I’ve had periods of keeping a sourdough starter going previously, but the loaves of bread I made were disappointing. The only success I had was making some sourdough pancakes for breakfast. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t really taking care of the starter, but also that I use a Panasonic SD 2501 breadmaker to make my doughs and frequently the whole loaf, and frankly I didn’t really put my heart into the whole sourdough thing. The starter became a black mulch after a few months and was thrown away.
When Karen did the London Marathon in April 2017, after registering for the race on the Saturday we had an excellent lunch in a pub in Greenwich - the Gypsy Moth.
I had pan fried king prawns and chorizo on toasted sourdough which was delicious, and made me hanker after sourdough bread again. At the same time I bought a Roccbox pizza oven, and the facebook group was awash with sourdough pizza recipes, so I started another culture. My efforts since Summer 2017 on the sourdough pizza front went well, and so around Xmas time I determined to try again at making sourdough loaves of bread.
I found a terrific article by Rachel Cotterill on using a Panasonic Breadmaker and had a go with that. The first loaf was pretty good, but not risen enough. However, I use a 50% hydration sourdough starter (50% flour, 50% water) which is easy to maintain but different from Rachel’s, so I tried tweaking her recipe.
After fiddling around, this is what I have ended up with. It has tended to be very reliable. The following explains what I do when I need a loaf on Saturday.
Thursday: The day before I want to make the bread (making it on Friday evening) I will feed the starter in the morning and the evening.
Friday: The day I will make the bread I feed the starter in the morning, then at around 18:00. At 20:00, I will make the dough:
- 390g strong white bread flour
- 170g 50% sourdough starter
- 6g salt
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp sugar
- 200g cold water
Put everything into the Panasonic breadmaker and then run the dough cycle. On my Panasonic 2501 this is cycle 22 and takes about 45 minutes.
When the dough cycle completes, set up the French bread cycle (this is all down to Rachel’s experiments and advice by the way - I take no credit for this) which on the 2501 machine is cycle 8. This is a 6 hour cycle, but I will use the timer function on this so that the bread is ready in about 12 hours time (press the time arrows on the breadmaker to increase 6 hours to 12 hours). Last thing I do before going to bed is to lightly spray some water around the breadmaker tin and on top of the dough. I think this reduces the dough sticking to the sides and giving a misshapen loaf (I could be wrong about that though!).
Saturday: 12 hours later on Saturday morning, the breadmaker beeps and a beautiful well-risen sourdough loaf comes out (see image above). The bread is satisfyingly chewy and flavoursome.
I find that the olive oil gives it a bit more longevity compared to no oil at all. The bread is great with cheese and meats, and also toasted with savoury food or with jam/marmalade.