Bristol Sourdough

I made this one for my sister, who likes her sourdough good and sour.  Just as well as it had a long, long final prove. It’s an organic white sourdough with small amounts of rye and wholegrain flours and a little olive oil made with the original white starter I made when I began baking bread two years ago.

Bristol Sourdough with mixed flours

225g mature white leaven
180g water
210g strong white bread flour
75g wholegrain flour of choice
40g rye flour or other wholegrain flour
6g salt
11g ev olive oil

Total dough weight approx 750 g

Mix flours in bowl together.
Mix starter with water in a separate bowl.
Add the mixed flours to the starter and water mixture and mix till the flour is all incorporated.
Leave for 30 minutes.
Then add the salt in to the rough dough and knead for a minute or two, follow this with the olive oil.
Wash your mixing bowl with hot water and oil it lightly.
Return the dough to the bowl, pop a cover over it, I use disposable shower caps or clingfilm and leave until well aerated and has risen by 50 – 75 percent,  giving the dough two or three light turns during this period. Time approx 4 – 6 hours in a room at 20 ° C.

Shape the dough into a boule. Allow to rest on the bench for 20 minutes. Then reshape and place in a floured and lined banneton. At this point you can retard the dough overnight or leave for a final prove until the dough has almost doubled in height, another 3 – 6 hours. This particular loaf was mixed at 8 am and baked at about 7 pm, 11 hours later.

Preheat oven to 220° C or 240° C if you want a very dark crusty loaf and bake with steam for 20 minutes, dropping the temperature by 20 degrees for another 30 minutes after that.

Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting. This bread keeps for several days.

Some other breads from the same day, can’t put the oven on just for one loaf!

20 thoughts on “Bristol Sourdough

  1. Tutak

    And I haven’t even tried it yet! Lunchtime it comes to the front…I have been finishing off a loaf of sliced rye – like the kind Michael used to buy in that bakery in Richmond – which I bought at an anomalous Jewish bakery adrift on the Little Beirut known as the Edgware Road…. Shameful bread story – Jacob yesterday was dispatched to school with salami sandwich made with that rye bread in his packed lunch. Went to pick him up only to be lassooed by teaching assistant who told me that she had to scavenge up some flappy white bread from the school kitchen to remake his sandwich as he refused to eat mine with the seeds in it. Seed phobic…

  2. cityhippyfarmgirl

    That LOAF tin is great, and all the breads look delicious.
    There is a flurry of activity in the bread department here too, playing around with sourdoughs, and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Its all fun…. and tasty.

  3. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Thanks Cityhippyfarmgirl – embossed tins are great fun. You can get bread forms too with windmills and things in the bottom, though I haven’t got any as yet….. :)

  4. Di

    I love the pictures. =) That looks like a really tasty recipe–I love loaves with a mix of flours.

  5. Lynne

    Love the LOAF tin…bread looks great too. Ditto the seeds in bread…with apologies to our continental chums, just about the only criticism I get about bread is “not more of that German bread with bits in….”

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      @ Di Thanks for dropping by!
      @ Lynne I have far too many packets of unloved seeds in the garage…they’ll end up going out for the birds at this rate. I need to find someone to bake for who like seedy bread?

  6. Choclette

    You’ve only been baking for two years? But you are the queen of bread making, how can you have learnt so much in such a short time. It was because I don’t like my sourdough too sour that I went on the bread course – it worked.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Choclette, I think it’s practice and curiosity that makes you a better baker and being able to get support from many kind people on the forums like and ‘the fresh loaf’ that helps me on the way to better bread. I have done a couple of days of bread courses, but the rest is all reading and chatting and thinking and doing. You flatter me, but my bread is far from queenly yet :)

      So many times I have bought bread that looks like it should be good and it just isn’t here in Bristol, and I don’t really understand why that is. Having said that, Pullins had a stall down at the Sunday Farmers Market and their bread looked fabulous, I had some of their white leaven and it was really good. What was the bread course you did? Most of the leavened breads I make aren’t that sour, unless they are for my sister or someone who wants sour ‘sourdough’ and then I try to accomodate them. When you make panettone that uses a ‘sourdough’ and of course you end up with a sweet rich bread, until I made it I had no idea it was made with a lieveto naturo!

      1. Choclette

        Joanna, you will not dissuade me from thinking you’re a fabulous baker. Have you heard of Mark’s Bread in Bristol – claims he is the smallest independent baker in Bristol. Don’t know anything about him other than he is following me on Twitter, but if you don’t know about him, you might want to check him out –

        I did a week’s residential course with Andrew Whitley back in December and it was fantastic. We only spent a couple of hours or so in the afternoons baking, the rest was all about food politics, history etc. He became my new food hero and gave us all some of his 30+ year old rye sourdough starter and a wheat starter to take home with us. It’s his rye that I am now using and I’m really pleased with it. I had no idea Pannettone was made with a sourdough culture – there is so much to learn.

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Mark’s Bread is based on the other side of the river to where I live, he’s near the Tobacco Factory in Bedminster.. I look forward to trying it one day when I am over that way I will go and get some of his bread to try.

          My step-mother did an Andrew Whitley course when he was still at the Village Bakery. She spoke highly of him and said he was very intense and committed to his food politics. Must have been a very interesting week you had there. It’s very interesting about the old starters and tradition. I learnt this year that in Germany they don’t keep old starters going like we do here, the professional sourdough bakers change them regularly to avoid contamination and maintain consistency. Different strokes for different folks? The more I read about bread, the more respect I have for the extraordinary and varied traditions that people bring to the work.

  7. Patrick

    Now that is an attractive bit of grignette art-work on your “Bristol” sourdough! Any tips for getting the pattern to stay put in the finished loaf? I’m still trying to get it right – I think I must have the dough too wet sometimes and then suffer a splurging of the nice clean cuts.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I wish I did. It’s a bit of a mystery why sometimes it works and sometimes not. I think sometimes one slashes too shallowly and then the cut just fills in as the dough springs. I read in Artisan Baking the other day that one should take ones time and be prepared to go back and go over the cuts if necessary. Almost the opposite of what I have been ‘taught’ so far. I know someone else who swears by slashing loaves when they are chilled and baking from the fridge to get good ‘ears’. Who knows, sometimes the dough just opens like a flower and looks beautiful, other times the edges of the cuts fall in or disappear as if they have never been made…. life eh?

  8. blue

    Aha, so I’m not the only one in admiration of that lovely ‘S’ slash. A real work of art!

    Joanna, both you and Choclette mention that you’ve done breadmaking courses. Would you mind sharing where you did them? In that respect, I got an e-mail from the Cookery School in London (I had requested to be informed previously) informing me that Dan Lepard is holding a Masterclass on two dates this year, but on both dates I’m scheduled to be elsewhere.

    Next question, how did you ‘super sour’ your sister’s loaf? Is it by retarding or is there another secret to this?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I did a day with Simon Michaels of Wild Yeast to start with in a microbakery set up at the Camphill Community in the Forest of Dean which was great and gave me loads of confidence and a day with Dan Lepard the following year which was busy and fun too.

      To get your sourdough more sour is a question of temperature and time and how much acid has built up in the starter I think. So the longer and slower the proving, whether retarded or not, the more acetic and lactic acids the yeasts and lactobacteria produce and the sourer the bread will be, but you run the risk of it being overproved, which I think happens a fair bit in the beginning. What sort of bread do you want to bake? Have you got a particular flavour profile in mind?

      I was just re reading the intro to the Vermont sourdough section in Bread and that is full of useful information on the subject. Another way to add great taste and extra flavour to the sourdough is simply to strain some natural yoghurt and use the ‘whey’ in the bread as part or all of the liquid, I have been doing that a lot lately.

      1. blue

        Thank you for the info on the classes you did. I’ll have a look at the Wild Yeast link.

        Re the ‘super-sour’ – I was just curious to see what the expert did to get more sour. JH also said that a liquid leaven in cooler conditions produces more acidity. On retarding the final dough he says that anything over 16 hours (was it 16?) will produce a loaf with a more pronounced acidity. The reason I remember that is because I baked my first Vermont Sourdough after 24hrs retarding and the second at 36hrs. I was worried I’d have a very sour loaf both times, but I’m glad to write that was not the case. They were both lovely, but then perhaps my tastebuds are on strike or simply botched. Either way, the loaves tasted very good indeed.

        Off now to look at Wild Yeast ….

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Blue, at the rate you are going you won’t need to do a course :) Don’t forget to share the pics of your Vermont sourdough with the Mellow Bakers! It’s one of the June breads :)

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