Tuesday 2 August 2011

Sourdough Bread or Pain Levain

I am no expert at sourdough baking but am posting this to help me remember what I actually did right this time ;)

The last time I made this bread it was with a starter that my friend Wendy had given me. Then Rose started a thread at the DTE forums to show how to make our own starter. Next helpful moment came from the library in the form of "Nourishing Traditions" and a local book by Arabella Forge called "frugavore" where both outlined, in words I could understand, that making wild yeast bread is quite different to using the dry/instant yeast I'd previously used.

The idea is to mix water and flour, preferably filtered or rainwater and wholesome flour, a little at first and then building up over several days to having about 2-3 cups of starter which is then mixed with 4-5-6 cups flour and more water and a little salt then set aside overnight. Our house is quite cool 10-18C at the moment so development was slow but it didn't go 'off' so I was happy just to let it be and learn.

the first mix of 50gms each of flour and water

starting to grow now after the addition of 5 sultanas

now we're talking...big bubbles, nice smell

Once it had got to the stage above it was time to take 2 cups of it out and about 4 cups of baker's flour and knead them together with a little salt. I set it aside overnight to see what would happen....

The following morning saw me up at 6am eager to see what was happening in my bowl....yes!!!!...it had easily doubled in size and was now ready for one last gentle knead and then a warm spot to rise again.

Shaped and rising one last time...and then baked at around 200C with a cup of water in my cast iron skillet on the oven floor and this is what came out after about an hour
As I said at the beginning of this post it is not a tutorial, rather a quick explanation of the steps involved and my own bread-making. Some of the time I added wholemeal flour to the starter, sometimes white baker's flours and I used the wholemeal when I kneaded the dough. The loaf smells delicious, the crust is chewy and the crumb tender.
The leftover starter goes into a very clean jar and the cycle starts all over, you see the happy starter in the background of the last photograph.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Sue! I'm still getting my nerve up to do some bread baking.

  2. I hope you do have a go, Barb....Ellimay's tutorials at the forum were a great help to me and was practicing and 'failing'!


  3. this looks soooo yummy...I too got some starter off the lovely Wendy....I have enough now to make bread too.....I can smell it now....I just need to be home long enough to make it....seeing this though makes me want to make it right now....
    Lovely bread....Well done. Hope mine turns out like yours.

  4. Hi nellymary and welcome to my place.

    Simething has just clicked in the last fortnight with regard to the method behind this process...I finally realised it wasn't like yeast bread at all and that lonf fermentation of dough is crucial. I hope things ease up at home for you make your bread and I used Joybelle's instuctions in Rose's starter thread.