Alex Head’s Charcoal Sourdough


This charcoal sourdough bread takes a little preparation the day before baking, so factor this into your timings. You will also need a rising basket. Plus, for even more of a taste of the charcoal trend, pick up a copy of our latest issue.

Makes 1 loaf

1 tbsp activated charcoal powder
250ml water
100g white wheat sourdough starter
400g strong white bread flour
12g fine sea salt
plain flour, for dusting

1 The day before you want to bake the loaf, place the water in a large mixing bowl. Add the activated charcoal powder, and stir to dissolve. Add the sourdough starter and hand-mix until thoroughly blended.
2 Add the flour, and mix all ingredients until they form a smooth dough. Cover the dough with a tea towel, and leave to rest for 1 hour.
3 Add the salt, turn out the dough onto a lightly-oiled worksurface, and knead for 5 minutes until it becomes pliable.
4 Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth, and leave for a further 3 hours at room temperature – after which time it should look alive and stretchy, and have started to rise.
5 Meanwhile, prepare the rising basket by lining it with a tea towel and dusting it liberally with flour.
6 Place the dough on a lightly-oiled work surface, pinch each end, and bring together in the middle. Turn upside-down and leave to rest in the rising basket for 10-15 minutes.
7 Create a ball with the dough by turning it upside-down, slowly stretching it with your fingers, and folding it back onto itself.
8 Place the ball into the rising basket, sprinkle with flour, cover with a tea towel, and refrigerate, preferably overnight. The dough is ready when it has increased by ⅓  and rises back up when gently pressed.
9 On the day of baking, preheat the oven to 240°C. Place the risen loaf on a baking tray and bake for 40 minutes, until the bread is golden-brown, firm to the touch, and sounds hollow when the underside is tapped.
10 Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with a pot of sea salt and wedges of good butter, or cool and use for sandwiches and toast.

Recipe courtesy of Alex Head, pop-up chef and founder of The Social Pantry.

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