Morning After Sourdough

Well the party went well – possibly too well for any kind of productive day. So I dusted off an old sourdough recipe to give it an airing. This is a variation of a recipe that produced the first successful sourdough I made, which includes honey and spelt flour.

First the starter. Bertie had been warming up on the kitchen worktop for a couple of days by now after having a good feed when he came out of the fridge. I spooned 130g of him into a bowl. I realised at this point that sourdough is not a morning after bread. He smelt very strongly of beer – not a good thing to smell after a long pub session the night before….

I then added the rest of the ingredients – 200g white bread flour, 50g white spelt flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I dissolved 1 tablespoon of honey into 160g of warm water and then mixed it into the dry ingredients.

sourdough - dough 1

It is a VERY sticky dough so make sure you start kneading that you have a small bowl of flour nearby to clean your hands. I can safely say that your hands will be covered in dough along with everything else that it touches. Mine certainly were!

sourdough -doughThe dough was then put into an oiled clean bowl, covered and left to rise til it had about doubled in size. This took about 3 hours.

I floured my work surface with rye flour, shaped the loaf and popped it into a proving basket til it had about doubled again.

This is how mine looked at the start.

sourdough - before prove

And this is how it looked at the end

sourdough - after prove

I preheated the oven to its maximum temperature with a roasting tray in the bottom.

When it was ready, I put it onto a baking tray and slashed a cross in the top. I put it in the oven and added boiling water into the roasting tray at the bottom.

It was baked for 10min on max and then turned down to about 170C for the remaining 20mins or so it needed to bake.

The final loaf had very dark crust with a chewy and flavourful interior. Just the thing for a cheese on toast lunch after a long night.

sourdough top


Introducing Bertie

The time has come to introduce you all to the other “man” in my life. Meet Bertie, my rye sourdough starter, born on the 26th September 2012.

He’s my second go at a sourdough starter – the first ended up in the bin after most of my sourdoughs looked more like frisbees than bread. So I had another go and Bertie is still with me (although he has not been “frisbee-free”).

Starters are supposed to have a regular feeding regime and I have to confess that mine doesn’t. In fact if there were such as a thing as a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sourdough Starters, I suspect that I would be pretty high up their Most Wanted list. In my defence he does live in the fridge and has quite a thick consistency but even so I suspect that “when I remember” isn’t quite what proper bakers have in mind!

But my tough love style appears to be paying off as he seems to be a quite lively – if I feed him at night with equal weights of water and flour, by the next morning he’ll have doubled in size with a mousse like texture. Clearly what a sourdough starter needs is patience and some rough treatment. So if you think that keeping a starter is too difficult and time consuming, it doesn’t need to be. Once you’ve got it through its first week or so the odds are that it will be able to cope with a fair degree of neglect.

So give it a go and let me know how you get on.