Time, sourdough and a little Pecan and Prune Bread

Sourdough seems to put a lot of people off by the time factor of it all. Before I started making it last year, I liked the idea of sourdough, but even making the  starter seemed too lengthy, too time consuming, and a whole lot of hassle really. When I finally jumped in and just made the thing, it was a ohh, is that all? So with the starter bubbling away, I jumped in and away I swam with my sourdoughy… err… dough.

So is it time consuming?

Does it take a lot of work?

Does the convenience of sliced shop bread lure me over some times?

Time consuming, I don’t think of it as. (Saying that, I’m not trying to fit in with a paid job that requires my attention away from home for the majority of the day.)

You do have to plan a little. I don’t wake up in the morning and think ohh, today I shall make sourdough and have it on the table by lunch time. It’s usually a 3 day process, but it certainly doesn’t take 3 whole days to make it.

Sourdough is using natural yeast, so it works on its own time. Some times that sourdough is a sprightly young energetic woman with places to go and people to see. Bubbly and so full of spirit.

Some times that dough is a lethargic old man, shuffling along in worn out old slippers and a battered zimmer frame. You get stuck behind him, and you just know you can’t over take, as it would be rude. You just have to slow yourself down some and let the old fella set the pace.

Either way sourdough is boss. You can fiddle and tweak a little by finding a cooler spot to get it to slow down some or finding a sunny warm spot  to fasten things up a little. It all depends on the activity level of the starter, the flour and the room temperature though.

So does it take a lot of work?

No, not really. A starter feed= 1 minute. Wait 8-12 hours, feed again. Wait 8-12 hours, feed again. Wait 8-12 hours, mix up dough with a mixer and dough hooks. A plain dough=5 minutes of getting ingredients together and mixing. Go do something else more exciting for about 40 minutes, then mix again adding the salt. A quick 30 second knead. Leave it on the bench to think about things for a while. Read The Monkeys a story, have a shower, eye off some dark chocolate and then whack it in the fridge over night. In the morning, shape it (5 minutes), pop it on some trays and let it come back to room temperature- 4ish hours, slash. Bake.

1+1+1+5+30 sec+5  

That’s 13 minutes and 30 seconds of hands on time with the dough (a basic, nothing crazy loaf) over several days+ waiting and baking.

Some times I have to wait for the rising dough and sometimes it has to wait for me, we both have to be a bit flexible, which is the wonderful thing about sourdough, it is flexible. You can adapt the whole bread making process to suit you. I’ve mentioned this as one of my methods on making it work, but there are many other ways that other people do it, some that work for me and some that don’t. If it doesn’t fit in with your life style it’s going to become a pain. You don’t want it to become a pain.

So do away with the watch. Judge your bread on how it looks and just fiddle with it until you find out what works for you. Sometimes my loaves aren’t the greatest. Sometimes that extra 3 minutes baking turns into 15 and dark and crusty have a totally new meaning. Sometimes I don’t feel like washing yet another doughy mixing bowl, but… I always enjoy eating it and so do my family.

And that’s the trade off.

So jump in, give it a go, and if it doesn’t work out for you, it might later down the track.


…and does the lure of sliced shop bread ever tempt me?… No chance. 

Pecan and Prune Bread

200g starter

50g oats

8 pitted and chopped large prunes

80mls hot water

large handful of chopped pecans

300g strong bakers flour

200-250mls water

1 tsp salt

Starter at 100% hydration. The 80mls of hot water to soak the oats and prunes beforehand. Mixed together and using a method that suits you.

(Baked at 240C with steam.)

* This post submitted to yeastspotting