Thursday, 13 February 2014

Trial and error; or, my adventures with sourdough


Well, I promised last time some sourdough action; I can't pretend it's been smooth sailing but now, finally, I feel I'm getting the hang of it.

I started off using the River Cottage recipe, which produced a loaf that looked OK, and was definitely tangy, but a bit flat and without the holes it should have.

So I tried a variation, which had far more water and resembled a dough monster until cooked, when it ripped itself apart.


Undeterred, I carried on, and came across James Morton's advice to bake it in a cast iron casserole dish and finally, a lovely well risen loaf! But Oh. My. Viciously sour to the point of being inedible.



I will admit, I was tempted to give up at this point and if I hadn't been so determined (some might say stubborn) I would have stopped there and then. But then I read somewhere that underfeeding the starter  can cause sourness. And that the method I was using was actually bound to maximise that. Aha!

I fed my starter twice a day. I started to follow James Morton's white sourdough recipe. I started proving in bowls instead of just on the counter. I baked everything in a scorching hot pot. Bingo! Delicious bread, risen properly.



But still, the texture wasn't quite right. I ordered Brilliant Bread and started to go through it, learning new recipes and novel techniques for kneading and I think I've now discovered my very favourite recipe - it's Pain de Campagne, which is a loaf risen with normal yeast and flavoured with sourdough starter.

One morning I accidentally added too much water and the dough turned into some kind of monster, but this time I knew how to knead it and prove it without adding more flour. It overflowed the proving bowl and flolloped into the cooking pot. And when I cut it the next morning and saw the open, holey, chewy texture I'd been craving, I swear I heard angels singing.


It's all gone now. I'd better make some more!

13 comments:

  1. It looks wonderful, well done for perservering. I never got the hang of sourdough until I got James Morton's book, I think he explains everything so well. I finally got a brilliant starter that was literally foaming every time I fed it. I worked out a method of mixing half of the flour in with the starter and putting it in the bread machine with the rest of the flour underneath and not mixed in. I left it overnight, and at about 5am the machine came on and mixed the rest in, and the machine did the rest. It worked really well.

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  2. Ooh, lovely. And well done you for not throwing in the tea towel. I had a go at baking a vegan cake the other day and made those poor angels cry.

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  3. Well done for keeping going until you got the loaf you wanted! I think I would have given up and that would be a shame because your final loaf sounds fabulous :) xx

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  4. That's dedication to the baking cause. And boy does it look wonderful!

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  5. I have been doing the bread in a pot thing recently and although it is quite a weighty loaf, it tastes deelish. Am so glad the angels are singing over your way, Ax

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  6. Well done you for persevering. I gave up with sour dough after about my third attempt!

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  7. Yay! Perseverance pays off! I'm not a huge fan of sourdough, but make a bread similar to yours that's just plain. You're making me want to make it this weekend!

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  8. It looks delicious!!! I'm craving bread now!

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  9. Oh my, that last loaf is picture perfect!!

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  10. It is a good feeling when a battle like this is won. Never tried sour bread but it must be good if another is needed.

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  11. That does look good bread Val. You've certainly shown far more staying power than I would have done - we have homemade bread here but made in a breadmaker - I'm a very lazy baker! Anyway, well done for sticking with it and congratulations on loaf perfection, I hope the next one turns out as good.

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  12. mmm yummy! that looks sooo good. do you use the "stretch and fold" technique? someone just demonstrated it for me but I haven't tried it myself. It is supposed to make those big bubbles turn out. yum!

    Emily at backtothecraft.blogspot.ca

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