Monday, 7 October 2013

Retarding the "Sourdough with Gruel"

It's the time of year when getting the timing right with my baking is a bit of a juggling act. In another few weeks I can rely on everywhere being cold and I can return to an overnight period when the dough can ferment without salt but right now with the Indian summer we seem to be blessed with, everything is happening just that bit too quickly. Yesterday, I had some starter left over from my garlic & parsley bread, click here for the recipe and I decided to make some of my sourdough with gruel, click here for the recipe. By early evening, having fed the starter with another 200g of flour and 200ml of water, it was ready to have the main dough ingredients added. I decided to move on to this part of the process so added 1,000g of strong white flour, and the gruel I had made along with the malt extract. I kept back the salt, deciding I would add it last thing before going to bed. At 11 o-clock the dough had more than doubled in size and it was time to add the salt. A decision had to me made about what to do next so I popped the bowl into the fridge and at 6 o-clock this morning I was amazed to find how much the dough had grown even at 5 degrees C. I stretched and folded the dough a couple of times, divided it into 3 and shaped it before placing each loaf into a banneton mould well floured with rice flour. I left the loaves to fully return to room temperature before baking them at 220C for 30 to 35 minutes. This batch is even lighter than usual and the flavour has been enhanced by the extra time it took to ferment. If you are looking for a loaf of bread which is light with a soft crumb and open texture, a loaf that remains fresh for 2 to 3 days, I can't recommend a recipe more highly than this one. I'm still intrigued as to why the simple addition of oats in the form of gruel alters everything to such a degree, but it does and I'm happy.

Make sure your ferment is absolutely at its peak of activity before adding to the main dough ingredients. This is true for all bread baking. See the photo above, the surface shows signs of many bubbles and the characteristic creases of the ferment collapsing on itself.


  1. Hi, I tried this bread as I thought it looked interesting. Sadly it turned out to be inaspiringly grey colored ont the outside. I sat the oven temp at your 220C but I think it is a mistake. I usually start with the oven at 250-275C for white flour bread to get a crunchy and well colored crust. What do you think?

  2. Hello and thank you for your comment, I'm sorry to hear your attempt at making this bread was not what you hoped for. I know that for me 220C is as hot as my oven will go, so I am a little surprised that you can reach temperatures of 250-275, are you sure that you are using Celsius temperatures? I believe 220C would be roughly 430 in a Fahrenheit oven. Even so, it is odd that the crust became grey. I would hope that another attempt at making this bread produces a loaf that you will be happy with, thank you for trying, best wishes Tôbi