White Sourdough Bread

Followers of this blog will maybe know of my embarrassment at being 'famous' for a recipe that is a clone (albeit superb) of a supermarket soft-bap. They'll also know that I've had difficulty in coming up with a sourdough recipe that fits in with my life style.

I've always felt that I'd make better sourdough bread if I had the 'proper kit' for proving it: a couche (proving cloth) or some bannetons (linen lined wicker baskets), preferably the latter. Now the problem with this is that bannetons ain't not cheap! Nice cane or wicker ones are anything between £12 and £45. Then low and behold, I don't often get lucky, but I was in a local trade wholesalers just before Christmas and they'd got 4 lined wicker display baskets for about a fiver! Just the job - identical in all but name. Having acquired the kit, and then making a sourdough starter for a mate, when I watched last week's "Fabulous Baker Boys" TV show and they made a sourdough loaf, I thought I'd better bite the bullet and have another go, it all seemed like an omen!

Sourdough bread

I decided to use the recipe featured on the TV programme (Fabulous Baker Boys,Channel 4, episode 4) but had major problems with the dough; theirs was a very wet dough, mine made to the same recipe was so dry that it wouldn't come together. I ended up adding an extra 75ml of water and it was still on the dry side as sourdoughs go. I've asked a fellow blogger more used to these types of bread to have a look at it, but I'm naturally loathe to say that the recipe's wrong given that 'Fabulous Baker Boy' Tom Herbert has won 'Baker Of the Year' and his sourdough has won 'Organic Loaf of the Year' 9 times in the last 10 years! You'll have to try it and see what you think! I'll give my adaption of the recipe with a note of the changes.

White Sourdough Bread

300ml Sourdough starter
500gm Strong bread flour
275ml Water (200ml in original)
10gm Salt (a pinch in original)

A note about the salt: Tom's 'pinch' of salt on the TV show was about the same as the 10gm that I've used. I based mine on the normal ratios of salt used in this type of bread.

I added all the other ingredients to the flour and then mixed it well in the Kenwood Chef and subsequently by hand. I left it to rise for a couple of hours and then shaped it, floured it all over, and put it into a basket lined with a flour covered linen. The baker brothers then leave this to rise for 8 - 12 hours. I put mine into the fridge for about 16 hours and then gave it a couple or three hours to come back to temperature the next day. The loaf was then tipped gently onto a baking stone pre-heated in an oven at 240°C, the top was slashed, and it was baked for about 30 minutes, then cooled.

It has the classic thick crisp sourdough crust that demands better teeth than mine and an open textured crumb. It has a well developed taste without being at all sour. All in all quite a pleasing result.

...and how did I know it would all work out so well? I didn't, that's why I baked one of my 'everyday' loaves, just to be on the safe side!

Sourdough bread

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There are five comments

Andy Jones

First of all I would just like to say what a great site this is and I stumbled on it whilst doing some ‘air cured ham’ research. Anyway as far as sourdough is concerned I have been at this since the beginning of December 2011 when I made my first sourdough starter and realised what a lot of guff there is on the internet about this. Four months later and I am just about getting the hang of producing a decent loaf. I have given up on recipes as every type and batch of flour absorbs water at a different rate so the percentage method of judging flour to adjuncts is a little hit and miss. I use a Kenwood Chef and the whole process is based on getting the dough to the right consistency before it goes for its final prove. I use Bacheldre Mill flour and this seems to take a lot of water, it can be ordered off Amazon with free delivery. At the moment I am looking for sticky and soft as this seems to produce a decent loaf. I use a starter kept in the fridge about the thickness of double cream and this has been made up with a mixture of organic Spelt wholemeal and organic strong plain flour. I try and make sure I have fed it the day before I start and for a 1.5kg loaf I use anything up to ¾ of a pint of the starter mix. I then add water and flour and let it start fermenting beating it back and adding more flour and water until I get bored, at this stage I add a little flour to adjust the consistency and leave it for another hour or so, then turn it out for a final knead.
I have the misfortune to have an induction hob but this does allow me a good kneading surface. I start off by flattening the dough and adding the salt then fold it all up and knead until my arms hurt; the salt tightens the gluten and gives the dough a smooth finish.
When kneading instead of using flour to stop it sticking I use a little water and this works a treat. I tend to prove using a Banneton basket and I coat the dough and not the basket in flour so that it does not stick. I have found that you always need to use a much larger basket than specified as 1.5kg of dough will rise to fill a 3kg basket.
You can then leave this in the fridge to prove over night to bake the next day or bake the same evening, without the fridge the whole process takes around ten hours.
When baking I put a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven and spray the bread at regular intervals.
I get quite a tight but soft and spongy bread as opposed to the ciabatta type open texture and would love to know how you achieve that?

Andy Jones, - 20-03-’12 16:02

Thanks for that full insight into your bread making. Ciabatta is made using quite wet dough as in the one here:


Hope this helps.

Phil, - 20-03-’12 18:33

Hi and thanks for your tweak to the Sourdough recipe, it has improved my results no end, after racking my brains about what was going wrong. I have also found that a shorter second rise avoids “Brick Syndrome”, or maybe my starter is not strong enough yet (3 months).

Richard, (URL) - 15-04-’12 16:33

Phew, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

I’ve added your blog to my RSS reader Richard, it looks great reading.

Phil, (URL) - 16-04-’12 15:53

Hey! just a little tip from baker to baker, id go check out sourdoughs international for some bada** sourdough starter. i got the san francisco and OMG way good, came out great.

Rach, - 25-10-’12 18:37

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the www.sausagemaking.org forum.

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