My sourdough journey

Sharing my sourdough journey - if only to make me a better baker!

Lockdown has taught me one thing - how to bake sourdough! With so much time at home, I've been able to experiment with feeding times for my sourdough starter, use different methods for proving, and have the time to sit and wait.

Here, I will share some of my bakes if only to keep a record of what I did to help me become a better baker.

Please share your tips and advice - it's all greatly appreciated!

- Matthew

A spelt loaf

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Finished spelt loaf on wire rack

I'd bought a packet of spelt flour a while ago, but hadn't yet got round to baking with it. Spelt is apparently a great substitute to wheat flour, is packed full of vitamins and high in protein. Would it be difficult to bake with?


A boule in a day

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A boule in a day

The days are getting shorter, and colder, so will this affect my baking?

Obviously, colder temperatures will mean that proofing would take longer, but what about the fact we're home all day (because of Covid) and we have central heating?


A longer loaf

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A longer loaf resting on a wire rack

We popped into a local kitchen shop whilst holidaying in Wales, and was delighted to see they had a selection of banneton baskets.


A better sandwich loaf

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Finished loaf on wire rack

This time, I did both the bulk rise and the second rise on the same day - from autolyse to bake in 11 hours.

I wanted to rely on visual clues and my instincts, rather than just leaving for the times the recipe told me. And I wanted to avoid another over-proofed loaf.


Getting proofing right

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Showing loaf ready to bake

One of the hardest things to learn with baking, and especially sourdough baking, is to know when fermentation is complete and the dough is ready for shaping.

When I started out last month, I was happy to rely only on timings and happily assumed that the bulk rise was complete as it had


A bit of a Squeeze

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Tall and tight

This loaf tasted delicious and had a great height, but it was just a little too big for the pot, so kind of caved in on itself whilst it baked. 

It's a shame, because I think this would have been a beautiful loaf but was just hindered by a lack of room to expand.


A total disaster

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Over-proofed, flat, dense boule on chopping board

I've had some good loaves, and some not so good loaves, but never a total disaster - until now.

Everything seemed to go wrong with this, and it's only right that I document this to learn from it.


"The best I've ever had"

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Baked sourdough loaf

Everything just seemed to go right with this loaf - the shape, the colour, the way I was able to handle it, the crumb structure, and the taste!

My sister-in-law said it was the "best sourdough she had ever had". Now I know she's biased, but a compliment none-the-less.


A sourdough pizza

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A slice of pizza

As you probably know, the discard from your starter can be put towards lots of other recipes.


I forgot to score!

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Forgot to score.

This time, I was determined to get a loaf that had the signature banneton lines and didn't stick to the banneton when it was time to bake.

I baked a previous loaf the day before this, and on the whole, it was great, but it stuck to the banneton, meaning it lost the definition to the sha


Proof is in the rise

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Proof is in the rise

After the success of my room-temperature-overnight-proof  sandwich loaf, I was keen to try this same method with my regular loaf.

To be honest, I'm still too much of a novice to really know if a proof is complete and the dough ready to go to the next stage.


A sourdough sandwich loaf

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A sandwich loaf

I thought I'd try something different, and I also needed some bread to toast, so I tried baking a sourdough loaf in a bread tin.

I have two slices of toast every morning (with two boiled eggs) and usually have a loaf of granary or white in the freezer so that I can just pop two slices i


Almost artisanal!

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Cooked loaf

My starter was looking stronger than ever, so I was excited by this bake!

I'd fed the starter wholemeal flour to give it some oomph, and that gave me a much stronger and thicker starter - certainly stronger than the previous runny starters I had been working with.


Did I kill my starter?

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Starter looking flat

For the second time, after feeding the remainder of my starter  I noticed that it had lots of bubbles but just wasn't rising. Had I killed it?

I had used part of the starter for a bake and then fed the remainder with one-part strong white bread flour and one-part water.


Loaf Seven

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Loaf seven

I've been keeping my 'mother' starter in the fridge and have fed it weekly so far.


A loaf for mum and dad

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A loaf for mum and dad

After more than three months in lockdown, today we're finally having a socially-distanced meet with my mum and dad.

I was keen to take a loaf to get another opinion - and as a gift! - so continued feeding the remaining starter I had from an earlier loaf.


My first loaf

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My very first bake

A good friend of mine donated some of their sourdough starter to me, which they had previously inherited from their brother.

I'd never really paid much attention to this sourdough craze going around.