26) Still in hiding, and success with sourdough

I have no idea where the blog-mojo has been for the last month, I really don't.  It's not as if I'm just hanging out on the sofa with the hounds; stuff is happening left, right and centre, it's just that I'm not getting around to writing about it.

On the other hand, I've finally worked out a recipe and method that allows me to make all-machine white sourdough with minimal effort and zero waste.  In fact, the last time I made it, it was so well-risen that it over-rose the bucket and tried to climb out the top of the machine:


You can see how tall it was.  It bulges outwards where it grew beyond the edges of the bucket, and that flattened spot on the top is where it hit the lid of the machine.

Then again…  this loaf weighed almost 1kg (over 2lb).  I may just scale back the recipe for future use, especially as J still isn't keen on it.


I, on the other hand, adore this bread.  I can eat it by itself when fresh (or nearly so), with butter when less fresh, toasted when past its prime, and soaked in soup when it finally goes rock-solid.

So.  I've written up the recipe and posted it in its own page.  Early experiments show that it doesn't rise so well with wholemeal bread flour (though this flour wasn't particularly fresh), and it does rise, but more slowly, with malthouse flour.  Clearly, I need to experiment more.


  • Your machine is different from mine. I can, I think, defer the whole process, but can’t stop between mixing the dough and baking. I’ve only done 4 loaves, and one was a lovely success — the last one was the worst, I think! And I meant to hold it overnight and bake in the morning, but that didn’t work. Indeed, more experimentation is needed.

    15th March 2010
  • Bread machines are like knitting machines and drum carders, I think; theoretically, they make the whole process easier and quicker, but theres a learning curve to navigate first! Ive had some really strange failures with my bread machine, usually due to something not rising properly. I tried buying bread mix kits, but theyre no more reliable. And they tend to be expensive. And, unless the yeast comes in a separate packet (oh, yeah, yet more unrecyclable packaging!), theyre not recommended for leaving overnight.
    The sourdough experiments have made some of the tastiest bread Ive had out of the machine (as well as some of the weirdest, to be fair). I think the thing I love the most is that *all* I have to buy is flour. We have sugar and salt around anyway; I
    know that the culture is good and fresh, and it doesnt come with loads of packaging. Its somehow a very liberating feeling.
    Its a shame you cant do a separate bake cycle. I suppose the only thing you could do is stop the machine after the dough is made and it out into a tin to rise and bake conventionally. Alternatively, does your machine have a special cycle for brown bread? Sometimes they have a longer rise period, I think, which might be long enough.
    I know some commercial bakers use yeast in their sourdough to cut the rise time, but that seems to be missing the point rather, for me…

    16th March 2010
  • Wow, that loaf is a beauty! Successes like this make all the “failures” worth it, don’t they!

    17th March 2010
  • oh, it is wonderful, wonderful! To be honest, I ususally do my best to eat the failures anyway, even if I just turn them into breadcrumbs. Even if I just hang them up for hte birds, they get used!!
    I seem to have nailed down a reasonably reliable method with this one, which is even better. Bread experiments are awesome, but knowing you can make good bread, realiably, is even better. 🙂
    Grain will get you through times of no gold
    ~~better than~~
    gold will get you through times of no grain.
    Blog: http://yarninmypocket.typepad.com
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    18th March 2010

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