Recipe Repertoire 6/52... sourdough bread

22 May, 2014

Unfortunately my resolution to try a new recipe every week has fallen by the wayside. But it's not all bad news, as over the last couple of weeks I've managed to get onto something that I've been meaning to do for a couple of years now: making sourdough bread.

I love the idea of having a living thing that you nourish, which in turns nourishes you. Not all that different from fruit and veg gardening I suppose.

So a couple of weeks ago I started my sourdough starter. I used the process from my baking book Bourke Street Bakery.

Making a sourdough starter basically consists of letting flour and water sit at room temperature, adding a little of each every day, until it starts bubbling.

It took two weeks of feeding until it was at the point where it was alive, and I could start sourdough making. Yay.

Now my sourdough starter lives in the fridge. I feed it every two days or so, and by the end of the week I have enough starter for one large or two small loaves of bread.

This is my jar of a week's worth of starter.

Note all the lovely active yeast-y goodness happening here.

I use a rough ratio of one part starter, one part water and one part flour.

This time I went with a mix of homeground spelt (thank you Thermomix!) and a little white flour.
All this got mixed in the KitchenAid. I love bread but I fully acknowledge I would not love bread (nor bother to make it) if I was doing the kneading myself.

It starts out not looking like much.

After about 10 minutes of slow-moderate going it looks a lot more like dough.

Then as all good dough's do, it gets proved. I put mine in my oven which I switch on for maybe 30 seconds. It gives it just a little warmth, which seems to be just what the mixture likes.

After a couple of hours it looks like this.

Now we knock back the dough and shape the loaf.

I just keep folding the outside edges into the centre to make a round loaf shape.


Now comes the delayed gratification. In regular bread baking you would leave this to prove again for an hour or so, and then bake. In sourdough you need a slower rise to develop the delicious sour flavour, and a cold slow rise is best. So this goes into the fridge overnight.

The next morning I take the risen dough out of the fridge and let it sit which I pre-heat the oven. Then it goes into the hot oven, with a little dish of water (somehow this makes for a crustier loaf - I don't know how), and is baked until when tapped on the underside the loaf sounds hollow.

Then there is even more delayed gratification to leave it to cool enough to eat.

Inevitably its gets there.

So far my loaves have all been a little on the flat side. I have searched the interwebs and it may be too much water (I will try less and see if a firmer dough holds its shape better) or it may be putting the bread into the oven on a cold tray means it doesn't get heat underneath quickly enough to allow it to rise properly, so I shall try putting it on a tray pre-heated with the oven pre-heat. I also think I will try some seeded, or maybe some fruit breads too, for fun.

Even though they are flat, they are delicious. I've been making lots of soups just to enjoy eating them with my own homemade sourdough bread.

Once the bread is made, that is not the end though. There is always a little starter left which will be fed for the week to make the next weeks bread.

Here we go again.


  1. Have you tried doing it all in the Thermomix. I grind my bread wheat (or spelt), add water and yeast and heat 5 min on 37 C. Then add rest of ingredients mix 5 sec, speed 7, then knead 6 min on interval speed. Comes out beautifully kneaded and I only have to give it a couple of turns on the bench by hand, shape it and put it in the tin. Of course, I realise that your sourdough mix is slightly different, but might be worth a try. Less washing up ;-).

    Making bread tomorrow so might do a post on it.

    1. I've made standard bread (using bought dry yeast etc) in the Thermomix, but haven't yet done the full sourdough in it. I will now though! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Yes, what she said. :P
    I had my sourdough starter going for 9 months, till one of the boys cleaned the kitchen and threw it out.

    1. ;)
      I would have been very, very angry if that was me. I shall ensure mine stays safe in my fridge!

  3. Yummo! I just got the bourke street bakery book and I just don't know where to start. Hmm maybe I should start with a sourdough?

    1. Go for it!
      That said, I've never made anything else from it. I should though. Lots of lovely ideas... One day...

  4. With the rising: if you use wholemeal, unfortunately the bran has sharp edges that cut through the muscles of the dough ("muscles", as in the long elastic ribbons that the gluten forms) and this can inhibit rising. One trick is to sift out the bran, roll your dough, and then use the bran to dust the outside -- that way you get the same nutrients but the bran doesn't interfere with the rising. Perhaps also, as you note, your dough's a bit too wet. I usually use one part wet to two parts dry (so, if I'm using four cups of flour, I'll use two cups of water ... starter culture is somewhere between liquid and solid, so you have to work that out depending on how wet you keep your starter).

    Not that you need me to blather on about bread, seeing what you've got looks beautiful.

    1. Interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. i applaud anyone who can bake bread - and sourdough - even more so. it looks delicious, flat or otherwise (for soem reason i'm imagining lashings of butter and golden syrup...), and the dough looked beautifully elastic.

    1. I don't know that it deserves applause as it is so amazingly easy.
      The lashings of butter are not imaginary in my kitchen ;)