Thanks for all the great advice and inspiration

Johnny's picture
It all started with a pizza night. I made my own pizza base and enjoyed playing with the dough and going on-line looking for instructions and videos etc.. I was thinking of maybe a sourdough pizza base when I came across sourdough companion. The bread looked so tasty I just had to try it. That night I began with a starter after reading Dom's experiments. A week later I tried my first baking on Saturday. I baked in a cast iron pot and the results was not bad for my first attempt. 
Next weekend after a spectacular failure trying for sourdough bagels (god knows why) I went back to the Blogs and I followed all the threads from the Ciabatta Bake-off...I was inspired..I wanted to create a Ciabatta that was lights with lots of holes and tasted great. So after more research I followed a version of l'ancienne formula posted by SourDom to make Ciabatta. 
This is only my third loaf of sourdough ever and I loved the result. My wife thinks it's just a fad but so far I'm totally hooked..


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 March 9

It is the beginning of a lifetime affair (other word for addiction). Once you're hooked.....

3rd time try and you're already producing smashing sourdough bread. You're a natural! Welcome, Johnny!
Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 March 9
Thanks TP :) I'm looking forward to baking again this weekend now that I've got the bug.
Maedi's picture
Maedi 2009 March 9

Hi Johnny. Great to hear you've found the website helpful. Please get in touch if you have any questions about using the website itself. Good luck with your upcoming bake.

Best wishes

celia's picture
celia 2009 March 20
GREAT looking ciabatta Johnny! Dom's recipe really is a winner, isn't it? Looking forward to your other sourdough creations - there's a great baguette thread somewhere in the archives as well, which is worth a look. And the spelt bake-off - we all went a bit nuts about that.. :) Here's the baguette thread - Cheers, and it's nice to have you here! Celia
marselline 2009 March 26

I am still working on my first starter and I can only hope my first bake will turn half as nice as yours.

Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 9

Ok I'm still trying to make decent bread and the last 2 loafs were not so good. I found I was changing too many things to try and bake that "perfect loaf".

So what have I learnt?

1) That when trying to proof the dough at a higher temperature with increased humidity it is easy to over-proof and turn my dough into a slack runny, sticky mess.

2) Adding too much Barley Malt (for some reason I thought this was my secret ingredient that would make my bread a winner!) combined with the warmer temperature just makes the increased fermentation happen faster and the mix too acid, and hence a slack, dribbly mess that cannot be handled.

3) Finally it is better to not slavishly follow the other peoples guides but learn to adjust things to your own kitchen's room temperature and your own starter's culture, and try to learn to read the the signs in the dough. (I guess you get better at this with experience..grasshopper..)

So to my last attempt...things are getting better. I went back to basics and just experimented with Hydration levels. I made one loaf at 85% hydration and used a silicon bread mould to make handling the wet dough easy. I made another round loaf at 70% hydration, which had great oven spring but burst out (next I gotta improve the slashes)

I am a lot happier with the results and feel encouraged to continue with this crazy obsession that makes my Saturday mornings filled with expectations when pulling fresh bread out of the oven.

the learnings continue...


Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 9

This is what I'm using.

I think I just need more practice and cut with confidence and a bit deeper?

BTW I loved your decorated bread TP and the link was fascinating. Makes my bread look like an exploded egg! hmm.. maybe I can do some novelty Easter Egg buns.ha ha :)

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 April 9

John, Your bread looks very delicious...Is it 100% white unbleached? I have one of the curved lames also from KAF, I found that it really isn't sharp enough, and I went back to using my serated knife. I thought that I ordered a straight one and got a curved one instead. I need to make a good one since Bill is no longer answering. He made such nice ones too!


Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 10

The bread probably looks whiter in the photos than they really are. For the loaf at 85% hydration I used all white unbleached baker's flour and 125g of 00 Flour mixed in. For the 70% hydration round loaf the same unbleached baker's flour was used but with 125g light rye mixed in.
Your right you know I thought the lame was not as sharp as I expected. I might just go back to using a bare razor blade.

It is delicious too..


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 April 10

John, have you checked out [url=]Lamp's Blog[/url]? Boris posted some excellent tips on slashing. The 'ripeness' of the bread for the oven also plays a part in getting nice opened cuts. I need to practice more too.

BTW, thanks for your kind words on my decorated bread. Just finished chewing on a slice...neat...coz it's so flavourful.


Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 12

Damn! I wish I had read the tips on slashing in Lamp's Blog before I tried slashing my latest attempt at SD. I used a razor blade this time but managed to snag it half-way through the first slash on the first loaf.

This is my second loaf and I think it went a bit better. After reading the excellent tips on Lamp's Blog I now have a better idea about slashing and can't wait to try again. Still as he says the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice!

I really am enjoying the SD baking and all the great advice and friendly help on this site. I hope this crumb shot shows what I enjoy so much about making my own bread. I feel my bread is definitely getting better each time and that motivates me to keep going. That and all the encouragement from this site and my family who are loving the bread no matter how it turns out.

It's funny how bread making is like producing a work of art. I guess that's why they call it artisan bread making. So when you produce a painting your friends and family are telling you how good it is, but all you can see is the problems with it. They even like the bread that I consider a flop. While I'm mumbling on apologising about under-proofed or the slash was not right, or the crumb has doughy bits in it they are busy slathering it in butter and gobbling it down, with a casual "tastes ok to me"

Oh well at least I get lots of practice of this art..the quest continues..


Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 18

I think I'm getting this slashing thing. This morning I baked my usual recipe at 75% hydration but added a bit extra wholemeal. The dough was much easier to handle and I think the slashing went better.

Lamp's Blog on slashing really helped.

The crumb with this recipe is not bad either. I love the open crumb and one of my favourite things in the world now is fresh cut sourdough with lashings of peanut butter...yummmmmm!!!

Johnny's a happy boy :-)

Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 19

You know it is a credit to this site and all the useful information and the friendly helpful SD community that a complete novice can produce bread this good after only a month.

I had never baked anything in my life up until the end of February this year and these SD loaves are only my 7th attempt at bread.

I think I've become a bread nerd! But hey I love it....

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 April 19

Great looking bread... soon you'll be handing out tips with the best of us!! ... Keep up the great work... I think there may be a bake off in the air!


Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 April 25

Saturday, baking day and I get to see how this weeks bread turns out. Not to mention the fun of trying new slashes....and lets not forget the taste of that first slice you have waited so long for.
Ahhhh.. I love Saturdays.

Johnny's picture
Johnny 2009 May 30
Being empty nesters the Saturday bake of 2 loaves is just the right amount for the week for my wife and I -I'm really enjoying the SD companion and having fun along the way :)

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