The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Bread

Maha Jawed's picture
Maha Jawed

Sourdough Bread

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 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I suspect the oven was a tad too hot and the insides didn't finish baking.  Otherwise everything reads and looks good.  Congrats!  

You might want to lower the shelf in the oven.  Try to imagine the top of the completely risen loaf as the center of the oven and adjust the shelf accordingly.  If the top is browning too quickly, a quick fix is to dome a piece of alu-foil and cover the top of the loaf real fast.  The other fix is to lower the rack or flip the bread upside down as you did.  Well done!  That's using your noggin!    :)