it worked. and it was earth shattering. i wont introduct for very long because the picture speaks for itself. and it worked so nicely im still in stunned silent awe. i will say the following.
1. i love my starter and im sorry that i ever doubted it
2. its like i always say, patience is a virtue
3. bread is good and sourdough is better
4. a kitchen aid is not necessary but useful
5. dont cut into bread before it cools (see point 2)
6. working with wild yeast does not mean you will contract a yeast infection
7. use real butter
8. see number 2 (you didnt think there was more to it than that did you?)
100g starter..this is what it looks like presently and what a well-fed starter should look like on baking day
300g flour (strong white bread flour)
put all the ingredients, EXCEPT THE SALT, into a bowl and mix together with a kitchen aid until just combined.
then let it rest for 30 minutes. this is a process called autolysis. (i dont know why exactly, something to do with the flour absorbing more water and the shortening of gluten strands so its easier to handle…seems like just another ‘resting’ step in a relentless procession of ‘resting’ steps. but then im impatient so dont listen to me…the recipe knows more). then, put the salt in. if you are using a kitchen aid fit it with a dough hook and knead (on speed 1 or 2) for seven minutes. if not, use your muscles. it will be very sticky but thats just how it goes. let it rest for an hour, covered in a relatively warm place.
when it has started to rise a bit, get a spatula or a flexible scraper, like what they use for paint and turn it over itself. i found this video which was highly instructional so have a look. this gives the bread its structure. cover it again and let it rest for another hour.
after an hour fold it again, a la the video and then cover again. now the bread needs to rest for a long time. i left it for somewhere between 8-12 hours. after this it is ready for baking. finally and thank goodness. the exact time is tricky – i have read that its ready after 6 hours but i think it largely depends on the quality of your starter, and what kind of flour you are using. i only used white flour so i let it rest for closer to 10 hours. the dough should have doubled in volume.
i first used a pizza stone to bake this but it didnt really work. so i got a cast iron pot, which i rubbed with some olive oil. the pot should be about 3l – any bigger and the dough will spread rather than rise.
turn the dough out onto a well floured bench and with floury hands and a floury heart, shape it into a rectangle. get the edge furthest from you and fold it toward the centre. do the same with the other half…so its folded like a letter. turn the dough 90degrees and fold it the same way. lift the dough and lower it into the oiled pot, seam side down. you can, at this point use a knife to score it, forming a cross on the top – but im led to believe that this is not necessary, nor desirable when making a white sourdough, ie. using only white flour.
put a lid on the pot and put it into a non-preheated oven (cold oven) and turn the temperature up as high as it will go – i can get a mere 220 degrees but the hotter the better. leave the bread in there for an hour – starting from when you first put the pot in. this is part of the proving process because it proves while the oven is heating up, which is usually about 15-20 minutes.
remove the pot after an hour and put the bread on a wire rack to cool. it should be golden brown and spectacular looking. when you tap the base, it should be hollow.
do not cut into it until it is completely cool. i learnt this through bitter bitter experience and much to my chagrin, it will not be any good at all unless it has cooled. when you do cut into it, there should be holes – indicating something about your starter and mainly your success. if you are feeling cold, miserable or sickly eat this with some soup (its up to you which soup you choose – its not something im prepared to discuss here) and the crusty yet soft warm bread should, in the words of tim freedman, make the world safe for you. or if nothing else, temporarily numb the pain.