This classic, simple wholemeal loaf is a good one to start with. Bear in mind that different brands of whole meal flour will require different amounts of water when making this loaf.
1 In a small mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt together thoroughly. Set aside. This is the dry mixture.
2 Add the sourdough starter to a large mixing bowl. Add 3 of the water and dissolve or break up the sourdough with your hands.
3 Add the dry mixture. Stir the mixture slowly with your hands until it comes together and there are no dry bits at the bottom of the bowl.
4 Add the remaining water. If the mixture doesn't come together and it seems a bit dry, add more water and record how much you used for next time. The dough should be slightly sticky.
5 Cover the mixture with the small mixing bowl that contained the flour mixture. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
6 Knead the mixture 10 times.
7 Turn the ball of dough over in the bowl.
8 Cover with the small mixing bowl again and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
9 Repeat steps 6-8 another 3 times, making sure the mixture is covered between kneads and remembering to mark the dough indicating the amount of kneads done.
10 Cover the dough and leave it to rise overnight in a cool place (not in the fridge, though).
11 The next day, gently punch down to de-gas the dough.
12 Remove from the bowl, using a light sprinkling of flour so the dough does not stick. Shape the dough into a ball.
13 Coat the proofing/dough-rising basket with flour. Coat the top of the dough with flour and place seam-up into the basket.
14 Allow to proof for 2-6 hours or until the dough has nearly doubled in volume. Cover with a shower cap or with an upturned mixing bowl if a skin starts to form.
15 Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to stabilize it.
16 Preheat the oven to 250°C (500°F) Gas 9. Place a deep roasting tray at the bottom of the oven and a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
17 Turn the dough out onto a floured peel.
18 Slash the loaf with a sharp serrated knife with a design of your own choice.
19 Slide the loaf onto the preheated baking sheet in the oven. Pour a cup of water into the hot roasting tray and lower the temperature to 220°C (425°F) Gas 7.
20 Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
21 Tap the loaf on the bottom. If you hear a hollow sound, it is ready. If you are not sure, return it to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
22 Remove the loaf from the baking sheet. Set on a wire rack to cool it.
500 g/4 cups wholewheat flour, plus extra for dusting
10 g/2 teaspoons salt
25 g/1 oz. wholewheat sourdough starter
380 g/380 ml/1½ cups warm
1 × 800-g/1¾-Ibs. round proofing/dough-rising basket
1 small peel, floured
Makes 1× 800-g/1¾-Ibs. loaf