One man's approach

jas's picture

Hi All,

Just a friendly link to an article that I wrote recently to describe how I make my sourdough.  I wrote it up after getting a few requests from the neighbours and school mums:

I'm always experimenting, and would welcome any tips or corrections.

Hope this helps others.



195 users have voted, including you.


jas's picture
jas 2010 January 20

Yep, that's them.

FYI, I linked to them in an earlier post:

I purchased my first one from the kitchenware shop in Elizabeth St., Melbourne (between Little Bourke and Lonsdale), and the second was bought on-line from Home Depot.

I use them because my dough always flops if I try and extract it from a banneton before the bake.  I still don't know why - have messed around with both hydration and mixing regimes to no avail.  Bread is otherwise great.  Reported at the end of this post:


My current technique is to take the pans out half way through the bake.


davo 2010 January 20

Nicely put together Jason.

I wouldn't say too brown at all...

What happens when you use a banetton and it collapses? Where is the problem? Maybe you need to flour a bit more thoroughly so as not to stick, or just be patient with an upside down banetton (gravity will get it out eventually!), or prove a little cooler (so it doesn't go "sloppy"), or have a nice really pre-warmed stone in the oven that you slide the proved loaf onto from your peel (so it springs rather than oozes out and sets in a flat shape), or...

davo 2010 January 21

Ah - I didn't read the old thread - I see I already asked the same questions!

All I could suggest (other than making sure of stuff above like that the stone is really fully pre-heated) is try the banetton with slightly cooler/shorter duration bulk fermenting and/or proving  and see how it goes. The dough should be a bit more taut - whether it's underproved at that stage will come out in the bake - as an explosion/tear out of your slashes, then you can home in on optimal. But I can't believe someone getting such good results couldn't get a decent result out of a banetton. One other thing, if you are really only doing a few folds here and there, it may be that the gluten is a little less developed and so the dough is a bit less "taut" at the bake stage... I do the stretch and folds but start out with a decent few french folds early up, before easing off later in the bulk ferment to occasional stretch and folds...


The hot stone thing can be quite a factor I reckon, a while ago I did a slightly rushed bake of two lots of two loaves, which I removed from fridge retard at pretty much the same times before the bake. The first batch hit the stone after only 30 mins warming (usually I go for 45 - 60 mins). They came out a little flat, and I was thinking "right, overproved". Although the slashes  had little tears at the ends. The next batch was in ostensibly identical condition in terms of time at room temp out of the fridge, but it (the second batch) sprang like crazy. Now, maybe these had been in a colder spot in the fridge or something, and it wasn't the stone, but now I am even more conscious to try and make sure as much as I can that the stone is nice and hot.

jas's picture
jas 2010 January 21

Hey Davo,

Thanks for the tips.  I might start fooling with stones again. I had a couple of thick ceramic floor tiles that I used to use, however these eventually cracked, and I haven't bothered since.


My gut feel, like you, is also lack of proper gluten development, because of the way it "drips" out of the banneton.  i.e. I don't think it's about oven jump, because when I see shots of other folks dough after loading into the oven, they sit up much better than mine.

I've been meaning to respond on the recent "the need to knead" post regarding this.  I was stunned recently when I watched "Australias best pizza" on TV a couple of months back because a professional chef (that celebrity-chef Irish guy; think his name is Darren) put his pizza dough in a mixer for 20 minutes.  After seeing that, I thought that I might try mixing mine for a bit longer to see how it affects things, and have recently taken to:


* 60 second mix

* (rest for 15 mins)

* add salt

* 10 minute mix  ( I used to only do 2->3 mins)

* Three folds every 45 mins or so


I think the change to a 10 minute mix is making the dough stronger based on feel, but have not done the banneton test yet.

davo 2010 January 21

All my mixing/kneading/folding is by hand, but yeah  the extra mix might help. Also, I note you describe the shaping as tucking the edges under (or whatever were the exact words). I wonder if a bit more vigour here might help. I really try and get some tension in the skin at this point.

(And here's another issue. If I cut the dough into pieces to shape I expect to see tiny little barely noticeable bubbles in the springy dough. If at this stage I see big bubbles and the dough feels slack, then I'm worried that it's gone further than I want for that shaping stage.)

Anyway back from that diversion, what this means is that the dough should (for me) be fairly resilient to vigourous shaping prior to the prove. If I feel like I am seriously deflating it when shaping, I'm thinking I shouldn't have let it bulk ferment that long, or that warm. (That's just my outlook and others may disagree! One thing I'll note is that when I watched a doco on some SD baker in tassie - he built his WF oven in the show - they showed them popping the ripe doughs out of banettons for baking and slashing them, and man they were still springly as hell - which made me tone down my bulk ferment and prove times, as up til then I think I had routinely been overproving without knowing it. Maybe they were low hydration doughs - but they were firm firm firm at baking stage, compared to anything I've ever done.

davo 2010 January 21

PS re the stone, you can just use a pizza stone, or look for a stone bench top off-cut (just use the rough not the polished side).

rossnroller 2010 January 22

I LOVE my pizza stone. I bought it for $7 on special at Kitchenwarehouse two Christmases ago, and have to say it's been a terrific investment! 

Like many others, I got into sourdough bread baking via pizza, but now use my stone for bread far more than for pizza (just because I bake more bread than pizza). I find that you get significant extra oven spring in your bread from using a pre-heated pizza stone. Just indispensible as far as I'm concerned, and at that price you can't go wrong.

And of course, for pizzas, a stone makes all the difference.

Post Reply

Already a member? Login