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Sourdough Bread - Step-byStep pictorial

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As I started this round of baking, I thought I would use it to play with my new digital camera, and try to capture each step of the sourdough baking process. Of course this is done with a very great debt to Dan Lepard - whose Handmade Loaf got me back onto baking sourdough - and whose fantastic photographs here got me thinking...

But first an admission - I am using an already live starter - but if this goes well i may backtrack and create a new one.

The starter is one that I have had for about 9 months - i actually got it from sourdo.com - it was their San Fransisco starter - but I'm sure that it is pretty much localised now! It was very active at the start - and has calmed down to a nice manageable level now. It is very resilient - I have a clone which I keep in our holiday home - which gets used about every 3 months or so - and only really takes 12 - 24 hours to revive.

The photo this evening is of the starter just having added flour and water.

It is taken with a Canon EOS 30D with the EF-S17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens.

ISO 1600 (so its a bit grainy - need to work that up) - f22, 5 secs - to get as much depth of field as possible.

I would love to have feedback (either on the photographs - or the baking).

And please post your own sequences too?


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Oh cool! I love stuff like this.

Photography is not my forte by any means.

Your photo looks great though.

What a gloppily handsome jar of starter you have there.


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I'm no photo expert, either, but I've been doing a lot of food photography since I started a cooking blog. One thing I only discovered recently is that my camera (a Fuji Finepix, can't really remember the model number at this moment) has a close up feature. There's a button you can press that takes it to one of two settings, for shots as close as an inch away from the subject! That cleared up my blurring problem to a huge degree right there.

The other thing I found is that lighting is far more important that I'd ever realized from just taking pictures of family & stuff. I had to take out the energy saver bulbs (flourescents) and replace them with high wattage incandescents in a stand lamp to get that taken care of. Of course, it's a pain to drag that into my kitchen every time I want to snap a photo of something I'm doing, so I don't always do it, but it makes a huge difference when I *do* go to that trouble.

One more thing... if you have Photoshop or Paintshop Pro, you can tweak & play with the images even further.

That being said... I'm glad you posted this. I've been meaning to make a new starter for a while, and keep getting sidetracked. When we moved to our new home two years ago, I discovered that whatever strain of wild yeasties we have out here makes WONDERFUL tasting bread! That's one of the things that makes sourdough so interesting and fun, in my book... the differences in flavor you can wind up with. :)

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Thanks! My starter jar is always gloopy - it didn't feel honest to clean it up :)

Lighting is clearly going to a problem - we have little natural light in our kitchen, none direct - which actually makes quite a nice environment during the day - so long as you have a tripod. But at night... the photos need a lot of 'white balancing' - if your camera takes 'RAW' format pics you can do all that yourself (and maybe cut out the need for changes of bulbs - but I need to be more consistent - the dough below seems to change colour!

anyway, on to the bread...

After about 8 hours, the starter has started to bubble - not wildly, but enough.


I pour out the starter - weighed out to 200g - it gives me a chance to see how fluid the starter is, which gives me a feeling as to whether i will need more or less water.


Adding flour (450g strong white & 50g rye) and 1 tsp of salt, i mix them up to a rough dough


Then, using Dan's approach, i give a series of short kneads - 10-15 seconds - spaced 10 mins, then 30, then 1 hr...

After 10 mins


After 1 hour & 4 mini-kneads


Now its going into the fridge for a (probably longer than ideal) retardation - because bed is calling... Its tacky but not sticky, and slumps nicely in the bowl. Hopefully it will be hydrated enough to give a nice open texture...

Edited by DanielBerman (log)

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Well, as usual, my baking run lasted late into the night - and i got more excited about the bread than about the photography... But here goes...

The dough got a good 12 hours in the fridge - and came out relaxed, but with very little fermentation (pain a l'ancienne anyone...)


It made a good windowpane, and was left to rise for about 6 hours.... giving a lovely soft, wet-ish dough - but still quite manageable. It needed a pastry cutter dipped in water to separate it into two parts - one for a long banneton, one for a round one.


Making sure not to degas too much, I made a rough batard and a boule, and put them into well floured bannetons (actually maybe not well enough as the batard stuck coming out...) This photo is horrible - think I must have been quite distracted!


They proved nicely, nearly doubleing within about two hours. I flipped them out and slashed them



They were baked on an oven stone, at 470F initially (as hot as I can get my oven), with a small cup of water thrown into a hot pan underneath. Reduced to about 400 after 10 mins - about 35 mins overall - I took them out when the internal temp was 205F



Batard - Cut


Very pleased with these - the texture is nice and open, but still substantial. There's a lovely thick crust, which tastes really toasty, and a pleasant but not overpowering sourdough tang. As the flour mix was 10% rye there is a nice hint of the rye, and the bread feels a little less refined.

Best of all, my almost-three-year-old son come back from creche yesterday and asked for some of Daddy's bread for his treat!

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Excellent pictorial! I will have to get some of those bannetons right now ! :-)

About the bannetons; Where did you get yours? Are you happy with them?

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Your bread looks really good. It's quite amazing really, thinking that you've taken it from this:


to this:


Now if only we could get the high street bakers around the UK to do the same.


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Your bread looks really good. It's quite amazing really, thinking that you've taken it from this:

to this:

Now if only we could get the high street bakers around the UK to do the same.


Thanks dan :) Every time I bake it gives me a thrill...

BTW - I baked your currant and cassis loaf last week - it was delicious.

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Excellent pictorial! I will have to get some of those bannetons right now ! :-)

About the bannetons; Where did you get yours? Are you happy with them?

thanks glenn - I'm looking for some record of where I got them - when i dig it up I'll let you know. I love baking with them - money well spent.


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Batard - Cut


Wow Daniel the bread looks amzing. I must try it over the week end.

And the picture is great too - very sharp and a nice colour balance.

- fanny

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