For the starter;
- 1 cup beer dregs
- 1 cup flour
For the bread;
- 800g/4 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 550-600ml 1.5-2 cups beer
To make the starter, mix the beer dregs and flour in a bowl and cover loosely for 24 hours. After this time it should be quite bubbly.
Put the flour, fennel and salt, into a large bowl and mix together.
Add the honey and half a cup of the starter. Slowly add the beer a little at a time, and mix together to form a dough. It needs to be workable, so as not to stick to your hands too much, but too dry and it will fall apart. You can add more or less beer depending on how your dough feels. I find it varies slightly every time.
Tip out onto a work surface and knead for around 5-10 minutes.
Roll your dough into a ball, and dust with a little flour. Put it into a bowl and cover loosely with a damp cloth, to stop it drying out. Leave to prove for at least several hours, but overnight is ideal.
Sourdough takes longer to develop than bread made with shop bought yeast, but benefits from the extra time, as it develops a better flavour. The loaf should increase in size.
Tip your dough back out onto your work surface and carefully deflate it by poking it with your fingers.
Shape your dough into a loaf, and dust with a little flour. Place onto a lightly flour dusted oven tray and prove for another hour.
Heat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius. If you have a Dutch oven put this in your oven to heat as well.
Remove the Dutch oven (if using) and grease the inside with a little butter.
Place your loaf in the centre of the Dutch oven, pop the lid on and put back into the oven to cook for 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes. If you are not using a Dutch oven, cook on an oven tray for 30 minutes and reduce the temperature to 170 degrees Celsius for the last 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, the loaf should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
Leave to cool fully before cutting.