Help wanted please


[color=indigo]I am a total novice.
I have a starter that I made by mixing 1 cup wheat flour with 1 cup water, into jar, cover, keep in warm place. 24 hours later mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup water add starter to this, wash jar, return mix to jar, cover, put in a warm place.
I did this for three days and the starter bubbled and smelt great and seemed active to my novice eye so I put it in the fridge.
Can somebody lead me and hold my hand through the bread making process please???

I tried to make a loaf today following the instructions from here...
but didn't read about the rising time properly and after 4 hours (no rising had ocurred) I attempted to bake it.
I'm sure you can guess the result and I'm sure my chooks will enjoy it

Anyhew, I have my starter and I'm keen and ready to go. I work tomorrow, Friday, and will be away from home 11 am til 6 pm ish. I'm free all weekend so I hope we can do it in real-time using the forum to communicate. So, who's timetable does that suit and who's up for it?? [/color]:D

253 users have voted.


Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2006 January 27

Try getting on to or pick up dans book The hand made loaf, this will help your bread baking!


SourDom 2006 January 27


Jeremy is right - one of the best things that you could do for your baking would be to go out and get a copy of 'The Handmade Loaf'.
There is a huge amount of helpful information on Dan's forum. Have a look at [url][/url].

Congratulations on getting started! You are already well on your way to making home sourdough. Getting a starter going is the big first step, and it sounds like you are on the right track. One thing that is hard to guage initially is when your starter is ready to use for baking. It will continue to mature and increase in activity for a couple of weeks. To promote this, you should continue to take a small amount of starter each day (1 tablespoon), add (say) 100g flour and 100g water, mix and leave for 24 hours. Each day (for the first couple of weeks) you will need to discard the excess starter. While this seems like a terrible waste, it will help your starter get its legs (so to speak).
To work out whether your starter is ready to bake with, do the next refresh (addition of flour and water) in a glass jar or bowl. Have a look at what the starter looks like after 24 hours. If it has a layer of froth on top, with lots of tiny bubbles below the surface, and a pleasantly acidic smell, then you are probably ready to go.
Have a look at [url][/url] for a more detailed description of problems (and solutions) with getting starters going. I found it very helpful.

If your starter is looking healthy and raring to go, then you could have a go at the recipe that I posted a few weeks ago.

To make it slightly simpler, we'll skip the step that creates a 'biga' like soft dough. The weights in the dough are slightly different. This recipe is heavily influenced by Dan Lepard.

Here is a timetable for you

Friday am (before work) take 15g starter, add 30g flour, 30g water. Stir and leave until you return this evening

Friday pm (after work). The mix should be quite bubbly already. Add 75g flour and 75g water. Stir and leave overnight.

Saturday am
say 9am (if you can make it that early)
Mix 180g of the starter (from above) with 320g water. Stir
Add 500g flour (mix of white and wholemeal as in that recipe, or all white if you like), and 10g salt
Mix to a ragged mess. Leave for 10 minutes

9.10 Turn out your dough onto an oiled surface (this dough is very soft, you will need a good tablespoon of olive oil on your hands and the surface). Knead for 10 seconds. (Yes that isn't very long! Just fold the dough in towards you and press down on it, turn the dough clockwise half a turn. Repeat this about 10 times and you are done). Cover the dough on the board/surface with plastic wrap or something while you wash your bowl out. Dry the bowl and splodge around some olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl. If there is some dough left on your surface, just scrape it off with a metal scraper or something

9.20 Knead for 10 seconds on the oiled surface. put back in the bowl

9.30 Knead for 10 seconds. PUt back in bowl

10am Turn the dough (stretch and fold - brief description in other page. The aim is to stretch and fold air pockets, not to push all of the air out of the dough. Be gentle with it)

11am Turn

12 pm Turn

1pm Shape your loaf. Divide it in two. Put it onto a floured surface. Press gently out into disc. Take furthest end and roll tightly up towards you. Place your dough onto a well floured tea towel with the seam facing up. Repeat. Fold the long ends of the tea towel over each other. Twist the short ends so that they are tight against the end of the dough and tuck underneath the dough.

NB To flour tea towels take a good handful of (preferably) rye flour and rub liberally into the towel. Add a bit more and rub it in. Add more if unsure.

5pm Your dough should have risen in volume. It won't necessarily have doubled in size, but you should have seen some increase in size. Poke the dough. If it pushes the indentation quickly back at you it could do with a bit longer. Turn the oven on (to 210 C, hotter if your oven is on the cool side). Put a baking stone in the oven if you haven't. If you don't it doesn't matter. Put a heavy baking tray in the oven to pre-heat. Put a second tray or oven dish in the bottom of the oven (you are going to put water in this). Boil a kettle.

5.30 Gently but quickly you are going to put your dough in the oven. Take the oven tray or stone out of the oven and put it on something heatproof. (This step is to make it easy to transfer your dough into the oven, but when you are feeling more confident you will use a 'peel', or something like it). Pick up your dough in the tea towel (one of your loaves). unfold the towel and gently roll the dough onto the hot tray/stone. PUt the tray immediately into the oven. Pour half a cup (or so) of water from the kettle into the dish in the bottom of the oven. Close the door.
Bake for about 30-50 minutes until the top is golden-brown and the base sounds hollow when you tap it.
You should find that the loaf rises up (springs) in the first 5 minutes of baking. If it doesn't leave your second loaf for a bit longer (maybe another hour or two) before baking it

Now the really hard bit...
Let your loaf cool for at least 45 mins to an hour before cutting it!

Good luck.
I am working tomorrow, so will not be available live to help out.

If you are not sure that your starter is ready, then perhaps wait another week before trying this.


Anonymous 2006 January 27

Thanks heaps Dom for taking the time to write all that, appreciated.
Now, dealing with one baby step at a time I have done this...

>>>Friday am (before work) take 15g starter, add 30g flour, 30g water. Stir and leave until you return this evening <<<

This has mixed to quite a firm blob of "dough", I hope it's right. I followed the 'structions to the letter (gram hehe) and I guess I'm thinking it should be sloppier. I hope I am right to leave this out of the fridge all day?
Anyhew, I'll check back in tonight after the next leg of the journey.
Thankyou very much

SourDom 2006 January 27


That is right

The consistency I once read described as thick mud. Though in fact you will find over the next 24 hours that it will become thinner in consistency as the yeast and bacteria do their thing.

The starter is at 100% hydration (that means in layman's language 1:1 flour:water), which is a pretty standard way of doing it, although not by any means the only way. It is much easier to get consistent (no pun intended) results if you weigh flour and liquids rather than using cups.

yes you should leave the starter out all day, and then overnight after you have added more flour and water.


~tullymoor~ 2006 January 27

Ok Dom, we're going great guns here thank you!
When I got home I expected to find a hardened glob of dough but what I found was like um, how DO you spell blaumange?? T'was all light and fluffy 'til stirred, then it lost it's oomph.
So, have done this>>>>>>Add 75g flour and 75g water. Stir and leave overnight. <<<<<<
and will do my best to get up at NINE o'clock
Off to read the recipe you linked to and that I am going to actually make YAY , thanks again.

PS I have bio-dynamic whole wheat flour and I only have about 600gms left. The other flour I have is Defiance white baker's this a sin?? I'm in the country and there aren't too many choices I'm afraid. Will it do for my first go?

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 January 27

Hi Tullymoor

I guess that you are intending to mix the BD and Defiance together? Try a ratio of about 3/5 (Biodynamic/Defiance) mixed as a "new" flour. Add your sourdough leaven (which is based on BD) and you will end up with approximately 50% of each in the final dough, depending on how thick your leaven is and how much you use.

The strength (ability to become elastic and hold carbon dioxide from fermentation) of your Defiance white bakers flour will probably defeat the possible effects of chemicals in the flour. In my own sourdough bakery years ago, our 50/50, (fresh milled wholewheat/white) was always the best performer in terms of rise and stability prior to being baked. The improved strength of the dough was important, but also the 50/50 nutrient level for our culture was spot on....the dough would not eat itself to bits the way 100% wholegrain flour can if you leave it too long / too warm.

It will be odd, sometime in the future, when you produce a dough that is over-active and you are looking for ways to slow it down.

Good luck. Graham

SourDom 2006 January 27


you are on track. blancmange sounds great.

I haven't used either of those flours. The properties of your loaf will vary depending upon the proportion of white to wholewheat flour, as well as the distinctive properties of the flours themselves.
By all means mix the two (you could try the proportions that I have used 435g white: 65g wholemeal), or as Graham has suggested, or just white (very good for starting loaves). I wouldn't use all wholewheat just yet.

A word of warning for the morning. When you mix the dough it will be VERY sticky. That's OK. That's what you want. Don't be tempted to add more flour and think that I have miswritten the instructions. When you are doing the three quick kneads you will find that the dough softens each time. If you put oil on your hands and the surface you will find that you can probably only knead it for 10 seconds anyway before it starts to stick. That is fine. That is all you need (knead?!). Add more oil if necessary to your hands. Use a scraper if you are struggling to get the dough back in the bowl.

You don't have to get up at 9. However if you want to eat bread for dinner, it is harder to fit the breadmaking into a single day if you start later.

Good Luck!


PS Thanks for your input Graham.
I have tried a 100% wholewheat sourdough loaf today according to a Jack Lang recipe [url][/url] It almost broke my food processor in the process, so I am probably going to go back to hand mixing a la DL
Haven't attacked the loaf yet, so I don't know whether it was worth the stress! Looks alright

~tullymoor~ 2006 January 27

Hello and thank you Graham, will mix my flours to make a new flour.

Dom, it's all very exciting isn't it?
Thanks for the added-extra tips re the stickiness of the dough, can you tell already that I'm a panic merchant??

I don't own a baking sheet of any description and am trying to think what I'll use tomorrow. I have an el cheapo roasting pan, light weight, alluminium I'm guessing, pretty ordinary.....
I have a large, heavy, glass (Pyrex) roasting dish...would that be better do you think?
It's my birthday coming up and I can already think of heaps of things to hint for <grin> Digital scales, THE Book, a baking stone, more teatowels LOL ....a cob oven!!

SourDom 2006 January 28


try the metal roasting pan. You could use it upside down if you wanted to (it might make it a little easier to get loaf in and out.)

I mentioned having a second pan for hot water (steam).You could use the pyrex dish for that, but be careful when you get it out of the oven. If it cools too quickly it will break. (I know because I did that to a pyrex dish only a couple of weeks ago). Alternatively skip the water in the bottom of the oven step, or just chuck a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven when you put the dough in.


~tullymoor~ 2006 January 28

Ok, running waaaaaaaayyyyy behind your 9am schedule Dom ,but still working to your timetable.
Everything is happening just as you said it would and I am doing all that I was told like a good girl
We now have two dough sausages trussed up in tea towels.
I took a photo cos I am worried that I have small suasages LOL I put a fork next to them so you can see...


Does this look all A-OK??
Things I experienced (in case it may help others) were: After I mixed it to "a ragged mess" and left it the required time it wasn't as "wet" as you said it could be. It was really easy to knead those first few times with no sticking to the bench or anything horrid. it all seemed a bit smooth and perfect actually so of course I worried.
The gentle stretching thing ... the first go at this it was resisting stretching and I only did it 2 or 3 times. It became more willing to stretch each time I did it though and the last time it really dropped down quite quickly.
When it came time for the "shape your loaf" LOL I just patted it around into a circle, then split it into two and made another disc from each section...they seemed small and I nearly put it back together to make one loaf There wasn't much of a disc to roll up on itself so I hope I have done this part right.
I await your reply with baits on my breath

~tullymoor~ 2006 January 28

By the way, i posted that last message at 4.19 not 3.19 and will be baking at 8pm.

To fill in the time, let's talk starters.

you should continue to take a small amount of starter each day (1 tablespoon), add (say) 100g flour and 100g water, mix and leave for 24 hours. Each day (for the first couple of weeks) you will need to discard the excess starter.

When I do this, I leave it OUT of the fridge, yes?
Will there come a time when you DON'T discard the excess starter??

Then when my starter is a real goer it gets placed in the fridge?
Does it still get fed regularly?
When you want to bake a loaf do you just remove some, add flour and water and return the original starter to the fridge? Like we did this time? That'd be cool because you could have a gallon of starter and only need take a small amount with which to bake.
Hope you had a pleasant enough day at work and thanks again for all your help.

SourDom 2006 January 28


I can't see your pictures, so can't be sure.
500g of flour makes two small loaves or one fairly large one.

If you have two loaves it means that you have twice the practice at shaping and getting the loaves into the oven.

If the loaves have risen significantly after 4 hours (and they may have if your oven is warm)[edit - should read "kitchen"], you may like to bake both of them at once. You will probably be able to fit both loaves onto your (upturned) oven dish. Alternatively you can do one at a time as I suggested earlier.

The aim when you unearth your dough onto the tray is to end up with the seam on the bottom (that is why we had it facing up on the towels). The loaves will have a fairly 'rustic' look, but that is what we are after.

SourDom 2006 January 28

When I do this, I leave it OUT of the fridge, yes?
Will there come a time when you DON'T discard the excess starter??

Yes, leave the starter out of the fridge.
No, unless you have been really busy you will always have to discard a bit (but not too much if you follow the suggestion below)

Then when my starter is a real goer it gets placed in the fridge?
Does it still get fed regularly?

Once it has really got going you won't need to feed it every day, but will probably feed it once a week. Put it in the fridge, and it won't use up all the food that you have given it, and won't get too 'sour'. Once a week (or so) you are going to do the same thing that we talked about (ie take a tablespoon, add ~50g flour and 50g water, stir and leave out of fridge for 12-24 hours). Then put it back in the fridge.

When you want to bake a loaf do you just remove some, add flour and water and return the original starter to the fridge? Like we did this time? That'd be cool because you could have a gallon of starter and only need take a small amount with which to bake.

To make a loaf, you can either - use some of the starter straight from the fridge (especially if you have refreshed it fairly recently), or you can make some up fresh. The way that I usually do this is the 2 stage refresh that you did Friday morning, and Friday evening. THen you will end up with ~200g of starter ready and raring to go into a dough.

You can of course make your fridge batch of sourdough with a larger amount of flour and water. This will give you more starter to use if you are doing a lot of baking during the week, but more to discard if you don't get around to using it (eg if you have a gallon of starter in the fridge...!)


~tullymoor~ 2006 January 28

I don't know why you can't see the's right there, large as life in my post! I'll do it again...


~tullymoor~ 2006 January 28

Cripes, I just realised you said...

If the loaves have risen significantly after 4 hours (and they may have if your oven is warm),

Are the tea towel wrapped loaves meant to be in the oven???? They are sitting on the bench!!

SourDom 2006 January 28

did I say oven?

I meant kitchen

no. they should be on the bench. (unless your kitchen is freezing in which case they can be in the oven with the pilot light on - if you have an oven that has such a thing)


~tullymoor~ 2006 January 28

Hmmm, I cooked the first loaf, followed the 'structions to the letter (except I took it out after 25 mins) and it appears to be a solid block, similiar to a torpedo (
Will take pics after my camera batteries recharge.
By then I'll have sliced it and seen what it's like on the inside.

SourDom 2006 January 28

saw your pictures that time.

Don't be disheartened about the torpedo loaf. Did it rise in the oven at all? If not then I suspect that the loaf needs longer to prove (probably a sign that your starter is still on the young side).

See what loaf number 2 does with an hour or two longer of proving.

I look forward to seeing the pictures.


~tullymoor~ 2006 January 28

Hi Dom,
Well, it's pretty yummo bread if I do say so myself!!
It was tough to slice through the crust but the inside is quite moist....almost Nana's- fruit -cake- moist. This will be due to me taking it out of the oven 10 mins early I's a tad undercooked.
I think the holes in my, is it 'crumb' ? are a bit extreme, but far preferable to a brick which is what I was expecting!
Oh, I'm really stoked, it's a brilliant start and confidence builder, thanks so much!
I will get some pics soon....batteries on recharge still.
I did do one thing wrong I know.
Yes, yes, everyone is free to laugh their heads off at me.
When you said "the seam side up" I thought you meant the seam of the tea towel not the seam of the bread I *did* wonder why we need care about the tea towel seam, but did as I was told...LOL so my bread's seam was on the bottom as it cooked.
Anyway, I MUST be ready for the slashing thing now, eh??
Back soon with pics.
PS Not going to bake the second loaf now...will I put it in the fridge overnight???

~tullymoor~ 2006 January 29

Here 'tis.....the loaf now known as The SourDom Torpedo.



SourDom 2006 January 29


Hey well done!

Your torpedo looks great! It is a very impressive first (well second) loaf. You have lots of large air holes (these are a mark of distinction in artisan baking!) spread evenly throughout the loaf. And you are right you probably could have baked for at least another ten minutes. Your crumb looks set, but the crust is quite light in colour. Baking for longer will darken the crust and give it more flavour. The crust will be softer the day after baking (today now).

The moistness is probably related to the baking time (the loaf will also be moist if it is still warm when you cut it - it is important to let it cool before attacking it).

Ummm, its a bit late now, but yes I would have suggested putting the dough in the fridge overnight. Then you could probably take it out in the morning, turn the oven on, and put the dough in as soon as the oven warmed up.

well done again. You are on your way!


danlepard 2006 January 30

Wow, pretty impressive, I think you may have been a baker in a former life . If I saw that in a bakery I'd buy it, it looks like it has a thin crust and a remarkable open texture. You've got a great baking future ahead,

B x

SourDom 2006 January 30


in case you haven't figured it out, the last post was by the great man himself (he of "The Hand-made Loaf"). High praise indeed!


Graham's picture
Graham 2006 January 30

Welcome to the site Dan, and good baking Tully and Dom. Dan I'm starting to think I should be selling your book on the site...partly so I can get hold of a copy to read myself. Sounds like a good read. Graham

~tullymoor~ 2006 January 31

Oh my golly galoshes! Thank you Dan, wow, don't know what to say...... Thank you very much, I'm chuffed and encouraged.

I served the lady from Collins Booksellers at work today and asked her to get THE book in for me ASAP....Graham I hope you aren't saying it's not available in Oz???

Thanks Dom, you're the best
The bread was beautiful the next day, the crust had softened as you said it would and I ate it with fetta-stuffed capsicum, olives, sundried tomatoes, hot salami, oh, drizzled in the olive oil first...scrummo!
Have bought another 5kg bag of bio-dynamic wheat flour and am feeding my starter as you told me to. Have some questions about that but will start another thread.

Thanks for this forum Graham, it's great.

SourDom 2006 February 1

Dan's book is certainly available at Reading's bookshop in Melbourne

or try the usual online sources

Glad you enjoyed the loaf Tully, keep up the baking!


mp 2006 April 16

Sorry to bump such an old thread, but I wanted to say thanks. After just over a week of feeding my starter I attemped my first loaf this weekend, and used this recipe. My results aren't quite as nice as the others posted, but I was just happy to see my starter could make something rise


In the first loaf (pictured) there was a section towards one end that was like a big bubble that was kind of... undercooked? not quite doughy, but not right either. Is this a problem with how I shaped the loaf (maybe I didn't roll it tightly enough?) or maybe I should have left it a few more minutes? I left the second loaf in 35 min (first loaf came out at 30) and it doesn't have any areas like that.

Anyways, it was a lot of fun, and the posts over here were a lot of help. Thanks!

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