I’ve been making sourdough bread regularly for over a year now, using the River Cottage method that I’m very comfortable with. At the same time, I have other books with other methods – St. John’s, Paul Hollywood’s and now also Dan Lepard’s, having recently bought The Handmade Loaf. Last weekend I didn’t make any bread so this weekend, I thought it’s about time I tried a different recipe. Paul Hollywood’s one interested me as he makes up the dough with all the ingredients (and not just the sponge), gives it time to rise and then a very long time to prove. This is a two day job – all proper sourdough is, but the benefit of this method is that the final prove is overnight so it can be baked first thing in the morning and be ready for breakfast. The bread was ready early this morning but, to my great shame, I realised too late that I used way too much water in the dough and have ended up with a bit of a flatbread, not a proper loaf:
I was a little stupid – I’d worked out the time I’d need for the bread fine but was very busy with work all morning so I started the dough late and then rushed this through. The reason I haven’t used Paul Hollywood’s method before is that he uses 500g sourdough starter for 2 loaves and that’s more than my ‘mothership’ jar can hold. I usually use around 150-200g for a loaf. So I was quite liberal with feeding sourdough over past couple of days in order to have 250g for the bread and enough left over to keep the starter going. I halved Hollywood’s recipe for Walnut sourdough (in How to Bake) and also replaced some of the white flour with wholemeal. The ingredients went into the mixing bowl, the mixer went to work and I started adding water, completely forgetting to halve the amount… It was looking a bit wet but I thought some methods just use more than 65% water so maybe it’d be fine in the end. Didn’t realise what I’d done until 5 hours later and by then it was too late to start again. As I transferred the bread onto the super-well-floured peel it held its shape fairly well but as I cut the cross pattern, the whole thing totally deflated. On the positive side, once it was out of the oven and cooled a bit, I cut it in half and am pretty pleased with the texture:
Now I can at least imagine what it would have been like if I’d got the flour/water ratio properly. I’m thinking this method may have legs – imagining the possibilities of a long, slow prove and the resulting texture. Will definitely try again next week.