Thursday, 10 January 2019

Catching Up

First my apologies for the fact that it is a long time since I've posted anything. I realised it when a reader asked me if I was still making sourdough bread. The answer is yes and I am also still experimenting and sometimes things go wrong (I should have taken a picture of the last one!).

Since the weather turned colder the sponge and loaf are taking longer to ferment and rise, I think I'll go back to rising the loaf in the oven with the pilot light on. I am also experimenting with the wetness of the dough and aiming to get a good balance between an open sourdough texture and ease of handling.

I'm still happy with the Sage mixing machine but still enjoy using my hands making sourdough pizzas. If you haven't tried it yet, they taste brilliant. Also playing around with a mix of strong white flour and rye in various proportions. Rye 50/50 with white makes a nice soda bread as well.

Meantime enjoy your bread making and if you do have any questions I am still here.

All the best for 2019,


  1. Hi, I am new at this bread making,& I see comments on sites like 'at 87% hydration'. What does this mean?

    1. It's one of the things that totally confused me when I first started looking into baking sourdough bread. Hydration refers to the amount of water to flour (by weight) but I decided to ignore it and just go for what felt right and worked best, for me that was roughly the same volume of water to flour (i.e. one cup of flour + one cup of water). I work on what the starter feels like when I feed it, if it feels too runny I add a bit more flour, too still I add a bit more water. Works the same way with the dough. Try experimenting (but only a small amount at a time) each way and see what works best for you. As a matter of interest I'll measure it tonight when I start tomorrow's bread and let you know.

    2. Thanks for your reply, Hmm, still a bit confusing, but equal quantities of water to flour I understand. I'll see what you send tomorrow. In the meantime, tonight it will be equal quantities.

    3. Well it turned out to be 61% but I'm using old and not very accurate scales. If you've got accurate scales let me know what your one cup of water/(one cup of flour + one cup of water) x 100 equals.

  2. Hi John
    Having been confused by all the information on the internet I recently bought your book, and that made everything much clearer thank you. It shows that it doesn't need to be so complicated (unless you want to make it so) I am on day 3 with my first starters - one rye and one white strong flour. Both are showing some activity, though the white flour one has some liquid on top (should I mix this in?). I am looking forward to making my first sourdough bread and just wanted to ask why the quantities on starter are in ml in your book? I would find it much easy to weigh out the right quantity of starter and wonder if you could tell me how much 100ml of starter weighs? If it was water I believe it would be 100g, but flour and water would be different wouldn't it?

  3. Hi Unknown,
    Sorry for the delay, just back from Costa Rica.
    Check comments above about hydration, last time I checked my starter it was 61%, so that means 61g water to 39g flour, I suggest you use 60/40 to start and adjust as you see fit.
    Let me know how it goes (and let me have a name next time, anonymous is a bit impersonal :-)