Neil Robinson

On the trail of great bread!

First Loaf Finished
First Loaf Finished

Seeded Sourdough Bread – A Complete Walk Through

| 12 Comments

This time around I am revisiting the sourdough seeded bread.

Having looked over my posts in the recent past, I realized that although they covered my thought processes fairly well, for someone looking for a guide on how to successfully bake a sourdough bread they were a bit incomplete. This post seeks to rectify that situation. I will attempt to cover all the steps I go through, with accompanying pictures. That will make the page a bit long, but hopefully worth loading for anyone truly interested.

Like all the breads I have been baking, it starts with producing a leaven from my starter. I generally do this the night before the day I plan to bake (although sometimes I end up baking the morning of the day after). This was done around 11:30pm. To create the leaven I mixed with a whisk in a bowl:Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

  • 30g of starter
  • 100ml of water
  • 60g of white bread flour
  • 60g of stone ground whole wheat flour

I then carefully scraped the result into a clean glass jar (I tend to use canning jars for my starter and my leaven). I then left it to rise overnight.

Initial Leaven Mixture

Initial Leaven Mixture

In the morning, it wasn’t quite ready (in the summer, curiously enough, it often takes longer because the house is not being heated). Once it had risen, it looked like this:

Risen Leaven Mixture

Risen Leaven Mixture

The top of the leaven was bubbly indicating that it was certainly active and ready to raise a bread dough:

Risen Leaven Mixture top view

Risen Leaven Mixture Top View

I got out the big bowl I use and prepared my ingredients for mixing the dough.

  • 250g leaven
  • 700ml warm water
  • 500g Wessex Mill Six Seed Bread Flour
  • 250g Tesco Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
  • 250g Plain White Flour (I would have used White Bread Flour, but I had just run out)
  • 20g salt

I poured the water into the bowl, followed by the leaven (which floated nicely on top). I then mixed the leaven and the water together thoroughly to disperse the various parts of the leaven evenly throughout. I then added the flour and mixed the dough until all the dry flour had been incorporated into the dough. The result looked like this:

Initial Dough Mixture

Initial Dough Mixture

I then placed the cover for the bowl loosely on top and put it in a reasonably warm place for about 30 minutes.

When the time was up I sprinkled the salt over the top of the dough and after wetting my hand to prevent the dough sticking to my skin too much, I thoroughly mixed the salt into the dough by reaching in and squeezing the mixture between my fingers over and over again. Once that was completed, the lid was again placed on top and the bowl was set aside for another 30 minutes. After that it looked like this:

Ready for Second Turn

Ready for Second Turn

The dough is already starting to rise, though slowly. It is now time to start doing the proper turns (the previous one was mixing in the salt, which was not really a proper set of turns). The turns take the place of kneading the dough and are performed by placing a wet hand into the bowl and reaching underneath to pull the dough up into the air, stretching it.

Doing the Second Turn

Doing the Second Turn

I do this 4-5 times, until I have gotten all the way around the bowl.

Doing the Second Turn - Further

Doing the Second Turn – Further

Once the turns have been done, and I have scraped any dough off my hand with the scraper, the lid is placed back on the bowl for another 30-40 minutes. I will do this every 30-40 minutes for the next 6-7 hours, until the dough looks like it is ready to be split into loaves.

After about 8 hours this time, the dough looked like this:

About to Split the Loaves

About to Split the Loaves

and it was time to split the dough into two loaves. I poured it out onto a wooden work surface (not floured!).

On the Work Surface

On the Work Surface

I then sprinkled flour over the top fairly liberally, and using my bench knife/scraper, I split it into two pieces.

Splitting the Loaves

Splitting the Loaves

Each piece is flipped over onto its floured side, and then sealed by folding the two ends together.

After the Split

After the Split

Once both pieces have been quickly formed into round pieces using the bench knife and the free hand, they are floured and covered with a tea towel to give them what is known as a “bench rest” of around 20-30 minutes.

Preparing for the Bench Rest

Preparing for the Bench Rest

Once the bench rest is complete, it is time for the final shaping. I am gradually getting better at this step. Using a minimum of additional flour and together with the bench knife, the dough is stretched and folded in half, then stretched in the sidewards direction and folded over the middle, then stretched from the other side and folded over the part in the middle, then from the bottom and from the top. Finally, make sure the pieces seal to each other to make a solid mass, dust flour over the final seam area and turn it over. Using the bench knife and your hands, shape it carefully but quickly and without too much handling into the final loaf shape. Prepare a bowl or banneton if you have one lined with a tea towel and dusted with rice flour to prevent sticking.

Bowl Prepared for Final Rise

Bowl Prepared for Final Rise

Using the bench knife and your hand lift the loaf quickly and carefully into the bowl with the seam side up. Dust around the edges and the visible portion of the loaf with the rice flour and then fold lightly the towel closed to let it do the final rise. Do the same with the other.

Loaf in Bowl for Final Rise

Loaf in Bowl for Final Rise

After 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator), get out the combo cooker and turn on the oven. This is what a combo cooker looks like:

The Combo Cooker

The Combo Cooker

I place both pieces into the oven at the same time as I start it. I turn mine up all the way (using an oven thermometer I have established that even maxed out, my oven only gets to around 450°F anyway, and 500°F would be even better. On my oven this is gas mark 9 (plus a bit past). You should use an oven thermometer to get to know your oven. Mine takes 40 minutes to reach this temperature.

When the timer goes off, I unpack the first loaf, then open the oven and using an oven mitt I remove the smaller piece of the combo cooker from the oven.

First Risen Loaf

First Risen Loaf

I quickly tip the loaf into the middle of the pan, and using a razor blade I score the top in a square pattern.

First Loaf in the Combo Cooker

First Loaf in the Combo Cooker

Then using two oven mitts I retrieve the other part of the combo cooker and place it on top and quickly put the whole thing in the oven. The timer is set for 20 minutes. Once the time has passed, the oven is opened and the top is removed.

After Taking Off the Lid - First Loaf

After Taking Off the Lid – First Loaf

It is already looking very promising. The scoring has opened up well. Now it will bake for another 25 minutes with the lid off to finish the crust and complete the interior.

First Loaf Finished

First Loaf Finished

When the timer fires, the pan is removed from the oven and the loaf is placed on a cooling rack. The excess flour is quickly tipped from the pan and it is lightly wiped with a paper towel. It is then put back in the oven together with the top for 10 minutes to bring it back up to temperature.

Now the second loaf is unpacked and prepared to be put in the oven.

Second Risen Loaf

Second Risen Loaf

Following the same procedure as before, the loaf is placed in the pan and scored, then covered with the top and placed in the oven for 20 minutes. The lid is then removed.

After Taking Off the Lid - Second Loaf

After Taking Off the Lid – Second Loaf

This time the scores have not opened quite a nicely, but it is still looking good.

Second Loaf Finished

Second Loaf Finished

This one also ended up looking very good. Overall, this particular baking run turned out quite well, even though I had to use 250g of plain white flour. It might account for the loaves being just a touch less high than I would like to have seen.

 

 

12 Comments

  1. This is EXACTLY the recipe I have been searching for!! I already make a yeasted bread using the six seed flour, but I am also working on my sourdough bread making (which mostly leaves something to be desired). My partner is German and bread is very important to him. I would love to produce gorgeous tasty artisan loaves of bread for his delight. I have just started the leaven off and if my bread turns out anything like the ones in the photographs, I will be really pleased. Will post on the results.

  2. Hi Sharon,

    Good luck. You can use a Roemertopf to bake in as well. Just remove the lid after 20 minutes. Check for the specifics elsewhere (not sure if you need to soak it first). Once the leaven got going it worked out well. I didn’t always get the level of oven spring I wanted, but it never tasted bad.

    • I have just taken the second loaf out of the oven and on looks alone at this stage, all I can say is WOW! I got fabulous oven spring and cannot wait for them to cool, so that I can see what they taste like and how the crumb is.
      I cooked them in my Le Creuset-like pot, which is a similar concept to yours.
      I was really worried that because of my enthusiam to start, I wouldn’t have the time necessary to complete all the stages. I made the dough yesterday morning and did a few turns before I had to go to work. I put the dough in the fridge until this morning, did a few more turns and then split into two and bench rested etc before shaping in bowls lined with parchment. After a couple of hours and when the oven and pot was ready, I lifted a loaf into the pot still lined with the parchment paper, slashed and cooked.
      Unfortunately, I don’t have the means to photograph these beauties, but I am so impressed with the results so far.
      Thank you for posting what is a great recipe.
      Sharon

  3. Sounds great! I have found that the dough is fairly forgiving, as long as you just do the turns. You can retard it by putting it in the fridge, and that tends to improve the flavor, though if you give it too long, it may get a bit more sour.

    Let me know how the taste turned out :).

  4. Taste fabulous! I am so pleased. Trying to resist the urge to start all over again and make another batch. Not sure I can stop myself from starting another leaven…especially as I am not working tomorrow. Excellent bread indeed. Thank you once again

  5. Not wishing to labour a point, but I have just baked another of these loaves using half the recipe (going to have to start freezing this stuff soon or giving it away to all and sundry!! – I get my pleasure from the baking more than eating it somehow). Neil, it is brilliant bread and if anything, has turned out better than the two I baked yesterday!!! Almost about time I started looking at your other recipes methinks and trying those out!! 🙂

  6. I’m glad you are having such success. This has been a journey of discovery for me too. Many of the articles are experiments, though none have actually been failures, more like some have been more successful than others. I have a number of experiments still planned, but some will have to wait until I have a bit more time, like over the holidays. If you choose to do the rye bread, please note that you do no turns, you just leave it to get on with it.

  7. Hello Neil,

    after a while, it worked for me. But I never could reach the quality of your bread. Maybe I need some more years.

    Recently I had something like a crash. The sourdough starter had a blue screen.

    Now I try hard to reanimate it.

    When you get used to this kind of bread, its hard to fall back to the “normal”.

    Let´s see…

  8. Whilst some may say it’s cheating….I have followed the German way of making sourdough bread lately; in that I have followed Neil’s recipe, but added 2-3g of dried instant yeast. I retard it too – to get that German sourness….sometimes for a day. It just works every time and is the closest thing I have found for getting the authentic German taste and texture I am striving for. “Ubung macht den Meister”, as they say (practice makes perfect). Neil, you are a genius with this recipe. Before finding this, I was almost about to give up! At the moment, I am probably making one to two loaves a week.

    • Hi Sharon, actually it isn’t cheating, it is just a different technique. Even some standard sourdough breads are made with a bit of dried or instant yeast, depending on their requirements. I’m glad you are having success and getting some great bread out of it. I tend to not make the breads sour, because the kids don’t go for it much, nor does the wife.

  9. hi guys
    do you powder the combo cooker with any thing – flour semulina?

    • No I use rice flour on the top of the loaves when they are in the final rise in the baskets. The combo cooker is oiled in between uses so it doesn’t stick to the bread.

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