Monday, July 13, 2009

Jim's Sourdough- Part One

I have an exam in four hours and another one in 24 hours. So clearly it's time to update my blog! I think that I've become a bit of a bread fanatic. The other day a good friend asked me what kind of bread I was baking. I responded that it's a sourdough loaf with a slow retardation, with a bit of rye which adds complex flavour... I could practically see his eyes glazing over with boredom.

If there is anything that I've learnt from all my bread baking research it's that you should learn to make one thing and make it well. Take a good basic recipe, and just try it again and again until you get it perfect. By then you will have developed your technique so that you can make just about anything. I made a decision the other day that I would take a recipe that I found and do just that. So, this week was my first attempt. wow, there's lots to learn! I can think of at least five different things that I need to do better for next time... but its a learning process (everything's a learning process- i say as i teach myself a whole course that I skipped that I'm being tested in tomorrow...! )

well- heres the recipe, plus my notes, for "Jim's Basic Bread" (Thank you Jim!):

Jim's Basic Bread

Makes two large loaves.

65% Hydration. (I couldn't tell whether or not this was the hydration of the final dough or the starter. I used my starter which is at %100 hydration (fed with equal parts water and flour))

Take 15 - 30 grams of active starter. (It should be fresh and active.) Use filtered or chlorine free water and ordinary bread flour ±11% protein. (i used the only bread flour i could find here, and regular water)

To this add:

  • 1090 g of flour (I used about a kilo of bread flour, and the rest rye flour)
  • 705 g of water and
  • 20 g of salt.
  • (Temperature ± 70°F / 21°C for ±24 hours)
Put the starter into a bowl and add the water. Whisk to mix all the starter into the water then add the flour and salt, stir till all the flour is wet, then cover and set the dough aside covered with film.

I mixed all the ingredients until just combined- but I should have kneaded it for an extra minute or two, and smushed out all the flour clumps.

After an hour or so tip the dough out onto a clean work top and work the dough as shown in the video.

the video shows a technique where you take the dough and smack it down, grab the middle and fold it over, turn it a quarter turn and do it again. Lots of fun. Got to try this again.

Now allow the dough to double in volume. This will take around 16 - 20 hours.

i put in in the fridge overnight.

Once the dough has doubled it's time to shape. Prepare what you are going to proof you dough in for the final rise. Now tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and decide how you are going to portion the dough. For two large loaves cut the dough in two. If you are going to put the dough in a tin fold the dough into a rectangle and repeat until the dough is about the size of the bottom of the tin. Alternatively roll the dough adding a little tension. Now seal the seams and place in the oiled or non-stick tin. If you want a boule shape is a similar way to above but make the dough round. How you shape the dough isn't so important as long as you have a little tension and seal the seams.

here things got funny- i started making the loaves into rounds, and let them sit for a bit.... when i came back to check on them, they had spread out into PANCAKES... and this was only after half an hour! so I took them, reshaped them, and stuck them in loaf pans.

Now place the loaves in the oven with a bowl of warm water and let them double in volume. Once the loaves have risen remove the water bowl and switch on the oven to 425F GMark 6, 215 C.

should have slashed the tops... there was a "blowout" on both of the loaves, though funnily enough, I noticed a big difference in the loaf that I had "worked" a little bit more- it rose more in the oven. Guess its true that you the more you knead your dough, the more it will rise! (should be a no brainer for someone whos baked a few loaves, and yet here I am.... :) )

Bake until dark brown and the internal temp is between 93-97C 200-207F or tap the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. Allow to cool completely on a rack. Don't be tempted to cut the loaves until completely cool.

I need to work on getting my oven temperature right... convection? no convection?

Well, my Mom said that its a keeper. Good flavour, good texture, and Im going to make it again soon... stay tuned!


  1. Looking good! I wish I could taste it! It makes sense that the more you knead, the better the rise- youre developing gluten structure so that the gluten network can support the rise and set better. Save me a slice of that!

  2. SuperSketchCounselor456July 13, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    i see this "jim" charachter has been making quite a favorable impression upon you :)

    --- looks sooooo yum,

    and very, very, g-luck on your test !

  3. This was a very good article , it was well-written and was interesting enough to catch attraction.

    Thanks from -Jugaadu

  4. I've never made bread, but it looks like I should try!

  5. thanks guys!
    and good luck Chelsea- if you have any qs let me know :)