The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% sourdough

Maha Jawed's picture
Maha Jawed

Hi Guys, 

I'm new on this blog, infact fairly new at baking bread. The past three weeks have all been about bread. Have tried my hands at baguettes, ciabatta, sandwich bread white and whole wheat. All with varying results. Some were great, others not so much. 

My biggest challenge, and rightly so, has been baking Sourdough. I've been following Richard Bertinets recipe from him book Crust. Followed everything to a tee but had some unsatisfying results by the finished product. 

My Starter:

50g spelt flour- 150g strong white flour- 20g honey- 150g warm water.

I combined everything very well and let it sit for around 48 hours. After which the skin darkened a bit and had lots of bubbles. Everything was going according to the recipe/pictures. I then fed the starter with

30g spelt- 280g strong flour- 150g warm water

Left it for 24 hours after which it smelled sweet and lightly fermented. Again, all was going according to plan. I then used around 200g of starter and added:

400g strong white flour, 200g warm water

Mixed it well and left it for around 15 hours. After which, to slow the fermentation, i transfered the starter to the fridge for around 48 hours. Now Richard says by this point the starter would've expanded a bit. Mine didn't expand too much, in fact i felt the top was quite hard and it didn't have too many bubbles on top. But when i moved the skin around i felt the starter below had many small holes and was quite sticky. I thought it may need more time to ferment so i left it in the fridge for another 12 hours. It still looked the same. I didn't have a great feeling about it but i went ahead anyway. 

A day before baking, the recipe asked to use around 400g of the starter mixed with 700g of strong white flour- 650g warm water- 20g salt- 90g of spelt flour. I mixed all the ingredients except the salt, transfered it to my counter and started kneading the dough (the lift and slap method) for about ten minutes after which i added salt and kneaded it for another 5-6 minutes by which time the dough was quite smooth. I lightly floured the work surface, turned the dough into a ball and left it to rest for an hour. Now the book says to then flour the work surface again and let it reast for another hour before cutting it and putting it in the proving basket, but somehow i managed to miss this step. And after letting the dough rest in the bowl for an hour i proceeded to cut/shape and put in the proving basket for around 20 hours. 

The next day the book/dvd said that the dough would double in size and feel very soft from the inside with a hardish skin on the outside. I felt my dough was definitely sof on the inside with a skin outside but it didn't expand too much. I decided to bake it anyway to see what the result was so i took the dough out of the proving basket transfered it to a thin board (i use as a wood peel) made slashes and baked it in my oven which had been preheating for 1:35 minutes with a terracota tile. I sprayed the oven with water generously and then put the bread in and sprayed a lil more. (just like bertinet does) Cooked at 250 for 5 minutes then put the temp down to 220 for 20 minutes. The bread had risen considerably and looked fantastic but at the end of the 20 minutes i noticed the top was nicely brown but the bottom wasnt, in fact it was quite white. I lowered the temp to 200 and cooked for another 15 minutes. Even then the bottom didnt have much color so i took it out cos the top was getting very dark and put in loaf #2. Followed the same procedure with loaf two, which had the same issue with the bottom. So after the whole cooking time i turned the bread upside down. It definitely got the color i was looking for. 

So now i had 2 loaves on me both looked pretty good from the top and when i tasted it, felt the crust was excellent and the dough had the most amazing tang. the only problem was it felt doughy and quite heavy. So my flatmate and i ended up eating the crusts with butter which seriously tasted excellent and realized the insides werent very nice. 

I'm attaching pictures for you guys to see. Would love feedback on where i went wrong and how i could fix it. I have over 400g of started dried and put in jars in my fridge. Would really want to understand everything before using all of it. 

Would really appreciate some guidance. 


Loaf #1

Loaf #1 Cut up 

Loaf #2 

brewmeister70's picture

50/50 Durum - White flour sourdough from Classic Sourdoughs: I'm happy!

November 17, 2012 - 7:34pm -- brewmeister70



I'm new to this site and can't contain my joy at how the bread I just baked has come out, so thought it would be worth sharing.


The recipe is from Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood and is the Basic Durum Bread:

240ml (1 cup) ripe starter, white unbleached flour

15g butter (unsalted)

240ml (1 cup) whole milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon raw caster sugar (15g)

210g (1 1/2 cups) Durum flour

210g (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour


mwilson's picture

To me, the pinnacle Panettone. Formula comes from Iginio Massari.

This is the most challenging formula for Panettone, hence why I have been so drawn to it. I rise to technical challenges. I followed the formula, timings and temperatures without compromise.

Iginio Massari’s formulas typically use only 25% natural yeast and cooler temps for the first dough. The result, more flavour… I can still recall that familiar aroma after the first rise. So aromatic!

Oven spring was huge. I didn’t know when it was going to stop… Lasting nearly 20mins.

The taste and texture was perfect. I made the choice to use super strong Canadian flour to get that fluffy character I was looking for. A clean taste, not a hint of acidity or sourness. Just sweet, light, fluffy goodness, natural and nutritious.

The volume increase from dough to finished product was about 6 fold. All that lift created by my natural yeast...
Here it floats in water fermenting away. Beloved lievito 2.0! 


Justkneadit's picture

Ok, I'm officially frustrated. My first boule turned out pretty good, thought maybe just the shaping needed some work. Since then my past two sourdough boules have gone haywire and here are the results of this weekend's bake. Looks decent from the outside but just wait..

Crumb...tight in places...

what the heck is this...That's definitely the bottom...

I follow the original recipe found here.

Changes I made were as follows:

  • 21h 10m in the fridge for the cold autolyse with a flip after 12 hours.
  • I let the dough sit in the brotform for 2 hours after shaping and before storing in the fridge for 24h 40m.
  • Let the dough proof for 8 hours.
  • Used a 1/2 cup of water for steam instead of 1 cup. All the temps were nearly the same.
So why in the world did the bottom of the freakin' loaf rise. Please some one help me out!Lane


Justkneadit's picture

Yeah, those are the best two words to describe this weekend's sourdough boule. I prefer to embarrass myself on accident, hence no pictures. I guess every baker is entitled to a few mishaps here and there. I'll get to the points of where I went wrong.

Same recipe as before except:

  • Instead of 4 S&F w/30 min in between, I felt bold and thought 2 S&F w/ 45 in between would be enough and it might have had I not waited 30 min to shape after final S&F, which caused a lot of bubbles at the surface, which then caused burns spots. Well almost burned.
  • Then in final proof it didnt seem like the dough was rising so I proofed for 8hr, and then 1 hour in the microwave with a cup of hot water at 90F.
  • The what would be bottom seemed to develop a thicker skin this time, so maybe that hindered proper rising.
  • To top it all of the son-of-a-wheatfield stuck to the brotform and ripped and deflated a good amount by the time I was ready for the oven. I like the flour lines but jeez, I wont spare any flour next time and just brush it off once out of the brotform. I really don't feel like wasting another 48 hours of work. Oh and 1/2 cup of steam instead of 1 cup.

So because of the brotform fiasco and the tougher bottom skin the loaf baked like a giant popover almost. Scoring needed to be deeper too. All-in-all it turned out to be a good learning what-not-to-do experience. Since the ingredients were right, and even though the bread was dense, it was soft and still tasty. 

I challenge you to yet another duel you boule!

Justkneadit's picture

With all that discard starter I just couldn't help but send it to the griddle.

Just a little closer...

I followed kjknits recipe, except I let it sit out for 14 hours and in the fridge for 2 hr. I had to make a trip the farmers market. My palate couldn't complain.

viks's picture

Retarding dough at home

September 30, 2012 - 1:09pm -- viks


I've been frustrated for some time, not having a professional retarder at home for controlling and regulating the retarding temperature.

The problem is that the room temperature at my home is too high and depends on the weather and the temperature inside my refrigerator is too low (3°c / 37°f).

For proper retarding, getting a good wild yeast and enzyme action, as far as I know, about 10°c (50°f ) is needed.

ouhrabko's picture

Too bubbly dough and flatness of loaf?

July 14, 2012 - 4:42am -- ouhrabko

Hello,  i would like ask you for advice. 

i ´m making too flat loaves.  I´ve handled how to make half rye sourdough caraway seed bread and i wanted tray got some white, french, sourdough bread.   But, it doesn´t workinkg for me. 

I have well developed gluten, i have enough of steam in oven - most problematic part is geting loaf to baking sheet - the dough is to soft and get flat and don´t get rise up.  Easy solution is - high hydration. But it´s happend, when i folowed Rainhart´s formula for  miche very strictly.  



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