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Haloumi and Mint - my first sourdough attempt!

Mary's picture

So I have been fostering my sourdough starter carefully over the past week, and finally had the day off work yesterday with no plans or commitments - a whole day to focus on my first loaf.

I decided to follow the haloumi and mint recipe from Yoke Mardewi's book 'Wild Sourdough' as I had leftover haloumi in the fridge that needed eating and plenty of fresh mint in the garden. It was relatively easy, even the kneading (which is the most problematic bit I find about breadmaking - I'm get to get the 'feel' for the right consistency of the dough).

This is the recipe I followed:-

400g wholemeal flour

400g white flour

200g sourdough starter

500mL water

2 tsp salt

I combined the ingredients, left them to rest for 30 min, kneaded on an oiled surface briefly, rested for 10 min, kneaded, rested, kneaded, rested. Then I left it to rise for about 3 hours (the recipe said 4-6 which sounded like a very long time!), kneaded, stretched the dough out to a rectangle and sprinkled over:

200g haloumi, in cubes

handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Then rolled it up to a football type shape, left for another couple of hours and then baked for 10 min at 235c and turned it down to 225c for another 30 minutes.


In the end, it looked like this:

(apologies for the photo quality - my camera has recently stopped working. Possibly something to do with having beer spilt all over it. I'm now reliant on the camera in my mobile - not ideal.)


I was really happy with the taste - lovely and chewy and I looooove haloumi so those slightly melty chunks throughout the dough was pretty divine. The minty taste balanced out the saltiness nicely too. 

However - the crust was INCREDIBLY crunchy and thick. To the point where it is really quite difficult to slice the bread, let alone eat! Any suggestions as to why this would be the case?

198 users have voted.


Maedi's picture
Maedi 2010 January 16

Hi Mary, I have fixed this for you (by clicking on the photo in Edit mode, and dragging one of the corners inwards to resize). I have just changed the way the site handles photos. In future your photos will automatically be resized to fit.

All the best,

rossnroller 2010 January 16

Hi Mary,

I have found that thick crusts develop as the result of a slower, longer bake at relatively low temperatures (say, 200C or less). Probably also influenced by the dough composition - more experienced bakers will be able to provide more information on this, no doubt.

The Mardwei book was my first on sourdough, and although it is beautifully presented, I've found techniques and recipes elsewhere that work better.  I rarely refer to it now, and when I do it's just to look for ideas, which I then apply to other recipes (some from other books, some contributed by some of the generous, adventurous and highly skilled home bakers who post on this and other sites). Be sure to check carefully through the recipes in that book before you start on one, too, because there are several in which ingredients have been left out, or other obvious errors have been left unaddressed - nothing worse than having your dough mixed, or part-mixed, and discovering something vital is missing from the recipe.

Anyway, looks like you've pulled off a nice bread for your first! Good on you and may there be many great bakes ahead!


Mary's picture
Mary 2010 January 16

 Thanks Maedi, for fixing up the photo! 

And thank you, Ross, for your feedback - and particularly the warning about the Mardewi book! I will be sure to take heed, and proceed with caution.... I also own a copy of Dan Lepard's book, but have been cautious about tackling any of his recipes (although I did follow his directions when cultivating the starter - they are very comprehensive and straightforward) as they seem rather more technical than my abilities feel ready for!

And the crust - I'm not sure what went wrong there. I had the oven quite hot for the whole time (235 reduced to 225 after 10 min). Do you think perhaps the dough could have been a bit wetter? It was ridiculously easy and non-sticky to knead, could dryness make for a thicker crust?

rossnroller 2010 January 16


 Do you think perhaps the dough could have been a bit wetter? It was ridiculously easy and non-sticky to knead, could dryness make for a thicker crust?


Yes, I believe so. I'm not very impressed with most of the dough compositions in the Mardewi book, to be honest. I baked quite a few of hers when I first started, and outcomes varied. None of the breads I tried compare to my favourites from other books, and particularly, from the home bakers I hold in high regard here (eg: LeadDog, TeckPoh, SourDom, Shiao-Ping) and on other forums.

Would be interesting to see what others say about factors influencing crust thickness...

Mary's picture
Mary 2010 January 16

 Hmm, okay - next time (perhaps tomorrow!) I will go by a recipe on this site. Could you recommend a particular one?

I would love to do a course in sourdough, particularly this one (I have connections to the chaps who established this bakery through the island I grew up on) although I would be interested to check out the Companion Bakery courses, just to experience a hands-on introduction to the sourdough world.

rossnroller 2010 January 17

Mary, please be mindful that my conclusions on Yoke Mardewi's recipes are mine alone and were reached after baking several of her breads and other sourdough recipes from her book several times. Tastes are different, and yours may not coincide with mine. I'd suggest you try a few more and see what you think.

Ditto the recipes on this site - my taste may be at variance with yours. One I baked recently that I loved was Shiao-Ping's 'house miche'. I don't think she posted it on this forum, but you can find it here.

Really, though, there is no substitute for poring over the recipes yourself and picking out the ones that most appeal to you.


sourfish 2010 February 17

Increasing the hydration of the dough and baking at higher temperature will lead to a thinner, crisper crust (if you're using a domestic oven, set the temperature as high as it will go). Looking at the formula above, I would dramatically increase the water volume - start with an extra 200 ml.



dukegus 2010 February 22

I agree with sourfish about the hydration, I'd try a overnight fridge retardation, which help me to get max volume in my sourdough loaves!

Did you develop the gluten to a good extend? Did you try a windowpane etc?

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