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I’ve actually thought a bit about what to first post about regarding my adventures with sourdough. Decision made: the bread I make most often. I’ll post the one offs (fails and wins) after. And maybe I’ll find new staple recipes as well. This one is Mr Krimi’s current favourite. I bake it about once per week.

Illustration for article titled Adventures with Sourdough
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Illustration for article titled Adventures with Sourdough

Backstory: Mr Krimi had made noises for quite some time that he wanted to learn how to bake sourdough bread himself as it is a pain to find at Swiss bakeries. And even if they have it, it’s rarely the German rye-based ones you can get. Mostly fluffy wheat bread. Not bad, but not what he is missing either. So fast forward to Christmas: I gave him a baking course, fermentation baskets and a book “Brotbacken in Perfektion mit Sauerteig”. The author has one of the best known (German language) blogs about bread baking. As that book is targeted at the novice home baker I thought it would be a good starting guide. And it is! No fancy equipment, no weird temperatures to keep the dough at, no requirement for steam ovens. Really good introductory book.

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So, we got home a few weeks ago, right before the start of Corona shut downs, with our own liquid wheat sourdough starter. Armed with the knowledge of a half day of intensive, hands on learning about how and what to do we were let loose on the world. After making the course bread (whole wheat, sourdough) it suddenly fell on me to make regular use of our starter. Admittedly, it’s fun. Mr Krimi on the other hand wants to rent a cabin in the alps (in summer, or whenever we can do that again) to make his bread experiments there. I will stick to everyday solutions.

NB: while you don’t really need fancy equipment like the fermentation baskets - a cloth lined bowl will do just as well - I will stress the importance of using scales, ideally set to metric. Please measure your liquid on the scale as well, don’t use measuring cups for anything when making bread. It can work, but will more easily be fucked up because you are off by some crucial grams.
You don’t necessarily need a dutch oven or other oven proof pot/pan with a lid, but it will make life a lot easier. I do give instructions including the use of a heavy lidded pot.
Please make a plan before you start your baking adventure! Add the time to refresh your starter before you mix your ingredients. I like baking in the evening so I have cooled down bread for breakfast, i.e. refresh my starter around lunch time.

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I will give the original measurements first and what I use in brackets.

Wheat Rye Sourdough Bread (Weizenmischbrot)

Makes about 1kg loaf of bread

  • 350 g strong bread flour (strong spelt flour, local farm)
  • 245 g whole meal rye flour (varietal from Valais)
  • 375 g water (365 g water)
  • 13 g salt
  • 16 g wheat sourdough starter (20 g spelt sourdough starter)
  1. Measure all ingredients, mix by hand or with a spoon until a uniform dough forms.
  2. Let dough rest at room temperature for 24h, protect from drying out. Either cling film or something like a shower cap work well. Stretch and fold twice: once after 2-8 hours and the second time after 12-18h.
  3. Gingerly form dough into a ball. Take care to keep all the nice air in.
  4. Put into floured fermentation basket (or cloth lined bowl) smooth side down. Let proof at room temperature for 1 hour. Re-use your clingfilm/shower cap to prevent drying out.
  5. Pre-heat your oven with the lidded pot/pan already inside to 250°C/480°F
  6. Drop your raw bread into your pot/pan directly from its fermentation basket/bowl. If you like to cut break lines with a really sharp knife or razor blades: now is the time. Otherwise just let it break wherever. Looks a bit more rustic, tastes the same. Reduce temperature to 230°C/445°F and bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. Remove lid. Bake a further 15-18 minutes.
  7. Cool bread on wire rack or similar completely before cutting (over night is a good time to do that).
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It’s a sourdough bread with a rye share. Kept in a bread basket it will stay nice and fresh for about a week.

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