First loaves

Standard sourdoughFlax seed heavenFlax seed heaven

My first loaves.  The flax heaven stuck to my cloth and ended up 'flat' after I'd scraped it all off.  I think the dough was too sticky.  Must get some bannetons.  What do folks line them with?


I’ve found some cheap polyester table clothes and with just a bit of flour dusted on them, even the stickiest dough doesn’t stand a chance. I had much less success with cotton and oiled bowls.

I have ordered some bannetons 2 months ago at a restaurant furniture store in Montreal. It takes forever. I should have bought them on eBay.

Good luck and don’t be afraid to try different solutions. Bannetons are not the only way.

I bought some cheap polyester 17 inch square napkins today and a selection of pyrex bowls - so I should be sorted.  Thanks for your advice.

Also I am finding that the dough is leaving a 'bloom' on the surface of my worktops.  Anybody know how to get the lustre back?  I have since invested in a large glass pastry board.

Hi Steve,

You could try a soft brush and water as a first approach as I am sure it is only a thin layer of starch/gluten.  If that fails there are a number of ceramic polishes available - Cerapol is one.

Good luck with your projects,


I also had similar problems with my first bake! I followed sour doms recipe exactly apart from using all white strong flour, I also read the link on the page about proving and from what I've read I think my loaf looks like it over proved (I left it 5 hours as recipe states) I too had the sticking issue which didnt help the flatness of the loaf, I used a bowl lined with very well floured cotton but it still stuck and felt very wet and un manageable! I couldn't even score the top it was so wet!! Apart from that I did get a bit of oven spring and it had the sourdough taste and crust I love :) so a semi success! If you would like to see pics of my loaf please visit my blog as I still can not work out how to add pics to my posts! Link below


Your loaves are looking good Steve! I too desperately need to find a banneton alternative until I can get my hands on the real deal! 

Have a look at the above notes RE: napkins and glass pyrex bowls.

Hi Steve,

Until last Christmas when my daughter gifted me with some bannetons, I used a linen kitchen tea towel dredged with wholemeal rye flour as a liner for containers to prove my loaves.  For boules, I used a kitchen colander on the basis that the holes allowed some breathing.  For batarde, I used a cheap woven cane basket that was an appropriate size and only cost a couple of dollars.  For baguette, the same cloth pleated and with some lengths of wooden lath to provide some support.

Very effective and cost almost nothing.

Goold luck with your projects.


Steve, what is your countertop made of. Quartz, granite, wood, Corian, etc?

Hi Steve,

I have been wrestling with sourdough in the current round since before Christmas with very variable results all the way through, and I think that finally this weekend i eliminated the final round of chronic problems as I made 3(!!!) decent loaves for the first time. Previously there would always be at least 1 crook loaf and sometimes all 3.

These are the key things that I have fixed.

1. I use either a long plastic banneton with ventilation holes, dusted with rice flour (nothing else is needed), or a $3 wire fruit bowl lined with an ancient linen tea towel dusted with rye flour. Any efforts with potato flour dusting were inferior to current techniques.

2. Cooking loaves covered for first 20 mins. My latest improvement is to have the roasting pan sitting on the baking stone. I have found that my oven can only cope with 1 loaf at a time, and I have not got open baking right yet, so that is something to work on.

3. Avoiding overproofing at all costs. I think that is the source of the stickiness and spreading, plus closing over of slashes that have plagued my earlier attempts. This time the shaped loaves were entirely in the fridge during proofing and I only took each out 30 min before baking, as suggested by Shasta recently (thanks for the tip Shasta! it has made all the difference when cooking multiple loaves in a row). They looked a bit small when they came out of the fridge but unmoulded really well had beautiful oven spring so ended up larger than normal.

4. Being cautious with recipes- I only use the one basic recipe to reduce variables although some loaves are white and some part wholemeal. I might launch out into other recipes in a few weeks if all stays on track. Spelt flour seemed to cause a round of unexpected troubles that Hugo has also experienced so adding non-wheat things seems to be another treacherous area for beginners.

Keep trying- it just takes a while to eliminate the problem areas.