Success! At last!


Hi Everyone

I started my sourdough project in February and have had inconsistent results so far - one loaf is good then the next spreads as soon as it hits the baking stone (maybe overprooving?).  It has been very frustrating.  I've been following everyone's advice to other beginners like me and that has helped so much.  I've persisted and FINALLY have made three consistently decent loaves in a row!   

Here are pics of yesterday's effort.  The crust is nice, the inside is moist and it tastes great.


So anyone who is starting out, keep going and don't be afraid of screwing it up.  I've learnt to be less gentle with my kneading and more patient with the folding and resting.  My starter is very healthy and lives happily in the fridge until I'm ready to use it.  I take it out a couple of days before I want to prepare the dough and feed it a few times.  I'm not quite happy with the oven spring as my dodgy oven has to be turned up to 250C to achieve a temperature of about 220C.   Now I just have to be less timid with the slashing.

Thanks to all the people who have shared their problems, it was nice to know I wasn't the only one struggling. There's still room for improvement but I'm pretty happy, fingers crossed for next time.



161 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 July 12

Hello Kaybee,

Very nice looking bread - nothing too much wrong with that at all.

And you have confirmed my mantra of keeping at it.  As a champion golfer once said, when asked how come he was so lucky, the more I practice, the luckier I get.  I think the same can  be said of sourdough bread bakers.

Keep on bakin'


kaybee 2011 July 14

Hi Farinam

Thanks very much for your comments, your mantra is so true.

I can't wait to make my next loaf

Cheers, Kaybee's picture 2011 July 14

Hey, that is a beautiful loaf and it's fantastic that you stuck at it. When I teach I always make the point that nobody is out to win prizes and that everything tastes good toasted!  Getting a consistency you can actually shape with ease is HARD.  Shaping is the real artistry of the baker and people work at it for years before getting it just right. So well done.


Three thoughts for you: 


If, for a little while, you work with dough that is drier than you ordinarily would work with - considerably drier - you will find the shaping and the slashing a lot easier and it's good to practice.  Also if you reduce the rye content to zero it is a lot easier - just for now.  Then incorporate rye gradually and increase the water gradually, observing how the shaping and slashing change with these changes in the dough.


If you bake in a tin it is very easy to see when the dough is ready for the oven.  Two thirds fill a greased tin and when the dough comes up to the top it is done.  Sourdough will only ever rise 150% and then it is ready.  It does not have the power of yeast and you cannot expect to see the dough double in bulk.  If it does, it is probably over proofed.


When you slash, don't go for plain depth, get under the skin of the dough.  Literally - go for a few milimeters under the skin, holding the blade at an angle and make a deep cut that way.  Your loaf will open up spectacularly. 


Best of luck!

kaybee 2011 July 14

Hi Virtuous Bread

Thanks for your comments.  You are right - I was trying to make a perfect looking loaf but it's hard not to when you see some of the beautiful pictures on this site. 

And yes, even my sourdough frisbees tasted good toasted, especially with my homemade lemon/lime curd!

Thanks for your advice too, I will try a drier dough - I am using 500g flour and 320g water (not including starter).  I am currently using a 450g white & 50g rye mix so will try all white.   And I'll practice my slashing.

Cheers, Kaybee




athomenow 2011 July 21

What recipe are you using?  The bread looks great.  I am baking a very decent loaf of bread but it looks like white bread using a starter.  Not crusty at all.  I still need to try and shape the loaves differently and not use a regular bread pan.  I bought a baguette proofer so I need to branch out.  I'm in the US and don't use gram measurement so if you could give me cups and ounces it would be great.  Also do you weigh your flour?


Merrid 2011 August 9

Debra, be careful with that because cup measurements are not the same the world over. The Australian cup size is bigger than the US cup size so the cup measures are not equivalent. And the kind of flour, and how you fill the cup, can make a difference to the volume also. That's why most of the recipes on this site are stated in weight and baker's percentages - this is much more accurate for baking. I think you would be wise to invest in a digital scale, preferably one that you can switch between grammes and ounces so you don't have to convert.

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