Category Archives: Sourdough

The sourdough files…

I haven’t talked about my bread making on my blog for a while, although I share loaves regularly on Instagram, so I thought I’d post an update. I now make 3 loaves of sourdough bread every week for my son, Ben, plus 2 regular loaves for my husband, who doesn’t like sourdough. I now have my method for producing sourdough loaves pretty fixed, and as Ben raves about the bread on a regular basis, I can only assume that I’m getting it right – for his tastes anyway! 

I’ve also been playing with scoring the loaves, as you might notice! 

It’s great fun! Let’s be honest, Ben doesn’t care about how it looks, that bits just for me ๐Ÿ™‚

The basis of my standard loaf is formed from the overnight loaf recipes created and shared by Celia and Selma, with tweaks for my requirements. I’ve played around with various methods and flours and recipes in the past couple of years, but I always come back to this method, this is my failsafe, and when you need to produce bread regularly for breakfasts and school lunches, you need to know it works!

A key element for me is that I need a closer crumb than typical sourdough. Artisan holes are great, but not for making sandwiches for school dinners. To achieve this, I have found that replacing some of the water with olive oil creates a softer tighter crumb and softer bread. 


I keep my starter, Star, in the fridge, and every couple of days, I bring her up to room temperature, feed her equal amounts of flour and water, and once she’s bubbly and happy, I make up two lots of dough. 

I follow the quantities in Selma’s recipe, linked above, but I replace 30g of the water with olive oil.

In two bowls I squidge two lots all of the ingredients together to a rough mix, so that the flour is completely mixed, cover the bowl with a plastic bag, and leave it for an hour.

After the hour, I fold and knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or so until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. 

I then place the dough in bannetons sprinkled with rice flour to prevent sticking. 

I cover the bannetons with plastic bags, and place them both in the fridge. 

Sometimes they’re in the fridge for a night, sometimes for 4 days – the longer proving develops more flavour. 

When I’m ready to bake one, I remove it from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature and prove for another couple of hours. 

I heat the oven to 220c fan, and only when I’m ready to bake, I turn the dough out onto an baking tray, lined with parchment paper. If you turn the dough out too soon, it can spread. 

I quickly slash the dough then bake. 

I put the loaf in the oven, turn the temperature down to 200C fan, and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C fan for another 25 minutes.

Then remove the loaf and cool completely on a rack before slicing. I usually bake my loaves the day before I need them to ensure that they are completely and utterly cooled.

Each of my loaves covers Ben’s breakfast and lunch for two days. He loves it so much, I even made him a special loaf for his birthday earlier this month ๐Ÿ™‚ 

And that’s my sourdough conveyor belt! I hope it’s useful. 

I hope you’ve had a great week, enjoy your Friday and a visit to Fiesta Friday with Sarah and Liz

Hob/stove pan cooked spelt sourdough pizza…

As is my way, when I recently made up some sourdough dough, I threw the leftover bubbly starter into a bowl with some spelt flour, fine semolina, olive oil, water and salt and put it in the fridge until I decided what to do with it…it continued to bubble and develop over the next few days..

…even in the fridge! 

It was so bubbly, it looked like it was just sourdough starter, not a complete dough!

I had read a snippet in a food magazine recently about cooking pizzas in a pan on the hob (I guess in the US you’d call it a skillet pizza?) to ensure a crispy base, so decided to try it out with some of this dough.

I took out a handful and rolled it into a loose ball; I sprinkled fine semolina over an oven sheet pan, then pushed the dough into a round with my hands..

I made it quite thin, as I knew it would puff up in the pan, which meant it lost a lot of shape as I transferred it to the hot pan, but I just pushed it back into shape as it started to cook. 

I used a non stick pan, heated over a high heat initially to crisp up the base, before turning it down to medium once the dough had been in the pan for a minute or so. I cooked it for a few minutes, then turned it over, and starting cooking it further. At this time I smeared our homemade tomato sauce over the base, sprinkled over grated cheese and dollops of mascarpone. I turned on the grill as it cooked through. 

Once the base had browned, and before it burnt, I removed the pan from the hob and place it under the grill for a couple of minutes to cook the cheeses. If, like me, your pan has a plastic handle, just don’t push the pan in too far under the heat. 

And it worked a treat! By using the hob, it saved turning on the oven for a single pizza, plus with the added semolina in the dough, it created a lovely crispy base. I’ll definitely do this again because it’s also a speedy way to produce a pizza for a hungry teenage boy!

Please note that this can be done with any dough, it doesn’t have to be sourdough or spelt as I’ve done, any pizza or bread dough would work. 

With the rest of the dough, I also made up some crispy flatbreads which I enjoyed with some fridge/freezer raid salad the next day..

Welcome to Autumn, my most favourite season of the year! I hope you’ve had a good week and a good weekend ahead – but before then, let’s pop over to Fiesta Friday, with Mollie and Johanne and see what wonderful dishes everyone has brought…

Flatbreads aplenty…

Before wild yeast was discovered in Egypt, thousands of years ago (which lead to the first ever risen breads) all bread was flat. When I first heard this fact I thought it was so cool – the first risen breads were basically sourdough loaves, using wild yeast as the rising agent; just imagine the first time someone ever saw their bread dough rise?! 

Anyway, back to the flatbreads…basically, all you need to make flatbread is flour and water, and heat or fire of some sort. Joining blogworld has taught me just how simply flatbreads can be made, which is why they are now a staple in my cooking armoury. Blogworld has also introduced me to all the wonderful ways that flatbreads can be pimped! Luckily my son is a huge bread lover and is happy to eat my creations as I play around with different versions ๐Ÿ™‚ 

And as so many flatbreads go through up my kitchen I thought I’d share some of my recent creations today…

Every time I feed my sourdough starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread for my boy, I use whatever bubbly starter is leftover by throwing it in with whatever flour takes my fancy (the bread above is 100% spelt flour), add a bit of salt, a splash of water, and bring together a dough. I tend to determine how the dough feels by hand, adding extra water if necessary to make a firm, but not sloppy, dough. I bring this together then leave it to initialise for an hour, before folding and turning the dough to create a lovely soft smooth dough, then put it in the fridge until I decide to use it. This can be overnight or for several days. When I’m ready to use it, I bring it from the fridge to come to room temperature and prove for a few more hours.

To cook, I take handfuls of the dough, form them into some kind of round shape (I’ve never managed perfect rounds, let’s call them rustic!) and place them on a floured surface to rest. 
I heat a pan over a medium heat, and place the flatbreads in the pan, no oil required. After a few minutes, and when the bottom of the breads look cooked I turn it over. Sometimes they bubble up, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I spray them with olive oil, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they’re a bit thicker, as above, sometimes they’re thinner, like the ones below. 

And then if Ben doesn’t eat them all, I sometimes pile different toppings onto the odd one for myself. The bread above is topped with leftover shakshuka sauce, Turkish cheese and grated cheddar. The bread below is spread with my coriander stalk and toasted seeds pesto and topped with feta, avocado and sriracha. 

The flatbreads on this plate, and below, were truly experimental; I was playing with some fava bean (dried broad bean) flour that I’ve had for a while and this was the outcome. Basically, these are gluten free breads, packed full of the goodness from the beans. 

The dough for these was the fava bean flour and plain yoghurt only; the fava bean flour is quite dry, so I needed to feel my way as I added the yoghurt. I pan cooked them as above, this time with some additional spray olive oil. 

The breads were lovely and soft when first cooked, and they became quite hard the next day, but after a stint in the toaster, they were lovely and soft again, and even tastier than the first day. 


These were spelt flour and sourdough starter again. The addition of olive oil in the dough softened the finished breads. 

And these beauties could be called naan breads I guess; these are made with atta (whole wheat/chapati) flour, sourdough starter, olive oil, yoghurt and water. It was the first time I’ve used atta flour with sourdough starter and it worked really well, again these were created with a dough thrown together by feel and following the same loose method as above. These were again lovely when first made, heated in the toaster the next day, and I also froze some, and they defrosted well. 

Flatbreads don’t necessarily need yeast, they can all be made without it; or with a sprinkle of fresh yeast or dried yeast in place of the sourdough starter if you fancy. I just happen to have been experimenting with sourdough starter recently, and it adds a lovely flavour. You could also easily add herbs, spices, garlic, cheese, seeds…whatever you fancy to the dough, it’s all up to you! 

I hope you like my ideas, and that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday agrees ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Pumpkin seeds, rye berries, oats and spelt sourdough..

 I’m afraid bringing you more sourdough bread, but it’s too good not to share! If you were here right now, I’d share it in person too, but we’ll have it make do with a virtual share..

So, before I tell you about the actual loaf, let me tell you how it came about..I recently met another blogger: the amazing baker and cook, Ginger from Ginger and Bread. She was visiting my part of the world and I made a quick visit to meet her and it was lovely. Having read her blog and seen her on television, we didn’t really need any introductions, and launched straight into a discussion about food. We had each brought each other food gifts and Ginger gave me a large bag of ‘rye berries’, something new to me.. 

Rye berries are whole rye kernels, and can be used in baking and dishes once they’ve been soaked and cooked. They can be eaten like any grain as an addition to a meal. Having soaked and cooked some this is how they looked.. 

And they are very tasty! 
Ginger brought them specifically as she had been talking about them on her blog and her suggestion was for me to use them in a loaf of bread. And luckily for me, she even developed a recipe for me, which is what I used yesterday (only substituting sunflower seeds for pumpkin seeds, no other changes) and baked the loaf this morning. I followed the recipe, which calls for many folds and lots of nurturing, and it worked beautifully, creating a huge tasty loaf. It includes spelt flour, oats, seeds and cooked rye berries.. 

This is the dough after several hours of being lovingly folded every half hour

 All tucked up and ready for bed: I then left it to prove in a floured tea towel, in a bowl, and in the fridge overnight  

And baked it first thing this morning…
 It grew so much, even more as it baked, it literally filled my roaster 
I then waited a painstaking 5 hours before cutting into it!!! (But I have cut into sourdough bread too soon before and if it’s still too warm, the steam makes the bread all gummy, so I have learnt my lesson) 

And when I finally cut into it it was worth the wait.. 
  Look at all those berries and seeds!

Lunch is served! I don’t eat bread very often but when I do, my favourite choice would always be with a good strong cheddar and fresh tomato ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Bon appetit! 

Thank you Ginger xx

Another sourdough loaf in pictures…

 Last weekend I put together two sourdoughs and, just like the other loaf, I photographed the process of this one too so I thought I’d share it…

This one is a mix of strong white, kamut/Khorason and spelt flours, with added pumpkin seeds and linseeds/flaxseeds. I put the dough together initially on Friday morning.

and so it began to come alive.. this was at 9.30am.. this was the growth by 1.00pm.

and then at 5.30pm.

I then folded the dough several times and covered it and put it in the fridge to slow the proving. Yesterday (Tuesday) morning it had grown again whilst in the fridge..

7.00am on Tuesday.

I knocked it back and folded it a few times then placed it into a floured banneton to come to room temperate and prove for one last time..

 By midday it had grown again and was ready to bake..

 I heated the oven to 250C then carefully tipped the dough into my enamel roaster..
 And slashed the dough..

   
 
Once the oven was up to temperature, I turned the heat down to 220C, put the lid on the roaster and cooked it for 45 minutes with the lid on, and 5 minutes without.. 

The dough spread more than rose as it baked, but the flavour and texture was GOOD! It’s quite chewy and the seeds are lovely, and it’s seriously sour – my mouth is still sore a day later! 
   
  My lovely boy has eaten 8 slices of this loaf today, I do love that he enjoys sourdough, it adds to the joy of making it. His mouth isn’t sore like mine though luckily ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy Wednesday! 

The lifecycle of a sourdough loaf…

Having shared these photos on Instagram over the last couple of days, and possibly bored people to tears, I thought I’d share them with you all too…!!! Hopefully I won’t bore you to tears too?! Or everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday?! 

This is a loaf I put together yesterday morning and the photos chart it’s growth through to baking and eating..having used my lovely patterned Moroccan bowl again, you can literally see the growth. This is a sourdough loaf made with a mixture of my freshly fed bubbly starter, rye flour, kamut flour, strong white flour, pumpkin seeds and poppy seeds..

It began at 7am on Friday morning which is when I first put the dough together. 

This is the growth after 6 hours.

This is a later in the day at 5.30pm, hence the lack of light.

I then knocked back the dough, folded it several times and left it to prove again overnight.

This is what I woke up to at 6.30am on Saturday. Wow! The fact that it just keeps growing blows my mind ๐Ÿ™‚

 All ready to bake. The dough was quite sloppy so difficult to shape and slash. 

The baked loaf 45 minutes later.

And the inside story…

   
Isn’t it cool to literally see a loaf of bread come alive?? I love it! And it tastes good, which is a bonus! 

Check out my loaf plus lots of other people’s amazing dishes/offerings at Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Steffi and Andrea

Happy Weekend!!! 

2015 : the year of sourdough..

  I’ve been going round and round thinking of how to end the year here on my blog, and I realised that there is only one possible way: with sourdough!  

 2015 is the year that I was introduced to sourdough bread and the year has been punctuated with many and various loaves, high and lows, and always learning. 

I baked my first sourdough loaf on 20th January, having been sent some sourdough starter and comprehensive instructions by the lovely Selma. I’d never even tried sourdough bread, but had been totally drawn to the idea of baking it after seeing Selma’s loaves and hearing her enthusiasm for the process and outcome, she held my hand all the way through that first exploration, and for the following months as I got to grips with this new way of baking bread. And I’ve loved it!! I’m so grateful to Selma, and Celia, for bringing this into my world, it’s been great fun. 

I’ve recently been experimenting with different mixes of flours: kamut flour, spelt flour, rye flour, plus adding different seeds. I’ve made a couple of loaves recently including roasted pumpkin seeds which have been really good!  

  Today I began the last day of the year by heating the oven at 6.30am and baking a dough that’s been proving in a banneton in the fridge for the last week. It’s a mix of kamut flour, spelt flour and strong white flour.. 

    
 I baked it in my enamel roaster, as originally guided by Selma and Celia, and it came out perfectly.. 

    
   What better way to end the year? And to remember Selma..the first half of this year is full of wonderful memories of lovely Selma, and everything we shared; the second half of the year is full things I wish I could have continued to share with her and of missing her ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I’ve loved learning to bake sourdough and watching my son enjoy eating it is a real gift, and so I hope you understand why I chose to end the year with my bread..it’s a gift that Selma gave me that will last for many years to come. 

I also wanted to have something special to share with this week’s amazing 100th Fiesta Friday blog party. 100!!! And it’s been going for two years! Wow! Such an a amazing achievement. The #100 party has been going on over the last week and is being hosted not only by its wonderful creator Angie but also Ginger, Suzanne, Judi and Mollie. Please pop over and see what everyone is bringing to the celebration. 

For now, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year, with best wishes for a wonderful 2016, and so many thanks for all of your support this year xx