Tag Archives: sourdough loaf

Baking Plans And A Couple Of Loaves

I’ve been trying to work out how I can make more bread. I love making it and trying new recipes, but there are only two of us in this house & we can only eat so much! Of course I can give bread to family/friends, but I still want something more regular to work on. So I’ve been debating getting some part time work in a bakery or selling some loaves, which would be amazing because I could try more loaves, learn more and hopefully make some money at the same time. Wins all round I think.

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I was on the Real Bread Campaign website (which I frequent) and spotted an advert from a local cafe looking for home bakers to help them supply bread to their market stalls. I had heard of the Hornbeam Cafe in Walthamstow, but I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot about it. It turns out that all of their bread is provided by the Hornbeam Bakers Collective, which is made up of a group of keen local bakers. They also provide bread to three market stalls on a Saturday, one outside the Walthamstow cafe, one in Leyton and one in Stoke Newington.

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Last week I went and met with Pilar from the collective and took her a couple of my loaves to try, a mixed white & wholemeal loaf made with tea (top) and a 50% spelt loaf (above). It was the first time I’d made the 50% spelt, so it wasn’t perfect but I was really please with the mixed grain loaf. Thankfully they both went down a storm, so from this Saturday I will start to provide bread to the stalls. Just 8 loaves at first as I only have a little oven, but if it goes well then who knows where it will lead…


Fresh Bread In Time For Lunch

Last night I mixed up a couple of 60% white flour, 22% spelt flour & 18% wholemeal flour sourdough loaves following Dan Lepard’s recipe for the mill loaf. After 4 hours fermenting with periodic stretching and folding, I shaped them just before I went to bed and left them in the fridge overnight to proof. Then this morning, while getting on with various chores I baked them for 50 minutes each and by lunchtime I had fresh homemade bread to enjoy.


As I took the loaves out of the oven they were making cracking and popping sounds, which was rather worrying, but after a quick google I discovered that this is a good thing. The loaves were ‘singing’ to me, the sign of a well baked loaf apparently.


Upon cutting these open I discovered a really soft, spongy crumb with lots of holes. I think the spelt had a real impact on the smoothness on the crumb, and it tastes divine. Just a little nutty from the wholemeal flour and rye starter but otherwise a light texture with a delicately sour flavour. I think these might be my favourite loaves to date.


As I had this beautiful fresh bread to use, for lunch I made my perfect fried egg sandwich. Fresh sourdough bread smeared with butter, a sliver of mature cheddar cheese and pile of crisp lettuce topped with a juicy fried egg. A decadent lunch that’s hard to beat.

Sourdough Successes

I realised that after documenting my struggles with learning how to make sourdough bread, I never got round to blogging my successes!

White Leaven Bread




I finally got Dan Lepard’s White Leaven Bread recipe to work after repeated disasterous attempts. I was already placing a baking sheet in the oven to get hot and sliding the dough onto it, but this time I added a cloche in the form of an enormous saucepan, upturned on the baking tray. I baked the loaf under the cloche for 30 minutes, enough time for the steam to work it’s magic and then removed the cloche & baking sheet to finish the loaf on the wire oven shelf for the last 20 minutes. The result was a beautifully risen, light and airy white loaf.

The Mill Loaf




As I felt like I’d finally conquered that recipe, I turned the page and attempted the second recipe in Dan’s The Handmade Loaf, The Mill Loaf. This is a 60% white flour & 40% wholegrain flour sourdough loaf. The recipe makes two much larger loaves than the White Leaven Bread recipe and shaped as batons rather than balls and because of this I couldn’t fit them under my makeshift cloche which left me expecting disaster. I needn’t have worried. Both loaves came out beautifully. The first I baked seam side up and it split spectacularly, the second I slashed and baked, it split a little on the bottom seam and opened up at the top slashes. Interestingly while everyone in the online sourdough world loves enormous rips  and ears on their loaves,  all the non-bakers I showed the pictures to thought the slashed version looked more professional.

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I much prefer wholemeal bread so for me this bread wins over the white loaf as it’s much more flavoursome. I will definitely make this again and I’m looking forward to experimenting with different flours to see what happens.

Sour 100% Rye Bread

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Then this week I moved on to the third recipe in The Handmade Loaf the 100% Rye loaf. My shaping needs work, hopefully I’ll learn some shaping skills on the E5 Bakehouse sourdough bread course next month. The result was a dense and moist loaf with that rich, nutty rye flavour. I loved the feel of this dough too, it was very sticky and springy. I left this loaf wrapped in greaseproof paper & tied up with string overnight as instructed and cut into it for lunch today. I topped slices with pesto, soft cheese, ground black pepper, lettuce & cherry tomatoes for a simple, refreshing lunch. These classic flavours worked with the dense, nutty bread perfectly.


Sourdough Loaf : Attempt 4

Ok so I got tired of all the failures & decided that I’d give this loaf a helping hand. I added about 3/4 tsp of dry yeast to help the sourdough along. I had a really good feeling about this try. The dough felt good & springy as I stretched & folded it and it was rising well in between. But I just can’t get the final proof right.

It was 2.20pm by the time I’d stretched it, folded it, rested it & shaped it, so I left it all afternoon, checking every couple of hours. At 10.20pm it hadn’t risen quite enough, but I was worried that by the next morning it would have collapsed so I baked them hoping for some oven spring. I don’t understand what I’ve done to upset my oven but I’ve lost the ability to get a final rise in the oven. They just don’t grow at all in the oven and as you can see the slash just stays as it was cut. So when I pulled these out of the oven last night I thought they were a disaster like the last lot. I went off to bed, despondent.


But I was pleasantly surprised when I got up this morning. Ok, the rise wasn’t good enough and the crust had gone a bit soft from underbaking but the crumb was light and even and the flavour was lightly sour and delicious. It was a good loaf! So while progress may be slow, I am making progress. Despondency be gone!


Now I just need to crack this proofing business. With or without the helping hand of some packet yeast!

Sourdough Loaf : Disastrous Attempts 2 & 3

The Boy & I decided that we would paint our flat this January. I have some days off to use before April so can comfortably take a few long weekends to get it done. A couple of weeks ago we took a long weekend to paint our bedroom and, never one to turn down the opportunity that being at home presents, I decided I’d bake some bread at the same time. Clearly this was the perfect time to crack this sourdough malarkey. Clearly not.




The first attempt on the Friday went really well. The loaf was rising nicely, even if it was spreading too much, and I left it overnight in the airing cupboard as it was so cold for it to finish it’s rise. What I didn’t think about was that I’d left cling-film over the top to protect it from any airing cupboard dust. The cling-film stuck to it, big time, and as I removed it the next day it ripped the top half of the loaf off. I baked it, but it was totally pointless, it came out like a pancake. I was so frustrated I didn’t even take a photo.

But, I soldiered on. It was only Saturday so I could have another go to bake on Sunday. The dough wasn’t quite as good, but I put it back in the airing cupboard to rise, and over proofed it. You can see in the photo that it’s risen & collapsed. It also had a hard skin on the outside which was hiding a huge air bubble underneath. I baked it anyway, because I wanted to see what happened. I then over baked it. It obviously wasn’t my weekend. It was awful but we ate one loaf, like breadsticks. Waste not want not.



I’m in two minds whether to keep trying or to wait for my Sourdough Course at the E5 Bakery. But that’s in May. And let’s be honest, it’s no guarantee that I will be able to replicate at home…

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Sourdough Loaf : Attempt 1

I decided on a bit of a whim this Monday to make my first sourdough loaf, I was too excited to wait for the weekend. It wasn’t a great decision as I run with Goodgym on a Monday night so I’m not actually home for most of the evening. I roughly followed Dan Lepard‘s recipe for a White Leaven Loaf in The Handmade Loaf, but as I was out of the house I missed one of the kneading sessions, but it still seemed to be doing alright.

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Then I put it in the fridge over night, got it out in the morning to shape it & left it on the side in my (cold) kitchen for the day. I was quite disappointed with the rise when I got home, the dough was still very sticky & I wrecked the two tea-towels I’d risen them on, note to self if using tea towels you need a lot of flour, but I decided to bake them any way.

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The end results weren’t awful, which surprised me! It was slightly under-baked, so the lovely crisp crust softened quite quickly and it was quite dense because of it not rising properly, but it tasted quite good. There were some good bubbles in the dough and when the loaf first came out the crust was beautiful. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but they weren’t the disaster I thought they were initially. I’ve been doing a lot of reading so I’m looking forward to attempt two…

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