Self-Esteem boost – Sourdough bread

Lately I have been hanging out quite often in book stores to get our Xmas stocking fillers ready.
I could not help but notice the impressive aisles dedicated to “personal development”. And I can only imagine that one can find among those books countless theories to boost self-esteem.

As it turns out, I also found the perfect self-esteem booster in a book, but not from the same section. Mine came from the cookery shelves…
This sourdough batch has been such a success I kept congratulating myself for the whole day ( and even more ), bragging about how exquisite the flavour is, patting myself on the crunchy yet soft dough. Practice makes perfect !

Now that my self-esteem is at its very top, I admire my husband for staying as cool as a cucumber next to the boring chatterbox this whole story turned me into.
I might need to detour through the personal development section to deflate my ego after all…

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Ingredients
Rather easy-peasy if you have a sourdough starter at hand. Mine has been quietly waiting for a couple of months in my fridge.
I gave it a little kick two days prior to baking: took it out of the fridge and made a couple of feedings to get it really active and bubbly !

For the dough : Flour, water and salt. Olive oil is optional.
And time !

First prepare a sponge
The evening before you plan to bake the bread mix 650ml of warm water with 500g of strong bread flour and a ladleful of sourdough starter.
It is going to be a rather liquid dough and that’s normal as you won’t add more liquid later on.
Cover the dough and leave it outside overnight. Warmth and humidity are the two magic tricks to get the yeast active.

Prepare the dough
The sponge has rested overnight and should be bubbly. Add 600g of flour and 25g of salt. Knead until the dough is smooth and already quite elastic.
At this stage you can add a bite of olive oil.
Now you’re going to have several rising rounds of about 1hour each, in between each of them you will give the dough another knead. Repeat this 2 to 3 times. The dough gets shinier and airy.
When you are ready shape the loaves and let then rise about 2 hours. You can protect them with a plastic bag to prevent them from drying. As they may rise, coat the loaves with flour so that they don’t stick to the plastic.

Then you are ready to bake them. As always the oven should be at maximum heat to start with. Leave a bowl of water in the oven to create humidity.
Slash the top of the loaves with a knife and spray them with water or milk.

Check the baking after 10 to 15 minutes to adjust the heat depending on the coloration of the dough.
Bake until the loaves have a nice golden shade and are crusty.

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Then all occasions are welcome to indulge : with butter, slightly roasted with poached eggs, with cheese… You name it !