First bread post of 2015!  Not the first bake of the year, because this was made for Phil’s birthday on the last week of December. He chose the whole menu, which consisted of oysters on the half-shell as a first course, and clam chowder as the main dish. Also according to his request, no dessert to keep things moderate.  Perfect for me.  The bread was all that bowl of chowdah needed to shine in its creamy glory!

Warm Spot Sourdough1


I am not going to share the full recipe (from Ken Forkish’s book Flour Water Salt Yeast), but you can find it online with a visit to Karen’s site. And don’t just limit yourself to that recipe,  look around and be amazed by her talent. Just a recent example: she tackled Pretzel Rolls, the traditional Laugenbrötchen. That is on my mile-long list of things to try this year. Now, back to my sourdough…

A little walk through the method… The bread takes three days to prepare, but don’t let that intimidate you. It is worth your time. The interesting twist in the recipe is keeping your sourdough starter at a higher temperature of fermentation, around 85 F. During the winter that can be a challenge, but I am the lucky owner of a bread proofing box. Problem solved. Because the starter ferments at a higher temperature you will need to refresh it more often than usual, but as I mentioned in my previous sourdough post, Ken is particularly helpful in laying out a nice schedule for each of his recipes.

After the bulk fermentation, in which I gave four folding cycles to the dough, the bread is shaped, and retarded in the fridge overnight. From the fridge it goes straight into the hot oven, no need to bring it to room temperature.

One of the things I did differently in this bake was to flour my banetton, cover it with plastic wrap (Saran Wrap type), flour the plastic and place the shaped dough for its final proof, seam side UP (going against Ken’s usual method).  Next morning, I inverted the bread on parchment paper, slashed the surface and baked it with my normal method of steam (Dutch oven covered with a wet lid).  Ken likes to allow his breads to open naturally, so he proofs the shaped loaf with the seam side down, then simply inverts it on the baking sheet without slashing. I did this on my first time making this recipe a couple of months ago, and even though the bread tasted as good as this one, it failed to open in a more dramatic way.  Take a look:


Maybe it is just a matter of personal preference, but I rather help the bread open in a more defined way.  One more remark before I go: I liked the use of the plastic wrap because it gave me extra confidence removing the bread from the banetton. I’ve had too many situations of dough sticking and compromising the shape of the loaf in the end.  I suspect my skills to shape the loaf and generate enough surface tension need improvement. Until then, I will be using this trick, and if you had problems with dough sticking give it a try…

The bread had good oven spring, the crust was just the way we love it!


So there we have it, another birthday celebration, with good music, juicy oysters, delicious bread, and a warming bowl of soup, all in the comfort of our home!  Life is good…

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Bran Muffins, Rainbows, and a wonderful surprise!

TWO YEARS AGO: Cider-Marinated Pork Kebabs

THREE YEARS AGO: Golden Age Granola

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Mushroom Souffle for Two



    • Sourdough baking can be a bit intimidating, but once you dive into it, it is a lot of fun, and quite forgiving too…. most of the time is hands-off, waiting, until the final baking time


  1. Sally, thanks so much for the shout out! That plastic wrap method sounds interesting. I’m going to try it when I use my cane bannetons (I usually use plastic ones, which I can spray with oil and flour and then run through the dishwasher). Your crumb look perfect, and I’m now going to b rebellious like you and proof mine seam side up =) Thank you again! Awesome bread!


  2. If you were trying to create the perfect crumb, well I think you’ve nailed it my friend. Especially from that “crumb shot” picture, one can tell this was the perfect loaf of bread. Great job my friend and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


  3. Mike’s birthday is also the last week (in fact last day) of December! It looks like Phil had a marvelous menu. This bread looks divine. I can almost taste, feel and smell it. So glad the first bread post of the year is a sourdough – my favorite! I hope you had a marvelous holiday season Sally and that the new year is off to a great start. And here’s to our thoughts of summer to keep us warm!


    • Counting the weeks for summer, my friend…. Mood is rotten at the moment. Can you believe I had to take a cold shower this morning? COLD. You would not want to be around our home as it was happening. Not pretty.


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