Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cookbook Countdown #4 : Sourdough Bread

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here


Cookbook Countdown #4 : Recipe No. 3 - Sourdough Bread
from my selected cookbook for this month, Bake by Rachel Allen

According to Rachel Allen. "This is a simplified version of a sourdough, which, while delicious to eat, can be quite fiddly to make at home. Classic sourdough starter has no added yeast, however I do use a little bit in this faster version. I leave the starter for three days to "sour" (ferment), but if you prefer a stronger flavour, you can leave it for four days."

Sourdough Bread. 

The bread has a crusty crispy crust when freshly baked, and the crust gets very chewy after a day. It has a soft crumb texture, with the mild sour taste to it, very nice. While the bread is baking in the oven, I can smell the sourish bread aroma, in a very delicious way!

This is not the classic artisan sourdough bread with gorgeous open crumbs. But I think that this is good enough when you want a sourdough bread, and do not have the time to make the classic sourdough starter which takes more time and a little more work.  I left the starter to ferment for 3 days, and it smells sour. The recipe makes two large loaves, and since my stand mixer cannot knead the huge amount of flour at one time, I have divided the starter into two, and knead the dough in two batches.

The first dough is slightly sticky to the touch, so I've added a little flour to it. For the second dough, I have reduced the amount of water. You will need to dust your hands with flour when handling the dough. Other than this, the dough is pretty easy to handle. 

I've shaped the loaves into ovals and bake them accordingly as per the instructions in the recipe.

I really like this bread, it has a really nice sour taste to it with chewy crust, which I love. Some slices are used to make "Fried Sandwich",  an assignment at Cook The Book Fridays, (a group of lovely bloggers who are cooking from David Lebovitz's "My Paris Kitchen"), post coming up next week. Recipe makes two large loaves, so I've kept the balance in the freezer, with plans to use it all up in the coming week.

Sourdough Bread 
(makes 2 large loaves)
For the sourdough starter :
1-1/2 tsp dried yeast or 15gm (1/2oz) fresh yeast or 1x7g sachet fast-acting yeast
500ml (18 fl oz) warm water
300gm (11oz) plain flour (I use bread flour)

For the white sourdough :
900gm (2lb) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
1 x sourdough starter
400ml (14 fl oz) warm water

  1. Three or four days before you intend to bake the bread, place the yeast for the sourdough starter in a medium-sized bowl, add the water and mix together. Sift in the plain flour and hand whisk to mix, then cover with cling film and leave to stand at room temperature for three or four days.
  2. When you are ready to make the bread, sift the strong white flour and the salt into a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric food mixer). Mix together the sourdough starter and the warm water, then pour into the flour.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together, and knead for 10 minutes, or 5 minutes if using an electric food mixer (with the dough hook attached). Stop kneading when the dough feels springy to the touch.
  4. Place in a large, oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours, until doubled in size. (To test whether the dough has fully risen, push your finger into the dough - it should leave a dent that does not spring back).
  5. Knock the dough back and knead on a floured work surface for 2 minutes before shaping it into loaves, round or oval.
  6. Place the loaves spaced apart on a floured baking tray, dust with flour, then score the top of each loaf a few times with a sharp knife. Cover with a clean tea towel, and place somewhere warm to rise again - about 30-45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F), Gas Mark 7 and bake the loaves for 30-45 minutes. After 15 minutes, you may need to turn the oven down to 200C (400F), Gas Mark 6 if the bread has already risen and is golden in colour.
  8. The bread is cooked when it is a deep golden brown all over and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Kitchen Flavour's notes :
For one loaf of bread, I have used about 150ml of water during the kneading of the dough. 

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by 


  1. This is such a great event Joyce. Now, if I could just get my you know what in gear and choose a cookbook to cook from, lol...

    Your Sourdough Bread looks heavenly. I like the notion of not making it too "soury" sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. I'm looking forward to your "Fried Sandwich."

    Thanks so much for sharing, Joyce...

  2. oh wow can almost smell it!!! I love the smell of freshly baked bread

  3. Joyce , I've made a sourdough starter last year sadly , it died after 3 days *sigh* I've even made a back up , that , too , didn't survive :P Will try Joanne Chang's starter recipe sometime or try the one you have there . I think there are copies of Rachel Allen's book at the lib here :D

  4. Hi Joyce! I love sourdough bread! There is a special something about it. But when I read recipes on how to make the starter, I give up hah..hah.. This shortcut method is worth a try.