Thursday, 12 May 2011

Project Sourdough: Timings

Can you actually make a loaf of sourdough in a weekend? I'm beginning to wonder!

I'm currently planning my first loaf of sourdough using the Bourke St Bakery method. I aim to feed my starter for three weeks before the first bake, which gives me plenty of time for research.

As mentioned in my first post one of the things that is currently perplexing me is how to bake a loaf without being up at all hours of the day and night. The Bourke St Bakery cookbook has some throw away remarks like "these are the best timings to start baking at 1pm" or "everyone likes a loaf freshly out of the oven just before lunchtime".

However, it doesn't offer any start to finish baking timetables for the novice that I think would be very helpful. I know it depends on proving times, ambient temperature and humidity etc..., but some indications for a beginner like me would be nice!

Based on reading all of the step descriptions and their suggested timings I have put together two possible time plans. Both have their issues for those that go to work or like their sleep.

Stater ready at 1pm

Final Feed: 1st feedFri 13:008hrs
Final Feed: 2nd feedFri 21:009hrs
Final Feed: 3rd feedSat 06:007hr
Mix & kneed doughSat 13:001hr
Start bulk proveSat 14:001hr
Knock in, fold & proveSat 15:001hr
Divide, shape and start final proveSat 16:0012hrs
Prove at room temp.Sun 04:001hr
BakeSun 05:0040mins

I've highlighted the 'problem' times in red. Am I supposed to take the starter into the office for a feed? And do I really want to be up at 4am?

A lunchtime loaf

Final Feed: 1st feedFri 19:008hrs
Final Feed: 2nd feedSat 03:009hrs
Final Feed: 3rd feedSat 12:007hr
Mix & kneed doughSat 19:001hr
Start bulk proveSat 20:001hr
Knock in, fold & proveSat 21:001hr
Divide, shape and start final proveSat 22:0012hrs
Prove at room temp.Sun 10:001hr
BakeSun 11:0040mins

This program only seems to have one 'problem' time, but up at 3am. Really?!?

So lovely bloggers: Have I misinterpreted the book? Are there any timings I can tweak? What programs do you follow? Please help!


  1. I'm of no use to you but I share your frustrations. Perhaps Bourke St Bakery ought to to do a reprint of its book for novices like us.

  2. I think you have to work sourdough into your life otherwise it will drive you mad. Definitely timings you can tweak there.
    For the first one aim for 12 hourly-ish feeds. So Fri am first feed, Fri evening 2nd feed, sat am feed, mix it at say 2-4pm. Fridge o/n (it can go up to 18 hrs according to Brasserie Breads) It may also take longer to bring back to room temp than an hour, can be 1-4 hrs, depends on how warm your place is.
    I also do a quicker mix and bake during the day, no overnight prove. Feed 3x before hand, 0600 mix, prove etc throughout day and bake 2-5pm (depends on the warmth of the room.) It's more about the look of the dough rather than the timings, all stuff that I'm still learning as well.
    Hopes this helps a little :-)

  3. 1st feed, 2nd's starting to sound like my breastfeeding routine with Joel! Good luck.