Teaching An Old Dog New Bread Tricks

I've been making bread for 40 years, but it wasn't until this month that I dared to venture into sourdough territory.

Wow! Am I ever glad I did.

Here is a photo of a couple of ficelles I made this morning:

A ficelle is a skinny baguette. These are about 2 inches across. It's my favourite format for sandwiches. Ham and swiss cheese with sweet butter and dijon mustard. Or prosciutto or serrano ham with or without swiss cheese, and sweet butter, hold the mustard. Salami, when I can find a good one.

The Recipe?

Last week, I made a sourdough starter using this recipe:

Then I made a couple of loaves of "Norwich Sourdough Bread" using this recipe from the Wild Yeast Blog.

I halved the recipe, but otherwise I followed it to the letter and - what a surprise! - this was the best bread I have ever made! I should say "the best non-multigrain bread", because as a daily bread I am extremely fond of the multigrain sandwich loaves that I have been making for several years now. Once a month, I bake four of them and freeze them. Each loaf lasts me one week.

This Norwich Sourdough Bread has all the qualities I was looking for: it's not so wet that you can't handle it, it bakes up light, with some nice holes,

Cross-section of ficelle I made today.

the crust is crunchy but not too thick, and the aroma… ah the aroma! And the flavour… just sour enough… divine!

Another advantage of this recipe is that if you have some sourdough starter ready to use, you can start the bread in the morning and eat it for lunch - about six hours later. I have found very few breads able to develop that kind of flavour and texture without a cold fermentation, but this one did.

Still, sometimes I want to start my bread in the evening, and so yesterday I did all the steps up to and including the two folds, then I slipped the bowl into a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

This morning, the dough had risen somewhat, and in fact it looked just like it did last week at the same stage.

I left it on the kitchen counter for an hour, and then I proceeded with the recipe.

Success! the resulting flavour and texture were the same as last week.

So if you've been putting off trying sourdough, don't wait 40 years! Try these recipes today.

P.S. If you have been subscribing to this blog, this may be the last post you ever receive! Google has been reminding me that I have to renew the domain on November 26, but the instructions they are sending me for doing so are not working. I am hoping that they will rectify the situation, but if not, I want to thank you for your interest. I have registered a new domain: (very similar, but without all the hyphens) and may start posting at that URL if necessary.