Sourdough Bread in the Machine

A quick guide to sourdough baking in your machine. You’ll need to adjust for your own starter, flour, machine, environment… But I’ve got a lot of people started this way.

Your Starter
Keep your starter in the fridge, in a Tupperware container with a lid. The starter should usually only fill it about one third. Don’t worry about it, it isn’t a pet. You can neglect it for about two weeks without any repercussions and it will come back from almost anything. I’ve seen a starter black and fuzzy white with mould, it had the top scraped off and was refreshed. Fine and bubbly!

That said, mine does have a name!

To bake
Pull the starter out of the fridge and pop in on your scales. I keep approximately 300g as my basic amount- doubling your starter when you refresh is ideal. Set the scales to zero.

Add half strong white and half rye flour, then the combined weight again in water- to add up to the amount of refreshed starter you need in your recipe. The rye is important, it makes your starter happy.

For a basic white loaf you need 300g refreshed starter. So add to your starter container:
75g strong white flour
75g rye flour
150g water

Stir this in well, you now have a pot if refreshed starter. 300g will go into your bread, the rest will go back into your fridge. Scrape down the sides to keep it tidy and discourage mould.

Now get your bread machine pan and pop that on the scales. Reset the scales to zero between each addition… Add:

300g of refreshed starter
500g strong white flour (up to about 300g could be wholemeal, more than that and the loaf will be quite heavy)
250g water
Pinch of salt

Put the pan into your machine and set it to a four hour wait (or more for overnight) and a basic white bread cycle of about four hours. I sometimes use my machine’s wholemeal cycle if I’m using a lot of brown flour, but I’m not sure how much difference it makes.

Wait, remove from machine, cool on a rack, scoff.

Adjusting the recipe
Every starter, every flour, every environment, every machine is different.

If your loaf isn’t how you like it…

First try increasing the water by 50g. If that makes it worse then you’re still on to something! Decrease by 50g next!

If that doesn’t work try increasing the delay on your machine by half an hour…. If that makes it worse… You get the idea!

If you’re still not happy try refreshing your starter a few days in a row without baking (compost the excess), then try again starting with the basic recipe.

Then try a higher proportion of rye when you refresh, try organic flours, try keeping your starter in a warmer part of the fridge- or a cooler- or on the counter, try different brands of flour

Once you have a basic loaf recipe you are happy with you can play!

Try adding seeds, substituting part of the liquid for your favoured milk, adding a little oil, adding garlic or herbs…

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