🌟 This loaf was made using my master recipe with the first mixes done in my KitchenAid mixer. The details below explain how I made it for anyone that would like to, or needs to, use a mixer when making my recipes.
🌟 Sourdough can be made in many ways, I love to make mine by hand, but sometimes using a mixer is useful when I have lots of doughs to make, or I want to give my arms a break; as always, there’s no mess, no faff, no unnecessary steps with my process. Just simple straightforward steps.
🌟 You can use any size of KitchenAid mixer, I used my tilt head one to make this loaf, using the dough hook and the stainless steel mixing bowl that comes with the mixer, and baking in my usual enamel roaster.
This is what I do:
🌟 I use my standard master recipe: 50g starter, 350g water, 500g flour, salt 🌟 I mix the ingredients in the standard stainless steel bowl with the dough hook on setting 1 for 4-5 mins. 🌟 I take the dough hook out and place it in a covered bowl in between uses so that the dough doesn’t dry on it. 🌟 I then cover the bowl and let it sit on the counter for 1.5-2 hours, I then mix it again using the same dough hook on setting 1 for 3-4 mins. I cover the bowl again and let it sit. 🌟 After an hour I perform a set of pulls and folds on the dough with the dough still in the mixer bowl. I cover the bowl again and let it sit. 🌟 Before going to bed I do another set of pulls and folds then cover the bowl again and leave it to prove overnight. 🌟 In the morning, with the dough still in the mixer bowl, I pull the dough into a tight ball and place it into my usual banneton. Covered it and put it into the fridge. 🌟 After a few hours, I turn the dough out into my usual enamel roaster pan, scored, put the lid on and bake at 220C/450F fan/convection for 55 mins from a cold start, with the lid on the whole time. 🌟 And the lovely loaf above and below is the outcome.
I made this loaf using my KA with the standard size 4.3l bowl. I also have a larger sized machine with a 4.8l bowl which is perfect for making 2 doughs at once and still all staying in the bowl the whole time, the double batch fits in it perfectly for mixing and proving. Or you can use whatever mixer you have.
🌟 TOP TIP: soak your mixer bowl and dough hook in cold water to soak off any dough, not hot water, it will cook the dough onto the bowl. 🌟
A question that I am often asked is: where can I get a better lame, mine doesn’t seem to work that well?
And as much as I have a very beautiful new branded lame I might very happily wish to sell you, usually the issue isn’t actually the lame, it’s the dough.
If you are having issues scoring your dough, it truly is unlikely to be an issue with the lame. Instead my questions to you would be:
Was your dough soft and sticky after the overnight proof?
When you turned your dough out from the banneton did it spread?
When you tried to score your dough did the lame just drag through it?
Did the dough collapse and not hold any shape?
But first and foremost, I would ask, how did your loaf bake?
The answer to all of the questions that I get posed about dough and loaves, is always, how did the loaf bake; because if your dough bakes to a wonderful loaf that you thoroughly enjoyed, then it doesn’t matter how the scoring went, or how your dough behaved.
However, if you feel you would like your loaf to be somewhat enhanced or different, then read on…
If you have a nice sharp lame, or a thin sharp blade that you use, and still it drags through your dough, your dough needs some input. If your dough is soft and sticky it either needs less water from the start, or it over proved, or just needs to be pulled tighter for the banneton.
If you’re happy with your dough but would like an cleaner surface to score, or more time to score pretty patterns, before baking, place your banneton full of dough into the freezer for 30 minutes, then turn it out, score and bake.
If you would like to purchase one of my lames, of course you’d be more than welcome and you can find them here. But to get the best out of using them, or whatever you’ve got, work on firming up your dough first. Then score slowly, be decisive, and score deeper than you probably think you need to. If I can help, get in touch.
What makes a gummy loaf? I get asked this a lot so I thought I’d share some answers and possibilities here…there can be a few reasons:
🌟 Slicing into a loaf before it’s cooled enough will give you a lovely warm slice of fresh bread, but it won’t be at its best, it will end up gummy from the steam; I leave my loaves for hours and hours before slicing into them. That way they’re light and dry and the texture I want them to be. If you can’t wait, go for it, but just do keep this in mind.
🌟 Over proving can produce a moist crumb, if your loaf is wide and flat and pale on the outside with small holes and a slightly damp interior, it may well be over.
🌟 Under baking can produce a gummy interior. Try baking for longer.
🌟 Is your pan big enough for your loaf? If the pan is too small and your loaf doesn’t have the space it needs to grow as it bakes it will hinder the bake and prevent it from being fully baked inside.
🌟 Too much water can also produce a damp loaf. Try less water with your flour.
🌟 Uneven heat in your oven can be the culprit – if you loaf is nicely golden on the outside but gummy or moist in the inside, it’s baking too quickly on the outside. Trying reducing the temperature you’re baking at and bake for a bit longer. Experiment until you find the sweet spot, and take notes along the way.
🌟 Consider if you’ve added any inclusions? Have they added liquid to the dough you didn’t account for?
🌟 If you live somewhere humid and you’ve baked your lovely loaf and left it out for several hours to cool, the humidity can soften the crust and damped the loaf, try to catch it whilst it’s still crisp on the outside and store it in something that will repel moisture.
🌟 A gummy loaf could be as a result of one, or more, of these. As always, the best way to find your solution is to go through an elimination process and change one thing at a time and make notes, always make notes.
If all else fails, make toast. Dry your slices of bread out in the toaster and enjoy 🤩
Let me tell you the story of this huge and beautiful loaf…
For this dough I used my ‘same day’ process as I planned to make and bake the dough within the same day. That meant I used 100g starter instead of my usual 50g, (see ingredients details below) and I mixed the dough up mid morning. I left it in my kitchen to do it’s thing, when really I should have put it in a warm space as per my same day process in my books, but I didn’t, I left it on the counter.
As it was cold, as the day went on the dough didn’t really do much, so I took a risk and left it out all night in addition to the time it had on the counter all day. It was so cold I decided it was worth a go…and luckily, it worked! This is what I woke up to…
A HUGE beautiful dough! And a beautifully structured dough too.
Due to the cold weather this dough had proved for around 18 hours in total and remained perfectly intact and ready to bake into a great loaf. The chilli give it a nice hit of heat and the chocolate adds a richness and brings out the chilli flavour nicely.
NOTE: Below are the ingredients I used, the mixture of the sugars in the chocolate and the oat milk, the added starter and the chilli all added to produce this beautiful dough which baked into such a big loaf it hit the top of my pan, as you can see by the slight dip in the top of the loaf in the first photo.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using this much starter typically unless you can watch the dough or manage the time and temperature. If I make this again I will use my usual 50g starter and my usual timings.
100g starter/50g starter
350g oat milk/400g oat milk (or milk of your choice)
500g strong white bread flour
50g grated/flakes 80% dark chocolate (use your own choice of chocolate)
30g pul biber/Aleppo chilli flakes (these are quite mild, and gives the loaf a nice heat, if you want more of a kick, use a stronger ground chilli powder/chilli flakes)
Salt to taste
Follow my master recipe or use the same day process in either of my books.
To answer the questions that came up when I shared this dough: this dough is not over proved. If it was over it would have collapsed and been bubbly and hard to handle; this was a perfectly proved well structured dough.
It’s magic, it’s joy, it’s a bowl of happiness, excitement and possibility, it’s our love child, it makes us smile every time we use it…it’s all those things, and I truly love mine, but in reality…
🌟🌟 In basic terms: its our raising agent, and it’s what gives sourdough its texture and flavour. 🌟🌟
The key difference between a starter and other bread raising agents is that starter is in liquid form and lives and lasts forever, as opposed to other raising agents, such as commercially sold yeast or baking powder, which are in dried form and can be added straight from a package.
And that’s it, it truly is as simple as that, as scary as it can sometimes seem. I know that the idea of a ‘living’ thing that we keep forever can worry people, there’s that fear about keeping it alive, but I promise, they’re really hard to actually kill! It’s far easier to keep a starter alive than wiping it out – unless you mistakenly cook it of course, which has been done, or it gets mouldy.
🌟 Flour and water, that’s all it is, flour, water and time. My top tips to make and to keep your starter in good condition are:
🌟 Use good flour. You can use any wheat flour to make a starter, as a learner I would highly recommend using strong white bread flour or wholewheat/wholemeal flour. And choose the best quality that you can, it does make a difference and is worth the investment in your starter.
A perfect festive table centrepiece…sourdough meets beautiful flour meets chocolate!
This loaf is a marriage of wonderful flour and yummy chocolate! Cotswold Crunch flour is the best flour in the world in my opinion, it’s so tasty, and so easy to use, and in this recipe I am using it to make an enriched dough, with the added extra of chopped up chocolate to create a moreish loaf, perfect for the festive season, as well as any time you fancy a treat.
🌟🌟🌟 NOTES: The sweetness in the flour and the oat milk all adds to making this a tasty loaf; the butter, or peanut butter, adds an extra richness. And of course, the bursts of chocolate are the jewels of fabulousness throughout! If you want extra sweetness, add honey or sugar to the dough at the start; for my tasters this has been sweet enough, but if your tasters prefer something sweeter, it is easy to tweak.
If you like the chocolate orange idea but do not have access to it, try using your choice of chocolate and some added orange flavouring, maybe an orange essence or extract, orange oil, dried orange powder, or some finely grated orange zest. Suggested amounts for a really good orange flavour: 1 to 2 tsp orange extract or the zest of 1 to 2 oranges.
EDIT: one of my lovely bakers has also suggested using a blood orange infused oil to add the orange flavour.
🌟🌟🌟 This recipe is inspired by a recipe I created for my new book, so if you like it, you might like my upcoming book 🌟🌟🌟
Prep time: up to 24 hours with maximum 30 minutes hands on time
Baking time: 60-70 mins
Essential equipment for this recipe: I bake this recipe in a ‘12 cup’ Bundt tin, measuring 26.7D x 26.7W x 11.4H cm, you could also use a loaf tin or cake tin.
50g active sourdough starter
400g oat milk, or milk of your choice
500g Cotswold Crunch flour
100g butter or peanut/nut butter of your choice
150g chopped chocolate of your choice, or 1 whole Terrys chocolate orange, opened and chopped up
7g salt, or to taste
Yield: 1 full size loaf
NOTE: You can find Cotswold Crunch here. If you’re not in the UK, try your favourite flour/s, I think a mix of strong white bread flour and wholegrain spelt flour would be nice, and maybe a touch of rye flour too for its natural sweetness.
Step 1: Late afternoon/early evening, roughly mix together all the ingredients to a sticky lumpy dough; it does not need to be fully mixed at this point, it will become mixed in fully as you complete the next steps. Cover the bowl with a shower cap, and leave the bowl on the counter.
Step 2: After 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough, lifting and pulling the dough across the bowl all the way round, until it starts to come into a soft chocolate studded ball, then stop. The dough will be sticky. Cover the bowl again and leave it to sit on the counter.
Step 3: After another hour, perform another set of pulls and folds on the dough, covering the bowl afterwards. This will be a big dough, it will be stretchy and textured between the chocolate pieces, and will come together into a soft ball. Cover the bowl again.
Step 4: Leave it counter overnight, it will typically require 8 to 12 hours to fully prove at room temperatures between 18 to 20°C/64 to 68F. If it has been colder, it may need longer.
Step 5: In the morning, the dough will have grown, if it has not doubled in size yet, allow it a few more hours to continue to prove. This is a heavy dough and may take longer to fully prove than others.
Spray a light layer of oil or grease the inside of your Bundt tin with butter if needed.
Once the dough is two times its original size, firmly perform a final set of pulls and folds on the dough to pull it into a ball. The dough will be big and studded with the chocolate pieces. Pick up the ball of dough in one hand, and with your other hand ease a hole into the middle of the ball of dough creating a big bagel shape, then place it into the Bundt pan, placing it over the top of the upright in the middle of the pan, then cover it with the same shower cap. Allow the dough to prove again, letting it fill approximately half to three quarters of the pan. The time this takes will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.
Step 6: To bake, you can bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. Place parchment paper, followed by a baking sheet, on the top of the Bundt pan, to serve as a lid. As a tip, I then place ceramic baking beads in the pan to hold the pan in place on top of the Bundt tin. If preheating, set the oven to 160°C/320F fan assisted or 180°C/360F non fan assisted/conventional.
If you preheated the oven, bake, covered, for 55 to 65 minutes. If using a cold start, place the covered pan of dough in the oven, set the temperature as above and set a timer for 60 or 70 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Step 7: Remove the loaf from the oven, remove the baking sheet and paper, allow the loaf to cool for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool. If you would like the loaf to have more colour, return it to the oven, on the rack, sitting on an oven tray, and bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Then remove and cool slightly before slicing – but definitely tuck in whilst warm 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩
Recipe notes: the dough will be sticky and heavy initially, and it will remain a heavy dough, but it will grow and will bake to something wonderful! If you can’t shape it into a smooth ball, don’t worry, just place it into the Bundt tin as evenly as possible, the tin will shape it for you.
One of the key things to know about making sourdough successfully, and something that I write about in everything I produce (and talk about endlessly) is how the weather, especially heat and cold, affects making sourdough.
As soon as I understood this connection, it exponentially improved my sourdough making and this is what I try and pass on to all of my foodbod Sourdough bakers: the weather is a key ingredient in the success of making sourdough bread, and as soon as you understand that, your bread making will fly!
Making sourdough can seem challenging in any environment, but when you throw in heat and humidity it can seem even more so, and as a consequence there will be tweaks and allowances that you need to make, so this is my guide to help you.
My first and strongest advice is to get a thermometer for your kitchen that reads temperature and humidity (see below). This will be your best friend in understanding how to make sourdough successfully and consistently in a hot and humid environment. Alongside that, I highly recommend starting a journal, or keeping a notebook, to log the activity of your starter and your dough making to assist you with making sourdough throughout the year where you live. This can become an invaluable reference book for you.
The key factors are that heat will make your starter and your doughs work faster, it can therefore make your starter become thin and hungry and therefore weak, and the heat can risk over proving doughs. Humidity will only increase that but will also add moisture into your starter or your dough, and can also affect your baked loaf. So here are my tips…
🌟 Starter 🌟
Every time you feed your starter (or make dough) always note the times, temperature, and humidity percentage. Once your starter has responded and grown in size to where you want it to be, make a note of how long it took to get to that point and note again the temperature and humidity in case they have changed. Repeat this across an entire year and you will be able to produce a pattern of behaviour that you can refer back to whenever you want to make sourdough in the future. To achieve this, I highly recommend feeding your starter when you will be able to watch it.
In high temperatures starter could very easily only need 2-3 hours after feeding before it is ready to use.
Beware not to leave your starter out for too long in the heat otherwise it will work through its feed quickly, it will rise and fall then become thin and therefore weak and will need feeding again before you can use it.
If needed, feed it more flour than water to keep it strong, especially if it starts to become thin with tiny tiny bubbles. You can do this as often as you need to; the key is to give your starter what it needs to stay strong and healthy. In this instance, do not worry about feeding it equal weights of flour and water, watch your starter and get to know its behaviour and what it needs. This is far more important than equals weights of flour and water in hot and/or humid environments.
When you feed it, allow your starter to be a good thick mixture, giving it sustenance and body.
And forget ratios or percentages. I never use them, neither are necessary.
Water: Also consider using cold water in your starter and your dough to help protect them and slow down their activity in the heat.
🌟 Dough 🌟
In doughs, to successfully prove overnight on the counter:
Use less starter to offset the heat, literally go right down, even as far as 5-10g if you need to. This will slow down the proving process and prevent over proving. Nothing else in the recipe needs to be changed unless you need to amend the water for the following reasons. To read about making sourdough in the heat, click here. For details about making sourdough in hot AND/OR humid places, keep reading.
In high humidity: dough will absorb extra moisture so use less water to offset the humidity, again, go down in 25g drops. And take notes.
If your dough starts off quite stiff as you’re working with it, don’t worry, it will loosen up.
It’s okay to use 275-300g water if that’s what works. In a humid environment the dough will take on moisture from the air as it proves.
If you also live somewhere where you do not have access to very strong flour: use less water to offset weak flour if needed, reduce it by 25g if you cannot get hold of good flour this will help your dough to be firmer.
If in doubt: if you are worried about leaving the dough out overnight, put the dough in its bowl into the fridge when you go to bed and take it out again the next morning to finish proving on the counter whilst you can watch it.
To prove during the day, use the standard amount of starter but still less water if it is humid. And watch the dough like a hawk. Move it into the banneton and into the fridge as soon as it doubles in size.
If your dough becomes very bubbly in the surface and soft and sticky and hard to manage, it is too wet either from added moisture, or over proving, or both. In this instance, if it still has some body, try moving the dough into a loaf tin to give it support, prove again and bake. Or follow my process to make focaccia. If it’s really liquified, stir in milk and make pancakes, or yoghurt and make flatbreads.
Never ever waste dough, it can always be used. Plus, over proved dough has a lot of great flavour!
🌟 Baked loaves 🌟
Once baked, leave it an hour before slicing into it, but don’t leave it for several hours on the counter otherwise the humid can make the crust soften and the inside become damp.
A top tip: if you are trying a sourdough recipe that does not refer to room temperature or anything along those lines, you are missing information; I highly recommend you ask the recipe writer for more details, especially if you have had any issues with the outcome.
A rough guide: This is the result of some information I’ve been gathering, all of the doughs have been made using my standard master recipe with strong white bread flour. These amounts allow the dough to prove fully in 9 hours in your counter. The temperatures cover the time that I start making the doughs and overnight. Please note that these are the temperatures IN YOUR KITCHEN, across the making and proving time, not the outside temps.
Between 18-20C:use the standard 50g starter.
Between 21-24C: use 15- 20g starter.
Between 23-25C: use 10g starter.
Over 25C overnight, use 5g starter. For temps well over 25C consider proving during the day.
These smaller amounts of starter can seem tiny, and you may not believe it will work, but I promise it does.
🌟 These are notes sent directly from the lovely, Nargess, a foodbod sourdough baker from the UK who I currently residing in Thailand and therefore having to allow for the change of climate in her baking:
“The thermometer and taking notes is so vital.
I found that the weather temp.(heat) dictates the amount of time needed for dough to proof and starter to rise and humidity dictates the amount of water that needs to be added to your dough and starter. I know this sounds like common sense but not having experience with baking in such conditions I didn’t realise this until now. I say this because sometimes its very HOT but not humid.
For MY kitchen and weather I have found that when humidity is between 80-96% my dough needs approx. 2-21/2 hours to prove and then I fold and into banetton and when humidity is between 60-79% then approx. 3-4 hours to prove and as you said, I watch it like a hawk and check on it regularly and as you already know these times can still be variable.
Another thing I do for the starter feeding (the water part) is that I start with less, about 8grams (approx. 1 tablespoon) and if it looks stiff and feels dry after stirring then I add a little bit more, about another 8grams. I check it again after one hour to see how its doing to make sure it has enough water.”
If you’ve had similar experiences please do add them in the comments below…
If you would like to learn more about proving dough, I recently made a video showing well, under and over proved that you can now watch as part of the Pastry Arts Baking Summit 2022 – discover how the doughs look, behave, handle and bake, and why. Click here to watch.
Todays top tip: if your pan is too small for your dough, your loaves will not bake properly.
Once again, in this instance, size matters; the size of your pan makes a big difference to your baked loaf. 🌟 Let me explain why I’m posting this… Recently I’ve been contacted by a few bakers who have found that their loaves aren’t baking fully all the way through, or are soft and under baked round the sides, and sometimes also the base, of their loaves. In each case, the reason this has happened is because the pan has been too small for baking the loaves. What this means is that all the wonderful work you’ve done to create your starter and then to build a lovely strong dough, is that the dough can’t spread its wonderful wings and grow sufficiently so it get stunted and stopped in its tracks and therefore underbaked. The limited space means that the steam and heat can’t circle the dough which it needs to bake it evenly; plus the dough being inhibited by being in a small space means it gets compacted so the inside doesn’t get fully baked. 🌟 Just as the right size banneton is important, a good size pan is too. 🌟 If you feel your loaves are not baking fully, the top 5 reasons will be…
They need to be baked for longer: try adding an extra 5-10 mins to the bake. The dough was too wet: next time use 25g less water in your dough. The dough was over proved: watch the time and temp you’re proving at. The dough was under proved: give the dough more time to prove. The pan is too small: ensure your loaf isn’t hitting the sides of the pan or the underneath of the lid.
For info: I use my standard master recipe dough with a 21-22cm diameter banneton and a 26cm diameter enamel pan. You’ll find full details on my equipment page.
There’s more help about all of these issues throughout my site and in my books. 🌟 To answer the other question of ‘is my pan too big?’, the answer is no, a pan can never be too big. If you are asking that because your dough spreads in the pan, the issue is the dough, not the pan. Your dough should happily hold its shape when you turn it out into the pan, and not rely on the pan to hold it. I have a post fully explaining why your dough may spread here. 🌟 Have fun!
Spelt flour is a beautiful flour to use and produces an amazingly tasty loaf. It is not, however, a straightforward flour to use and benefits from being baked in a loaf tin to give it support. To make this loaf, I followed my master recipe process to make the dough and the process for making sandwich loaves as in my book.
This is the flour I use for this recipe here in the UK.
To make the dough, follow my usual master recipe process as written on my site or in my book, mixing everything up together mid/late afternoon. It may seem dry initially but it does not need extra water, go in with your hands and squeeze the mixture together, so that there is no dry flour left.
Then cover the bowl with your shower cap/cover, and leave it on the counter for 2 hours, this rest time will make it easier to stretch the dough later.
After 2 hours, do a set of stretches and folds on the dough. Wholemeal flour is oily and does not stick to the bowl which also means that when you try to stretch it, the whole dough will lift out of the bowl so I hold the dough in place with one hand, lift a portion with the other hand, pull it up and tuck it over the dough. Do this a few times round the bowl.
This will be a stiff, spongy mix.
Cover the bowl again, let it sit for 1 hour then repeat the stretches. It will only need a few actions.
Do this twice more then cover the dough again and leave it on the counter overnight.
In the morning the dough will have grown to double the size with a smoothish surface.
The dough will be spongy and textured and will not take many pulls to bring it together.
Once it is in the tin as per the video, cover it again, and leave it on the counter.
Let the dough prove again. Once it is level with the edge of the tin, bake.
This can be done from a cold start; place the tin with the dough in, uncovered, into the cold oven. Turn the oven up to 180C fan/200C non fan and bake for 45 mins from the time you placed it into the oven.
The loaf will not grow much more as it bakes, the growth is all in the proving, the baking merely consolidates that.
Once baked, remove from the pan, tap the base, and if it sounds hollow, remove the paper and cool on a rack for a good hour at least. If you feel it needs baking for longer, put it back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes.
These loaves tend to feel slightly moist which is normal.
To make this loaf I used a wholemeal/wholewheat starter too to make this a 100% spelt loaf…
To make your own, follow my guide for making a starter on my site or in my book, exactly as it’s written, just using wholemeal/wholewheat spelt flour. Please note that you can use any type of starter made with any flour, if you want to keep the loaf fully spelt, below are some notes about making a wholemeal/wholewheat spelt flour starter.
Day 1: this will be a thick first mix
Day 2: this will still be a thick mix, but not as much as day 1. There may be a slight liquid forming on surface, this is normal
Day 3: you may see bubbles forming on surface and throughout the mixture, it will have an elastic, thick, bouncy consistency
When you feed it it will be thick, maybe already showing bubbles after mixing and stirring
Over next 24 hours, you should see bubbles appearing, the texture becoming almost spongy, and the volume starting to grow, and a strong wheaty smell developing
Days 4 & 5: the mix will be thick, elastic and textured
Day 6: you will notice a strong smell when the starter is stirred, this is normal, and typical of wholegrain flours. It should also now be textured, bubbly, and thick before feeding
And lovely and thicker after feeding. Bubbles may be appearing as soon as fed and stirred
Day 7: it should be responding to its feed and growing and becoming textured with a bubbly surface.
Note that with wholegrain flours, any show of dark liquid on the surface or around the edges is normal.
I hope you enjoy creating your own wholemeal/wholewheat spelt starter and loaf, and enjoy the fabulous flavour! For more ideas about using spelt flour, and lots more wholegrain and ancient grain flours, check out my book ‘Whole Grain Sourdough at Home’.