Sourdough has many advocates with many wedded to their particular method, but they’re all very time consuming. This method of making wholemeal sourdough using a bread machine takes all the hassle out of it and is dead easy!
The main problem with “standard” sourdough is all the stretching and folding required at regular intervals. This is fine if you’re tied to the house, but for anyone with a busy schedule it makes it impossible. By using a bread machine to do the kneading, and sticking to easy to measure quantities and methods this is pretty foolproof.
I like to stick to a 50/50 ratio of flour to water for the bulk fermentation. This would equate to a 100% hydration if we’re talking sourdough parlance. In a complete contrast to most sourdough methods, I don’t feed my starter or keep it separate. This makes it a lot easier and less time consuming. I incorporate the entire starter dough completely in the bulk fermenation process. By then removing the same amount at the beginning or end of bulk fermenation makes it much simpler overall.
There are various time frames over which you can make the bread with activity concentrated in just 3 short bursts. You can time these activities to suit your day by adjusting the temperature at which you carry them out. Bulk fermentation at 27°C (the maximum temperature you can use takes approximately 2 hours. At room temperature of say 21°C it’s about 3 hours. If you have a cool room – I have a wine cellar – at 12°C it’s around 7 to 8 hours. I haven’t tried it in the fridge, but I would guess at 6°C it might be 12 hours. So depending on your day, you can choose where to do the bulk fermentation. That way you can be around at the right time to do the kneading in the bread machine.
Either at the beginning or end of the bulk fermentation, don’t forget to take out a little over 300g of starter for you next loaf. When the dough has roughly doubled in size, having removed the 300g starter tip it all into the bread pan. Add the flour, salt, and fat/oil and give it 10 minutes on the pizza kneading setting. It would run for 45 minutes but that will overknead the dough so stop it after 10 minutes. While it’s kneading you can be greasing the bread pan. After kneading tip the ball of dough into the waiting pan and level with your hands. Adding a sprinkle of flour on top makes this easy.
Then it’s just a case of setting your dough to rise until it’s doubled in size. Timings for this are 2 hours at 27°C, 3 hours at room temp of 21°C and probably 6 to 8 hours at 12°C. After that, bake at 190°C Fan for 40 minutes. Turn out and leave to cool. This method of making sourdough using a bread machine works every time!
This is a well crafted recipe that delivers results. Here’s a slice of what you can expect…..
A really great easy to slice loaf
You get a really nice slice out of it too! 13cm is my best so far……
Super Easy Bread Machine Sourdough - that works!
- Deep bread tin
- bread machine
- warming cabinet (not essential)
- pyrex bowl,
- Digital scales
To Create the initial starter - you only do this once!
- Ingredients for creating the starter
- 200 g of wholemeal flour – starter creation
- 200 ml of filtered water – for starter creation
Ingredients to make one loaf of bread
- 685 g of strong wholemeal bread flour – Dove’s farm or similarly high quality
- 40 g of vegan margarine/olive oil
- 10 g of sea salt
- 500 g of filtered or bottled spring water
Creating the initial starter
- Add 50g of water to 50g of flour and mix – cover & leave in a warm place (24-26°C is ideal) for 24 hours – a folding proofing cabinet is ideal for this – Brod & Taylor make a good one:- see note at end for link to site…..
- For 3 more days consecutively add a further 50g of water and 50g of flour mix well each time - cover and leave.
- After the 4th day, you should have 400g of starter batter, which should be fairly active with a slightly sour smell and bubbles showing on the surface with frothy appearance when stirred or looked at from the side in a glass bowl.
- When you want to make a loaf (for the first time only), put 100g of this mix in the freezer as your back-up policy – or you can give it away to someone else as a starter primer – or use to make pancakes.
Making the first loaf.
- The following steps are what you will do every time you want to make a loaf.
- Transfer the your 300g of starter to a larger bowl, and preferably allow to warm up to room temp or 27°C if you are using the quicker method - allow around 30 to 40 mins to get it to room temp or 27°C. This step isn't essential, but makes it easier to mix and get it more active.
- Once it's warmed up, add in a further 500g of water and 500g of flour. This works best if you pour the water in first and from a bit of a height, as it breaks up the starter dough and makes it much easier to mix.
- Mix well to a rough wet dough - don't overmix it though as this will start to develop the gluten - just enough to completely mix the dough.
- Remove 300g of the batter/wet dough at this point and cover and put back in the fridge. Make sure to put the reserved 300g of starter in a clean bowl and lid: kept in the fridge, it will keep generating batches of leavening for successive loaves but will never be used in its entirety. Removing it before the bulk fermentation increases the time it can remain dormant in the fridge - which is roughly 2 weeks maximum.
- Then cover the remainder of the dough, and leave for approximately 3 hours at a room temp of around 21°C (or rapid method 2 hours at 27°C). In the bowl you will have a total of 1000g of very soft sticky batter/dough – which will be composed of the 500g of water and 500g of flour (called 100% hydration). During this waiting time it will expand to be roughly double in size and should ferment fairly vigorously with lots of bubbles visible from the side if done in a glass bowl. Timing is a little tricky, but if you do this last thing at night and keep it in a lower temperature (around 7°C) it should be possible to do overnight - although I haven't tried that yet. I prefer using a temperature controlled proofing cabinet which gives better control of the timing. Actual amounts will be a little less as some dough gets left behind in the various bowls.
- This is what it looks like, after the fermentation - when the bulk dough has roughly doubled in size.
- This 1000g of dough, plus some extra flour, fat and salt will be used to make the loaf. For the best results add the remaining185g of extra flour FIRST to your bread machine pan. Then add the (almost) 1000g of batter to your bread machine pan. Then 35g of margarine or olive oil, and 10g of salt – but no extra water. You will now have 685g of flour, 500g of water, the salt and the margarine/fat – enough to make one good sized loaf. You need slightly more flour because some gets left behind in the bowls. It will be a 73% hydration dough for the technically minded.
- Set the bread-machine to the 45minute pizza or similar 45min dough only program, and the bread-maker will do all the hard work and transform it into a nice soft (but sticky) dough. Only allow the program to run for 10 minutes or so, because the fermentation does a lot of the kneading work for you. Overkneading leads to loss of elasticity and affects the rise and structure.
- During the pizza/dough program mixing, and also a little before you stop the dough program , open the lid to check all the flour is incorporated into the dough – it may need a bit of a helping hand with a plastic spatula to make sure it’s all incorporated in the dough. Sometimes the dough sticks to the bottom. Adding a few dustings of flour from a shaker helps stop this happening.
- While the kneading is happening, grease the sides and bottom of a 2lb loaf tin. You can line the bottom with greaseproof paper - but with my well used tin that's not necessary. If you use a good quality non-stick pan, you will not have to line the bottom.
- As soon as you stop the pizza dough program immediately remove the pan and tip into the waiting greased tin. If you let it stand, the dough will stick to the pan and be difficult to remove, so make sure stop/turn if off and immediately tip the dough straight into the waiting greased bread tin. If you don’t time it right or do this, it can be difficult/messy getting all of the dough out of the bread maker pan as the dough is quite sticky due to the fermentation.
- Use a spatula to get any last bits stuck to the paddle/sides out and spread out with a wooden or plastic spatula. You can sprinkle a little flour on top and pat/smooth it with your hands to help spread and gently push down into the corners of the tin using a couple of spatulas so you have a reasonably flat surface.
- Leave to rise until the dough is at least double in size – so at but not above the top of your tin - usually between 2 ½ and 3 hours depending on how active your starter is and how warm the location. 25-26°C is a good compromise for the rising temperature - max 27°C or off flavours may predominate. A rule of thumb is at 21°C it will be 3 hours, at 27°C it will be 2 hours.
- It’s important not to let the dough rise for too long – you can estimate a doubling in size for the dough, or use the 2-finger method. Press the top with 2 fingers – if it springs back immediately, it’s still not fully risen – if the indentations linger and slowly come back – it’s ready to go in the oven. If the indentation remains – it’s probably over risen so give it less time in future.
- Bake at 190°C fan oven on middle shelf for 40 to 45 minutes depending on how brown you like the crust to be.
- Leave for a few minutes then turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Then once it's cool, I put in a plastic bag and leave for a couple of hours. This softens the crust, and it can then be sliced and frozen. That way you never waste any bread. It works really well if you toast it from frozen.
When creating your initial starter: -
Always use filtered or bottled water – the chlorine will impede or even prevent the natural yeasts from becoming active enough. Use good quality Dove’s Farm or similar wholegrain BREAD/strong flour, and make sure it is fresh – no more than 6months as an absolute max.
- This bread is nice just as bread, but can also be toasted. It will keep much longer than standard home-made yeasted bread as the natural ph. of the loaf tends to inhibit mould formation.
- I've also been experimenting with overnight cool rising. I have a wine cellar set at 12°C and overnight fermentation takes 8 hours and then the next day rising takes around 8 hours also. This means you have more flexibility in timing your baking. I haven't tried full on fridge rising, but I'm guessing that would be more like 12 hours.....
- The eagle eyed will notice that I've increased the quantities a little since I first posted this recipe. This is becuase the bread tin I'm using really needed more dough to enable it to rise to the top of the tin. The ratios all remain pretty much the same - just the total volume/weight has changed.
- Sourdough interesting facts:- https://truesourdough.com/when-to-use-sourdough-starter-at-its-peak-to-bake-good-bread/
- for the latest loaf I'm using 500g water 500g flour
- 65g seeds plus 50g water
- 35g rapeseed oil
- 186g extra flour
- 9g salt
- Some sourdough folk say that the yeasts etc come from the atmosphere. Personally, I think that's nonsense and that as with grapes the necessary yeasts and bacteria are present in the freshly ground flour.