This recipe first appeared in the September 1975 issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, in a decade when sourdough bread was not commonplace, showing The Weekly was well and truly ahead of its time. You will need to start the recipe 3 days ahead; however the end result is well worth the effort. And once you’ve got your sourdough starter it will keep in good condition for 2 weeks.
2.To make the bread on the third day, stir yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the plain flour in a small bowl. Add ½ cup of the water, stand in a warm place for 15 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble
3.Sift remaining flours and sugar with salt into a large bowl; return hulls in sifter to flour. Stir in caraway seeds. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Combine yeast mixture, remaining lukewarm water, oil and ¼ cup of the sourdough starter. Add to dry ingredients; mix to form a dough. You may need an extra ¼-½ cup lukewarm water, if the mixture is too dry; this is because flour varies in its moisture content.
4.Turn the dough onto a floured surface; knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a large oiled bowl. Cover; stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down with your fist. Turn onto a floured surface.
5.Divide dough in half. Shape each portion on a well-floured surface into a 7cm x 30cm (2¾-inch x 12-inch) oval-shaped loaf. Gently lift each onto a lightly oiled oven tray. (You may need to place them diagonally on the trays to fit.) Cover trays with clean tea towels; stand in a warm place 15 minutes or until dough has risen.
6.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 250°C/480°F.
7.Dust a little extra flour over the top of each loaf. Using a small, sharp knife, cut seven shallow slashes, about 3.5cm (1½-inches) apart, across the top.
8.Bake bread 30 minutes or until hollow sounding when tapped on the base. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
9.Combine yeast, sugar and the water in a large bowl. Cover; stand 10 minutes or until bubbling. Add sifted flour; stir to combine. Cover; stand, unrefrigerated, for 2 days before using. After 2 days the starter should have a pleasant mild sour smell and have small bubbles on the surface – a sign that it’s active.