In a large bowl, mix 340g of the water with your sourdough starter, remembering to pay attention to the temperature of the water. Mix well – getting plenty of oxygen in at this point helps the yeast to reproduce. Add the flour and salt and mix until all the ingredients come together. You don't need to knead this dough: just mixing it really well is enough.
Wait for 10–20 minutes. You can now add the last 40g water incrementally, adding 10g at a time over the course of 20 minutes. Allow each addition to absorb fully. If it hasn’t absorbed, wait a little longer and mix again. This technique helps create that beautiful open crumb because the gluten can form stronger bonds when the dough is less hydrated.
Prepare the tin or tins by greasing with butter, ghee, coconut oil or lard (but not olive oil). Scatter the sesame seeds inside the tin(s), and transfer the dough to the tin(s). Remember to put your starter back in the fridge until next time you need it.
Leave the dough to prove overnight on the kitchen work surface, covered with an upturned bowl with a wet, clean tea towel over it. Make sure you have allowed enough space for the dough to rise without sticking. As a general guide, the ambient temperature here at the Sourdough School is generally about 23°C.
In the morning, your loaf will be 50 per cent bigger. If you want to make your loaf more sour (and therefore more digestible), you can now transfer it to the fridge for another 3–4 hours before baking.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F /Gas Mark 7 for 30 minutes. Place a small pan of boiling water at the bottom of the oven (or use a Dutch oven if you can fit your tin inside one). The extra steam from the water will help to form a beautiful crust.
Just as you put the bread in the oven, reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Bake for about 45–50 minutes. I don't give exact timings, because everyone’s oven is slightly different. However, bake to the point that you like the look of the loaf: it should be a beautiful copper colour.
Leave the bread to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then drizzle with honey. Remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once my loaves are cool, I usually store them wrapped in a clean tea towel, but as this loaf can be slightly sticky, I recommend a tin.
You can see my video here on how to refresh your sourdough starter.
It can feel wasteful to discard when refreshing, but this gives the yeast a boost and is a necessary step because the acidity retards yeast. You will get flat, sour bread if you don’t discard. However, you can use the discard in many other recipes, such as pancakes or muffins. If you are a Sourdough Club member, we have many recipes for using the leftover starter. Alternatively, you can compost it.