Sourdough September

Apparently this is a thing, created by the hashtag gods of social media. Still, I love a good sourdough and I get a few people asking about it so here is a quick post about the loaves I make.

I have been using a rye starter for a number of years, although my most recent one is just over a year old as my previous one died when I went on holiday last summer and left my children in charge of the house so I’m thankful it was just the starter that didn’t make it…

I now have a white starter and find that to be a bit less tricksy than the rye, although I do love the flavour as it is more sour and tangy than the white. I use Bakery Bits for flour when I can, as stoneground works so much better than the regular, roller-milled flour as it tends to harbour more natural yeasts and bacteria for the starter to work with, and traditional milling methods also retain more of the micronutrients in flour. Do ensure that your flour is fresh if you’re going to be using natural leavening as it is food for the bacteria, and it is that which encourages a good structure and rise.

I use a basic recipe for my everyday sourdough, and tend to vary the flours and add seeds to ring the changes.

  • 100g starter
  • 350g warm water
  • 400g organic strong white stoneground flour
  • 100g other flour such as a heritage or rye flour
  • 50g seeds
  • 10g sea salt

Whisk the water and the starter together. Add the flours and mix just enough to dampen. Wait ten minutes or so, then add the salt and seeds and mix well. Scrape the bowl and allow the dough to rest. After ten minutes, lift and fold the dough, making a quarter turn each time so the dough is stretched four times. Repeat this a couple more times then allow the dough to rest for a couple of hours. I then shape the dough and place it in a floured banneton – I like the wood fibre brotforms best – and leave it to rest in the fridge overnight, or larder if it’s only going to be half a day or so. I then heat the cloche in the oven on its hottest temperature, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180˚C and back for another 30 minutes, or 45 if the dough had been in the fridge.

I have also made a Scandinavian 100% rye bread made with both cracked rye and rye flour which is rather like a light pumpernickel. It’s a no-knead loaf, and has a long cold rise so is extremely easy to make, and will be delicious with hummus, soft cheese and cold meats.

I very rarely bake with baker’s yeast these days, and for preference I would always go for fresh rather than dried, but it does have a short shelf life so I tend to buy a batch and get the fresh dough baking out of my system with glorious recipes from Richard Bertinet’s book Crumb. I do have Venessa Kimbell’s seminal work, The Sourdough School but confess I find it a bit impenetrable and I’m just not able to engage with the intricacies on that level. It is, however, a very informative book, and if detail and achieving perfection is your thing, I would thoroughly recommend it. Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann is a book I am just exploring at the moment, and she uses a lot of sourdough-plus-fresh-yeast recipes which does give a reliable result, and is a good way to get used to how sourdough works.

6 Replies to “Sourdough September”

    1. Thank you! I use a baking dome which evens out the over temp and creates steam for a good crust. Any ovenproof crockpot or deep lidded dish might help, if you’re not doing that already? 🙂

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