The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Susans Norwich sourdough bread

caviar's picture

Susans Norwich sourdough bread

I recently baked Susan's wonderful Norwich bread trying to follow her recipe as closley as possible with two exceptions. I used a starter (100%) made with whole wheat flour as that is what I have been using lately and I also made two batards using brotforms, one with 64 oz (volume) capacity and one with 80 oz. Both times I ended up with the loaves spreading out a lot before I scored them. The scoring didn't seem to make any difference in the shape before baking.

When I mixed the dough before adding salt the dough was very dense and stuck to the paddle  and wouldn't combine so I added water a little at a time until it would. After a 30 min. autolase and addiung salt I had a similar problem with the dough clinging to the dough hook even at medium (3) speed on the KA mixer so I added more water until it would spread out and stick to bottom at least.
After about 4 min. the first time I made it and after about 6 min. the second time I scraped the sticky and slack dough into the bowl and put it into my home made proofing box ( thanks to people from TFL) I stretched and folded as best I could in the bowl as suggested. This would pick up the and of course I had to use a scraper to lift. The dough did have a firme feel to it but the next time for folding the dough had not risen  or pulled together at all and didnt seem any different after folding than after the first fold. The first time I made the bread I hadto refrigerate it because of time constraints after 1 1/2 hours in the proofer.

Both bread attempts flattened out after tipping them out of the brotforms onto the parchment and peel. Both times it took a while before they loosened from the brotforms. I sprayed them with oil and dusted them with the combo of rice and AP flour. One of the loaves took a little mor persuasion to loosed up. This one flattened more than the others. My oven heats about 25 deg high so the second time I adjusted the temp to that condition. The first batch ended up with a harder crust and a little darker color. The bread tastes really great, has nice color but shows fewer and smaller holes.

After trying to find some snswers to the flattening on this and otherweb sites I searched Susan's web site for the recipe. I had printed it I think from TFL one time. There was one change I noticed right away that was she included a desired dough temp of 76 F. I the one I had printed previously the only reference was that the water added shoul be 74F. My house is usually about 68 deg.

 Could this make that much difference? The dough was quite floppy when shaped.

Niashi's picture

This recipe I've used exclusively, so I have some experience with the dough.

I am using Susans recipe for starter and my house temp is higher than yours (approx 80 due to all the cooking I do).

This is a very wet dough and so it will be very slack (throughout the entire process). I haven't used a KA mixer in a very long time, I personally have a Bosch mixer and I use the plastic bowl with wet doughs such as this.

At first when combining the dough should be a bit dense and very tacky and definitely sticks to my dough hook. After it autolyses, some gluten should develop, but not fully. In all examples of cooking with this recipe, I never had to alter any amounts of the recipe.

I continue to mix, but because my Bosch is powerful (if I worry that I am mixing for too long, I will take the temperature of the dough), I do give the dough some rest time during the second mix. In her recipe, she provides a link for the windowpane test for gluten. I mix until I develop the medium gluten stated in the recipe (since this is the most important part of that step). When I pull it out to put it in my container for first fermentation, the dough is very slack and sticky, but also elastic.

I use a long but short disposable throw-away Glad plastic container for first fermentation. I spray with cooking oil. My dough ends up producing the same look/texture as shown in her video of the folding. I have found at this stage, yes it is still very slack, tacky but not sticky. I don't end up with bits of dough on my hands like when I transferred from the mixer to the container.



I am actually about to make a fresh batch of this recipe. If you would like, I can take extensive photos of the entire process for you.

*EDIT* I realize that it may take you a while before getting to this post, so just to be safe, I will just go ahead and photo-document for you. The entire process is long, so you won't see any photos until much later, unless you want me to post while I wait for fermentation and proofing, then post the final results at the end.

caviar's picture

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply to my problem. I have a few questions to clarify in my mind the process. First, When you do the first "mix" do you use the dough hook? Second, Do you do a second autolase and for how long? Third, do you think the room temperature before either fermentation is important and therefore shouldclose attention to the dough? Fourth, the dough was way too sticky to do a window pane test, so if after paying close attention to the dough temp it was still not developed enough I should continue to mix (Kneed)?              

The mixer I used is the KA pro 6. I t does a bit when starting the first mix which seemed very dry which is why I added water. I have an Assistent mixer but I don't seem to have much success with it unless I'm doing a large batch.

Thanks again I'm looking forward to your pictures.Including pictures is another thing I have not been able to do but I have someone coming over today to try to help me. It would be I think helpful to demonstrate the situation.


bnom's picture

Niashi, that's interesting that you find the dough slack...I've found it too stiff and had best results holding back 150 grams of flour.  I don't doubt that your dough is slack, but I wonder what factor accounts for the difference--flour? weather? I includie a crumb shot--does it resemble yours?. (I would add it as a thumbnail but I've never been successful in doing so)

caviar's picture

Here's another attempt to insert pictures. These are two of the second attempt to make the Norwich sourdough bread.Norwich sourdough

Niashi's picture


THe man mislabelled HPIM0992, that's actually me putting the dough into the container.


Now, I will say that mine is a bit heavy on the rye. I had just fed my starter rye flour on the last feeding before i made this batch. The husband has a major thing for rye, so he loves it if the last feeding has rye in it before I made sourdough loaves.


I'll have to get a crumb shot. I don't have a recent one because I was experimenting with my clay baker, but the loaves from last night have cooled so I can cut one and check the crumb. Mine will be a bit like Caviar's I think.

I am not a pro by any means with sourdough. I'm actually still learning, but I always use her Norwich because I always get consistent results.  I even use it for sourdough pizza (such as last night). THe only change I do to her recipe for sourdough pizza, is I replace 2 to 2.5% of the 900g flour with vital wheat gluten (I made the dough the day before and retarded the dough in the fridge before making pizza with it, It's the only recipe I've been truly happy with for sourdough pizza so far. If you like, I can include some shots)


For flour on her recipe: I am using either KAF bread flour, or Stone-Buhr bread flour.  For Rye, I am using Bob;s Red Mill Dark Rye (I have some KAF pumpernickle arriving tomorrow).

If haven't done any cooking or preheating (I cook in clay baker with a cold start), etc before I start cooking sourdough, my house is normally between 72 - 76 F.  If I have already been cooking, right around 80 - 85 F.


Yeah, my crumb doesn't have a lot of large holes. I think I am having issues with over proofing. But my pizza dough has holes like that, some much larger. But as always, very sour and very tasty.

caviar's picture

Thanks niashi for the pictures. Pictures really do help clarify what's going on. I managed to get two pictures added of my Norwich bread on the string. They  don't show the flatness too well. Dewpite the appearcanxce the bread is really deliciious. I noticed that you said the flour you weighed out is bread flour not AP flour. Have you tried using AP flour? I used KAF  AP flour and their Pumpernickel. Susan listed Heartlan  Mills all Purpose which seems to similar to KAF. Thanks again  and if you can post pictures of your finished loaves and crumb i'd love to see them.

Your pictures of the process were really helpful.    Herb

Niashi's picture

I'll see I can get the husband to post my crumb shops from my camera (I'm at work). Otherwise, you're stuck with crappy cell phone camera quality pictures =/


Yes, I understand Susan uses AP on her recipe, but shes also using a malted AP flour. Because of that, I was kind of worried about using AP. When I started my sourdough escapades, I wasn't using KAF, I was using a locally milled flour called Stone-Buhr and wasn't sure about the malt content. I still use them, but I also use KAF now and I also know now that Stone-Buhr's contents are just fine. Store runs out of KAF all the time, I replace with Stone-Buhr and works great, just their protein levels vary a lot, 11 to 15%.


My KAF Pumpernickle showed up this morning (amazingly enough my second package from them somehow got separated and still awaiting its arrival =.( )


I'll give it a shot with AP (I've got some KAF still) and pumpernickle.


Although my bread does not have super wonderful holes (saddens me that I still suck that bad), it tastes very awesome, it keeps well, it's very sour and chewy, it's just so great. I love this recipe.