Saturday, 10 March 2012

My First Sourdough...a lesson in patience

This post is a long time coming, I've been meaning to write it all week but one thing has lead to another and it has taken until this morning to get a chance to sit down and actually put pen to paper...or fingers to keyboard in this case. 

While I say this is my first sourdough...that isn't technically true...I did attempt to create my own starter back when we lived in Chelmsford.  For some reason it never really did anything, it smelt horrible and had zero bubbles so...down the drain it went.  Ever since then I have felt seriously defeated.  

As most of you will remember, before Christmas David rolled up his sleeves and got seriously stuck into bread making.  One of his gifts was The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard, and inside there is a step by step guide to creating your own leaven.  I've been biding my time to get it started and...about 2 weeks ago I finally got started.  As for the book...I don't know if David has even been able to look at it (it has been my bedside reading for 2 months)!

6 stressful days of caring for, feeding, nurturing my starter later I set aside a Sunday morning to carefully prepare my dough...softly kneading it every 30 mins or 1 hour until it was soft and ready to shape. Sourdough takes patience, it takes planning...but every bite is worth it. 

The recipe I used was straight out of The Handmade Loaf.  Dan Lepard's Mill Loaves are a combination of white, wholemeal and rye flour and instead of round loaves he suggests shaping the dough into batons.

The instructions are very clear for the shaping, and the dough was surprisingly soft and pliable.  I have to admit that the thought of turning those lovely round discs into batons freaked me out.  I was so worried I was going to do it wrong, that for some reason the dough would just spread and spread OUT instead of up.  I was reluctant to leave my bread to rise (for 4-6 hours!) but I had a delicious tea to attend.

After the 6 hour rest and rise the loves were turned out onto a baking sheet and baked one at a time.  Out they came and, while looking totally bizarre, smelt amazing.

I've got some practice to do on my shaping but I think that they look rustic, they look handmade...and they taste amazing! We've been munching away on one loaf all week and I put the other in the freezer.  I have to say that I am beyond proud of myself.  It seems silly, but this really was a lesson in patience and in faith.  

The only downside...the recipe called for 500g of starter and that turned out to be all I had! But never fear...another batch is quietly bubbling away on the countertop as I type.  


  1. You can use up your whole starter up without a problem - it only takes the amount smeared up the side of the jar to keep the starter going. Add any amount of flour/ water mix you like (I use 200g flour) and by the next morning it'll be frothy as ever. I was surprised the first time I tried it! Happy baking!

  2. How funny that I just created my starter!! The loaves do look stunning. I have so many recipes I find it all very confusing but I guess you have to start somewhere.

  3. I love the smell of sourdough as it bakes and cools - so enticing. Your loaves look amazing. I'm still on the proving more outwards than upwards stage, wish I could get it right.

  4. Yes, indeed it seems like sourdough revolution! :) I think that more and more people take interest in baking the bread at home, hence more posts about starters, breads etc. That's the way to go!!! :)