Sunday, 14 October 2012

Project Sourdough: UK edition

Having been back in the UK for four months I was getting the urge to bake again.

I had a few problems getting a starter going in Sydney and was hoping to avoid the same angst second time around. As most bakers are regularly binning some of their starter as it grows and divides I made an appeal on the local forum for anyone who had some to give away. Sadly no one came forward so I set about creating my own.

I bought some rye flour (which is supposed to be easier) and loosely followed Byrdie's ridiculously easy post on how to create a starter. After three days it had taken off! (Top photo)

With my starter less than a week old I was invited to Sunday lunch at a friend's house and decided to take a long a loaf of bread.

I followed my favourite sponge method. A starter is generally a bit weak to bake with after just four days and my sponge wasn't looking as vibrant as it usually does so I decided to add some dried yeast, making what the Bourke St Bakery calls a semi-sourdough.

My oven here in London isn't the best. It has a very top down heat which has a tendency to burn things so I decided to go for the Le Crueset method of baking.

My first loaf in the UK was pretty good. The oven spring was great (which I think baking inside the pan helps with), it had a great shape and importantly my friends all seemed to love the bread.

The sour flavour wasn't as developed as I would have liked, but that's to be expected while my starter is still young. Baking the bread inside the Le Crueset meant that the crust brown as much as I would have liked. I find that the majority of flavour in a sourdough is in the crust so I don't think the Le Crueset  will be my favoured method once I have a better oven.

For my second loaf this weekend I was rushed for time and had half a packet of dried yeast left to use so decided to go for another semi-sourdough. The Bourke St Bakery book suggests not slashing the top of a semi-sourdough loaf prior to baking. As you can see the crust half erupted so I'll be ignoring that advice next time round!

It's good to be baking again.


  1. Don't like your oven, better move house!

  2. oh my this looks great, if you can do this with a young starter there is great things to come.

  3. Awesome Richard. I'm super, duper pleased that one/ you have a starter going again. Two/ you did it yourself and three/ my instructions on how to make one, make sense to at least one person!

    I'll have to flick through the BSB book, I wonder why they say not to slash? Your loaves look fantastic, no wonder your friends all loved it.

    (ps. thanks for taking the time to comment so honestly on my blog, I really appreciate it.)