Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn’t my starter behave like yours?

Firstly, starters will behave differently in different environments, plus the use of different water or flour will generate different looks and behaviours in starters, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wring with them. The fact is that your starter does not need to look like mine; as long as it is doing the job it needs to do, it’s perfect!

If you think it needs a boost, try my starter boost.

I’ve followed your recipe to a T but my dough isn’t like yours..

Unless you are using the same flour, starter, and/or water as me, your dough will not necessarily look or behave like mine. And it doesn’t need to. As long as you are baking lovely healthy homemade bread, that’s all that matters.

If there are issues with your dough that are leading to loaves you are unhappy with, those things can be diagnosed and fixed, and in which case do read on.

Why is my dough sticky?

This can either be due to the flour you are using, some fours will always be sticky to work with, or maybe all you need to do is to try using a bit less water in your dough and see if it makes a difference; some flours are happier with less water. Try 25g less water and see if it helps.

Or, alternatively dough can be sticky as a result of over proving. Keep an eye on your room temperature and how long your are proving for on the counter to ensure that your dough does not over prove. I typically prove my dough for 8-10 hours at temperatures of 18C/64F – 20C/68F. If it’s warmer where you are this needs to be much shorter (likewise if it’s colder, this needs to be longer!).

Why does my dough stick to the banneton?

This can happen if you banneton is not sufficiently prepared for the purpose. Your banneton needs to have a nice crust of rice flour, and more rice flour added when you put the dough into the banneton to ensure that it doesn’t stick.

To prep your new banneton, sprinkle the inside with water, sprinkle in rice flour, tap it round the inside of the banneton, then leave it to dry. This way it creates a virtual non stick layer.

Rice flour is non porous which is why it is perfect for this job. Check out my video here for more information on how to prep your banneton.

Alternatively your dough is sticking for the reasons mentioned in the previous question.

Why does my dough spread?

This may be due to either your flour not being strong enough, or too much water in your dough, or not building up enough structure in your dough during the pulls and folds. As a starting point, try 25g less water in your dough.

It can also be due to over proving, see above.

Why can’t I score my dough?

As above, it can be due to several possible reasons, a soft dough will a,ways be difficult to score so ensure that you have a firm well structured dough. Also make sure that your blade is thin enough and sharp enough for the job.

You could try leaving the dough for longer in the fridge and if that doesn’t help, try less water in the dough and see if that makes all the difference.

What is the final prove in the fridge for?

The aim of the time in the fridge is several fold: it allows the dough to firm up so that when it is turned out of the banneton it holds its shape, whilst also making it easier to score.

It also helps to develop the flavour of your loaf, as well as allowing the baking time to fit in with life.

Do I need to preheat my pan?

No, you don’t need to preheat your pan, I never do, even if you have a cast iron Dutch oven it’s not necessary.

Can I scale recipe up or down?

My master recipe is easy to scale up or down; to make multiple loaves, feed your starter sufficient flour and water to generate what you need ie 30g flour + 30g water to make 1 loaf; 60+60 for 2; 90+90 for 3, and so on.

To make smaller loaves, scale down that quantities, for example, 300g flour, 210g water, 30g starter, 1/2 tsp salt. Do everything else exactly the same and bake for 35-45 mins.

How much starter should I start with?

Start with all of it. Hopefully you are only keeping 100-150g of starter, in which case, always feed the entire amount, it helps build the strength of the starter every time you use it this way.

How much time is required between each set of pulls and folds?

There is no fixed time; fit in 4-5 sets of pulls and folds during the time you have, it doesn’t need to be at fixed timed intervals, just do them as fits in with life.

Why don’t my loaves look like yours?

No two loaves ever look the same, even in my kitchen, and with different ovens, flours & water, your loaves will be unique to you and your kitchen. As long as they taste great, that’s all that matters.

If you still have questions, please contact me directly.