In Which We all Relearn That Writing Down the Recipe in Your Own Words Shows One Where Things Went Wrong

Or sourdough bread, again.

This sourdough bread is going to be the death of me, I tried again today and the failure was epic, no lovely picture to share. I suspect what went wrong was I used the left over starter from the last bread and it didn’t have enough flour for the yeast to eat so it didn’t have enough structure. This resulted in a flat, lump mass that didn’t resemble bread in any way. It could have also been that I was distracted and in a hurry and skipped a step thinking since the starter had gone through part of the process I didn’t need to be so careful, which was so.not.true.

However, a learning opportunity is available to us here (ok maybe just me, but take the ride with me anyway). I am going to write down the recipe in my own words and see if that helps me to focus and follow the directions better, because honestly, I love you RLB, but your instructions are long and cumbersome.

Phase One

When starting with a liquid seed starter, as I am, mix in enough flour to make it a stiff starter, then proceed.

  • Ingredients
    • 50 g stiff starter
    • 50 g flour
    • 25 g room temp water
  • Method
    • mix together with a spoon, then your hands
    • oil a small bowl, place starter inside
    • cover and ferment
      • 2 hours if using within 2 days
      • 1 hour if using within 3 days
      • 30 minutes if using within 1 week

Here’s where I get confused, what if I’m baking this now?? Ok really in the next 24 hours because this bread takes about 2 days to make. So assuming you’re continuing on without waiting, let’s assume after one hour you proceed to the next phase…

Phase Two


    • 25g starter
    • 50g flour
    • 25g water


    • after one hour at room temp (or up to one week in the refrigerator and one hour at room temp), tear off starter, discard the rest (this goes against my nature, but according to RLB you can save it and add a little to other breads for flavoring, making me feel much less wasteful)
    • stir in flour and water, mixing until there is no flour left in the bowl
    • it will weigh 100g
    • oil a 1c measuring cup, press the starter into the cup-it’s about 1/3c, and cover with plastic wrap
    • rest 6-8 hours, or until doubled, it should be about 2/3c

Phase Three


    • 100g starter
    • 200g flour
    • 100g water


    • tear off 100g of your starter (discard any extra), mix in flour, water in the same way as you did before-spoon then hands, leave no flour in the bowl
    • you’ll have 400g of starter at this point
    • oil a 4c measuring cup, press the starter inside-it will be about 1 1/2c, and cover
    • ferment about 6 hours until doubled to 3c
    • you can refrigerate the starter for up to 18 hours at this point

Phase Four


    • 230g bread flour(ap flour works also if that’s all you have)
    • 95g medium rye flour(I used dark rye it didn’t seem to affect the good loaf)
    • 232g room temp water
    • 360g starter
    • 14g caraway seeds
    • 10.5g kosher salt


    • if starter has been refrigerated, leave at room temp 1 hour before using
    • mix flours with a dough hook on #2 on a Kitchenaid, add water, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary for 3 minutes (speed setting and time is important)
    • cover bowl with plastic wrap and rest 20 minutes
    • break starter into four pieces and mix them into the flour mixture on #2 on a Kitchenaid for 2 minutes
    • add caraway and salt, mix on #4 for 3 minutes
    • oil yet another bowl, a 2 quart one this time, and scrape the dough into it, place a piece of tape on the outside of the bowl to mark where roughly double the dough would be.
    • cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof 1 hour
    • scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface, deflate and shape into a rectangle and fold it into thirds, this is called a business letter turn
    • return to the container, proof another hour
    • stretch and fold the dough again, return it to the container and proof 3 1/2-5 hours or until doubled

We’re in the home stretch now…

Phase Five

    • cover a sheet tray with parchment or a silpat
    • turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten, without deflating it. Round dough into a ball by gently pulling the edges toward the center and pinching them together by making a pouch, turn over and spin the dough in a circle with your hands while tucking it under itself (this is a good video, at about 2:40 she explains how to make a boule, which is what we’re doing here)
    • place dough on the sheet tray, cover with a large bowl, something that is big enough that when the dough has doubled in size it still won’t touch the dough.
    • proof 3-4 hours or until dough has doubled
    • in the last hour of proofing, preheat oven to 450 degrees F, and place a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven. make sure your oven shelf is at the lowest level and it’s preferable to have a pizza stone on the shelf

Phase Six

    • measure 1c of ice
    • make an egg wash, using 1 beaten egg and 1tsp water
    • slash the top of the dough three times with a sharp edge, be careful not to cut too deep, it’s about 1/4-1/2″
    • set the sheet tray on the baking stone and toss the ice onto the cast iron skillet and quickly, but gently close the oven door
    • bake 5 minutes
    • turn temp down to 400 degrees and continue to bake 15 minutes more
    • gently remove bread from sheet tray and place on the stone, turning it for even baking
    • bake about 35 minutes more, or until when the middle of the bread is poked with a skewer, it comes out clean (in my oven it took about 25 minutes)
    • allow bread to cool completely before cutting, it’s worth the wait

So that’s a bit long and cumbersome still, but I’m pretty sure I understand where I went wrong today and next week we shall try again. So join me next week on more adventures in baking sourdough rye bread.




One thought on “In Which We all Relearn That Writing Down the Recipe in Your Own Words Shows One Where Things Went Wrong

  1. Pingback: Rose Tasting | 1861

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