Join us for the BIG BAKE-A-LONG!

Let’s bake together all over the world, in our own kitchens, all at the same time!

What’s happening:

On Saturday 1st July, Angela (see below) and I invite to join us in our kitchens for a zoom ‘Bake Along’ : join us as we make the stuffed sourdough pizza rolls from my new book, Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread Baking. Watch us as we make, share, chat, swap tips, and mostly, HAVE FUN with all of YOU 🌟🌟🌟🌟

A perfect opportunity to make my new recipe with me and Angela, make it in your kitchen with friends, family, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, anyone who fancies playing with dough…lots of fun AND tasty food!!! Perfect to eat IMMEDIATELY, for your Saturday night, weekend plans, or 4th July celebrations. I highly recommend making a couple of doughs ready to play with – I will!

🌟 Join us at 10am EDT US time/3pm UK time/please convert to your time zone 🌟

What we will provide:

The full recipe for my stuffed pizza rolls, Angela’s recipe, and tips for her homemade tomato sauce.

Details of everything you will need for the event including the dough and at what stage it needs to be, details for fillings, utensils, baking tray etc. and alternative options. If you don’t fancy a pizza filling, I’ll provide alternative ideas for using the same dough.

If you are not a sourdough baker, you are welcome to join in with a yeasted dough.

🌟 Make and bake and learn and share 🌟 and as you’re making and baking/once you’ve baked them, post online and tag us so that we and the world can see the fun we’ve had!

We look forward to welcoming you into our kitchens!

Timing: 60-90 mins.

You will see Angela and I onscreen, and the brilliant Keanu will be on hand behind the scenes to read and forward any questions during the event.

How to book a place:

Click on this link to book your place. There is no charge for this event. If you want to join and just observe you’ll be very welcome.

Who we are:

Angela Ferraro-Fanning is a permaculture homesteader in central New Jersey. She believes in regenerative homesteading practices that mimic patterns in nature. The six-acre historic farm is home to Clydesdale horses, honeybees, sheep, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, a small orchard, hobby vineyard, and food forest gardens. Angela is the author of several books including The Little Homesteader series, The Harvest Table Cookbook, and The Sustainable Homestead. She also co-hosts a podcast called HOMESTEADucation.

Web: Axeandroothomestead.com

IG, TikTok: @AxeAndRootHomestead

YouTube: Axe And Root Homestead

Elaine from Foodbod Sourdough, is a sourdough baker, cookbook writer and teacher, but mostly a sourdough ‘simplifier’. The key focus of everything she does, and shares, is to show how truly simply sourdough can be made. Elaine removes the complication and unnecessary steps, and often the fear, that can come with making sourdough, and shows bakers all over the world how they can easily make their own healthy, tasty bread, week in, week out, in their home kitchens, to suit their lifestyle and timings.

Elaine also hosts a podcast all about food, The Foodbod Pod.

Website: https://foodbodsourdough.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elaine_foodbod/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foodbodsourdough

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/foodbodSourdough

🌟 SEE YOU ON 1st JULY: Click on this link to book your place 🌟

It’s often about the dough, not the lame…

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.

And in which case, this post will help you.

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.

Happy scoring!

Gummy loaves

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.

🌟 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 🤩

I hope this helps!

For more tips and help check out my FAQ page and my Tips Index.

Stuffed pizza rolls

I am very excited to share a recipe from my upcoming new book with you! These stuffed pizza rolls are perfect for a family get together, pretty much for any meal, for a pack up, a picnic, a party, a snack, breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, and really any event. They also freeze and defrost perfectly, and are fun to make yourself or with kids or as a shared baking project. There’s minimal shaping, the muffin tin does it all for you, just roll them up, chop them up, stuff them into the muffin pan wells and bake!

I hope you will give them a go, give them your own twist, and that you love them…

‘These pizza rolls are made using one of my favorite processes—stretching out my dough after the main overnight proof, covering it with my favorite ingredients, rolling it up, chopping it up and baking the pieces into filled rolls. In this recipe, I have updated my process and use a standard muffin tray to bake the rolls in. This works perfectly to provide a uniform size but also helps to shape the rolls. It means that even if the dough gets messy or hard to handle, you can stuff it into the muffin spaces and it will still bake up beautifully to even sized muffin shaped rolls.”

Equipment: Have a 12-hole muffin tray ready, preferably nonstick. If your muffin tin is not nonstick, lightly spray or grease inside the wells with a neutral or flavorless oil or butter.

Makes 12 roll ups

Ingredients:

Dough

50 g (1⁄4 cup) active starter

325 g (11⁄3 cups) water

500 g (4 cups) strong white bread flour

7 g (1 tsp) salt, or to taste

Filling

150 g (3/4 cup) pizza sauce

200 g (2 cups) grated cheese (I use hard “pizza mozzarella” that I can grate. You can also use a mix of mozzarella and Monterey Jack)

Additional pizza toppings of your choice (for example, thinly cut mushrooms or sliced meats such as pepperoni or chorizo [avoid anything too thick or chunky])

Method:

Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the ingredients, except the pizza sauce, cheese and any other filling ingredients, leaving the dough shaggy. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave it on the counter for 2 hours.

Step 2: After the 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough; it will be sticky at this point, but stretchy. Cover the bowl and leave it on the counter.

Step 3: Once the dough has rested for at least an hour, complete two more sets of pulls and folds on the dough throughout the evening, covering the bowl after each set. The dough will be nicely stretchy and will easily come together into a firm ball each time. Complete the final set before going to bed.

Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C).

Step 5: The next morning, place the dough, untouched but still covered, in the fridge for at least an hour, until you are ready to use it; this could be for lunch, dinner or a meal the next day. The dough will firm up, making it easier to work with later.

Step 6: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 400°F (200°C) convection or 425°F (220°C) conventional.

Take your bowl of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle flour over your kitchen counter. Using a bowl scraper or your hands, gently ease the bubbly risen dough from the bowl onto the counter. Use your fingertips to start stretching and pushing out the dough, until it becomes a rectangle that measures 18 x 12 inches (45 x 30 cm) with an even thickness all over. The dough will want to pull back as you stretch it; continue to pull it gently, careful not to make holes in the dough. If the dough starts to tear or seems very hard to stretch, let it rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes allowing the gluten in the dough to relax and try again.

Spread the pizza sauce evenly all over the stretched dough and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top, right up to the edges. If you are adding extra fillings, place them over the sauce and cheese. Roll up the dough from one of the longer edges toward the other to make an even, tight roll of dough. Using a dough knife or sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, approximately 11⁄2 inches (4 cm) wide. Place them, cut side down, in the muffin pan hollows. If the rolled up portions of filled dough start to fall apart, or you struggle with the dough holding together, push them into the pan hollows however they come. Do not worry about perfect shaping; the muffin pan will create the roll shapes for you as they bake.

Step 7: If you preheated the oven, bake the rolls uncovered for 25 minutes. If you are using a cold start, place the filled muffin pan in the cold oven, set the temperature as above and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Step 8: Once they are baked, remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the rolls and let them sit briefly on a rack before serving. They are best eaten freshly baked, but my testers also informed me that they were still great eaten a few days later and reheated in a microwave for 30 seconds.

Top Tip: If you would prefer to bake them later, follow step 6 to fill, roll and cut the dough up into pieces, and then place the rolls into the muffin tin. Cover the tin with a large plastic bag or damp tea towel and place it into the fridge. When you are ready to bake, you can bake them directly from the fridge, following the directions above.

Happy baking! Happy making, rolling, cutting, baking, and EATING! If you choose to order it, I truly hope you like my new book xx

Hot cross buns and loaf…

Today I proudly give you my sourdough hot cross buns! I am so happy with these, all of my taste testers have given them a thumbs up, and now I happily share them with you in celebration of the upcoming release of my new book and in readiness for Easter..

For the rolls, I used my lighter enriched sourdough recipe from my book The Sourdough Whisperer as my base, and I made 2 versions: one all white flour, and one wholegrain version. For the loaf, I made a dough with oat milk and maple syrup that could also be used for rolls.

Sourdough hot cross buns are never going to be as light and fluffy as shop bought yeasted hot cross buns, these have more texture and depth to them, as you’d expect from a sourdough version, plus I did pack in a lot of dried fruit and peel! But, I am very happy to say that each of people that taste tested them (and there was quite a few) gave them a big thumbs up!

Dough notes: please keep in mind that these doughs are slow to fully prove, even without the additions, enriched and milk based doughs are slow growers; add in the dried fruit and peel, and they’re even heavier; add in the spices and especially the cinnamon, and it slows them down even more. So don’t worry if they haven’t fully proved in the morning, just leave them and give them a few more hours to do their thing.

My hot cross buns

Makes 12 rolls

Dough Ingredients

White flour version:

50 g active starter

330 g reduced-fat or 2% milk or plant-based milk

1 large egg yolk (reserve egg white for brushing)

50 g butter (I use slightly salted butter), at room temperature

50 g runny honey

500 g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

7 g salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Wholegrain flour version:

50 g active starter (I used my wholewheat starter but you can use any starter made with any flour)

330 g reduced-fat or 2% milk or plant-based milk (I used oat milk)

1 large egg yolk (reserve egg white for brushing)

50 g butter (I use slightly salted butter), at room temperature

50 g runny honey

250 g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting

250 g wholegrain spelt flour

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

1 tsp salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Note: I used a mix of dried fruit and mixed dried peel, mine included sultanas, raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, orange peel and lemon peel.

For the crosses, for use just before baking only

100 g plain/all purpose flour

100 g water

For the glaze, for use after baking only

100 ml water

100 ml honey

Optional

Try adding 1 tbsp orange essence, and/or 75g chocolate chips, to the dough, or anything else you fancy!

Equipment

A medium baking tray lined with parchment paper

Icing bag with smallest nozzle, or sandwich bag with tiny hole cut in one corner

Method

Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all of the dough ingredients, except the reserved egg white. It will be a very sticky dough, even sticker if you are using the wholegrain spelt flour, and it may be easier to use a bowl scraper or spatula to mix it at this stage. Leave it roughly mixed, cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter.

Step 2: After 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough. Lift and pull the dough across the bowl as far as you can, turn the bowl slightly and repeat, round and round the bowl, until the dough come into a soft studded ball, then stop; it will be a sticky dough, but will eventually easily come into the soft ball. You may find that you have to fold the dough over onto itself rather than pull it and stretch it at this point. Cover the bowl again and leave it to sit on the counter.

Step 3: Over the next few hours, perform three more sets of pulls and folds on the dough, covering the bowl after each set. The dough will remain sticky but will become stretchier, and should come together into a nice soft ball each time. Do the final set before going to bed.

Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 10 to 12 hours, at 18 to 20°C/64 to 68°F.

Step 5: In the morning, hopefully the dough will have grown to double in size, with a smooth surface. If the dough has not doubled yet, allow it a few more hours to continue to prove. This is a very slow and heavy dough, even heavier than usual with all the added dried fruits, and it may take longer to fully prove.

Once ready to shape, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Have your lined pan ready. Cut the dough into 12 equal weight pieces. Shape each portion into a smooth ball, and place the dough balls onto the paper lined pan, spaced evenly, with 1-2 cm gaps between them. Cover the pan with a large plastic bag or damp tea towel, and leave it on the counter.

Allow the balls of dough to prove again, letting them grow to double the size. This may take 2 to 6 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Step 6: Mix the plain/all purpose flour with the water and stir it until it make a smooth paste. Spoon it into your piping bag. Use a small nozzle or cut a 2mm hole in your piping bag and test piping the paste on your counter, ensure that it holds its line when you pipe some out.

Note: testing the paste before piping it onto the prepared rolls is a tip that I was given from the brilliant Cherie Denham (read more about her at the end of the post). She also said that if you do test the paste on your counter and it’s too sloppy to hold itself, add more flour to the mix to thicken it up, and then test it again. If it’s holds a nice smooth line, go for it..

Mix the egg white with a tablespoon (15 ml) of water and brush the top of the balls of dough gently with it.

Pipe lines of flour paste across all of the buns to form the crosses.

My first ever piped crosses!

Step 7: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 200°C (400°F ) convection or 220°C (450°F) conventional.

If you preheated the oven, bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. If using a cold start, place the uncov- ered pan of dough in the oven, set the temperature as directed and set a timer for 30-35 minutes and bake until the rolls are browned.

Heat the water and honey in a pan over a medium heat, let it simmer and thicken slightly.

Step 8: Remove the pan from the oven and allow the rolls to cool briefly. Brush with the warm honey water to make them shiny. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool briefly before tucking in!

Note: you can also make a glaze using sugar and water, or there’s various other ways which you can find online.

Hot cross bun loaf

I made this dough and baked it as a loaf but it could also be used to make buns in the same way as the above process. I have used oat milk and maple syrup so this loaf is ideal as a vegan option, you could also use milk of your choice and honey if you’d prefer.

Note: you could also use either of the above doughs to make a loaf following the same process as below

Makes 1 loaf or 12 rolls

Ingredients for the dough

50 g active starter

375 g oat milk

500 g strong white bread flour

150 g mixed dried fruits and peels

50 g maple syrup

7 g salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Optional for the criss cross design

50 g plain/all purpose flour

50 g water

Equipment

A lined loaf tin, I used my Pullman tin, minus its cover, 21.5 x 12.5 x 11.5 cm (81⁄2 x 5 x 41⁄2 inches)

An icing bag with tiny nozzle or sandwich bag with tiny hole cut in one corner

Method

Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the dough ingredients until you have a shaggy, rough dough. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter for 2 hours.

Step 2: After 2 hours, perform the first set of pulls and folds until the dough feels less sticky and comes together into a soft studded ball. This will be a heavy dough. Cover the bowl again and leave it on your counter.

Step 3: After another hour of rest, do one more set of pulls and folds on dough, covering the dough again afterward.

Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 18 to 20°C/64 to 68°F.

Step 5: In the morning, hopefully the dough will have grown to double in size, with a smooth-ish dough surface around the dried fruits and peels. If the dough hasn’t grown sufficiently, give it more time, this is a heavy slow dough. Have your pan ready and place the paper liner on the counter. Gently lift and fold handfuls of dough from one side of the bowl into the middle in a line, using the same pulling and folding action as used previously. Turn the bowl 180 degrees and do the same on the other side so that you have a thick sausage of dough in the middle of the bowl.

With a wetted hand, place your whole hand over the dough, turn the bowl upside down and gently ease the dough from the bowl into your hand. Place the dough, seam side down, on the paper and slip your hand out from underneath the dough. Use the paper to lift the dough into the pan, cover it with the same shower cap and leave it on the counter. Allow the dough to proof again, letting it grow level with the edge of the pan until it is just peeking over the top. This may take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The surface will become smooth and the dough will spread to fill the pan.

This step can also be done in the fridge for a longer, slower second prove, up to 24 hours, and can be baked directly from the fridge.

Step 6: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 200°C (400°F ) convection or 220°C (450°F) conventional.

Option: to add the criss crosses, pipe a flour paste design across the top of the loaf before baking. Mix 50 g plain/all purpose flour with 50 g water until it makes a smooth paste, and use a piping bag to pipe lines across the top of the loaf.

A bit rough but it was my first ever attempt!

Step 7: If you preheated the oven, bake the loaf for 45 minutes. If you are using a cold start, place the pan of dough in the oven, set the temperature as above and set a timer for 50 minutes. If the surface of the loaf looks like it is going to bake darker than you would like, cover the top of the loaf with another pan or some foil.

Step 8: Remove the loaf from the oven and the pan, tap the base of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, the loaf is baked. If not, return it to the oven, out of the pan, directly onto the rack to bake it for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool briefly on a wire rack before slicing.

To glaze, brush with warmed, melted apricot jam or golden syrup after baking and while still warm.

I must say a huge thank you to the very brilliant Cherie Denham for holding my hand through making these, Cherie is a brilliant baker and cook and helped me hugely! If you’d like hear us in conversation do check out my recent podcast episode – Cherie is wonderful and a true inspiration. Find us talking here: https://foodbodpod.podbean.com/e/the-foodbod-pod-episode-2/ and subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss future episodes.

You can also find the podcast on Spotify, Amazon and Google.

If you like the creativeness of these recipes, you’re going to love my new book!

Shana’s sourdough pizza..

Welcome to the first guest recipe on my blog, this great pizza recipe is brought to you by Shana from Shana’s Sourdough. If you are in the US and would like to find the equipment that I use to make my sourdough recipes, Shana is your person, PLUS she is a great baker and I’m happy to be able to share some of her recipes here too.

Note: Shana uses my master recipe as her starting point for making her dough.

This recipe for crispy sourdough pizza will tantalize your taste buds with its crispy crust, melted cheese, and your favorite toppings. The key to this crispy sourdough crust is simply adding a little extra butter. Follow these simple steps to create the perfect sourdough pizza every time.

Ingredients:

  • 350g water
  • 100g starter
  • 500g white bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 60g room temperature butter
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza sauce
  • Toppings of your choice

Instructions:

  1. Mix water, starter, white bread flour, salt, and butter in a bowl.
  2. Cover the mixture and let it rest for 1 hour.
  3. Perform 25 stretch and folds on the dough, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Perform two more sets of 6-8 stretch and folds, each time allowing the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Prove the dough for 8-10 hours until it has doubled in size.
  6. Spray the countertop with water to prevent the dough from sticking and divide it into two pieces.
  7. Shape the dough into round shapes with a wet bench knife.
  8. Cover the bottom of your cast iron with olive oil to prevent sticking and make the crust crispy.
  9. Lightly push the dough to the edge of the pan with oiled fingertips, allowing it to rest if the dough resists stretching.
  10. Cover the dough and rest for 30 minutes.
  11. Add shredded mozzarella cheese directly onto the pizza dough.
  12. Add pizza sauce on top of the cheese.
  13. Add your desired toppings and more cheese.
  14. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bake one pizza at a time by placing it on the lower rack for 18 minutes.
  15. Then move it to the middle rack for 3-5 minutes for extra browning.
  16. Enjoy your delicious, crispy, and cheesy sourdough pizza!

‘Thanks for trying out this recipe from Shana’s Sourdough! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we do. If you’re looking for more delicious sourdough recipes or any other things sourdough, be sure to visit our site. We’ve got a wide variety of recipes and sourdough equipment to choose from, so you’re sure to find something you love. Thanks for visiting, and we hope to see you back”

Thank you Shana xx

Chocolate and chilli loaf..

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

Follow my master recipe or use the same day process in either of my books.

Enjoy!

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.

What exactly is sourdough starter?

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.

In the UK, I prefer this strong white bread flour for my starter, or this wholemeal flour.

In the US, I recommend King Arthur Bread flour.

For other countries, check out my flour page.

🌟 Water. In most places tap water is fine, but if you’re not sure, try filtered water, or boiling and cooling some to use.

🌟 Use scales. Weighing your flour and water makes a huge difference to its strength.

🌟 Keep it small. I only ever use small quantities for making and maintaining my starter. This saves on waste, and keeps it lean and healthy.

🌟 Give it time. Starters don’t work to a clock, they will be ready when they’re ready. There are some ways that you can encourage it along, but patience is key.

🌟 Be consistent. When you find what works for you, stick with it.

🌟🌟🌟 And if you’re new, please please don’t read too much. You can easily get overwhelmed with a flood of information. Choose a single source and stick with it whilst you learn how sourdough works.

For more details and all of the steps for making and maintaining a starter, you can find everything you need right here.

🌟🌟 Let me know if you need me 🌟🌟

My chocolate orange loaf…

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.

Ingredients:

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.

Method:

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 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Another one that I made in a different shaped Bundt tin

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.

Photo from my Christmas Party where the loaf was shared. Photo credit Emma from @whipupastorm

Making sourdough in hot and humid environments…

Loaf made using my master recipe and just 20g starter

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.

I hope this all helps.

🌟 This is the thermometer I use: Therm Pro.

🌟 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…