The Ultimate Sourdough Loaf
The night before you plan to make your dough, take your starter out the fridge and feed it.
Mix together the water and flour in a medium mixing bowl and combine until all the flour is absorbed. You should have a loose, shaggy dough. Leave for one hour.
Add the salt and starter to your dough and mix with wet hands until it's combined.
Tip out your dough onto a work surface and knead it for 2 minutes until smooth.
Transfer the dough to a well-oiled medium mixing bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This usually takes around 12 hours, but can take as little as four.
Shape your dough. Wet your hands, then gently tip it onto a lightly floured surface and stretch it out gently into a rough rectangle shape, being careful not to knock too many bubbles out.
Wet your hands again, then pick up the dough from the bottom and fold it towards the centre. Then fold it from the left and right side, and finally roll the dough up from the bottom over and onto itself. (see 'Stage 5: The Shape' video).
Wet your hands, then put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and push it gently around in a circular motion until the dough is shaped into a round ball (see 'Stage 5: The Shape' video). Place it, smooth side up, onto a lightly floured piece of baking paper and leave it to rest for a second time for 30 minutes.
While your dough is rising, place your casserole pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 240°C / 464°F.
Using a razor blade or very sharp knife, slash at least once across the diameter of the dough.
Remove the pot from the oven, then carefully lift up the parchment paper with the dough on and drop it gently into the pot.
Place the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Remove to a wire rack and cool for 45 minutes to one hour. Enjoy!