Tasty But It’s Not Sourdough (18-Hour Pre-Ferment in Fridge)


I recently bought a kilo of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Very Strong Canadian Bread Flour. On the side of the bag was a recipe for “Making Sourdough”.  I can’t resist a new sourdough recipe.  When the heel of the previously baked loaf resurrected into bread crumbs, I knew it was time to try Sainsbury’s version of sourdough. I followed the recipe precisely, which I won’t do next time. And yes, there will be a next time because Mr. Misk likes this loaf; nice flavour and tender crumb without being gooey. The crumb is soft and slightly tight, and it holds up nicely to the spread of chilled butter across it.

A few notes….

One: The addition of yeast, even a small amount, will make sourdough purists shriek and run from this recipe. Fair enough, but I’d suggest that it be taken at face value for what it is and not dismissed. It’s a good loaf with an excellent flavour. Personally, I’m not put-off by a bit of yeast. I’m still learning to bake bread, and the best way for me to do that is to follow the instructions to the letter, as if I’m performing heart surgery, so I can ‘feel’ my way through the methodology. I can tweak and introduce Sedrick-the-Starter to the mixture when I’m familiar with how the new dough feels in my fingers. And eventually, Sedrick will find his way into this recipe because I can’t resist introducing my lively, bouncing boy to a bit of dough.

Two: The entire lump of dough is kneaded for 10-minutes, and then placed into a large bowl to slowly ferment and prove for 18-hours in the fridge. At the end of 18-hours, I expected to see a stringy mass of gluten goo like my other experiences with long fermentation. Not a bit of it though. The dough remained a soft formed mass, billowy and bouncy, and risen almost double.

There are a few muddle-minded methods in this recipe that I’ve crossed out with a vigorous stroke of a red pen. There are times when a red pen says it all — it insinuates blood, and some of the methods in this recipe are truly bloody silly. Next time:   1.) I will not slash the loaf prior to its second proving as suggested; I’ll do it after the second proving. 2.) The loaf’s second proof is done in a cold oven with a bowl of boiling hot water below it – this worked well, but left the oven walls dripping like a deep, dark cavern. 3.) The usual tray of water in the oven whilst the loaf baked seemed like overkill to me, considering that the oven walls were still dripping condensation and puddles had collected on the oven floor. It’s either/or 2.) or 3.) but not both next time. The method below is how I intend to proceed when I bake this loaf next time.

This is a good recipe. I’ll be making it again, minus the nonsense mentioned above.

One little question though: Shouldn’t the salt be added later so that the flour absorbs the water better? And if so, when should that be?

Sourdough Bread (Method tweaked from a recipe on Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference flour)

500g Very Strong White Bread Flour (protein for this loaf was 14.8g/100g)
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
320ml warm, lukewarm

Mix together the flour, yeast and salt, and then gradually add the water and olive oil until it forms soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surfaced until smooth and elastic, about 10-minutes. Test for a gluten window when you think you’ve kneaded the dough sufficiently. If the dough ‘breaks’ when stretched, continue kneading until the gluten threads are pliable and stretchy. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and prove for 18-hours in a cool location – ie., the fridge. The temperature should be near 6C.

After 18-hours, lightly knock the air out of the dough, and then knead/form into a smooth ball. Heat some water in a kettle to boiling, and then place a medium, heat-proof bowl on the (cold!) oven floor – pour the boiling water into the bowl and then close the door immediately. This creates a steamy atmosphere in which to prove your dough — no oiled cling film or floured tea towel required. Place your dough ball on an oiled baking tray, or on a tray with parchment paper, and put the tray and dough into the oven to rise until doubled in size (about 1.5-3 hours). Be sure that the oven is cold.

When it’s doubled in size, remove the bowl of water and the tray/loaf from the oven, and then preheat it to 210C/410F/Gas Mark 6. When the oven is up to temperature, slash the top of the dough and then put the tray/loaf in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Joanna says:

    Evidence Matters told me the other day that there is no legal definition of the word ‘fresh’. I can only say thar there is no legal definition of the term ‘sourdough’ either. tthe extra gluten in this very strong flour can easily cope with a long cool ferment. Ordinary strong flour will cope too, providing it is of a decent quality. I once followed a recipe on the side of a bag of spelt for roman slipper bread, yours has worked a lot better then mine, which sort of slipped into the bin! :). Xxx

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      In what connection were you researching the definition of ‘fresh’? Another question: Have you seen these ‘cakes’ of yeast called Rapid-Rise made for bread machines? Is this new fresh yeast? Vacuum-packed and a solid cake.

      Now about the addition of salt to the dough. I think the recipe is wrong in this matter because it adds it to the flour at the same time as the yeast. If you were making this recipe, when would you add it? Or is it the long fermentation that changes the autolysis process?

      1. Joanna says:

        I wasn’t researching. Rather brooding on the issue of clean label industrial bread and mumbling on Twitter whether in fact extended shelf life was a good thing, better than the massive waste of food that we hear about, so there I was having half baked thoughts as per usual and EM joined in. I guess what I was trying to say is that some words get misused, to my mind any way,but in law and trade descriptions they pass, so my misgivings are irrelevant. I don’t see how Sainsburys could possibly call that recipe sourdough but they clearly can and do. The recipe isn’t wrong, it’s their recipe. the only way you’ll know if adding the salt later makes a difference for you is to make two identical loaves and just change that one thing. but that is harder than it sounds to do.

        I use Allinsons active instant in the little sachets or sometime bioreal but that is much slower, and I have various other sorts, is the rapid rise the Fleischmans? looking on their website it is active instant yeast.

        Xxx Joanna

  2. Misk Cooks says:

    Can we buy Fleischman’s in the UK? I’ve only ever seen own-brand, Doves or Allinsons. I get so confused by all the different names for the same product. Some need soaking, some don’t, some are in tins, some in sachets, some are cakes. Could they possibly make it anymore confusing?

    As for shelf life, I bought lettuce last week, and the core was totally mucky and rotten. I took it back to Sainsbury’s. The clerk didn’t even look at it – just dumped it straight in the bin and gave me a voucher.

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