Recipe as requested!
There are really three parts to this, the "mother" the "starter" and the bread and the way I do it comes from trial and error with several methods from books and bits brought in from the amazing sour dough day course I went on at Tracebridge.
My main piece of advice is use it as a starting place and adapt it to fit your no doubt busy life!
1. The "mother"
The easy way is to find some one you know who already makes sour dough and get them to give you some of theirs... but if you can't do that then it is going to take you about a week to create your own, but don't panic you only have to do this bit once, when you have your own "mother" as long as you look after it will last for ever
This is how I made the "mother" [I have read other more complicated methods but this worked OK for me**]
10oz strong organic white flour with
to create a thick paste that you then put into a kilner jar and leave with the lid open a little in a place at room temperature [warm but not hot ~ and out of drafts]
Stir it a little if it starts to separate and move it somewhere slightly warmer.
after 3 to 4 days it should smell a little of vinegar and be bubbling a bit
throw away, give away or compost 1/2 the mixture and add 5 oz strong white organic flour that has been mixed with 5 fl.oz water into a smooth paste. Transfer the whole lot into a clean lidded tub or jar.
The next day you can use some to make the "starter" and bread - then add another 5oz flour mixed with 5 fl.oz water to top it up again and put it in the fridge [lid closed] where it will keep for about 3 to 4 days before it will need feeding again [with the 5 + 5 mix of flour and water] just remember to take it out of the fridge and feed it the day before you want to make bread! [for me this is Thursday morning]
2. The night before you want to make bread [for me Thursday evening] make the "starter"
These quantities should give you two to three loaves or two loaves and a batch of 8 small rolls,
in a large bowl mix:
1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
650ml warm water
1 ladle of your sour dough "mother" [which you can then feed with its 5 + 5 mix and put back in the fridge!]
cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave it over night
3, In the morning take a look at your "starter", it should be bubbling, add
1lb 6oz flour
and mix into a soft sticky dough which you then turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead. Most books will say for at least 10 minutes - I do 300 kneads, [as taught at Tracebridge] scraping the surface clean and re oiling after each hundred [this allows me to go at my own speed and copes with interruptions such as 'phone calls]
shape into a round, put it into an oiled bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm for an hour.
After the hour tip the dough out onto an oiled surface and using the tips of your fingers press it out flat then lift the sides into the middle and form it back into a round and put it back in its bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm for another hour!
Do the tipping out, flattening, forming into a round and leaving for an hour twice more - the dough should be soft and smooth and there will be small bubbles forming just below the surface.
This is when you divide the dough into three and shape it into loaves or rolls as you wish and put them onto grease proof paper or baking trays, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel to stop it drying out.
Then you get to leave it for a further 2 or 3 hours until it has doubled in size, as this is a soft dough it will spread out more than it goes upwards but don't panic it will rise in the oven.
While the bread is rising heat the oven to at least 250 oC which is I believe gas mark 10.
Cook the loaves for 10 minutes then check and turn down the heat to 200oC if they are browning, cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes when they should be a nice crusty brown and sound hollow when you tap the base.
Let them cool for a while on a wire rack before you slice.... they carry on cooking for a bit even out of the oven and are better for it if you let them cool down...
**if you have any problems getting the "mother" going let me know and I will try to trouble shoot