First time sourdough


Hi everyone, 


i just found this forum while I was looking for new sourdough information. I bought a book on breads a few weeks ago, and after a few attempts thought I'd try a sourdough. Got my sourdough starter up and running, using strong white flour and water. After about a week, it was happily bubbling away so I thought if make my first loaves, and here they are. 

I was thrilled that they'd risen! After staring at them for ages, I sliced a bit off, tasted it, and raced round to take some to my parents and demanded  that they try some (although to be honest they didn't really need any persuasion).

Anyway, happy as I am with them, it'd be good to get some feedback on them and ideas on how to improve. 

Cheers :) 

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shasta's picture
shasta 2012 December 20

Hello and welcome!


Congratulations on your loaves. They look darn good to me.


The first thing I would suggest is to just keep baking with your new starter and see how it develops.  As a starter ages it develops more intense flavors.

Other than that, the sky is the limit on things you can do. It really depends on what you are looking for. For instants, would you like a crumb with fewer holes or more? Do you want a thicker crust or thinner? Or maybe less sour flavor or more? If you tell us what you would like the end results to be, someone here should be able to suggest ways to achieve it. If you’re like most of us here, you’re now hooked and will from here on out be in search of that perfect loaf and enjoying the journey one slice at a time.

Moohie 2012 December 20

Wow, fab looking loaves, well done!!

It's such an addictive pastime, I really love the whole process. I know what you mean when you said you just stared at them for a while. Sometimes when I have a really good looking loaf I take a photo of it on my phone and keep looking at it all the time. My husband thinks I'm a bit crazy. 



thebionicmatt 2012 December 20

Thanks so much for your comments :) I think that breadmaking is the most addictive baking that I've tried! To get these ones crusty, I sprayed with a little water and had some water steaming in the bottom of the oven. The loaves came out crispy, but the crust softened by the next day. Is that normal? Anyway to keep it crisp?

Also, is there anyway to achieve a more even crumb with sourdough or is it just one of those things? 

Thanks again :) 

shasta's picture
shasta 2012 December 21

I can guilty of picture taking too. I also like to BBQ with a smoker that I built and take pictures of the food I cook to post on a BBQ blog. The saying there is "If you don't have pictures of it. it didn't happen!" :)

For a nice crust I use this technique. It was developed by Teresa at

thebionicmatt 2012 December 21

The crust on those looks amazing shasta. I might have to have a try with that method this weekend. Gonna be making a mountain of bread at the weekend ready for Christmas :) hoping to get some proving bowls for Christmas! I still need to get better with shaping and I reckon that would help a lot! 

Moohie 2012 December 21

Hahahaha, I do the FB posts too. I am so enthusiastic about my bread, I can't work out why others aren't too! Lol

Our oven died ages ago and we have yet to get another. I bought a little Breville Smart Oven which is only about the size of a large microwave, so I can't do the roasting lid thing. I found a couple of things that worked for me in the little oven to get a harder crust was to leave the loaf sitting on the stone in the oven after it was finished baking, or letting it cool for an hour or so, then popping it back in the oven for 5 mins. 

Happy Christmas baking. I'm busy baking bread too, a friend of mine is going away camping for Christmas and has put in a request for some sourdough to take with her.



petanque 2012 December 21

Commercial ovens have a damper to let the steam out.


It is common for the crust to go soft after baking.


Ways to make the crust harder.


Bake longer at a lower temperature. Oven spring happens in the first 5 minutes so having the oven very hot after this makes no difference to oven spring. So as in the video you start with a high temp and drop the temperature after about 5 minutes.


Open the oven door to let the steam out. Open the door several times after the initial 5 minutes. This has to be balanced against getting the oven too cold.


Dry out the crust at a lower temperature 10 to 15 minutes at about 120 C will increase the crust dramatically. This can be done after the bread has been baked with residual heat in the oven or even the next day if the bread seems tired if it has not been cut.


Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2012 December 21

I find doing at least one retardation step in the fridge overnight - bulk ferment or proof - and a handful of ice in the bottom of the oven really improves the crust!

Outstanding frist loaves!


thebionicmatt 2012 December 22

Thank you for all of the advice. I'm gonna try that with the crust technique. How do I go about doing the fridge retardation? To make those loaves I started by making a sponge just before bed and then getting up early and adding all the extra ingredients. I proved and knocked back four times, and then I shaped and left to rise fro another two hours and that's how they turned out. Where would the retardation step come in? Thanks!

Moohie 2012 December 22

I do a similar process to you, feed starter at  night, then mix in the morning.

I mix, leave for 30 mins, then do 3 short kneads, 10 mins apart. Then I do 2 stretch and folds, an hour apart, leave it another hour, shape, pop in bannetons, put them in plastic bags and then into the fridge overnight.

The next day I bake straight from the fridge. I actually usually make 2 loaves, bake one after 1 night in the fridge and bake the other the day after. I still get significant oven spring after 2 nights in the fridge. This way I'm only mixing every second day but getting a fresh loaf every day.

I have had to adjust my timings recently though (after some advice from some lovely people here), because it's summer in Australia and I wasn't getting any oven spring even after only one night in the fridge. At the moment I have reduced my timings so that the total time after mixing is no more than about 2.5 hours (I have just reduced the time between stretch and folds to 30 mins). 




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