The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Sourdough Loaves

edroid's picture

First Sourdough Loaves

My first loaf of Sourdough bread from my first starter! I might have over-proofed a bit, to the detriment of oven spring. I used a Gaggenau steam oven for one loaf, and the casserole method for the second loaf. I still need to figure out the best setting for the Gaggenau steam oven - 100% steam for 20 minutes? 

I am quite happy with the crust and the taste. Quite tangy, and looking to see how it changes overnight. Great big bubbles in the crumb. 

Thanks to all the great bakers on this forum for the inspiration and the countless instructive posts! 

Most important question; how long can I live on a sourdough only diet? 



dmsnyder's picture

Without knowing the formula you used, it's a bit harder to judge proofing. A crumb with a few over-sized holes can be a sign of over-poofing, and poor oven spring can be another. If over-proofing is extreme, you also see a pale crust due to no sugar left for the Maillard reaction. Do you use "the poke test?"

Happy baking!


edroid's picture

I used the "Country Blonde" formula from Ken Forkish's incredible book. So 90% white flour, 5% of both whole wheat and rye, 78% hydration, and 22% levain (is it proper to represent the levain in that way?).

I added more water at the Autolyse because it just felt too dry, which might have been a mistake. . . It was a very wet dough, but looked about the same as in Ken's videos. 

I think I should have maybe worked the shaping a bit more to create more tension, and the finger poke test showed a bit overproofed. . . The loaves seem a bit flatish, but also look about like the pictures in Ken's book. 

Ken does not recommend slashing, but baking seam side up. No slashing was OK with me because I had plenty of new moves I was learning as it was! 

I used a lot of flour in the banneton, but the dough still stuck. First loaf I messily pulled out, second I rapped the banneton really hard on the counter and the loaf came out in a huge cloud of flour dust! 

Regarding the spiral design left by the banneton, I believe that Professor Calvel wrote that flour is not to be used as "frosting" on the loaf. It definitely does not taste great, but looks fantastic. 

All in all, I am thrilled with the results and yet absolutely humbled by how much more I have to learn. . . 

dmsnyder's picture

Okay. I know that formula and its siblings.  

First the basic: For a first sourdough loaf, that's pretty fantastic. Congratulations!

Second, your difficulty getting the loaves out of the brotformen, combined with the over-proofing, probably deflated the loaves and gave you a denser crumb. (Still not too snappy, though!). Dust your brotformen with a 50/50 mix of AP and rice flour. Rice flour is inherently non-adherent. Like Teflon.

Shaping comes with practice, like so much else, but a tight boule will generally give you a higher loaf, when combined with appropriate scoring (or none, as Forkish prescribes).

Looking forward to your rapid progress. You're certainly off to a good start.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in direct comparison, sourdough to yeasted dough with the same hydration, I tend to make my sourdough stiffer or slightly dryer as it tends to get looser as it ferments.  Much more so than yeasted bread dough.  Folding helps it to keep its shape as well.  Sourness will lessen as the yeast numbers rise in the starter.  

Mini            Very nice first loaf!   

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

I have been working with Ken's Country Blonde formula for a few months now.

I found that his overnight bulk proof was resulting in over-proofing. So I now retard the bulk proof overnight and then bring it up to room temp in the morning... monitoring for what I judge to be "sufficient" bulk ferment (more like double than triple volume).

Ken mentions "nearly triple" volume for bulk proofing... for me this is too much. I was losing a lot of gas in the shaping, and there was not enough "oomph" (technical term) left in the dough for a good final proof. I was getting somewhat flat loaves like yours.

I'm getting much better spring now, with shorter bulk ferment. It's all highly temperature dependent, so ymmv.

All that said, though. Your first loaves look good.

edroid's picture

Thanks for the helpful comments!

I tried Forkish's Country Blonde again, and learned a lot: (Sorry for the long post.)

Stretch and Fold: Do Not, I repeat, DO NOT, try to stretch and fold between cleaning and deveining jumbo shrimp for the barby. Visions of fish bread. I had to scrub my hands raw before each stretch and fold session! Having said that, I did five thorough stretch and folds, and really got great development. 

Hydration: I paid closer attention to hydrating at 78% this time. I was over hydrating, having read the horrors of high hydration doughs, I figured I needed to hydrate until the dough was a horror! I found these pictures to be of great help:

Shaping: I pre shaped and used much better technique, as recommended by this video:

Banneton: It was a huge help to dust with the aid of a strainer filled with a 50/50 mix of AP flour and white rice flour. When dusting with the use of a strainer, the flour stays put, when mashing on by hand, not so much. 

Proofing: Ken Forkish must have a very cold kitchen. I still over proofed and the loaves “finger dented” in less than half the time Ken recommended. Maybe I'll try a bit colder ferment and proof to improve the tang. 

Steaming: I am trying two techniques simultaneously. First is the “dutch oven” technique that is absolutely easy and hard to mess up. The second is using the steam generator of my Gaggenau oven. I was too timid at first, thinking I could over steam. I finally went for 100% steam with great results. 

Baking: I am not doing well here. Trying to juggle two new baking techniques is beyond my little mind: adjust for convection vs conventional, Tartine vs Forkish?, one temp for preheating dutch oven, another for with lid on, remember to remove lid, another temp for after removing lid, another for the Gaggenau oven, turning steam off after ten minutes for the Gaggenau, different browning rates, sheesh! I will try to really simplify next time. 

Bottom line: The taste is fantastic! While this was a huge improvement, I still want more oven spring, to make a rounder loaf. 

P.S. I also tried Hamelman's Pointe a Calliere (in boules), trying to mimic Poilane bread, and while the loaf was the prettiest thing I have ever made, I was unimpressed with the flavor and texture. Way more wheaty taste compared to my memory of Poilane, which also has a slight sour tang (I lived in Paris, and devoured Poilane continually.) I actually find the "Country Blonde" to be closer to Poilane. 

dabrownman's picture

turned out great.  Next week you will be opening a bakery!  Well done and

Happy Baking

edroid's picture

Thanks! I'm afraid if I tried to open a bakery, all my profits would be eaten up by management!