Simple Sourdough Loaf – 3

So I have a Simple Sourdough Loaf 1 and a Simple Sourdough Loaf 2 in my previous posts, so why version 3 you ask? Well usually one would perfect a recipe and then post it on the blog but the impatient me just could not hold my horses when I created the first 2 loaves. Ideally I could have edited the second post to accommodate the changes that experiment 3 brought forth, since I obtained a slightly different result this time. However, after pondering a while over that idea, I decided to give this being its own space and with good reason too.

I have been using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to knead the dough for all my loaves so far but I have also been confident that the same can be achieved by hand too, due to the lower hydration of the dough. In this latest recipe however, one of the changes was to increase the water and since I have not yet tried working by hand with high hydration dough, I thought I would document this for those who have a machine OR who are also comfortable working with their hands with wetter dough.

So if you are freshly stepping into sourdough (SD) loaf baking, I would suggest that you first try your hand (yeah pun intended, why not 😎) with my SD loaf 2 recipe. You could also go for SD loaf 1 if you have no issue with using dairy and eggs.

So let us quickly get to the recipe and hope that I do not get better at this and add to the confusion by producing an even more awesome SD loaf 4 😀

And before we proceed, do stop and gaze lovingly at her for a bit will ya? She is all sliced up and posing for you!!!

Sourdough bread – 

I have explained what SD is about in the earlier posts on SD starter 1  and SD Starter 2 and before you can attempt any bake with SD, you will need to have a nice, enthusiastic starter ready. I would recommend that you read those posts first, in case you are a beginner.

Sourdough (SD) sandwich loaf – a quick recap on what this loaf is.

SD sandwich bread is a softer bread than the usual crusty SD boule. It is baked in a loaf tin which makes it easier to shape than a free form bread (or at least that is my opinion :-D).

Since I am in the experimenting stage I have gone with 100% maida aka All Purpose Flour (APF) and am hoping that once I master that, I will then move onto blends and combinations of other flours. This also happens to be eggless and vegan but one can also use dairy if one wishes.

The process – 

So this recipe is a variation of the earlier ones which have also worked well for me. Here I have increased the water (hydration) and I have also used a smaller sized loaf pan which gave rise to a well risen loaf (another pun for you).

The steps – 

The steps are similar to the previous SD bread but I will repeat here again for easy reference.

The process is quite similar to making bread with commercial yeast, the difference being that the SD dough takes much longer to rise.

1. Make or have your SD starter ready –

Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.

2. Prepare the Levain –

About 5 – 6 hours before making the dough, take a portion of the starter and feed it with equal weights of flour and water in a 1:4:4 ratio.

For example, IF I need 90 gm of levain in the recipe, I will take 10 gm starter and feed with 40 gm water and 40 gm flour at least 6 hours before beginning to make my dough. If my starter is known to double in less than that time, I will create my levain accordingly.

Usually the quantity of levain used is 20% by weight, of the total flour in the recipe. For a quicker sandwich loaf, I have used 40% of the total flour (exact figures in the recipe below).

The float test is a good method to see if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.

3. Autolyse the dough –

Around 1 -2 hours before the levain is ready, mix the rest of the flour and water from the recipe and let it sit covered in a bowl. Autolyse has many benefits and loosely speaking they include helping the dough to fully hydrate, giving a better flavor and texture to the finished product and also readying the food which  the yeast will feed on, thus optimizing the fermentation process etc. Of course there is much chemistry behind this but I will not get into that here.

4. Kneading –

One can perform hand kneading or machine kneading with a stand mixer. This is done till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.

5. Bulk Ferment –

The kneaded dough is rolled into a ball and smeared with a bit of oil and left to ferment and rise in a covered container (sometimes if the hydration is high, I also prefer to do around 3 Stretch and Folds aka SnF at intervals of 30 min – 1 hr).

6. Shape the dough and place in loaf pan –

When the dough has increased to around 1.5 times its original volume (around 3 hours in my warm Indian kitchen), it is then shaped and placed in the greased/lined loaf tin. Timings will vary according to several factors like ambient temperature, quality of flour, etc.

7. Final rise –

The tin is covered in plastic wrap and set aside till the dough  rises again to nearly double (around 2 hours in my kitchen)

Timings will vary according to several factors like ambient temperature, quality of flour, etc.

8. Preheating oven –

Around 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to maximum temperature.

9. Scoring and baking –

Slash or score the dough and bake it in the oven. Timing will depend on individual ovens.

SD loaf recipe –

Time –

Approximately 11 – 12 hours from start to finish.

Makes – One 8.5×4.5×2.5 inch loaf


For the dough –

1 – Levain – 160 gm – See Notes

2 – All-purpose flour (maida) – 320 gm – See Notes

3 –  Water at room temperature – 130 gm – See Notes

4 –   Salt – 8 gm/1 teaspoon

5 –  Oil/ghee/butter  – 40 gm (I used oil)

6 –  Raw sugar (or any sugar) – 20 gm

7 – Oil for coating the dough – 2 teaspoons

Ingredients for greasing the pan and dusting –

Oil (any neutral type. I used Sunflower oil) – 2 teaspoon

Flour for dusting the loaf – 1 tsp

Equipment that I used – 

Kitchen Aid Bowl Lift Stand Mixer

Loaf Pan 8.5×4.5×2.5 inches

You can hand knead it if you are comfortable with wetter dough. You can also use any shape of pan or even bake a free form bread, if you are accustomed to doing so.

Method – 

1. Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.

2. Prepare the Levain – About 3 hours before making the dough (say 11 am), take 20 gm of the starter and feed it in a 1:4:4 ratio with 80 gm flour + 80 gm water. My starter doubles in 3 hours.

Depending on your ambient conditions, start your levain process according to the time that you want to begin your autolyse.

Perform the float test if you need to confirm if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.

3. Autolyse the dough – Around 1 – 2 hours (say 12 pm) before the levain is ready, mix 220 gm of maida (APF) with 130 gm water and let it sit covered in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl or regular bowl. The mix will not be too wet.

4. Kneading – At around 2 pm, add 160 gm of levain, sugar and 100 gm maida (APF) to the autolyse. Knead for 5 minutes in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Add the salt and oil and knead for another 5 minutes till the dough comes together.

Perform hand kneading if you do not have a stand mixer. Knead till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.

5. Bulk Ferment – Roll the kneaded dough into a ball and smear  with a bit of oil and leave it covered in a greased bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid bowl itself.

The dough should rise to 1.5 times in volume in 3 hours (say 5.30 pm). You can also place the dough in a tall see through container so that the rise in volume is clearly visible.

6. Grease the loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

7. Gently press the dough into a rectangle whose length is equal to the length of the loaf pan. Tightly roll up the dough into a cylinder and place it seam side down in the loaf pan.

8. Cover the pan with cling wrap and set it aside till the dough  rises again to nearly double (say 7.30 pm)

Remember it will not rise significantly like with regular commercial yeast.

9. Around 15 minutes before baking (7.15 pm), preheat the oven to maximum temperature.

10. Dust some flour on the dough through a tea strainer.

Score the dough with a blade and place it in the oven.

11. Baking time will depend on individual ovens. In my oven I left it at maximum 250 deg c for the first 15 minutes until I saw the top browning. Then I reduced to 200 deg c for another 25 minutes.

12. Take out the loaf and invert it on a cooling rack. Slice ONLY when completely cool. Enjoy it plain (because it is so flavorful) or have it with whatever your heart and palate desire.

Notes –

The levain quantity I have used, is around 40% of the total flour. The total flour is 400 gm hence the levain is 160 gm.

The maida is 320 gm and is derived from subtracting 80 gm which the levain has, from the total 400 gm in the recipe.

The water is 130 gm, which means a total of 210 gms if you include the 80 gm that is used in the levain.

The hydration (meaning how much water you wish to use) is up to you. But you will have to learn the skill of working with higher hydration dough before increasing the wetness.

I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.

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About Currylines

A food and travel enthusiast who plays with words
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2 Responses to Simple Sourdough Loaf – 3

  1. Neethu says:

    Hey Caroline ..I just made this loaf and it’s my first time sharing my baking experience.. firstly thank you for such an elaborate and meticulously written recipe and a personal blog.. I felt you were with me the entire time and I could clear all my doubts as you have explained the most minute of things in the blog.. so so helpful .. especially for a sourdough beginner like me ..can’t wait to try out all your sourdough bakes and thank you so much for responding and guiding me on Instagram regarding this wonderful loaf.. truly flavourful ..

    • Caroline Radhakrishnan says:

      Hey Neethu thank you so very much for your feedback. I am so glad that you find my blog useful. Comments like yours, make my day 🙂 Would love it if you try out all my recipes. There are several more upcoming 😀

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