My first attempt at Shiao-Ping's 'Home Bread' recipe


A little introduction and my first loaf.

I grew up in a European family in Australia, we didn't have any of the fluffy white bread that all my friends had, and at the time frankly I felt a little bit like the odd one out. You know, the kid with the Salami sandwhich when everyone else had Vegemite!  Fast forward from the 1970's to now and strangely I am grateful for my childhood filled with Sourdough, pumpernickel, sweet and sour rye etc, (oh and don't forget the Smoked Eel every Saturday) and seem to have this obsession to make my own Sourdough loaves. So I start perusing the web and find this amazing site, wow, I'm not alone in this journey I chosen which to outsiders is my 'strange obsession'.  I've been getting comments from friends like ' you know, you can buy bread at the shop!' Not my point people, they simply don't get it, only one friend does and she is the daughter of a baker! My Husband is quite supportive of said obsession, I guess his stomach is talking there, bless him. So after much perusing and reading and re-reading, I decided to make a starter following Sourdom's instructions, which worked really well, thankyou Sourdom for putting up such great instructions, having accomplished that task, it was then a case of which recipe do I try? So, thankyou Shiao-Ping for your blog entries, I decided on your 'Home Bread' recipe. 

So, my loaf looks ok, I guess, but it a pretty dense loaf as you can see from the photos.  It has a few holes around the edges, but the centre is very dense.  Should I have 'slashed' more, I must admit I was a bit afraid to cut too deep, maybe I should have.  I also left it a bit long in the fridge, it had an overnight stay in the fridge, and due to unexpected guests I did not get to bake it till that afternoon.  Could this have contributed to the heavy texture?  To be honest, I'm not really sure, hence my post. 

My starter was made with unbleached organic rye flour and white bakers flour from 'Home Bake', I then used the same for my loaf.  I have so much to learn here, I would be grateful of any feedback and suggestions for improving my techniques and loaves.  Thank you for reading my post and I look forward to some help from this warm community.

Here are photos from my first loaf:


Tania 2010 July 23

Oh dear sorry about that, I don't know where they went! I will try uploading them again, it's my first time ever doing a blog entry, please bear with me

BackyardPermaculture 2010 July 23

Hi Tania, nice to see another QLD baker on here!

The loaf looks nice - I'm afraid I'm not experienced enough to offer advice on improvements.



Tania 2010 July 26

Hi Mick,  thanks for your comments, really appreciated. My loaf looked nice but was very heavy to eat, will have to do some more reading here and then try again.  My husband said he didn't get hungry for hours after breakfast!!

BTW, your outdoor oven looks great in your photos, I bet you drive the neighbours mad with the gorgeous aromas that would come from that!!




peregrine 2010 July 26

Hi Tania,

I started making sourdough bread about 6 months ago - I can relate to your obsession - there's endless figuring out of how to improve! My first breads had that heavier texture too. Some of things I needed to work on, which you might like to consider are:

1) Baking your bread on a REALLY hot pizza stone. If you look at the bottom of your loaf, you can see a kind of dense, claggy layer - that could be because the dough didn't hit a hot enough surface when it went into the oven. If you heat your stone in the oven from the start, and get the oven to the right temperature a good 40 minutes before you put the bread in, it should help.

2) Just through experience, you'll get to know when your bread is ready to go into the oven - try not to overprove your loaves. There's heaps of info on sourdough blogs and forums on the web - even videos. I have had to learn not to wait till the dough looks tall and fluffy, just till it regains some of its lightness. Poking the dough has never worked for me, wobbling it in the basket works (not a patented technique yet!).

3) The other painful thing I struggle with is the hydration level in the dough. I have finally concluded that my unbleached, plain bread flour mustn't have more than about 11% protein, which means it doesn't absorb as much water as some recipes call for. My doughs were too wet. I'm learning to adjust the water as I go - through feel and learning which recipes are meant to be really wet (like ciabatta) and which ones end up like cement (like wholemeal, multigrain ones - though I've finally fixed this one!).

So it will be a bit of trial and error - your family will benefit from lots of toast in the early days - but you'll get there.

I'm from Melbourne and whenever the recipe says retard the dough in the fridge overnight, I just put the bowl in the unheated room in the back of the house - it's nearly as cold as the fridge at the moment!

All the best




BackyardPermaculture 2010 July 26

 Hi Tania,

Thanks - I try to bake some bread for the neighbours - even though I haven't really got the hang of baking in the wood-fired oven yet, they seem to appreciate it!



Tania 2010 July 27

Hi Dianne, I was very excited to see new replies to my post, this seems to be a very warm community here.  Thank you so much for your thoughts, very encouraging indeed and thanks also for taking the time with your reply, lots of good advice in there for me which I will definitely take onboard.

So for my next loaf, I will make sure I have heated up my pizza stone very well, maybe even check the oven temperature with my oven thermometer,  I am still getting acquainted with new my oven, (I have only had it since April), I have a choice of fan or conventional (no fan) function any thoughts if that would make a difference? 



rossnroller 2010 July 27

I've tried both, and no fan works better for me...but others may find differently.  My thinking is that a fanless oven more closely resembles a woodfired oven (fanciful, I acknowledge), but more importantly, convection heat seems more intense and drying than without the fan.


Tania 2010 July 29

I get your thinking, there is no fan in a woodfired oven.  I have even had the pleasure of making pizza in a woodfire oven at a b&b  once,  didn't think of it till you mentioned it.  Thanks for that.

BackyardPermaculture 2010 July 29

I have a wood-fired oven, and what I love about the fan-forced electric oven is that it is so consistent. My electric oven bakes things really evenly.



Tania 2010 July 31

You make a good point there Mick, there is the eveness of baking to consider also,  I plan to have another go at Shiao-Ping's home bread recipe in the next few days.   I am out of white and rye bread flour and will be needing to purchase more for my next loaf, any suggestions on what brand to get?  Is Laucke any good? My last lot was Home Bread but would like to try something different.

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