Watch your dough and not the clock, this is key to ensuring the dough proves as it needs to.
Do not leave dough on the oven overnight with the light on, it?s too warm for too long and it will over prove.
Give your dough time to double overnight; depending on the temperature overnight this may take shorter or longer than my usual times stated in my master recipe.
But if your dough does over prove, use it to make fabulous focaccia or flatbreads. NEVER EVER throw dough away, always use it.
If you dough spreads when you turn it out in the pan, but bakes up to a lovely loaf, don?t worry about the spreading, enjoy your loaf.
If your dough does not look like mine but bakes to a fabulous loaf, that is perfect, it does not matter what the dough looks like if the loaf is everything you hoped for.
Sourdough is a wonderfully slow process, let it happen and enjoy it, it will be worth it.
If you do not have a banneton, line a same sized bowl with a clean tea towel and sprinkle it with rice flour.
If you do not have rice flour, grind some uncooked rice, it is the same thing.
You can use any covered oven proof pan just make sure it is big enough.
You do not need to preheat your oven, or your pan.
Always my biggest and most important tip: If it tastes good IT IS GOOD!
Do not focus on looks and holes and scoring, they do not make it taste any better, plus sourdough is not defined by having ears, or being big round loaves, or full of holes. Sourdough is bread that has been made with a sourdough starter, that is it.
Enjoy what you are creating, do not spoil it by being pulled into the beauty contest.
But, if your loaves are not as you hoped, there?s always ALWAYS a particular reason and an easy tweak.
Check out all of the info throughout my site about flour, weather, scoring, storing, the FAQs, baking times takes, there is lots of free info here for you.
These are just some of the tips I share regularly, but are hopefully useful. Happy baking!
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 is 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.
PLEASE NOTE: if you are in the UK the amazing people KitchenAid UK have given me a discount code ELAINE15 to share with my bakers.
This code provides a 15% discount across the site and is valid to 31st December 2023 (perfect for Christmas shopping!). Please note that there are a few products excluded from this offer.
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 does not 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.
I also tested using the KitchenAid Bread Bowl with my master recipe and it works well!
The ceramic finish is lovely, the dough does not stick at all, there are lines etched on the inside that are a very useful guide, AND once the dough has been proved in the banneton and in the fridge for a while, you turn the bowl over and bake in it. It works PERFECTLY from a cold start, and the size encourages a beautiful round loaf.
A question that I am often asked is: where can I get a better lame, mine does not 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 is not actually the lame, it is 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 does not 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 are 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 would be more than welcome and you can find them here. But to get the best out of using them, or whatever you have 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.
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.