead!
We then shape and leave our loaf to rise for an hour or so in a flour dredged proving basket. Our loaf gets baked in a dutch oven (we use our old Le Cruset pot) before a final blast with the lid off to develop a good crust. Baking in a covered pot allows the loaf to rise in it's own steam and avoid the pitfalls of baking in a modern fan oven.
All that's left to do now is enjoy!
After several lacklustre attempts at producing good home baked bread, we honed our skills on a fantastic one-day bread course at the E5 Bakehouse in Hackney.