First, make the starter. Tip the flour
and yeast into a bowl. Pour over 200ml
warm water, use a wooden spoon to
mix together, then cover the bowl with
a piece of oiled cling film. Leave in the
fridge overnight, after which the dough
should look fairly frothy and bubbly, with
a sweet yeasty smell.
Now make the bread. Tip the flour into
a bowl along with the yeast and salt.
Pour 150ml warm water and the yogurt
into the starter mixture, stir until well
combined, then pour this into the bowl
with the flour. Use a spoon to bring the
mixture together into a ball – this will
take a couple of mins as the flour needs
to absorb the water. Add another 50ml
water if the dough feels tight.
Tip out the dough onto a surface lightly
dusted with flour. Push down and away,
using the heel of your hand to stretch out
the dough, then fold the outside edge
back over itself to make a ball again.
Twist the dough round a bit and start
again. Keep kneading like this for about
10 mins, depending on how vigorous you
are. When it’s ready, the dough should
feel slightly springy when touched and
have a smooth surface when shaped into
a ball. Alternatively, you can knead the
dough for about 5 mins in a table-top
mixer or food processor with a dough
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the
dough inside. Oil a piece of cling film, lay
this loosely over the top, then leave in
a warm, draught-free place until nearly
trebled in size – this can take from
45 mins to about 1½ hrs. Remove the
cling film and punch down the airy dough
with your hand. Tip out onto your floured
surface, knead a couple of times until
smooth and the air has been knocked
out, then lightly oil a large baking sheet.
Shape the dough into a round ball and
place on the sheet. Re-cover with the
oiled piece of cling film and leave until
doubled in size, about 1 hr.
Heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8.
Place a roasting tin on the bottom shelf
of the oven and carefully half-fill with
boiling water from the kettle. Leave in the
oven for 10 mins so it gets steamy. If your
dough has spread, gently tuck the ends
under to make a neat ball, then use a
sharp knife to make a few slashes across
the bread before lightly dusting with flour. Place the baking sheet on the top
shelf of the oven and bake for 20 mins.
Turn the heat down to 220C/200C fan/
gas 7, bake for 25 mins more, then take
out of the oven. Tap the bottom of the
loaf – it should sound hollow. Return
to the oven for another 10 mins if not.
Leave to cool on a wire rack. Great with
a bowl of soup, as a chunky sandwich
or, best of all, lightly toasted with some
butter and jam.