Here we are, at the beginning of my favorite, sourdough breads, which are all made from a “starter”, or, as Peter calls it, a  “seed culture”.    For  those unfamiliar with the BBA Challenge, it’s a net-event that was launched by Nicole, in which home bakers make every recipe from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice“, in the order that they appear in the book;  forty-three breads in all.    People participating in this challenge agreed not to publish the recipes, so if you are interested, help the economy and buy the book.  😉

I’ve been regularly baking sourdough bread for the past two years, so I took some liberties and made a few changes in the overall method.  First, I didn’t put the “barm”  in the fridge overnight.  Instead,  I prepared it at 11pm the night before and used it next morning,  at 6am, without refrigeration.   I see no need to retard the barm in the fridge:  it adds an extra hour to the overall process (you do need to warm it to room temperature before using it), and from my experience it doesn’t  improve the bread’s flavor.  Retarding the dough after the final shaping is a better option, that is also discussed in the recipe.

My second change was the kneading method.  I am partial to folding the dough, as you can see by browsing my bread recipes in this site.   Why? Because it always works.   Kneading the dough in a machine or extensively by hand  may or may not produce the crumb texture I love: airy and full of uneven holes.  I don’t like to gamble with my breads, so I fold it.

The dough was easy to work with,  I am always  fascinated by the way it changes with minimal kneading over time.   These two photos show the dough 15 minutes after mixing all the ingredients, and after rising for 45 minutes.   I folded it at 45, 60, and 120 minutes, then allowed it to rise for 2 more hours (for a total of 4 hours) before shaping.

I’ve been flirting with the idea of stenciling my breads, and this time I decided to go for it.   It didn’t work perfectly.   I think I made my Chinese character too big, and I added too much flour in making it, but I’m hoping to improve my skills.

This is an ideogram that I like very much – guang – it means light, as in sunlight.  I guess my tropical nature attracts me to it.  😉

Excellent flavor, not too sour, the crust just the way we like it…

Click here is for a link to the sourdough post by Oggi, from “I Can Do That” – she did some nice different shapes  with her dough, very nice job!

19 thoughts on “BBA#30: BASIC SOURDOUGH BREAD

  1. My gosh…. How did I get the number wrong?

    I must be getting bread-out! 🙂

    THanks a million, Oggi – I made the first mistake on the Portuguese sweet bread, so I went back and fixed them all



  2. I am anxiously waiting for my dough to rise. I like the idea of not refrigerating the barm, this is a long process. Do you think you will try the walnuts and blue cheese? Delicious looking loaf.


  3. Hi, Anne – I was not going to try variations now, I’ve made walnut bread before, but for the challenge I think I’ll just go ahead with the next one. If I remember correctly it is a NY rye?

    Mags – I hope that if you try the folding it will work well for you, or I’ll feel terribly guilty! 🙂

    I look forward to both of your reports! Our loaf is pretty much gone, just a tiny piece left. Husband absolutely loved it!


  4. My husband has been anxiously waiting for this section. I am tempted to try the blue cheese walnut over Winter Break. Still waiting for boule to ferment. It is a NY rye, soup and sandwiches here we come.


  5. Love the stencil idea. Your sourdough turned out perfectly! Wonderful crumb. I attempted the folding method on my last bread (poolish baguette) but I was not really sure about the timing of the folds. I will definately do more reading and try it again after seeing your beautiful results.

    Do you take the bread’s temp to see if it gets to an internal temp of 81º? Do you doi a windowpane test?

    Do you just do an initial brief mix, until all the ingredients are together and then begin the folding, spacing out the foldings at 45, 60 and 120?

    Sorry for all the questions but I am trying to figure out this whole folding method?


  6. Hi, Salt&Serenity..

    answering your questions: no, I never bother checking the temperature of the dough, and do not do a windowpane test either. Once you use this method a few times, you will notice the gluten forming, it’s hard to explain, the dough just “feels” stronger and more flexible at the same time, with each folding cycle.

    I do the initial mix, allow everything to sit 10-20 minutes, then do a first fold or brief (10 seconds) kneading. After 45 minutes I fold again, the next one you can do at 60 or 90 minutes, I don’t think it makes that much difference. I try to space them according to the time called for the recipe for the rise before shaping, so that in this case the dough sat for 2 hours undisturbed after the last folding.

    I got a lot of help from Hamelman’s book “Bread”, as well as from the forum The Fresh Loaf (

    lots of helpful folks here, very experienced bakers

    Good luck with your bread baking!


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  8. Pingback: Basic Sourdough Bread, No. 30 in the BBA Challenge | The Yumarama Bread Blog

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  10. This is such a great blog!!! Really makes me hungry just reading and looking at the pictures : ) I recently baked my first loaf of bread and it was incredible!!! I used a starter my friend told me about. It’s from Sourdough’s International and now I have to spread the word! I loved it. Definitely going to order more when it comes the time.


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