The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first sourdough batch!

Cooky's picture

My first sourdough batch!

Sourdough the FirstSourdough the First



Ta da! My first batch of real sourdough (made with white starter; still waiting for the rye to be ready). A friend is cooking for a local shelter and needs some bread to go with her ziti and salad, so ... 15 loave, ready to go. Yeah, there were 16, but guess what happened to one of 'em?

I'm pleased with everything except the very first out of three sets to go in the oven, which was cold. They're ok, but just not as good looking at the rest. The others also benefited from a bit longer proof too.

Well, it's all edible and now I want to make this stuff every day!



weavershouse's picture

The bakers on this site are amazing! 16 loaves and more again. What recipe did you use? I can't wait to see the rye. Great job.                 weavershouse

kjknits's picture

Wonderful-looking bread, and for such a great cause.  Great job!

Katie in SC

Floydm's picture

Those look great! Congrats!

Tam1024's picture

Wow! My first batch didn't look near as good as yours.  Where did you learn your slashing technique?  Nice Job Cooky!

susanfnp's picture

My hat is off to you! You can bake 5 loaves at once (If I understood you correctly)? How big is your oven?

Your cuts really opened nicely, those look fantastic.

You're in for it now that you've been bitten by the sourdough bug!


Jeffrey's picture

you make very nice bread

ehanner's picture

Great job Cooky. Helping your fellow man by providing one of the basic pleasures of life to those less fortunate earns you great respect with me. You are a fine example of caring and loving.


BROTKUNST's picture

Great loaves ! It's not that easy to get your quality ovenspring with a sourdough - never mind managing 16 loaves at the same time. Bakery Quality !



Paddyscake's picture

Very impressive, quantity and quality! Good goin...

SDbaker's picture

Great loaves!  What type of oven did you use?  Was steam used?

SD Baker

Cooky's picture

Gracias for all your kind comments. It's wonderful to get such great feedback whilst starting down this new road.

I made all the dough in two batches simultaneously. Recipe-wise, I multiplied a basic French bread formula -- 2 cups of flour to 1 cup of water -- with starter instead of poolish (a scant 1/4 cup per 3 c. of flour), autolyzed the heck out of it, gave it enough mixing to look fairly consistent, then folded it about four times before leaving it to ferment at cool room temp overnight. In the morning, it had doubled and then some. I folded it again (and it degassed quite a bit in the process, then put it in the fridge. When I came home from work, it had doubled again. (This starter is a champ!)

I immediately started cutting it into hunks (my new scale isn't here yet, so I eyeballed it) and shaped it into small baguettes/batards using the Forestier method from the Julia Child videos. (The 800 bench slaps part I skip, but her shaping style works pretty well for me.)

The texture of the dough was just about perfect for shaping -- soft but not too soft to handle -- and it worked better this time than the many other times I've tried it. Don't know if that's the dough or if I'm finally getting the hang of it.

I laid all the loaves on foil sheets covered with coarse corn meal (I ran out of parchment, which really would have worked better), and let them rest a bit then started putting them in the oven, three on the upper rack and two on the lower. As I mentioned I started with a cold oven, which worked but didn't give me great brown color on the first batch. The other loaves also feel a bit lighter, I'm sure because they had more time to proof.

I did spray the tops of the loaves and the walls of the oven to create some steam; did not use the pan in the bottom. I did not use a stone. I just put the loaves, foil and all, on cookie sheets. The foil stuck to the loaves, but peeled off okay (mostly) and the bottoms were nice and crispy.

Slashing also worked better with this dough than any other I have tried. Having achieved fairly rotten results in the past using razors, chef's knives and what-have-you, this time I picked out my wonderful, heavy serrated bread knife (Cuisinart, found it on sale for about $8). It worked fabulously, in part I think because the texture of this dough was so good -- nice and spongy.

It took 45-50 minutes for each batch at 425.

I can't take too much credit for the shelter thing. My friend does the real work -- cooking, delivering, serving. For me, it just provided a good excuse to try out my new sourdough starter. My investment was two bucks worth of flour and a whole lotta fun.

I had kind of laid off bread-baking for the last month or so because I was getting so discouraged at not making visible progress. So this sourdough adventure has given my enthusiasm a great kick-start.

Thanks again for all the encouragement!



"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

kjknits's picture

Well, cooky, sometimes all we need is one great batch to renew our energy for baking!  And that goes for almost everything else, too.  I am so glad to hear that it perked up your spirits.  (Trying to suppress a "Yay, bread!" here.)

Keep on baking, 

Katie in SC

zolablue's picture

Cooky, you should be quite proud of those!  Beautiful!  And you slashing is to be envied.  Wanna come over to my house and give me some help?  :o)

I have actually had the best luck slashing on French bread sourdough type breads as well.  Not sure why. 

Again, that is really a beautiful stack of bread.  Makes my mouth water.