Sunday, June 19, 2016

Adventures in Sourdough Bread Making

First off I will start by saying I totally admire people who make sourdough bread and keep their starter alive from week to week and some for years.  My first experience with a sourdough starter was January 2015 (I think) or it could have even been January 2014 however I think I'm going with 2015.  Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog mailed out to some readers some of her very famous sourdough starter (dried) called Priscilla.  At the time it was school holidays and it was extremely high temperatures in Brisbane and I didn't really know what I was doing and I failed at getting my starter to work.  This was no fault of Priscilla (Celia's starter) it was me who was inexperienced and it was extremely hot and humid in Brisbane.

This is the starter that I made 2 weeks ago and this picture was taken when it was ready at day 10.

This is what's called "the sponge".

After mixing the sponge etc. and ingredients to get my dough.

Shaped dough with waiting to prove.

Stretched out and then put back into a ball and proved and then stretched out again.

Shape the bread.

Dust the bread with rye flour, letting it prove while the oven heated up and then before it goes into the oven to slash it with a serrated knife.

Finished loaf which was just baked on a tray as I didn't have my enamel cookware at the time.

 This is the texture inside that on first go I was very happy with.

I made my starter and fed it every day for 10 days (it says 7-10 and I went with 10) and I had what I thought resembled a good starter.  I will say that making Sourdough bread is all about the "timing" and using overnight for your dough to prove rather than during the day because other wise you will end up baking bread at 11.30 pm at night like I did keeping every light on the house so that you don't fall asleep with the oven going on at extremely high temperatures.

I made enough dough for 2 loaves however decided to cook one loaf (not sure why) on a tray as I didn't have anything to cook it in at this stage.  The bread was baked and it looked great and and the texture was perfect...SUCCESS.  The next morning I cooked the other loaf and it was dense and no good.  The crust was perfect but the texture inside was no good.  So 1 good loaf out of 2 loaves.  

I then had another go the next day and the starter looked good, everything looked good I had longer times to let it prove etc. however the next two loaves came out like the 2nd loaf...beautiful crust on the outside and dense on the inside.

Determined not to give up I re-read Celia's blog again and got my starter out from the fridge and fed it however there were no bubbles and so I got a little bit more out and still the same, no action.  I fed the actual starter again as well and as of late last night about 11 pm I thought that I had killed my starter and would have to start my 10 day process again.  I decided to leave it overnight (the 3 bowls) and sure enough this morning it was looking good.  Only thing is now I couldn't mix the starter with the flour, water and salt and leave it overnight for 12+ hours.  Still I have not given up at this stage and my dough is still proving as I type this.

The key is to first of all...know you are going to be home the next day to cook your bread and of course make sure your starter is alive and well at night ready to mix up your dough.  After it took me nearly 12 days to make my first loaf of sourdough I totally appreciated paying $6-$7 for a good bakery bread.  We'll see how I go making this loaf tonight.  I totally loved the texture of the first one and my sister and I had home made baked beans on my home made sourdough for lunch the other day and it was so yummy and I felt very proud after my marathon effort of 12 days to produce this loaf of bread.

Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for the tip on getting this enamel bakeware to cook my bread in which was $25 + $10 postage which arrived in 7-10 days at my front door.  I was looking a couple of weeks before and I had found $55 plus postage so I was so happy to be able to purchase this one.  I love it and its lightweight and perfect for baking bread.  It's only an on-line product and I couldn't pop down to my local Harvey Norman to save $10 on postage.

So this is my adventure into sourdough breadmaking.......I will keep you posted on my next loaf to see if I can master the texture.  If not, I may have to make a new starter again.

Here's a few other blogs that have some information on making Sourdough Bread.

Clare from The Life of Clare in Melbourne.

Jodi at Jellywares blog in NSW.

Brydie from The City Hippy Farm Girl blog in Sydney.

Green Living Australia have a post on sourdough bread making.

A guest post on Sophie's Local is Lovely blog on sourdough.

Tricia from Little Eco Footprints talks about simple living lessons learned from making sourdough.

Jane from the Shady Baker experimenting with sourdough.

I look forward to being able to master this sourdough bread making adventure.


  1. I admire your great persistence and good humour! And hope that you crack the perfect starter and timing - looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    1. Getting there Alexa....last nights loaf was just about perfect...I needed to cook it for another 5 mins I think but I'm optimistic.

  2. Looks delicious, Kathy! I am yet to master ordinary bread, let alone sourdough! I once managed to kill off a starter for Herman the German Friendship Cake that I was given as a little gift. I felt terrible! Meg