When you feel the need... the need to not knead... sourdough is the answer.
However, sourdough recipes require a slower, longer rise than recipes with added yeast. This rise develops the flavour and is often credited with being the reason that eating sourdough does not result in feeling bloated.
Chef Tom Burney started this bread machine journey for me with his easy sourdough/yeast hybrid recipe. This bread was indeed easy, but I missed the pure sourdough flavour, which can get overwhelmed by the yeast.
How can we get a long, slow rise in a bread machine? Looking at my Kenwood BM450 set programmes, the longest rise you can get is a total of 160 minutes spread over three rises, interrupted by two very short kneads.
But what’s this all about?
You can customise your bread machine programme!
Perfect! If we can set the rise durations we want, surely we can get our sourdough to work.
Mysteriously, the short kneads between long rises are unchangeable, which bothers me naught as I have decided to remove the mixing spindle after the first kneads – avoiding the bread machine spindle hole as a bonus.
I changed the three rises to the maximum allowable – Rise 1 for 60 minutes, Rise 2 for 120 minutes and Rise 3 for 120 minutes. Armed with a longer rise, we can rule the world.
We set the bake time for 75 minutes. You could probably do a little longer; with this baking time, the bread comes out a little light. The entire programme is now about six and a half hours.
Literally the only thing that can go wrong here is if your starter isn’t ready or you don’t use enough. Over time, you get to know what the starter should look and feel like. The “float test“ is the absolute minimum. If it doesn’t float, you’re wasting your time (and your precious flour).
Starter that is ready to use is straight from a James Cameron movie – it’s creepy, airy, stretchy, web-like and alive.
Here we use quite a lot of starter, and it needs to be a fresh and young starter so that it’s not too overpowering in flavour. If your starter is very active, it may look like a lot, but it is actually mostly air and is very light, so make sure you have at least 200 grams, up to 300 grams, for this recipe. The best way to do this is to mix 150 grams of strong white flour with 150 grams of water the night before (if it’s not too warm), then add a tablespoon or so of your starter and mix it in. By morning, your starter (now called a leaven) will be perfect.
The recipe we used is based roughly on this rye loaf from sourdough.com. It’s a very low 55% hydration, but it works for us. The crumb is quite dense, more so at the bottom of the loaf, but the flavour is good and the loaf is easy to slice.
Sourdough in a Kenwood bread machine
- 280g active starter (the most important ingredient!)
- 200g water
- 370g strong white flour
- I have used 200g white flour and the rest was a white flour mixed with soy and linseed from Laucke
- 100g rye with 270g strong white works well too
- If you want to experiment with wholemeal flours, keep in mind that they absorb more water and you will need to experiment
- 10g olive oil
- up to 10g honey
- 7g salt (just over 1 tsp)
- Add the starter and water to the machine mixing bowl, then dump the flour on top. Pour over the oil and honey, giving not a care in the world where they land. Add the salt, close the lid and start your new and improved customised programme going.
- Optional spindle removal: after an hour or so, open up your machine and interrupt your first or second rise. Take out the bowl, remove the dough and get that spindle out of there. Place your dough back into the bowl, spread more or less evenly over the bottom, and set the bowl back into the machine.
Bonus slicing tips
- Slicing sourdough while it’s still warm is enticing but ultimately heartbreaking. Wait until it’s cool!
- Use the whole length of the bread knife with each cutting action
- Do not push the loaf down while cutting; hold the loaf by its sides and saw sideways
- If the above still fails to achieve clean slices, get your knife sharpened!
You wanna piece of me?
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