White Sourdough Bread – Take 1…

OK, I’m tagging this as an experiment for 2 reasons.  I was using my ‘Day 8 old’ Sourdough starter, which I wasn’t completely convinced was active enough, so potentially going to end up with a sourdough brick.  Secondly, I’m still a little uncomfortable with the bread recipes I’m using at the moment which make for quite a sticky initial dough, and I think that using sourdough is likely to make this much worse…

This recipe did not achieve the results that I had hoped for, however it did provide some interesting learnings.  As I’m happy with both the general ingredients and the method, it feels like only a little tinkering is in order in the future – My advice has to be, be careful not to make the initial dough to wet.  Please feel free to try this out and let me know if you had any better results!

Makes 1 loaf


  • 250g  Sourdough Starter
  • 375g Strong White Flour
  • 7g Salt
  • 200-225ml Water
  • A little olive oil
  • Flour for dusting


  • In a bowl, mix together the starter, flour and salt before adding in most of the water
  • Bring together to form a soft dough, adding a little extra water if necessary
  • Oil a work surface and turn the dough out on to this.  Knead for 10 minutes to develop the gluten
  • Return the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover in cling film
  • Leave to rise & double in size – this will take around 5 hours.  The dough should be somewhere warm and out of a draft
  • Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knock back until smooth by repeatedly folding the dough for a couple of minutes.  Shape into a neat ball (if possible!!!)
  • Take a clean muslin, and flour very well.  Rub the flour in with your hands, then flour again.  Put the floured muslin into a container to support the loaf whilst proving (I used a baking tray), then sprinkle the muslin with flour AGAIN!!!
  • Put the dough onto the muslin and cover with cling film.  Set aside to prove somewhere warm until doubled in size – this will take around 12 hours
  • Pre-heat an oven to 180oC Fan.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicon sheeting and transfer the proven dough onto the feet.  NB: IF your dough is particularly sticky, carefully remove it from the muslin.  If it can’t hold a shape, you can bake it as a freeform loaf but you may wish to contain the sides with the ‘outer’ part of a springform tin
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base
  • Cool on a wire rack before cutting


  • The dough was just too ‘wet’. Throughout the lifecycle it didn’t hold any real structure.  Even though the kneading was fine and the gluten seemed well developed, at each stage the dough just seemed to ‘flow’.
  • It was frankly impossible to shape the dough prior to proving – anything other than tin baking or a freeform loaf was impossible.
  • Containing the final loaf within the outer ring from a springform cake tin placed on a sheet of baking parchment was an inspiration
  • The dough did double in size both in the rising and proving stages, within the timeframes indicated by the source recipe, indicating that temperatures, and more importantly starter activity were fine
  • Whilst rising, the dough was covered with a muslin.  The extended rising time made the dough skin over – replace this with Cling film
  • Even though the muslin was very, very well floured, a good proportion of the dough stuck really badly.  Look into using a banneton for proving & shaping in the future, rather than a flat tray
  • Throughout the process, I felt that this was just not going to work out.  This all came down to the fact that the dough seemed far too wet from the outset.
  • Assumption: Starter was suitably active, kneading was satisfactory, Rising & proving times were OK, initial level of hydration was too much
  • Conclusion: Next time, try a drier, stiffer dough by adding less water

3 Comments Add yours

  1. rgen77 says:

    HI James, good luck with the sourdough experiment.. I am also in a sourdough experiment myself! Yes, it is certainly challenging when hydration is too high (especially in a hot humid country like mine) so I just keep adding flour to it until it reaches the consistency of stiff french dough (that’s what Reinhart said). Good luck again!

    1. Thanks rgen, I think I may be experimenting for some time with this, but I know it will be worthwhile once I get everything right for my conditions!

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