Sunday, 12 February 2012

Project Sourdough: Barm Bread II

After my disaster cum best loaf ever, I decided to give the Barm Bread another try. This time rather than scaling the recipe to two thirds I thought I'd make a full batch to help reduce the margin for error.

Although Brydie laughed at being called my baking oracle (see comments) I was following her advice to give me a helping hand a second time round.

I was expecting a wet dough this time around so was a lot more prepared. Before I started making the bread I decided that I wouldn't fight it. I also made the decision to do most of the work in my mixer and keep handling time to a minimum.

I'm very pleased with the final structure of the loaf.

Last time the dough was a big gloppy mess and I had to add an extra 100g of flour to bring the dough under control. This time the dough was still wet, but was manageable. I had to flour the bench quite liberally and also keep my hands floured to be able to fold and shape the dough. It was a bit messy, but overall workable.

I decided to use a loaf tin for the first time. Rolling the dough into a Swiss roll type affair and dropping it into the tin seems to be the way to go after watching a few Youtube clips. The wet dough definitely needs the support of a tin or bannetton to help it rise.

While my dough was proving I went to the Orange Grove markets, dropped into see some friends who kindly invited me to stay to lunch, and then had to do some work. The end result were two very pillowy and, probably over proved, loaves. I got them into the oven as soon as I could.

I was really pleased with the final loaves. It definitely seems to have a soft and chewy texture. Even though I used quite a high oven temperature (I forgot to turn it down after 10mins) it doesn't have a particularly firm crust. The bread has a wonderful smell and a beautifully open texture.


To try next time:
- Trying to transfer the successes of the barm bread to other recipes. Higher hydration? Long proving times? Sponge method?
- Remembering to turn the oven down after 10mins

I followed the recipe from here.

330ml room temperature, bottle fermented beer.
75g flour
3 tbsp starter

550g barm (my barm only weighed 475g so topped it up with 50% water and 50% flour)
600g flour
200ml water
2 1/2 tsp salt

1. Whisk together the barm ingredients and leave overnight.

2. The next morning combine the barm, flour and water. Leave for an hour.

3. Add the salt and knead for 5mins in the mixer with a dough hook.

4. Turn onto a liberally floured bench, fold the dough and leave for an hour.

5. Divide the dough in half so you have two 750g loaves. Shape and place one in a bannetton and the other in a greased and floured loaf tin.

6. Leave to prove for four hours.

7. Slash and bake with steam at 230 degrees for 10mins and reduce to 200 degrees for the final 25mins.


  1. Glad you gave it another go Richard. The crumb of it looks lovely.
    Keep playing it's a versatile beast. (Although not when I tried to make it again recently, as I forgot the 200mls extra water- and couldn't understand why my dough was unusable.)
    Have you had a look at Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf book?

  2. Hi Brydie.

    No I dont' have Dan Lepard's book. I think that it might have to be my next bready purchase as I have heard good things.

    Thanks for all the advice!