Grow Gather Enjoy: Sourdough

Showing posts with label Sourdough. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sourdough. Show all posts

The #1 thing I've learnt about sourdough success (so far)

26 July 2018
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I've been working on my sourdough baking this year. The reason for this has been two fold. Firstly, I wanted to try out different recipes and experiment with just how many things I can make with sourdough. Secondly, I wanted to build my overall baking skills and figure out why some bakes are good and others aren't.

There has been a lot of baking going on around here, and a lot of bread eating - which is an enjoyable experience in my book (although it ). There has also been a lot of learning and I've discovered the number one reason why some of my previous sourdough baking attempts were not so stellar.


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A very versatile sourdough flat bread dough

01 July 2018
On my quest to extend my sourdough baking repertoire I spent a little time (ok, a lot!) researching flatbread options. Previously I've used commercial yeast, yoghurt or even no raising agent at all in my variety of flatbread recipes. I'm happy to report that I found a sourdough winner.

This flatbread dough recipe is quick, easy and serves many purposes. It started out as a flat bread and gozleme dough and then one day I got distracted and never got around to rolling and cooking. So, by the time I got back to it I thought I'd try it out as a pizza dough and was happy with the result. I've also used it to make naan and tortilla for Enchiladas and quesadillas. I haven't found a flatbread style use yet that it hasn't worked for.

Versatile flatbread pan fried and ready to enjoy.

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sourdough bagels: further bread adventures

21 June 2018
I declared 2018 the year I got my sourdough experimenting on. I wanted to try out new recipes and also to get a bit more of a feel for why some bakes worked well and otherwise, well, not so much. There has been lots of baking and lots of learning.

I've been trying out a few recipes but mostly slowly working my way through an awesome Christmas present: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. I started with an everyday loaf and a cinnamon swirl () and then tested out one of the sandwich loaves (). I've also been baking her focaccia and some tasty thyme rolls (yet to be blogged). I haven't found a dud recipe yet.

But what I've been eyeing off from the start has been the bagels. I've previously made yeast based bagels and was intrigued to give sourdough ones a go. Let me tell you I wasn't disappointed.

Sourdough bagel success

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Baking a sourdough sandwich loaf

26 April 2018

This year I've been challenging myself to improve my sourdough bread baking. I've been working through some recipes in the book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa as I a few weeks back.

I've been wanting to add a sandwich bread to my sourdough repertoire for a little variety and the option of a softer crust. I find that unless my girls are really hungry the crusts of my free form loaves always get left behind. I think it's just too much chewing. In my youngest daughter's defense she does only have six teeth in total and all at the front so it's probably pretty hard going...but I digress.

It was great to come across sourdough sandwich loaves in the book as I had been stalling on trying a sandwich bread because I wanted to stick to the sourdough and hadn't come across many softer loaf bakes. This is probably because the delicious sourdough crust is surely more than half the appeal for those of the population that aren't too lazy to chew and have all our molars. I was also reluctant to begin looking for one as once I start researching new recipes it's a slippery slope....


My first attempt at a sourdough sandwich loaf.


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Working on my sourdough bread

03 April 2018
Lately I've been experimenting with my sourdough baking. I mentioned in an  that I'm keen to try new recipes and improve my everyday loaf. I feel like this year is a perfect time to do it as I have a little more time on my hands with my eldest  off to pre-school and living in a rental without my large food garden (sad face).

I received a copy of  Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa for Christmas and have started working my way through a few recipes. I read about this book over on which is in itself a great resource for sourdough baking. Celia had posted about a few recipes she had tried from the book and they looked so amazing. I was sold.

Everyday Sourdough

It was opportune timing as I had been thinking a lot about working on my baking skills and as immensely useful as blogs are I do like to have a book as a reference as well. I promptly dropped a hint to my husband that should anyone be looking for a Christmas gift for me this book could be a good option. And by dropped a hint I mean I texted him the book depository link which he eventually passed on to an interested party.

Cinnamon swirl bread.


When I finally got around to  making my first loaves from the book I wasn't disappointed. I started with the Everyday Sourgdough and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. The recipes use a small amount of starter and a long bulk fermentation (which is the first rise of sourdough making) which I was keen to try out.

Everyday sourdough loaf crumb.


True to form I did deviate from the recipe for the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. I used dried cranberries instead of raisins and sunflower seeds instead of walnuts as these were what I had on hand. I also chose to bake it in a loaf tin rather than free form.  However, I didn't let them rise in the tin enough before I put them in the oven. This was an oversight on my part as further reading of the loaf baking section shows that the dough should be proved a little longer for the final proof compared to a free form loaf and baked at a lower temp. Room for improvement next time.

Cinnamon 'cranberry' swirl proving.


I was really happy with the overall results. As you can see I'm no expert sourdough baker but the bread was more than edible, had a great crumb and mostly looked the part. In fact the Everyday loaf was gone in one day. So I think I'm onto a winner there.

Have you been baking anything new lately (bread or otherwise)?
Where do you stand on the whole recipe following thing – to the letter or a bit more laissez-faire?


P.S When I read the book I realised that I was actually familiar with the author's blog. Her post had formed part of my drawn out extensive research on sourdough before I jumped down the rabbit hole. Heaps of great info to get your head around the whole 'sourdough thing'.


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Sourdough hot cross buns

31 March 2018
Home made vs shop bought is no competition when you're talking about hot cross buns. I remember being blown away the first time I tried home made. 

Hot cross buns cooling to 'eatable' temperature.

I attended a very small (12 kids) primary school for a year and as part of our classes in the lead up to Easter we made hot cross buns. There were always baked goods around our house as a kid but my mum was scared of baking with yeast and so I'd never had any home made bread or bakery items. Twenty five years later and I can still remember how good they tasted.

I've been making my own buns for a while now but have generally stuck to yeast based recipes. My go-to for several years has been from her Modern Classics Volume 2. These have been a great performer. I generally skip the peel but otherwise I stick to the recipe on this one (something different for me).

Since I jumped down the rabbit hole that is sourdough baking I've been contemplating sourdough hot cross buns. I've been researching sourdough hot cross buns. And then back to contemplating sourdough hot cross buns. But this week, when mixing up some loaves of bread, I had some excess starter that was all awake with nothing to do. The time had come....for more research. Just kidding, although I did need to do a quick google to find a recipe. I went with .


Buns proving before they get their crosses.

A couple of changes that I made to the recipe (you're shocked right?). I didn't soak the fruit, I just mixed it in. I added a little dried pear from a recent forage find along with the sultanas. I used mixed spice instead of allspice - I'm not sure if this was a typo or lost in translation thing but you've got to have mixed spice in your buns. I stuck with all white flour and I actually needed to add a little extra to get a dough that I could roll into balls. Lastly I skipped the glaze. If I was serving these immediately and eating them all at once (with others, not by myself) I'd probably go with it but frankly I find glaze messy in the storage container. Oh, and super super sticky and messy in the hands of two children.

One a penny, two a penny....

Overall I'm happy with my first foray into the land of sourdough hot cross buns. I'll definitely give them another whirl next year and see how my 'refined' recipe performs.

Have you been baking any hot cross buns this Easter?
If you prefer to buy, do you jump in when they appear in January or hold off until closer to?
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Baking my own bread

08 March 2018
When I was a kid I rarely ate bread. Growing up in a small rural town it was generally the generic fluffy white bread option and I just didn't like it. More specifically I hated the taste of the crust – it used to make me gag. So everyday I took my crispbreads and spreads to school in lieu of the standard 1980s sandwich for lunch. Toast was ok but 'fresh' bread – no way.

Sourdough fresh from the oven


The first time I tasted good bread was when I was staying with a friend's family in Canberra while doing a uni placement. Her mum was having mothering withdrawals and so looked after me rather well. When I got home from work on the first day she made me toast – woodfired italian bread toast. It was a revelation to me. The chewy texture, the crunchy crust, the actual flavour. It opened my eyes to what bread could be (later my palate was completely blown away when I first went to Europe and tasted all they had to offer). And so bread made its way back into my life.

I started baking my own bread about five years ago when I had begun my endeavours to make more things from scratch. I sampled a few different recipes and settled on this  from one of my favourite blogs. It made a great loaf, was easy enough to do during the week, around work and later with a new baby (well newish, I don't think I got back into bread baking for at least 6 months or so). I've since passed this recipe onto countless people who have expressed their interest in baking their own bread and it has been universally successful. Even for my mum who has been scared of cooking with yeast my whole life. So if you are looking for a place to start or have been thinking about making your own bread, even just occasionally, I can't recommend Rhonda's tutorial enough.

Tasty 5 minute bread


My interest was piqued in giving sourdough a try when I had a newborn. Hours on the couch feeding led to lots of reading of things that I wanted to be doing but wasn't – namely gardening and cooking. I lived vicariously through books and blogs (I always have and still do). Sourdough seemed the ultimate in making bread from scratch, paring things right back to the basics of just flour and water. When it comes to trying something new though I generally don't rush. Which in this case was a good thing seeing as there was no way I was going to be able to look after a starter and a baby at the same time.

Fast forward a year or so and I was ready. I'd over researched sourdough starters and beginner loaves and I no longer had a newborn on my hands. My friend gave me some starter. I killed it. Or thought I had at the time but in hindsight, and a few years experience with the occasionally neglected starter, I realise I probably could have coaxed it back to life. It was probably for the best though as I think actually making my own starter from scratch gave me a greater understanding of the flexibility of sourdough. Despite my extensive research into starting a starter I did what I always do and winged it a little. I wasn't exact with my daily feed measurements and I even used plain old all purpose no brand flour to start. It worked out and my original starter is still going strong.  I also must admit that in further bucking of my sourdough research I didn't even name my starter – every now and then I try and think of a fitting name but my starter remains nameless.

My nameless starter getting ready to do its thing.

Bread baking has become a part of my routine now. There are times when I bake more and times I bake a little less. Recently when we moved interstate I didn't bake at all for a few weeks either side – occasionally I remember to keep food prep expectations in line with what is happening in life. But I did put my starter to bed and bring it with me in the esky (along with a few other fermenting friends) and got back into things once the dust settled on our move. This year I'm planning to do a little more perfecting of my everyday loaf and also a bit of experimenting. I'm particularly keen to find a good fruit loaf and a sandwich loaf with a softer crust for my girls because they ALWAYS leave the crunchier crust behind. I'm no expert but I'll share a few of my bakes with you here in the hopes of inspiring you to give it a go and as a handy way to keep track of my efforts.

Are you a bread baking enthusiast or aspiring to be one?
Do you too research things to death before taking the plunge? Or do you take action first and ask questions later?
Have you got any go-to recipes that I should add to my 'must bake' list?
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