Sourdough Problems from My Beginnings

Sourdough Problem Solving from My Beginnings

by Azélia on 10/10/2011

in Featured Sidebar Post,Help & Problems With Dough,Hybrid Recipes,Sourdough Recipes,Yeast Recipes

The 5th April 2010 is the most significant date in my sourdough life.  That’s it above, my very first loaf, using a starter  GillthePainter  put in the post to me.  I followed her advice of baking it in a pot, I used an inexpensive cast iron pot of mine,  and produced a loaf.  Ok it’s not an attractive looking one but still looks like and tasted like a loaf.  I’m going back 18months and I feel it’s been much longer than that.

The learning curve of my sourdough journey has been going up, but in the last 4-5 months since I decided I wanted to be a baker has been so steep it’s hard sometimes to remember all the problems in the beginning.  This is what brings me to this quick post for beginners.  I had a couple of questions from a home baker about trouble with her loaves and I thought it would be a good idea of seeking out my very first photos and share the same problems I had in the beginning of my baking.  This year I’ve been posting lots of detail on sourdough, as you read this I’ve linked past posts full of detail that will help.

My First Ever Sourdough

It’s a good idea to bake in a pot, especially if your oven seems to lack power, but you don’t have to.  It does produce a thinner crust if you’re fan of thin crusts.  If you do use a pot, use baking paper to sit the dough on top of, and not greaseproof paper as I did here.  Greaseproof paper is cheaper, but ends up sticking to your loaf as it did on the bottom of mine.  Here’s Gill’s post on baking her loaf in the pot.

Baking  Without a Clue

I’m not good at reading manuals…including how to use my camera…yep…I use to sellotape the flash down when it popped up automatically, because didn’t know how to turn it off!   This bad habit of mine extends to reading up on sourdough, it all just seemed too complicated.  I think experienced sourdough bakers revel in their terminology, can be quite daunting for a novice.

Below was my second day attempt at a sourdough, this time I didn’t use the pot, baked on oven tray.  It’s flat for 2 reasons, one is, I didn’t refresh my starter to use for this baking.  I didn’t realise you were suppose to refresh your starter before baking every time.  If you’ve been reading recently here you’ll now know the longer you leave your starter without feeding the less wild yeast it has, therefore it has no power to make your loaf rise. Read this post here on the cycle of Sourdough Starter part II, of what your levain should look like.

The second reason a loaf spreads out too much is because I’m using a tiny bit too much water for the type of flour I have.  If you want to know all about how 20 grams of water can make a difference to your dough read this experimental post of mine here.

You can see from inside there’s big open holes, again an indication I was using quite a lot of water for this flour.  This flour just can’t cope with my method of proving on a baking sheet and baking, I don’t use a basket to prove.  By the way…I had no idea what I was doing wrong here.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Below was my third sourdough, 7th April 2010, baked on baking sheet, much better getting a rise.

 Finally on the 6th Attempt 

And then 10th April which apparently was my 6th loaf of sourdough I produced one I was really happy with.  Obviously using a recently refreshed starter, managed to shape and it appeared like a loaf I was proud of.

I carried on baking every week, and a month later 6th May 2010, below is a photo of a recipe I took from the Wild Yeast Site, but didn’t follow any of Susan’s kneading method.  I was still at this time doing my no-kneading method.  I managed to produce a really soft texture sourdough crumb for a sourdough.  I was really please with the crumb feel.

My Standard White Sourdough

Below is just my standard white sourdough which is Dan’s Handmade Loaf recipe,

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 200g levain (starter fed in last 6-12 hours or less see here for details)
  • 320g water (for the lower protein flours use 290-300grms)
  • 10g salt

Knowing Your Flour

I carried on making a white sourdough.  The loaf below was then my standard Dan’s but with no-knead, and because I wasn’t very good at shaping tight enough and was using a little too much water for this flour, it would spread out.

At this point it didn’t click that some flour coped better than others for the standard amount of water I was putting in.

Oven Spring

But even with the spreading you can see it had an oven spring.

For a long time I use to deliberately under-prove my loaves because I could be sure they would rise with oven-spring.

It was a much safer bet this way than pushing the loaves too far, proving too long and have them collapse on me.  Of course what I didn’t realise then was sourdough is slower at rising therefore better tolerances than yeast loaves, it can cope with much longer proving times.

Under-Baking Sourdough

A common problem people have and was happening to me in the beginning was under baking my loaves.

They look baked and feel hard but they weren’t properly baked inside.  This is one of those times you must not trust your eyes nor the feel of your loaves.  I’ve learnt by trial and error with my oven.  I know if making a loaf with 500g of flour it needs the minimum of 50 minutes in a very well pre-heated oven for 30-40 mins at Fan 200C.  And if the loaf has retard overnight in the fridge it will need an hour.

A very experienced baker Paul Merry taught me how to sound out for vibrations of a baked loaf holding it in the palm of your hand protected with a damp teatowel and tap with the other hand for vibrations down to the bottom of the loaf.  This is not the same as the “sounding hollow” which is a bad guide to see if loaves are baked.  Paul’s way is hard to explain and needs photos to accompany it and even after that lots of practice.

Under-baking and Crust Softening

I use to take them out when they appeared to look baked and feel hard but once my loaves were out of the oven the crust would soften after 20mins or so of being out.  This would really annoy me because I love a crisp crust, that’s why I love a home baked freshly-out-of-the-oven loaf, there are those who don’t like crust but to me crust is almost everything.

Someone on a forum said how they had read if your crust softens after coming out it’s because it’s still under-baked and there’s too much moisture inside, as the loaf cools that moisture will come out through the crust, softening it.  This made so much sense to me.   If I imagined my oven as a drying machine and once the loaf was set in shape it needed to dry out inside.  This helped me with the crust I wanted, alongside getting good steam in the oven.  Bake for far longer than you think you should…don’t mind your nerves.

Below back then the under-baked loaf, after 20mins out of the oven the crust softening.

And sometimes the crumb would be on the side of just slightly under-done too.


What helped me in the first few months of baking sourdoughs was making hybrids, just adding 2 grams of dried yeast helped me a great deal.  I think hybrids are fantastic at getting sourdough baking right, it’s like a security blanket.

I know there’s some bakers who see hybrids as somehow not sourdough but really I think hybrids have rights you know!

Dog With a Bone

I have been compared to the dog, Jack russell…urm…no…not for the looks…at least I don’t think it was...they referred to my persistence.  When I put my mind to something I’ll be at it until I’m happy.  It’s a good way to be in bread making.

These photos below date back to June 2010 and it was pretty much my standard of mixing Dan’s recipe, let it prove, take it out on to a very floured surface fold it and pinch it together underneath into a tight boule shape, turn it over put it on to baking sheet, let if prove, slash and bake.

I use to make this loaf all the time every week.  This is how I basically taught myself how to look out for changes, see how the same recipe changed by little differences I made.  I cut my baking teeth with this recipe and the repetition of it.  And all my other learning has come from here.

Now if I have a new flour to try, be it a white wheat flour from a mill I’m experimenting with or even an ancient grain I use Dan’s white loaf as my starting point and see how the new flour feels, proves, rises and so on.


My advice is find a standard recipe you like, whether you add some rye flour or wholemeal to it, it doesn’t matter, if you have a standard recipe you know well, it will give you a measuring stick for future experiments.

Reducing the Water

It was through the repetition of my standard loaf I first realised how reducing as little as 20 grams of water can make all the difference.  Remember above my loaves spreading too much on the baking sheet, well here below, 30th June 2010, was when I first started playing around with holding back some water, 20 grams and realising how this flour held its shape much better.

All throughout this time I was using standard bread supermarket flour, which I would change depending on the supermarket.  I started to see how some flour would absorb water better than others.  If you click on my post here  where I go into detail on different flours.


Dan’s Loaf – The Folding Breakthrough 22 July 2010

It was then in July when I really had a great breakthrough with my loaves, I started doing the folding method Dan does and produced a loaf I felt like shouting about, my original post here.

The no-kneading method works and produces a good loaf, but, you’ll find that it’s easier when it comes to shaping the loaf if you have folded it.

I don’t take it out of the bowl to do it, like Dan does, but I make sure the bowl is wide enough to give me space to stretch it as I fold the dough, see the step-by-step photos in this post.

Steam in a Domestic Oven

Right from the beginning I managed to produce good crust once I sorted the baking times in my domestic oven, even better than in a cheap commercial oven that have no steam.  I should do a future post on crusts because there is a small element where quality of flour plays a part but this is the difference between getting a good crust and a super-crust.  All the time I’ve been baking up until the last few months I’ve used supermarket flour and still managed to get a very good crust.

Steam method One – I talk in detail again in this post about steam, have a read.  I add cold water to a roasting tray on the bottom of the very hot oven, shut the door,  I let that water come to temperature, start to steam up for good 10 minutes before adding the loaves.  Yes you lose some steam on opening oven but you still have plenty of steam left, believe me.

Steam method Two – If you follow Dan’s method of adding boiling water to the tray on the bottom of the oven, then you don’t need to wait for the water to heat up, you can add the loaf straight away.

Now pick which way you want, but either way it creates great steam.  Ideally you want the water to dry up about halfway through baking.  I never saw the point of spraying water into the walls of your oven as the only way of adding steam.  I’ve also heard people ruining their oven doing that.  Where’s adding water to a roasting tin after a period of time will warp your tin, not your oven.

Baking Many Loaves

Sometimes I have to bake 4 loaves at a time in my 90cm wide oven like I did below when baking 16 loaves, and it’s harder to achieve as good crust.  Back in the summer when I gave Gregoire a Walnut & Raisin loaf, I had unfortunately baked it in a large batch, as I was baking for others, which meant the crust wasn’t as good as it could’ve been…still kicking myself.

Leaving Sourdough to Rise Fully

When producing lots of loaves like the photo above and I have no space in fridge to retard loaves.  I leave them on baking trays lined with baking paper on my dinning room table, open window to keep room cool at about 10C, at about 11pm.   Up early at 6am to heat oven and first loaves go in at 6.40am, 4 loaves at a time.

The 13hr proved crumb at 8-10C 

When I leave out the loaves on dining room table they rise into a huge loaves, giving you the lightest crumb, quite a noticeable difference from a 6-8 hour crumb. But you’re at the edge of ripeness of the dough…so have to handle your nerves.  If you really want to produce a large size loaf without any bread improvers, this is it, take dough to the edge of ripeness.

Today’s Loaves

Here we are, a full circle, my 2 loaves today, still Dan’s white sourdough recipe.

This one below is under experimentation with only adding 100 grms levain.

How I Bake a Loaf

I’ve tried many ways of baking and one way is to mix dough in the morning (having fed starter before going to bed).   Leave the dough most of the day covered in a bowl, when I go past it and remember I fold it on 2 separate occasions, 3 if I have time.  These folding occasions can be 20mins apart or an hour apart.  So after 3rd fold and rest again, I shape, place on lined baking sheet.  Leave to prove for 1-3 hours depending again on time and how much they’ve risen.  Bake by the end of the afternoon.  The whole process can take 6-8 hours.

My Favourite Way

This following way of making bread has become my favourite.  Feed the starter at about lunchtime (can be done earlier in the morning) then mix dough early evening, say 7-8pm.  During the evening do 2 folds as per normal.  Just before going to bed (10-11pm) shape loaf place in baking lined sheet, place in fridge overnight.  Take out fridge (can be 6am or 8am) and leave out for 30mins – 2 hours (depending on time I’ve got).  Bake.  That’s how I baked today’s loaves.  You have full flavour and I have fresh bread for lunch!



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Kavey October 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm

It’s not just your persistence I admire, but the way you approach everything so holistically – technique, ingredients, the science behind it… everything is considered, evaluated and taken into account but shared with your readers in such a way that we can learn with you.

It’s much appreciated, thank you.


Azélia October 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Thanks Kavey – it’s OCD or Jack russell tendencies ;-)

Joanna October 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

Such a great post! I like the way you’ve broken it all down into the stages you have been through. Lovely :D I would love to try your bread one day x

Azélia October 11, 2011 at 9:25 am

thanks Joanna – honestly you would be so disappointed in my bread.

I say this because with any experienced sourdough baker one produces the sourdough to suit one’s taste. I for example make my normal loaf too low acidic for most sourdough lovers so I know I’m not going to please them but my aim is to convert yeast lovers into loving a forgotten bread.

Having tasted quite a few baker’s breads and very good they are too, I still come away saying, I like my bread…and you would be the same.

I haven’t settle down on a flour yet for my white loaf. So far the French flours are great with crust but when you bring down the acidity completely to taste the wheat they lack flavour…so far shipton no4 has the best flavour in a white wheat flour…but keen to try this French organic delivered yesterday.

Emily DeVoto October 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

Ahem, I have had your bread and it tastes absolutely wonderful! This is a lovely post, great fun and humour but most of all knowledge. I can totally see why you want to be a baker. It’s your thing. :)

Azélia October 11, 2011 at 11:27 am’re a sweetheart Emily..if you were here right now I would give you one of those embarrassing Continental hugs and kisses!!! xxx

Don’t forget though Joanna is a serious sourdough baker…I know her breads would be among the best of the baker’s sourdoughs I’ve tasted.

jane October 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for this! I am like you with camera manuals etc… and most sourdough instructions have got me really confused. My last loaves worked and looked like ‘proper’ sourdough bread instead of a weird flat biscuity things!
Ice cubes thrown in are good for steam in the baking tin and I would recommend using a cast iron pot to bake in.
I love your blog!

Azélia October 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Hi Jane – yes you can throw in ice-cubes and personally I would still give it a few minutes to heat up before you add the loaves otherwise like the cold water you’re lowering the temperature of the oven you’ve just spent so long achieving.

The cheap commercial steam oven have jets spraying cold water in but unfortunately this lowers the temperature of the oven and together with opening the door to put the loaves in it’s not a good combination. The best commercial ovens have water in a separate tank next to the oven heating up and when the water goes in it’s hot and doesn’t bring the oven temperature down.

Great news on your loaves…yeah flat biscuits is not a good look for bread ;-)

Julia October 14, 2011 at 3:20 am

Dear, dear Azelia – its like you can read my mind!!! – and you make me laugh “a quick post” – you must type like the wind is all I can say!!!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all your “Jack Russell-ness”, your humour, honesty and hugely generous spirit and heart. Your blog is a feast for all my senses and inspires my soul and my baking. OK, enough typing – off for more experimenting! – hmmmmm maybe a hybrid this time I think…. keep ya posted!!

Azélia October 14, 2011 at 7:05 am

The only way to get better is to keep going Julia, you’ll get there in no time at all I’m sure with all that determination you have. :)

Julia October 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm

The hybrid worked a treat Azelia!!! YAY!!!!, my only ‘thing’ is that it was much more like a ‘fluffy’ yeast crumb than a chewier sourdough crumb. I followed a Peter Rienhart recipe that had 7g yeast, but I think I’ll start tinkering with 1-2g as you suggested – does that result in a more chewier crumb? But gee it was nice to have a fully cooked loaf for a change!!

Azélia October 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Please to hear it Julia – 2 grm can be hard to weigh, it’s a large pinch, less than a quarter of teaspoon. For 500grms flour that amount should still give a nicer chewier texture than a fully yeast loaf. Give it a go.

Mue December 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Hi Azelia !
thanx fr giving me these links on my last query about whole wheat breads, these reads have been very helpful and am encouraged ,feels like am on d right path :)
i have 1 major problem though, i would be really glad if u cld help me on this …
my breads are tasting pretty nice and close to the commercial (my family likes it dat way ) but the only prob. is the Crust…. its too hard a crust … the inside is nice and soft , though NoT as feathery as commercial ones… please advice me on these two things
1) How to soften my breads crust… i bake my breadz at 230 C for about 40-50 mins.. with water underneath.. i also cover it in a paper to soften its crust after being baked.
2) is it asking for too much to expect my bread (purely wid sourdough starter ,no other yeast mixed ) to be as Light and feathery as commercial white breads….

the photographs dat i see resemble my own , so dat ways i feel nice … :)
Thanx a Ton !! looking fwd to your reply !

Azélia December 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

hi Mue – I’ll answer your second question first.

You won’t get the same soft texture in sourdough as you get in yeast breads, I think a compromise is a hybrid loaf, a large pinch of added yeast will help towards the sort of crumb you’re looking for but you will still have the depth of flavour.

If you want to get your sourdough crumb much lighter than you are at the moment let the last rise take many hours. Get the dough ready in 2 hrs and then leave it to do its last rise for 8-10hrs at temperature of 6-10C.

To answer your first question you can achieve a thinner crust by turning the oven down to 200C once you’ve put the bread in. Cover the loaf with a teatowel once out of the oven will also help to soften, so does keeping it in a warm room once out of the oven or slightly under-baking it by 5-10mins and after 20mins the excess moisture will rise through the crust and soften it.

Mue December 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

how can i say, anyother way ! __LOVE U LOADS !!! :) atleast now i know how much to expect out of my sourdough and yes… i will try the tea towel , today i baked my garlic bread covered wid a foil in d morning … but it took ” 80 mins ” to bake ! at 230 C…. i still felt it cld have had another 5-10 mins to go… but i lost d patience …anyways will keep at it and will be getting back to you now n again … Thanx once again and God Bless !

Carol February 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Thank you so much for all the help from your website. I’m just waiting for my first ever sourdough to cool off! It looks great. Slashing isn’t great but I’m just off to buy a sharper serrated knife.

I know that somewhere in your bread posts you have a recipe for a smaller loaf using half the ingredients but I can’t find it even though I’ve been through them twice – unless I’ve been dreaming, of course. It’s the baking time that I need.

Could you link me to it, please?

Your directions are so clear and the photos really help. I’ve given some of my starter to my daughter now; she thinks it’s very complicated but I’m going to show her your website. I scoured the web before I found it and I’ve found it more useful than any others.

Azélia February 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm

What size recipe are you using now Carol?

Slashing does come with a little practice…made enough mistakes to get there.

Carol February 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I’m using the 500g Flour. It’s worked well but I live alone now and need a smaller loaf; I hate waste although the birds benefit when I include it in my bird cake. I used to bake for my family 30 years ago using yeast from the local baker.

I’m sure I saw a recipe using 250g flour when I was reading through all your bread recipes.


Azélia February 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Sounds like you’re thinking of this post Carol

Yes cut the recipe in half, no problem at all!

Carol February 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Thank you – that’s the one. I know sourdough keeps well but I’d rather bake more often and have fresher bread.
Thanks again

Azélia February 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

No problem.

Angela April 22, 2012 at 2:11 am

Hi Azelia,
I just wanted to say that you have an amazing blog.
It’s SO informative and helpful. I’ve just made my first sourdough bread, baking in the middle of the night! – It’s not pretty but I’m pleased with it.
I’m noone important but I wanted to say how grateful I am that there exists people like yourself who go out of their way to help others.
Thank you for the time and effort you put into your blog and its pictures(!).
I really hope you see the impact it has and I wish you huge success in what you do and continue to do.
Kindest regards,
Angela.. (usually) a silent reader. ;-)

Azélia April 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Hi Angela – thank you so much and what a lovely comment to wake up to this morning. I’m pleased you have found it helpful in your new baking journey. It’s lovely to know people make use of the information on here, I appreciate your saying so very much.

Kirsty June 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi, loving reading everything you have written about bread especially sourdough. Have been following your ‘recipe’ here today and, after reading your post about flours and Allinson’s, I think that might be my problem. Have had big trouble with final shaping and had to put it in a well-floured banneton as it was going to spread too much and now hope it doesn’t stick like the last one! Think I will bin the Allinson’s for breadmaking and try something else. Problem is I live in NL and despite lots of windmills, not many have high protein flours, that I have found. Will try some Hovis flour I have in cupboard and see if I can order on-line from some of the better mills.
Looking forward to reading some of your past posts, Kirsty

Azélia June 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

hi Kirsty – don’t forget it’s not about high gluten necessarily, but about the quality between the gluten forming protein, gliadin & glutanin.

You can have a relative low protein flour and still produce great bread, think of the French and their crisp crust breads, that is made with flour around 11-12% protein normally, because low protein flours produce great crust.

If you read this post at the end you’ll see how I liked a low protein flour, thought it handled really well it’s 12% protein. For whatever reason the normal Allison’s flour is not so great with sourdough, without having the flour specification I don’t know if it’s because it has enzymes added which are not good for long fermentation doughs, or something else, or simply the combination / quality of wheat varieties chosen.

My advice is don’t dismiss the flour on protein basis, experiment with the flour you can buy using your normal recipe and see how they perform. I’ve used in the past a 9% protein bread flour.

Experiment and try, it’s good fun.

Wac’s Shack October 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

I’d just like to add my self to the gowing list of amateur sourdough enthusiasts who have found your tireless exploits into sourdough enlightenment invaluable.
I began my odyssey in February attending a course with Paul Merry in March.
Since then with the common trials and tribulations I am starting to see the light….amen. A long way to go and pleased that like anthing in life worth attaing it just ain’t meant to be easy?
Thank you again.

Azélia October 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

hi Wac – I had a great time with Paul and he is a fountain of information about different styles of bread.

Wac’s Shack October 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Absolutely …. I am planning to revisit in February to celebrate my anniversary of sourdough addiction. I’m going to take a wood stove course prior to building an oven from scratch in our garden in march. My nearest and dearest look at me quizzically over the project but hopefully will be won over if I pull out some quality fare from it when complete. On another subject did you finish the bagels part two ? My two girls are bagel and pretzel lovers and I’d like to try and magic some up. I seem to remember coming across a correspondence of yours suggesting quantities of malt powder ? I’ve got some malt on order and will put this with your ingredients mentioned in bagels part one.
Thanks again,

Azélia October 26, 2012 at 7:51 am

hi Wac – yes you’ve reminded me of the bagel recipe I am lacking here. I will write one up on here next time I have 5mins and you don’t need malt but can use it if you want to. Are you looking for yeast or sourdough or hybrid recipes?

Wac’s Shack October 26, 2012 at 8:33 am

I was looking primarily at the hybrid as two of us love sourdough and two can take it or leave it. If the hybrid doesn’t satisfy then I’ll probably go with the yeast. I was keen to use the malt as I assumed it gives that lovely dark brown colour. A German baker used to turn up in a van down our way on a Friday and I’d always grab some bagels and pretzels. The pretzels were incredible (especially with a glass of beer) but unfortunately it was before my light was switched on to breadmaking and I never bombarded him questions on technique. In my mind It may have answered the views I glean from forums about the use of lye in pretzel making.
Thanks for taking the time…
Kind regards

tim November 29, 2012 at 9:49 am

really useful info on this website, thanks

tim November 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

im going to try your overnight rise method, just one question, its doesnt look like you cover them during this long rise, dont they dry out?

Azélia December 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Tim – I don’t cover and yes the top of the surface does dry out a bit but it never bothers me and rises, has good crust all the same but cover it if you’re worried about it. The dough if it’s shaped and you want to put it overnight in the fridge should either be left to rise properly before storing in the fridge OR if it is shaped and put straight into the fridge should be taken out of the fridge hours before baking in order to let it rise then. If you don’t let the dough rise either side of storing in the fridge the crumb will be dense.

Dan S December 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

What a great comprehensive way of looking at Sourdough. I have been trying for month’s now to figure out why I wasn’t getting a good rise from my loaves and I realize that I haven’t been using a freshly fed starter. I am going home from work tonight to give this a try. Thanks for the advice and I will try to post on the success of my new effort!

CM January 12, 2013 at 1:24 am

Hey! Your sourdough loaves are beautiful! How long have you been baking sourdough? My slashing is still pretty awful. Do you really need a lame? I am baking 2 loaves tonight and I will send you a picture. My loaves are good to eat but don’t look pretty like yours.

Susan January 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

I became obsessed with perfecting sourdough only about a month ago so I have a ways to go as far as refining and trusting my instincts. I’ve experimented with different flours, ratios, rising times, cold vs. warm rises, etc. My last loaf came the closest but I used Sainsbury’s strong Canadian bread flour so the loaf was flatter than I would have liked (I subsequently read your post on flours and protein content). Nicola Lando steered me to your site and I have spent hours, probably, reading through (and rereading) your many posts. I’m immensely grateful! And am slowly advancing towards that perfect sourdough. Many thanks.

Azélia January 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Susan – If you find a flour you’re are happy with you’re halfway there. The other thing to tackle is slightly under prove in order to get lovely oven spring and rip in the oven and making sure you have steam.

Adding proper white stoneground flour to your normal white will give delicious flavour but also an amazing crust that roller mill flour only loaves don’t give you…that’s a tip I’ve discovered. Stay away from stoneground flour produced by roller mills as you can’t be 100% it is indeed stoneground. There was a stoneground miller’s flour I tried that was rubbish but my miller Anne’s flour is good so is Redbournbury mill, Stoates flour, and Foster’s mill all produce good flours in my experience. The only thing to be aware with stoneground is that if it has been recently milled (they will let you know if you ask) it’s a green flour and bit tricky unless they’ve compensated by adding foreign flour or similar.

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