Making sourdough bread

our journey

diary of a sourdough wife !

We love sourdough bread, so finally, we’ve started on our own journey.

Paul is doing all the work, but I say we because there’s at least 2 other personalities in this journey !


Last updated Jan 10, 2021 at 4:15PM | Published on May 17, 2020

homemade sourdough bread

There are 3 of us in this sourdough marriage


Me, Paul, and Mabel

A few weeks ago I introduced Mabel in a jug on an Instagram story  ( I gave her a jealous jugface !)

So we’re definitely on the (Paul’s) sourdough journey, and there’s no looking back. Using whatever flour is available in our local shop during the covid pandemic… i.e it’s not great !

I’m not the cook here… just passing in the experience 2nd hand, or is it 3rd hand, so you know what you’re getting into !

The benefits

I’m not complaining, apart from the sourdough shaped tummy I’m developing. This is surely a food that is heaven on a plate ! From just water, flour, and yeast from the air !! Yes, no other added yeast ! I know what you’re thinking…all that yeast is in the air -ugh.

Show your appreciation

When someone offers you the sourdough they’ve made, it’s worth understanding the effort they’ve put in, the time it takes, and the miracle that comes from virtually no ingredients !

For the uninitiated, the curious to start that journey, I’m passing on what seem to be the main challenges
of Mabel, Paul … and as time goes on, spawns of Mabel, and me,  partner of the sourdough maker.

Challenges and Tips

Tips kindly volunteered by Caroline, a friend and sourdough veteran !

Challenge no.1

It took longer than most (3days) to get the starter right (11 days). We got above the elastic band on the dough jug. Yay! We celebrated. They say you should keep going till you get it !
Now we’re off ✅

Tip no.1

“Challenge 1-make sure your starter passes the float test before using. Not all starters rise !”

I checked, yes we had passed that test.

Challenge no.2

Get in the groove Mabel and Paul. get your timing right. Challenge is getting Mabel to the bread making point in the day time- not middle of the night time!! Ahem, that’s my time!!! ✅

Tip no.2

Challenge 2-refresh starter night before, make levain in the morning, autolyse, stretch and fold, shape, pop in fridge overnight and bake in morning.

I checked, yes we had done that too. There are 2 rises P tells me. Good to know !

Challenge no. 3

Burnt fingers from eating it before it cools. Crust is amazing but his challenge is getting it to rise.
So it goes from a flat hat shape, to a beret, to (swipe right) ?E.T. Head ( it’s a challenge not to eat too much of it. I’m beginning to see it as pot belly shaped !  )

Tip no.3

Challenge 3-tighter shaping and baking in a Dutch oven (casserole dish) will help shape. Cold dough into hot oven will also help with oven spring. Also don’t cut the bread before it’s completely cold!

Challenge no.4

Mabel’s on call now. The phone ( alarm) rings regularly. Time for her massage, then fold her nicely and put her to bed again.
Result should be to make more of those bigger holes in it.
Wet, wet, wetter… seems to be the key.

And it seems we’re into numbers now… (imagine Len Goodman shouting 7 here).
We’ve got to 76 at the moment … and rising.

Tip no.4

Challenge 4-try bassinage for higher hydration. Also pointless unless you’re using a high protein (14% upwards) flour as anything lower will struggle to hold a shape with lower gluten levels.

i.e. If you want to increase hydration beyond around 67% ish (depends on weather/humidity/flour) then you’ll need a Manitoba/Canadian strong flour. At 10% stick to the lower hydration recipes as you’ll be stirring dough soup. You can buy vital gluten flour to increase protein levels but it really isn’t as good as Canadian strong flour.
You can use a cheap enamel casserole dish or Pyrex even. It doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby!

So, bassinage was a new word for P. Must find out what it means. In french, it means ‘drenching’ ! Does that mean it’s time for a water bath maybe? Anyway, it turns out we have 10% flour here, max. P has seen locally is 12%, so we don’t need to worry about bassinage yet. And the hunt for higher % will be on as lockdown eases and we can travel.

Challenge no. 5

He’s wants me to sniff and appreciate her ☹️?

Actually as time goes on this is getting better – and I can now take a nice deep sniff and get that yeasty bready smell.

Are you a sourdough expert cook, a sourdough master chef, or a sourdough partner ?

How am I doing? Does that explain the journey so far? Do share in the comments below.

Am feeling the bond ? We’re in this together!

Challenge no. 6

P. She needs more tension.

A. Attention you mean?

P. no, tension!

A. Ok, so you mean more like a sports massage then.

P. No, a firmer ‘folding’

A. Ok, good. Keep her in order then because I don’t want a loose woman around the house.

Challenge no. 7

73 he shouts.

A. I thought we were heading up the scale not down?
P. No, she was getting too difficult to manage.

Post massage later…
P. It’s a bit dry, can’t figure out why. Ingredients are exactly the same.

A. Maybe you were too tense, didn’t giver her enough space. What did you expect !!!

How to make your own sourdough bread.

Follow an expert !

If you want to start, check out the guy Paul is following. See the video link below.

This hobby is perfect for Paul – as he says, it’s suitably pernickety !


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