Summertime and the Desired Dough Temperature

Here is a ‘quick’ hybrid sourdough/yeast bread that I made today, suffering from low bread baking pressure as I was. It was suddenly hot today, (hotter than Athens)  27°C  degrees outside, 24°C in my kitchen which as people who read too many bread books know is a  ‘desired dough temperature’ for many breads.

Mixed sourdough starters light rye bread by Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

50 g mature rye starter at about 100 per cent hydration
100 g mature white starter ditto
320 g water at 22 C
50 g dark rye flour
200g strong white flour
250g very strong white flour (high gluten)
a squeeze of agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon instant active yeast

Autolyse for 30 minutes


10 g salt

This bread marked a small turning point for me.  No book, no recipe, just what I have finally managed to get stuck in my brain as to numbers, it has taken a while….

To print this recipe with suggested timings and oven temperatures click here

I had been feeding my starters for a couple of days and they were never quite ready at the point when I was ready, so this morning I took what I had as above. Mixed them with water, mixed up some flour to match, a squeeze of agave syrup for luck, which we all need, a pinch of yeast because I wanted to bake them before midnight, nearly forgot the salt. I think the autolyse process was designed by someone who forgot the salt, don’t you?

Method once mixed: Leave, neglect, forget, remember, fold, leave, neglect, forget, do the garden, entertain the dogs by throwing squeaky balls into the paddling pool, I do enjoy listening to Zeb blowing bubbles under water and I  finally dug out the tulip pots. Brownie point there.  Remember the bread again,  get it into a square ended 1 kg  banneton, leave, neglect, forget. Hastily put oven on, tip dough onto peel, slash, steam oven, put flattened out dough into oven. Sit down in front of oven and stare. And then the miracle of oven spring! Yay! Even this bread came through for me.  I love bread so much,  a cake wouldn’t have tolerated being treated the way I treated this poor dough today.  A nice substantial white loaf  with a hint of rye,  sourdough tangy, a good crust, not as airy as a full blown nursed, timed and cosseted  mulitpli -folded sourdough, but quite frankly I don’t give a damn!

Flush with success, I dashed out into the garden and savaged the rainbow chard which had miraculously survived the winter snow and ice; chopped it up, steamed it lightly and mixed it up with two eggs, a packet of feta cheese, some freshly brewed yoghurt, some chopped garden mint, a twist of black pepper and then wrapped it up in the remainder of the  filo pastry which I found in the fridge today, brushed with melted butter, into the oven at 170 ° C till done!

Yum delish with some salad and a  chilled glass of organic white – biobon sauvignon blanc from Riverford of which they say

Biobon Sauvigon Blanc, Pays d’Oc, Gérard Bertrand

Next to Sauvignons from more northerly climbs, this is soft, almost creamy but it still has that lively, slightly aromatic quality. Most importantly is that it’s pure and easy to drink, with you instinctively reaching for another glass.

My broadband provider, Virgin Media, and my TV are out of order as I write, so I think it is time for another glass of wine, don’t you?  And here four hours later I am connected again. Cheers!

Downstairs meanwhile, the TV and the set top box and the DVD player have decided to stop talking to each other following a visit from a Virgin Media ‘engineer’ the other day. Fortunately they never get their hands on my Mac!  Hope you are all having a lovely weekend!

14 thoughts on “Summertime and the Desired Dough Temperature

  1. Andrew

    Our pain au levain went a bit the same way this morning. Goodness only knows what temperature the bakery gets to in weather like this – hot hot hot! We were fighting the sourdoughs all the way to the ovens. Roll on the cooler autumn rains. ;-) A

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Good weather to make that pannetone starter though, that needs a very warm atmosphere while it is building. I wonder why it is only a winter cake. Good luck with Italian week, it sounds great Andrew!

  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Yes, I think the autolyse process was invented by someone who forgot the salt. I’m always interested how many bakers don’t add salt until midway in the process – I’ve always just thrown it in at the beginning. I’ve found that otherwise it’s hard to get it evenly combined! Love the phyllo triangles, glad to hear you’ve got broadband back!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Salt is a very interesting substance – I don’t really understand autolyse but I do it when I remember or (forget) doesn’t seem to matter which !

  3. Abby

    I, too, am loving the effect of springtime weather on my baking! I don’t have a thermometer in my kitchen, but my starter and my bread are both working at expected times (for once)! The bread is beautiful and the filo packets look delish! =)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks Abby! I have a nifty digital radio controlled thermometer/clock gadget in the kitchen that I got in the Science Museum.Thermometer clock Think you can get them at Argos.

  4. Choclette

    Am impressed with your confidence with measures for sourdough – I’ve been baking the same loaves every week now for months and I still have to check the recipe – my brain! Your pastries sound very morish.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks Choclette, it was a small break through moment for me. I still weighed everything out. Part of the problem is that recipes are always written to different final weights and it’s hard to scale up and down in your head sometimes or relate one recipe to another. I always admire the way you adapt recipes to suit your own taste and the ingredients you like to use, that speaks to me of confidence too :)

      I’ve just got a new bread book, beautifully written and laid out, I am at the reading stage at the moment, called Artisan Baking across America by Maggie Glezer. Looks very promising. She gives a synopsis of the recipe at the start, so you have an idea of how long it will take and the stages. She has lots to say about autolyse too. Though I still think autolyse might be the name of one of the women at the Honda showroom (wink).

      1. Choclette

        Thank you Joanna – that makes me feel better. Your new book has a great title, it conjures up idealised pictures of someone on a bicycle (having read Gill’s comment) baking their way across America – wonderful. Autolyse, just isn’t romantic enough.

  5. GillthePainter

    and I still have to check the recipe

    Oh, I’m just the same Choclette.
    I know someone who is going to be very interested in autolyse Zeb. What great timing, she’s sometimes frustrated by her shaping and the rise of her bread.
    & I don’t think it’s down to proving, she’s an excellent cook with a strong sense of judgment, although she’s new to sourdough.

    I don’t think she needs a new autocar but I’ll ask ;)

    & don’t you just love days like these.
    I had a great day yesterday too. My new bike saddle has been almost perfect, but throwing me too hard onto the handlebars for a couple of months.
    I’ve been wiggling it up, down, forward & back.
    But yesterday, it was just right and I had a fabulous whizz round some country lanes for half an hour or so. I say whizz, but I’m the most hesitant ciclista.

    Isn’t feta delicious cooked, much better I think than tossed into a beetroot salad to transform like tie-dye into patchy bright cerise – (yes we had chilled feta like that last night with chives).

  6. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Woman and bicycle in perfect harmony at last! I remember that business with the saddle, I always had endless fun trying to get the perfect height of saddle from pedal as well in the days when I used to cycle a bit. When I first read about Auto Liz I thought it just meant mixing the flour and the water and yeast together and leaving the salt till later, but now I read that if you are using a pre-ferment then you should leave that too and add it in, like the Rustic Bread the MB’s did earlier. Apparently active instant yeast is ok to add in with the flour at the start because it takes 20 minutes or so to activate, but the basic idea is to hydrate the flour and allow the gluten to do some aligning before it meets the challenges of yeasts and salt. Still not sure about what you do if you are doing natural leaven, haven’t read that bit yet. Once I understand what the bread boffins are writing I will try and write it out properly Gill. :)

    1. GillthePainter

      I think I’ll join you Joanna in experimenting.
      My shaping’s pretty good if I say so myself, but I tend to miss out on the oven spring which can bring a smile to your face when you see it.

      Try not to forget the salt Gill.

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