I have found that my sourdoughs always turn out quite heavy and dense in texture, compared to the light, airy, deliciously chewy ones I've tried at places like Bread Ahead and The Snapery. I read a fair few recipes and online articles to find out what I was doing wrong, and it turns out to achieve that light, airy, hole-y texture that is expected in this bake, you need to treat your sourdough almost like a ciabatta, trying to keep as much air in as possible when you shape it. So I gave this a go and was really gentle when shaping, trying to manhandle the dough as little as possible, and I feel that I really got the crumb I was looking for.
This loaf, like most sours, is really amazing toasted, or simply served alongside some nice cheese. As always, I have made my sourdough using a sponge, I am not saying that this is the right or best way to go about it, it just happens to be the method that works for me every time.
Makes 1 large loaf.
For the sponge:
150ml active sourdough starter (click here to learn how to make it)
250g strong white flour
3 tablespoons honey
For the loaf:
100g sunflower seeds
250g strong white flour
50ml water (you might not need this, depending on how wet your starter is)
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
Make the sponge by combining the starter, flour, honey and water in a large bowl.
Cover the sponge, with a tea towel and leave to bubble up overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
When the sponge has bubbled/foamed up quite a bit it's ready.
When the sponge is ready, stir in the flour, seeds, oil and salt and mix to form a dough (adding the water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until it feels quite elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave to rise overnight, or for at least 6 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, really gently remove it from the bowl and shape it into a ball (being as careful to keep in a much air as possible).
Place your loaf onto a lined baking tray (or into a proving basket if you have one) and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the loaf to rise for at least 3 hours, or until it has puffed up considerably.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf is ready, make a couple of slashes in the top with a sharp knife and dust it with a little flour.
Bake for around 40 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.