No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Saturday 11th May 2013

The students on my 2013 Hornblotton course all decided they'd like to make a sourdough loaf on the 2nd session (of two) - so, not being as expert as I would like to be, I've been studying the subject all week.

I posted a request for help and support on two forums that I frequent, and got some good advice. I also turned to a former student of mine who has really gone to town with sourdough over the past year or so - he was also very helpful.

I gave my students the basic method of putting together a sourdough starter, but thought, as a backup, I'd better make enough starter for everyone - just in case!

I began on the Monday evening, mixing 25g each Doves Malthouse flour (sieved to remove the wheat berries) and Rye flour, plus 50g Doves Organic Wholemeal flour with 200g of boiled water. I placed this in a 500g Kilner jar (without the rubber seal so that it's not airtight)

25g Doves Malthouse flour (sieved) 
25g rye flour
50g Doves wholemeal
200g boiled water, cooled

1.3kg of starter almost fills the 2.8L food storer
I posted this on "The Fresh Loaf" and "The Food Board", two of the  forums I use:

"...I began making my starter on Monday, by Tuesday evening it was active, and I've been dividing and feeding it ever since.

ATM I've got 1.3ltrs of active starter - 
which I could easily double by Sunday. I'm not sure, as I write, how many students will turn up with their own starter on Sunday, so mine may have to suffice for all.
My gut feeling is that I should refresh the starter on Saturday evening, then, on the Sunday we should go for a small loaf for each student, comprising 50% starter.

1.32kg of starter (2:1 water to flour), refreshed with 440g of flour and no liquid, would give me 1760g of starter, at a ratio of 1:1, wouldn't you agree?

This amount divided by 10 students = 170g of starter. To make a loaf with a 62.5% hydration (normal 1lb flour to 10fl oz water), we'd need to add 115g flour and 40g water.

It's only a small loaf, I know, but I've only got 1 domestic oven and 5 small (size of a microwave) ovens to work with.

I figure if we make up the sourdough first thing on Sunday morn, then leave it through the day, it may well be ready to bake sometime in the afternoon. If it's not, then the students would have to take it home to bake it.

One further question - between now and Saturday, would you recommend me refreshing the starter (and discarding half?)

What do you guys think?"

And received a lot of good advice!

This morning I added 440g of flour to the starter and left it for three hours. Then I took out 100g of starter and added 150g of white flour and 75g water, plus a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and 25g of olive oil.

This was a little more moist than I wanted, so I added a dessertspoon of flour, and kneaded it for a minute or two. I shaped it into a small oval, then placed it on some baking parchment and covered it with the scale pan.

This was then left for four hours while I went for a swim and did some supermarket shopping.

About 6 in the evening, with the oven on for dinner, I placed the loaf in the oven and baked it for 25 or so minutes at 220C.

It's very nearly got the 'flying saucer' look about it, but I think I've just got away with it!

And here's the crumb. Judging by this, another hour or so's proving would have perhaps been better - but, I'm pretty pleased with it even so. I wait to hear what my supportive (both internet and real life) friends have to say about it.

On the day everything went very well - better than I could have expected, in that each student made 2 sourdough loaves, one with my starter and one the students had made.

We had enormous fun with it - and with the rest of the breads we made.

The next day, encouraged by my success, and having a large supply of starter on hand I decided to make a couple of batches of sourdough - a chocolate and beetroot loaf, which I'd made before, and some Chelsea buns.

Chocolate and beetroot - put to prove

Risen and ready to bake

I found a jar of mincemeat in the fridge which needed using up, so I spread the dough with the mincemeat before rolling up - lovely!
Only 40 minutes in the oven - for a 1.3kg loaf I don't think that was long enough. Difficult to tell this loaf by colour!

The crumb
[I need to put my recipe for the loaf on here - I wrote it down somewhere, but can't find it ATM. However, I'll get a recipe up here eventually. Ditto the Chelseas]

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