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Sourdough Bread and Cake Day in work.

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My second attempt at making a loaf from the sourdough baking booklet was a Molasses and Rye loaf. I used treacle instead of molasses (which is a fair enough swap). I didn't have enough rye flour so I used a mixture of that and wholewheat.


The end result was a good loaf which smelled slightly of treacle but didn't taste sweet or treacly.

The cookies were made because it was my turn on the Cake Day rota in work. The recipe was called Thumbprint Cookies. I filled them with either jam, lemon curd or marmalade. They seemed to go down well and there weren't any left for me to bring home.


Week 1: Sourdough white loaf

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This is the start of my second go at cooking something new every week for a year. A lot of the recipes this year will come from the various books I received for Christmas and this first one is no exception. This was the first recipe in a booklet on Sourdough baking and I selected it because it looked reasonably straightforward.

Sourdough loaf

The only slight issue was that the booklet was published in the USA and all measurements were in cups and tea- or tablespoons. I neglected to calculate how much 6 cups of flour would be and ended up with nearly 2kg of dough which was a bit difficult to knead. I ended up splitting the dough in two and made a large loaf with one half and a smaller loaf and some breadsticks with the other half.

Sourdough loaf

The main difference between this loaf and others I've made is that the dough is mixed then left to stand for around 20 minutes before kneading, and that halfway through the rising I actually remembered to knock it back and let it rise again.

The texture of this loaf is the closest to a bought loaf of any of my sourdough attempts. I think the booklet has proved its worth already but I'll be trying more recipes from it in the near future. Although I will be checking the quantities to make sure I don't end up with ridiculous amounts of bread.

Sourdough Breadsticks

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The breadsticks were made using the same basic recipe as my sourdough pizza. I made twice as much pizza dough and split the mixture in two. One half was further divided in two and left to rise for tonight's pizza. The other half had an extra tablespoon of olive oil and some mixed seeds kneaded in. I left the breadstick dough for a couple of hours to start to rise before I made the breadsticks themselves.

Breadsticks before cooking

To make the breadsticks, I broke off small portions of the dough, rolled them out and cut them into strips. I rolled the strips individually, based on the instructions given here.


Some of the breadsticks were left plain, others were flavoured with smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, and finally salt and pepper. I cooked them for about 20 minutes at gas mark 4. The actual timing seems quite important since some came out quite a bit darker than others.

Sourdough Ciabatta

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It's been several weeks since I last had a go at making bread, apart from our regular saturday night pizza. I decided to try a sourdough ciabatta recipe so I got my sourdough starter out of the fridge on wednesday and started feeding it twice a day to build it up ready to use, alternating white flour and wholemeal flour.

The recipe came from sourdoughhome.com but I reduced the quantities to make just one loaf.

Sourdough Ciabatta

I mixed the dough as soon as I got up this morning then left it to rise during the day. I only had 200g of starter so I ended up using all of it. I stirred flour and water back into the starter tub, and hoped that the small amounts of starter left in the corners of the tub would be enough for it to re-grow.

I added around 100ml of water, 20ml of milk, 10ml of olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt to the starter, then slowly mixed in 200g of bread flour. The dough was very sticky so instead of kneading by hand (which is what I normally do) I used the dough hooks on our food mixer to mix and stretch the dough.

Sourdough Ciabatta

I put the dough in an oiled silicone loaf tin to prove. It was quite a cold day so I ended up leaving it for about 6 hours. I baked it on our pizza stone at gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes. I started it off in the loaf tin then turned it out halfway through and put it back on the stone to continue baking (since the silicone loaf tin insulates the contents a bit so the top cooks while the insides stay a bit raw).

I think this might be the best texture of any of my sourdough breads so far. It rose quite well and had some decent air holes inside. Definitely a recipe to try again.

Courgette, parmesan and tomato muffins

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Emma made these muffins, based on this recipe. One of the comments on the original post mentions how vague a 'large courgette' is as an ingredient. Since we had an enormous 'almost marrow' in the fridge, we thought that might be a bit too big. We didn't have any sun-dried tomatoes left but yesterday we bought a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes from the market so I cut some of those in half and put them in the oven for a few hours.

Courgette, parmesan and tomato muffins

Sourdough Crumpets

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My search for new uses for sourdough starter continues and my latest attempt is crumpets. I like crumpets but they are one of those things which we rarely buy. This recipe is based on one from the Sourdough Companion website but I halved the quantities.

I started by weighing out 100g of plain flour and added ½ a cup of my sourdough starter. I added approximately 130ml of water, about 25g of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. All this was whisked together and left for a few hours to start to bubble.


I poured the batter into a mould in a frying pan (on a low heat) and cooked each crumpet for a few minutes, trying to turn them over just before the bubble started to collapse.


It took about 10 minutes to cook each crumpet, so it certainly doesn't count as fast food. The mixture made about 10 thin crumpets.


We served them with a variety of toppings, including locally produced honey (pictured above) and peanut butter. The flavour was good but the texture was a little soft inside. It was an interesting experiment but I'll probably just buy crumpets the next time I want some.

Orange Turmeric Sourdough Bread

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My sourdough bread making experiments are continuing and this week I had a go at this recipe, which sounded interesting. I scaled it down a bit since it called for more starter than I had, and I only have a 400g loaf tin.

My scaled down recipe contained:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 30g rye flour
  • 280g starter
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange (came to 70g)
  • 20ml water

I did not need to add much water since my starter was quite runny. The original recipe called for '75% hydration' starter but I have no idea what the 'hydration' of mine is, since I add flour and water in a fairly irregular manner without keeping track of the exact amounts of each. This is the first recipe I have used which specifies a particular hydration of starter - equal weights of flour and water give 100%, which is how mine started off but over the weeks it will have changed quite a bit.

Orange Turmeric Sourdough Bread

I deviated from the original recipe with the proving and rising steps too. Instead of putting it in the fridge for 9 hours, I left it in the cold oven overnight. The weather has recently turned cold again and the kitchen temperature is around 18c, significantly lower than the 23-25c specified.

Orange Turmeric Sourdough Bread

I baked the loaf for about half an hour at gas mark 7 (equivalent to about 250c). The texture was good, with a hard crust on top and soft underneath. The orange flavour came through quite well but the turmeric was less noticeable. The only other times I have made spiced bread has been when I put chilli flakes in a pizza base. I will have to experiment with other spices and flavourings.

A couple of Sourdough recipes

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When I was younger, a muffin was a small bread roll which was usually split and toasted and eaten as a savoury food. These days when you mention a Muffin, the first thing people thing of is the overgrown cupcake, and the old-fashioned muffins of my childhood is now called an English Muffin.

A couple of weeks ago I was given a link to this recipe and yesterday I finally found time to make some. I followed the recipe as closely as possible, making the first part of the dough on friday evening and adding the salt, honey and baking soda on saturday morning, along with some extra flour to give it more of a doughy texture.

Sourdough Muffins starting to rise

The muffins were left to rise for about an hour before being baked on a pizza stone at gas mark 7 for about 10 minutes. Since the muffins are best when they have a flat top and bottom, I found out that the best way to cook them was to start them off flat side up (in other words, turning them upside down when transferring them from the tray to the stone), then turning them over again after a couple of minutes, before the top starts to bulge.

Sourdough Muffins with butter

The first muffins were eaten while still warm, as an egg sandwich for brunch. The toasted buttered muffins shown above were eaten for lunch today.

I thought I was also have a go at making a sourdough pizza base, instead of my normal method which used bread yeast. The dough was made with ½ a cup of sourdough starter, 1½ cups of plain flour, a couple of tablespoons of yellow cornmeal, 2 teaspoons of sugar, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil (to make a change from our usual olive oil). I left the dough to rise for about 5 or 6 hours.

Sourdough Pizza Base
The pizza here was topped with red pesto, red chillies, chicken, grated cheese and mozarella. The base was nice and soft but it's not clear whether that was due to it being sourdough based or whether it would have been a nice soft bready base anyway.

A second go at making sourdough

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I first tried making sourdough a couple of weeks ago but the results weren't completely successful. It tasted ok but the starter didn't rise very well and the resulting bread was quite dense. Shortly afterwards, the starter had begun to smell a bit vinegary so I decided to throw it away and start again.

I took inspiration from a couple of sources, including River Cottage and the Baker Brothers TV series. The starter consisted of half white bread flour, half spelt flour mixed with an equal weight of water. I dropped a grape into the mixture to provide the wild yeast. I fed the starter with flour and water every day (a tablespoon of each).

After a couple of days the starter was bubbling away nicely so I removed the grape and carried on feeding it, alternating using spelt flour and white flour. After a week, it was ready to use.

Sourdough Rising

The recipe I followed had 300ml of starter, 500g of flour, 200ml of water and a generous pinch of salt. I used slightly less water since last time, the mixture was very sloppy. I left the dough overnight to rise, and cooked it this morning for just under half an hour at gas mark 8.

The Finished Sourdough

The resulting bread was much better than my last attempt. It was still fairly dense but had a better texture. I will try to remember to keep feeding the starter and over the next few weeks I'll try some different variations, including a sourdough muffin recipe which I read recently.

Cheese Sauce and Sourdough Bread

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A couple of days ago I had a go at making Heston's cheese sauce. The big difference between his recipe and a traditional one is that you don't start with a roux. The sauce base was white wine and chicken stock, instead of milk. The wine was reduced then the stock was added and heated. The cheese was finely grated then mixed with cornflour before being stirred into the wine/stock mixture.

The end result was a very smooth sauce but the stock flavour was a bit too strong. I will experiment further but next time I might use milk and wine or milk and stock.

My next new recipe was a sourdough bread. This was based on the recipe from the Fabulous Baker Brothers TV series. I made the starter last week using spelt flour, and fed it each day with a bit more flour and water.

I made the dough yesterday and left it to 'prove' overnight before baking it this morning on the pizza stone at gas mark 8. For a first attempt I am reasonably happy with the results. Since the starter was fairly young, the 'sourdough' flavour was quite light but it was a good loaf. I have just realised that this is probably the first loaf of bread I have made completely on my own.

Next time I might make the dough a bit stiffer since I think this one was a bit wet and sticky. The bread had a big hollow bit in the middle, like a giant pitta bread, so we sliced it in half horizontally and made a fried egg sandwich for our breakfast.

Week 33: Curry and Naan bread

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We saw the naan breads being made on the Saturday Kitchen on TV and it looked so easy we decided to give it a go. We followed the recipe from the BBC web site but needed to add a few extra tablespoons of water to get the dough to come together properly. We also found that gas mark 1 was a bit low so turned the oven up to 2 and gave them a few more minutes.

The naan bread tasted like 'proper' bought ones. The black onion seeds are vitally important and give the bread most of its familiar flavour.

Curry and Naan

We served the naan breads with our chicken korma, and washed it down with a glass of Indian wine. The wine was an Indage 'The Grey Count' chenin blanc and went rather well with the curry. The wine was ok on its own but the spiciness of the curry seemed to bring out more flavour if you take a sip immediately after a mouthful of curry.

Week 22: I'll have the Quesadilla

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Chicken Quesadillas

The tortillas were made using a recipe similar to week 19. The filling consisted of:

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced.

  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 leek

  • jerk seasoning.

  • grated cheese

The chicken and vegetables were sliced and fried before being mixed with the seasoning. The tortillas were cooked then sprinkled with grated cheese. A few tablespoons of the filling were spread over the cheese, then a tortilla was put on top.

These were served with the remaining corn muffins which we made a few days ago:

Corn Muffins

We originally made these because we were going to a mexican-themed at a colleagues house. He is a vegan so we thought we should bring something he could eat.

The recipe is based on one we found at allrecipes.com.


  • 1½ tsp cornflour and 2 tbsp water

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal

  • ½ cup plain flour

  • 2 tbsp baking powder

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 cup water

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 fresh chillies, finely chopped.


  1. Mix together the cornflour and the 2 tbsp water in a cup. Alternatively for a non-vegan version, use 1 egg.

  2. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and chillies then blend in the oil, water and the cornflour paste.

  3. Spoon into muffin cases and bake in a pre-heated oven (gas mark 8, 230°C) for 10 to 15 minutes.

The resulting muffins were a little dry but they tasted fine and worked well if you ate them with a bowl of chilli and dunked them in the sauce.

Week 21: Pretzels

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The pretzels were made using the same procedure as the bagels, using plain flour instead of multi-seed flour.

After baking, the straight 'pretzel stick' was sprinkled with salt. The traditional 'knot shaped' pretzel was brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.


Week 20: Bagels

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Makes 4 Multiseed mini-bagels:

  • 1 cup of a bread flour with seeds/grains.

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or flavoured oil such as pumpkin seed oil.

  • 1 tsp dry yeast

  • just under ½ cup warm water.

Mix the ingredients together and knead for 10 minutes. Divide into 4 and leave to rise for 20 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to gas mark 7. Roll the dough into a sausage and squash the ends together to make a ring. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Boil the bagels for 1 minute each side. If the bagels sink, they will need to be left to rise for longer.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes each side.


Week 19: Tortillas and beans

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I only posted last week's recipe yesterday (Sunday is a flexible 'floating' day and I've been counting it as either the start or end of a week depending on whether I've cooked anything else new that week).

This week's recipe came from the book Little Red Gooseberries and consists of corn tortillas with a bean and vegetable sauce. As usual, we altered the recipe according to what we had in the kitchen. These quantities serve 4.


Finely chop an assortment of vegetables.

  • 1 red pepper

  • 1 medium onion

  • 1 courgette

  • 1 leek

  • 2 cloves of garlic

Fry gently for a few minutes then add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes. Add herbs and spices:

  • a pinch of dried chilli

  • a pinch of cumin

  • a pinch of mild curry powder

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley.

Simmer until the vegetables have softened then add a drained tin of beans, such as borlotti or kidney beans.


  • 100g wholemeal flour

  • 100g fine cornmeal

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil

  • approx 60-100ml of water (The original recipe said 600ml - this must have been a mistake. We had added 150ml and the mixture was too runny. We had to add extra flour to rescue it.)

Put the flour, cornmeal, salt and oil into a bowl. Slowly add the water, stirring all the time. Do not add all the water at once - you might not need the full amount.

Knead the mixture until it is firm.

Divide the dough into 8 portions. Flatten them out and fry them in a lightly oiled pan for 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep the cooked ones warm in a low oven (approx gas mark 1) while the remainder cook.


The vegetable sauce, before the beans were added.

A tortilla being cooked.

The final meal being served, with some cheese crumbled on top.

Vegetable sauce

Frying a tortilla

Tortilla and beans