Wednesday, 13 April 2011

a right proper loaf...

as you all know, I had a complete disaster with my sourdough baking last weekend... but did I give up..? hell no!...  I have been feeding my sourdough pet for nearly six months now and whilst i've been really happy with the results I have never really reached that sourdough loaf nirvana...

... I wanted that classic, chewy, crispy loaf, full of air holes and intense sour flavour...

... well i've been scouring books and of course, the net and there are a lot of varying recipes out there, it's a mad crazy sourdough world out there, one that I don't think i'll ever truly get to grips with but I do know that my sourdough starter, which has grown in the clear fresh air of the Lincolnshire Wolds is a very good quality sourdough, so there should be no reason why I can't achieve the loaf i'm after, it's just about finding that recipe... and that's where the wonderful Luc Martin comes in.  Luc's blog is an excellent example of a truly dedicated lover of food... from curing and hanging his own pancetta to making his own puff pastry (which is pure dedication to the cause if you ask me...)

... anyway, Luc uses the same sourdough starter recipe as me, however his final bread recipe is very different... as you'll see...

Sourdough Loaf

This recipe takes a good 36 hours from start to finish so don't expect fresh baked bread for breakfast. need to start by making a sourdough sponge

200g sourdough starter
200g strong white flour
200g water

- place the ingredients in a bowl and mix it all up thoroughly making sure you have no lumps, cover and place in a dry place and leave overnight until frothy and risen.

250g - 300g strong white flour (exact measurements will depend on the moistness of your sponge, so add it in portions)
12g sea salt (not added until the final 2 mins of kneading)

and yes friends, that's it... no butter, no oil, no sugar.... just good old flour and salt!

- pour the flour and sponge into the bowl of a mixer and mix on the machines lowest setting for 18 minutes. this should give the dough a smooth and very elastic feel

- let the dough sit in a bowl and rest for around 2 hours for it to do its magic whilst rising

- after 2 hours gently ease the dough out onto a floured surface and form into your loaf.  Be gentle with the dough during this stage and some that amazing air from the rising will stay in the final loaf, giving you the much desired air bubbles... I'm following Luc's advice and going for a baguette, using this video as guidance.

- once you've shaped your loaf cover with a damp cloth or loosely with a sheet of plastic and let it rise for a further 2-3 hours or until doubled in size

- to bake, heat the oven to its highest setting and place a pan of water on the bottom shelf to get it nice and steamy inside.  Now spray or dampen the loaf with water, this will give the bread that classic crunchy blistering crust.

- now, as quick as you can place the tray in the oven and close the door so as not too lose too much steam. Set a timer for 11 minutes (this is the specific time for Luc's oven, you may have to adjust accordingly... I went 12 minutes)

- after this time, take the tray of water out of the oven and lower the temp to 180 and set another timer for 11 minutes.  when this time is done, take the tray out, take the loaves off the the tray and place them upside down, directly on the oven rack and bake for another 12-13 minutes until the underside is as well coloured and crisp as the top.

- remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

and so, yes, they're not as golden brown as Luc's and they don't have that true sourdough holey texture but they are amazing in both taste and crunch... i've not quite got there yet but this is a first very good step and i'm really really happy!

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. That looks delicious in my book Dom...

    I've been dying to have a go at making Sourdough bread ever since seeing Ben Mackinnon of the E5 Bakehouse in Hackney make a batch with Michel Roux on 'The Great British Food Revival"....I'm sure that he said his starter had 200 year old Icelandic starter in it!! I'd love to go and ask him if I could have a you think he'd let me? He looks like a really nice guy...

  2. Starting to look better. How high does your oven go? my loaves are darker than this after the first 12 minutes. If the oven's not hot enough, this could also limit the oven spring meaning no big air bubbles.

    Keep trying!

  3. Practice, practice, practice--and, you can eat those "test" loaves as you go along! Thanks for doing all the research for us. I can smell the bread baking and (almost) taste the tanginess. The loaves look delicious!


  4. thanks guys

    @lucmartin - my oven is quite crap actually and doesn't go that hot... but new oven on the way in June, so I should have fun with that!

  5. Yum. I have your recipes saved, but haven't actually made the starter yet, but plan to. Looks heavenly.

  6. didn't tell Martha on me, did you?

  7. Never give up..that's the best way to live...especially in the kitchen!!
    I think the bread looks amazing!

  8. Dom, you bread looks delicious! I'll be it would make the perfect panini! Looking forward to seeing your new stove and the results it produces for you!

    I'd love to try making sourdough but I don't know if I have the patience for it, especially if it doesn't come out right . . .

    Have a wonderful week!

  9. Is Luc Martin the ciabatta man? I think I want to marry him. This looks intriguing too - 18 minutes of (hands-free, unattended) mixing? I like it, I like it a lot!

  10. Hello, Dom, and thank you so much for your recent visit!

    I love to make bread and this looks like a wonderful loaf to me. I also see a delicious-looking wild mushroom and mushroom quiche down below.

  11. yes to never giving up!
    The loaf looks beautiful Dom. I really need to start baking more bread.

  12. So beautiful! I am very, very impressed. I could make a wickedly good breakfast out of the bread and some Gouda cheese.

  13. Gorgeous loaf. I was just in a kitchen store and saw the perfect jar to make my stater in. I started one awhile ago but my mother-in-law became ill and I stopped feeding it. Maybe this week is the week to try again.

  14. Your dedication is paying off, the bread looks really gorgeous!

  15. I am in awe of your tenacity, Dom! Gorgeous bread, 'nuff said.

  16. well you're all so sweet... I am now obsessed with making my oven get hotter... they do say practice makes perfect!

  17. that bread certainly does look very good. Yummy!

  18. wonderful post..

    new to ur space n happy to follow u..for more wonderful recipes..

    do visit mine when u get time

  19. @vegboxboy... ... Yeah you do... !

    @mehjabeen welcome. Enjoy!

  20. Right then ... time to get the starter out of the back of the fridge so I can start feeding it up again ... ot maybe I just need to start over again!

  21. now that's a recipe i've got to try with my sourdough starter! (: fingers crossed!


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