This could be ‘how long will it take for my new starter to be ready to use?’ or ‘how long will it be before I can use my starter after feeding it?’ or ‘how long will it take for my dough fully proved?’, these are the main questions that come up.
There is only one answer to all of these, or any question of ‘how long…?’ when talking about sourdough which is…
I literally cannot tell you “how long”. There is no fixed, definitive answer to any of these questions.
I cannot ever tell anyone how long any of that things will take because there are too many factors involved. And understanding that and what these factors are will enhance your sourdough exponentially. Time and patience are the bedfellows of sourdough success, hand in hand with flour, temperature and environment. Which can all sound confusing and impossible to manage, but it’s truly simpler than people think, and as soon as you grasp those elements, sourdough making becomes relaxing and more enjoyable.
If I answer those earlier questions, this will give you a guide to what the main considerations are which you can the apply to your kitchen…
Question: how long will it take for my new starter to be ready to use?
Answer: honestly, it will take as long as it takes. All starters are different. Some take 5 days, some take 5 weeks, they’re all individual. It depends on the flour you use, the temperature in your kitchen, the wild yeast activity in your flour. The key is to let it happen, because it will.
Question: how long will it be before I can use my starter after feeding it?
Answer: this will all depend on the strength of your starter, and the room temperature. If it’s chilly, it will be slower; if it’s warmer, it will be faster. Watch it and it will show you when it’s ready, it will have grown and become active and lively.
Question: how long will it take for my dough fully proved?
Answer: again, this will depend on the strength of your starter, and the room temperature. If it’s chilly, it will be slower; if it’s warmer, it will be faster. This is why all of my recipes include time and temperature hand in hand for the main prove. Read my site and my book and lots of my posts on here for more info.
And one final question, that we all ask: how long do I REALLY have to wait to slice into my freshly baked loaf?
Answer: to eat it at its absolute best, at least an hour, otherwise it will be gummy, but truly, it’s totally up to you!
Time, patience, and understanding how room temperature affects sourdough making, are the keys to success. Read my other posts and hints and tips for more information.
I’m so excited about this post, I’ve really enjoyed making and testing these loaves…I hope you like it too!
Every bread in this post has been made using my master recipe to create enriched doughs and loaves…they’re beautiful and shiny and they smell amazing; the texture of the bread is light, soft, not too rich, not too sweet, and with a hint of our joyful sourdough flavour…I’ve played with flours and shapes and pans, and have had great fun creating my ‘enriched master recipe sourdough’…
The doughs are all enriched with eggs, milk, butter and honey. This is a very very tasty sourdough creation! Its great eaten on it’s own, as well as with your choice of toppings, and smells amazing all over again when toasted. And no mixer required, even better!
I have tested this several times recently and it worked perfectly with just strong white bread flour, a mix of SWBF and white spelt flour, and with 100% white spelt flour. Each version has been a success, the white spelt flour adding a silkiness to the dough that’s lovely to work with, as well as a lightness to the crumb.
🌟 The added dairy products do not go bad during the overnight prove, the dough is protected by the starter.
🌟 The butter only needs to be softened, not fully melted. If you do melt it, ensure it is cool before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
🌟 The softened butter does not need to be fully mixed through the dough initially, it will soften more and become fully incorporated as your work with the dough.
🌟 This is a heavy slow dough, allow it time to grow fully.
🌟 It’s also a dough that requires very little shaping.
🌟 It keeps well for a week if wrapped well.
🌟 I don’t like things very sweet; for us, chief taster included, the 50g honey in the recipe was perfect. If you prefer things sweeter, replace it with sugar, quantity of your choice.
🌟 I have made two slightly different versions of this, one a little richer than the other, and I like both. You can tone things down, or up, as you choose.
🌟 You can choose your own version, using the flour/s of your choice, and all or just one to two of the added ingredients. It works whichever options you choose.
🌟 For dietary alternatives, use no eggs or egg replacements/non dairy milk/no butter or a dairy free option.
🌟 I made the round loaf in my 20cm diameter enamel roaster (above) and the rectangular loaf in a large loaf tin (27cm x 17cm/10.5” x 6.5”). You can use a standard 2 lb loaf tin too.
🌟🌟🌟 My master recipe strikes again! 🌟🌟🌟
50g active starter
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk (save the white) + milk to make up a total of 350g (I use semi skimmed/half fat milk)
75g softened butter
50g runny honey
500g strong white bread flour OR 250g SWBF + 250g white spelt flour OR 500g white spelt flour
1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
Alternative slightly lighter option:
50g active starter
1 whole egg + milk to make up a total of 350g
50g softened butter
50g runny honey
500g strong white bread flour OR 250g SWBF + 250g white spelt flour OR 500g white spelt flour
1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
As per my master recipe (for full step by step directions click on the link to the left):
Feed your starter as normal to generate the 50g needed for the recipe.
Begin mixing the dough in the evening.
Roughly mix all of the ingredients: it will be very sticky.
After an hour, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough. Lifting and pulling the dough across the bowl until it starts to come into a soft ball then stop. Cover the bowl again and leave it to sit.
During this first set of pulls and folds the dough will still be sticky but keep working with it.
After an hour, perform the second set.
During this set of pulls and folds, the dough will start to become smooth and silky (esp if it’s 100% white spelt flour) and will take less actions to pull it into a ball. Cover and leave to sit.
Over the next hour or so, perform the third, and fourth set if you do one, the dough should be nice to handle now. Each time stop when the dough comes into a loose ball.
Cover and leave to prove on the counter overnight as usual.
Next morning the dough will typically have grown, but not yet doubled, allow it 2-3 more hours if it needs more time.
Line a tin with baking parchment paper or a loaf tin liner.
Pull the dough together, it does not need to be handled much, it doesn’t need to be too tight, this will be a stiff heavy dough, and place it hand side down/smooth side up into your liner.
Cover again and leave to prove on the counter again until the dough is level with the edge of the pan, typically 3-4 hours.
Mix the egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush the top of the dough gently with it.
Bake, uncovered, from a cold start at 160C fan/convection, or 180C non fan/convention oven, for 45 mins, covering if the top becomes too dark.
Remove from the oven, and the tin and allow to cool.
To use the dough to create shaped doughs, refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours after the overnight prove to firm it up, then turn it out, portion it and shape it as you choose before covering it again and leaving it to prove again for 3-4 hours, then bake as above.
🌟🌟🌟 It really is true, you can use my master recipe as a base for anything you want to create! 🌟🌟🌟
One of the things I love is that I can use my master recipe dough in so many ways, whatever I fancy making, I can use the same dough as a base. Including lots of the creations in my recipe index, and this latest creation from my kitchen: a cheese and ketchup sourdough babka loaf.
I chose to use cheese and ketchup in this loaf because I knew my son would love it, but you could choose any fillings of your choice: cheese and marmite, cheese and pesto, cheese and chilli sauce, cheese and whatever takes your fancy basically! Or, use the same basis for a sweet loaf..the possibilities are endless!
In this loaf, the cheese melted and the tomato sauce caramelised across the surface to produce something magical!
I was so pleased with how this came out, it made such a soft tasty loaf. To see exactly how I made it, check out my video here.
Whatever you choose to fill it with, I hope you love it!
I do like a ‘chuck it all in a bowl and see what happens’ kind of creation, which is what these were…I’ve made many spinach flatbreads in the past, but this was the first time adding some starter. It adds an extra flavour and of course, all that sourdough goodness we love!
These are also packed with great healthy ingredients and are a great way to get kids eating spinach! You can use them as flatbreads or make bigger rounds and use them as a pizza base.
This recipe can serve as a basis for something you might fancy making, you can swap out the ingredients for things of your choice or just follow it as it is. I’ve included the spices I used, feel free to swap these for your favourites, an Indian inspired spice mix works well too.
200g starter (this can be discarded starter, unfed, or fed for the purpose)
250g baby spinach leaves
150g flour of your choice, I used buckwheat flour
50g toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons tahini or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons tabil spice mix (toasted even amounts of coriander, cumin and carraway seeds, ground)
2 teaspoons pul biber chilli flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
In a blender whizz up the everything expect the sesame seeds, starter and flour. Run it until the spinach and garlic are finally chopped.
Scoop it all into a mixing bowl, stir in the seeds, then fold in the starter and flour.
Cover the bowl and leave the dough to settle and develop.
Now you can leave the dough for an hour, or several or overnight. The longer you leave it the more the flavour will develop, it may even prove and little and puff up.
When you want to cook your flatbreads, heat your oven to 180C fan/200C non fan.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and break off portions. Shape them into round then flatten them out to 1/2cm thick.
Place them onto a oven tray. Either bake immediately or cover and allow them to prove again for an hour before baking.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly puffed and darker in colour.
Eat warm or store for later, they’re even better after 2-3 days, and can easily be reheated in a toaster.
You know how it is, you open your baking cupboard and you’ve got various bags of flour, with various amounts left, but not enough for an entire dough…
So the only thing to do is to throw them all together and hope for the best?! That’s what I did this week. And these loaves were the outcome..
These include portions of strong white bread flour, malted multigrain flour, khorasan flour and a seeded flour mix, all thrown together in various quantities to make up my normal 500g amount of flour for my master recipe.
As you can imagine, I was happy with the outcome!
I love seeing how the activity in Star and then the dough after it’s overnight prove translates into the dough…it never ever gets boring!
This was something I created recently and I literally loved it! I was so pleased with how it turned out.
I managed to take a few shots as I made it to be able to show how I did it. I apologise now for all of the shots of the final loaf, I got carried away in my excitement!
I made this with dough I made using my standard master recipe using Shipton Mill Canadian bread flour. It had proved overnight on the counter for 10 hours; I put it into the banneton and into the fridge, where it sat for 24 hours.
You do not need to leave your dough for that long, it’s just how it went on this occasion…leaving it a minimum 6 hours would be fine.
To create the final loaf, I sprinkled water onto the kitchen counter, and gently turned the dough out from the banneton onto the counter.
I then used a rolling pin to press into the dough and roll out a portion..
I then used my dough knife to cut this flattened piece into three..
I plaited/braided this piece and folded it over the remaining dough..
I then repeated the processed 3 more times to create a parcel..
You can see the dough is still active during this handling.
I then used 2 dough knives to lift the dough into my prepared tin, lined with parchment paper..
And baked in a cold pan, in a preheated oven at 220C fan/240C non fan/460F wihtbthe lid on for 50 mins.
And it baked to a beauty!
When I sliced into the loaf, this was the inside…
I hope you like my braided loaf, if you decide to have a go, have fun, and send me a photo!
This week I had a lovely lady in my kitchen who had travelled especially from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It’s such a compliment that she wanted to come and share my kitchen, and that she follows my baking from so far away.
It was also very close to my heart to welcome her to my home; I lived in Dubai as a child and I have a long connection with the UAE having had parents living Dubai and then Abu Dhabi across 30 years, as well as living there myself full time for 5 years prior to that. It is a place that holds a special piece of my heart and formed many of my food tastes as well as creative influences.
It was a joy to talk to someone who remembers the Dubai that I remember from the 1980’s and to listen to her speak Arabic is a sound I always love!
During the course we focussed on the basics of my master recipe and process, as well as working with wholemeal flour and using doughs for making rolls and other lovely sourdough goodies.
I always make sure that there is lots of dough to play with on my courses to get the feel of how different flours affect the dough but also to be able to turn dough out to make rolls in various guises, including the ones in the photos in this post.
There were all made with my master recipe dough, one portion of which included 150g of khorasan/kamut flour (hence the yellow tint), and another made up of 250g Mrs Middletons plain natural flour + 250g Mathews Cotswolds white spelt flour.
We chopped up the dough and roll some portions in toasted seeds (above), and some in some Middle Eastern zaatar spice mix (below), and left some naked.
You will find the details for making my various rolls recipes in my recipe index and all of the doughs were made using my master recipe.
I do love running my courses, I meet such lovely people, and it’s always an honour to welcome sourdough bakers from around the country and the world to my kitchen xx
The smell as they were baking was amazing due to the spices, more details below, and although they were good straight from the oven, they actually got better as they cooled down and the flavour developed more.
The next morning when I opened the lid of the pot I had stored them in, the aroma was gorgeous!
The use of the sourdough starter in the mix brings the typical texture you would expect, a perfect chewiness. The breakfast mix adds more texture and the banana throws in some soft sweetness.
I don’t eat sweet things and I don’t add sugar to anything, so I didn’t include any form of sweetener in this recipe other than the banana which was enough for me; feel free to add whatever you need to to make the flavour what you want it to be.
250g strong white bread flour
100g my breakfast mix (see below)
85g bubbly active starter
284ml pot/300g buttermilk
1 small/medium banana roughly chopped into nicely sized chunks, not too small
3/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt to taste
My breakfast mix, in descending order of quantities:
Thick cut oats, roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds & linseeds, chopped nuts of your choice, milled flaxseeds and my spice mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and black pepper.
Mix everything together in a large bowl, don’t over mix.
*You can now use this dough immediately or let it sit for a little while; I used it immediately
Turn it out onto a floured surface, it will be sticky
Flatten out gently with your hands to about 2cm thick
Using a 3.5-4cm diameter cutter, cut out as many rounds as it produces; keep bringing the leftover dough together to cut more out
Place the bites onto a tray lined with parchment paper
You can now bake these immediately, or let them sit for a little while; I let them sit for about 10-15 minutes
Preheat the oven to 200C fan, 220C non fan, 390F
Bake for 17-18 minutes until golden
They should be soft in the middle but baked; try and catch them before they bake too much; initially they will have a slightly crunchy & chewy outside & soft interior, later they will soften
As I said above, they taste good immediately, but even better later in the day. And still good the next day in my opinion!
I think I can honestly say that I love this little loaf; the shape, the colour, and flavour, the texture…it was all lovely.
Let me explain…I make big batches of a ‘breakfast mix’ that I eat daily, as seen in the photo below, and I decided to throw some in with some dough and see how it went…and it went well!
The mix is made up of oats, milled flaxseeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds, whatever chopped nuts I have in the cupboard, and lots of my chai inspired spice mix.
The spice mix includes ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper, the amounts descending in that order. I don’t measure it but as a rough guide I’d say that cinnamon makes up about 50% of the mix, the ginger and turmeric is probably 10-15% of each, and everything else decreases in quantity after that with the smallest amount being the ground black pepper which is only there to get the best out of consuming the turmeric. You can make it to suit your tastes.
I soak 4 heaped tablespoons of this mix with water overnight, then mix it with mashed banana in the morning, heat and eat! And I love it, every single day I love it!
Anyway, back to the bread…you can now see that the colour comes from the spices, particularly the turmeric; with the inclusion of the oats and milled flaxseeds, it also adds some firmness to the dough, hence making it a delight to score..
This was another little loaf using my 17cm diameter banneton, which is working perfectly for such experiments.
The loaf smelled amazing whilst and once baked, and tasted good fresh, the smelled amazing again when toasted!
To make this lovely loaf, I used the process of my master recipe, link to the left, with the quantities below, feel free to scale it up at will. I baked it at 220C fan (240C non fan) for 30-35 mins.
260g strong white bread flour
40g of my breakfast mix
30g bubbly starter
1/2 tsp salt
If you try it, I hope you like it! Please do let me know xx
This lovely vision was created by using my master recipe process and converting it to make focaccia; by using my recipe and process all the way through to the morning after the overnight prove, you can then use the dough to create this lovely bread.
NOTE: if your dough has proved overnight and is reaching the top of the bowl or hitting the shower cap by the early morning but you’re not ready to use it yet, gently do one round of pulls and folds to calm it down a bit, then cover it again to allow it to grow and fill the bowl again over the next 2-3 hours for when you want to use it.
For this focaccia, I scaled down the quantities of my usual recipe, but you can keep them exactly as they are to make a bigger loaf than mine, or use the quantities below to make a smaller version.
300g strong white bread flour
30g bubbly active starter
1/2tsp salt or to taste
Additions: rosemary, garlic, or whatever you fancy!
*The details for my master recipe and process are in links to the left of your screen.
Following the process up to the morning after the overnight prove, prepare a large baking tray by liberally drizzling it with a good amount of olive oil.
Using a bowl scraper or your hands, gently ease the bubbly risen dough from the bowl and let is fall onto the tray; it will pretty much plop onto the tray, which is fine, just take care not to handle it roughly or press out any of the lovely bubbles.
Gently turn the dough over so that it is all covered in olive oil and cover loosely with a large plastic bag or cling film and leave it on the counter to prove again for 1.5 – 2 hours.
Heat your oven to 200C fan (220C non fan).
Using your fingertips, push the dough out to a rectangular/oval shape until it’s about 1″/2-3cm thick. Use your finger tips to firmly press dimples all over the dough.
Sprinkle or place whatever toppings you choose over the dough; here I’ve used dried rosemary and sliced garlic (not too thinly sliced).
Bake for 17-18 until browned, or longer if you’re using a bigger dough at the start. If like me your oven has a hot spot, turn the tray round half way through.
Ease off the tray and place on a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it whilst it’s piping hot.
Cut when ready to consume and enjoy!
This makes a lovely holey light focaccia with a nice crunchy base.