Friday, 2 August 2013

Project Sourdough: A pheonix from the flames

I decided to bake some more bread on the weekend as my stocks in the freezer were running low. My preferred method for baking sourdough these days is the sponge method, where you dispense with the overnight ferment in the fridge. It just seems to suit my routine better.

However, with a lazy weekend ahead of me and having recently read Brydie's post on her everyday sourdough, I decided to return to the overnight ferment.

I was a bit sloppy in measuring when I feed my start during the week and my hand slipped when adding water to my dough, meaning that a 66% hydration loaf, was probably above 70%.

I had a very wet dough on my hands and I could barely shape it. I ended up making a rough boule and battard, flinging the dough into my bannetons and then popping them into the fridge for 18hrs.

When I got my dough out of the fridge the next morning my dough had more than doubled in size and was very over proved. I'm definitely not an expert baker, but I thought in the fridge the yeast was supposed to sleep and only the sour taste was supposed to develop. Either my fridge is too warm or my starter is some kind of super active monster.

The wet dough had stuck hideously to my bannetons, but I managed to coax it out and onto some greaseproof paper. Without the support of the banneton the over proved dough flattened to the thickness of a couple of pound coins.

It was going to be a disaster I thought, but I had no option but to chuck them into the oven. I gave them a good long 50 minute bake, ten minutes longer than I usually would for a loaf of this size.

What came out was nothing short of miraculous. A fabulously crunchy crumb that goes all over your bread board when you cut it. The texture of the bread is wonderfully holey and best of all it tastes French. Like the wonderful bread you get from the village boulangerie when you are on holiday. I've never had that before and it's magical.

I've no idea if the 'French' taste comes from using a small amount of wholemeal in the mix, from the cheap Sainsbury's flour I'm using for the first time or the overnight in the fridge, but I want more of it.

The only problem is, I know I won't be able to recreate these loaves no matter how hard I try.

550g white flour
200g wholemeal flour
510g water
400g starter
15g salt

Once mixed divide into two loaves and bake for 50mins. Full the full method see Brydie's blog.


  1. Richard I'm pretty sure not one of my loaves are ever the of the magical things about sourdough baking in a domestic kitchen I guess. It's always a surprise.
    Now your lovely French loaf, how awesome is that crumb structure! I did have a little inward suck of breath when I saw the bubbling dough in your bannetton, oh that must have been a little painful to get out.
    Maybe you have super active starter or...maybe because it was the higher hydration? Not sure.

    1. It was definitely a pain to get out of the bannetons. The boule turned out ok, but the batard was a nightmare. In the first photo you can just see how wavy the lines are.

      It was a hot day here in the UK and my starter was pretty active which I think created the excitments.

      I agree though, the joy of making bread by hand is that it is always a different.