Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Making Sourdough in a Bread Machine

I was recently lucky enough to attend a sourdough baking workshop arranged by the Pinterest UK team. Sourdough has long been my favourite kind of bread, so I was delighted to get some starters and learn a few tips.

The bread was amazing and I want to eat sourdough bread all the time, every day. However, I'm also really lazy.

Until recently I've been using a bread machine to produce fresh bread for breakfast, so the machine does the hard work while I'm sleeping. Using the best of the recipes that came with the machine (and I've tried several!), the result still isn't quite as nice as hand-made bread, but it's pretty good and the convenience more than makes up for it.

The sourdough, though, got me thinking. If I could make a sourdough loaf using the bread machine, that might be the best of both worlds. All the convenience of the machine, with that distinctive sourdough taste and texture.

The consensus online seems to be to use a French bread cycle - one that's designed for a long, slow rise. That's the main thing that sourdough needs: time, and plenty of it. My first experiment was edible, but not an unqualified success. The resulting bread was quite dense, and even after a six-hour cycle, I felt like it could have done with a bit more time to rise.

Next, I tried using a dough cycle, and then set the bread to prove for a few hours before baking it in the oven. That worked out much better, but is obviously more time consuming as you end up doing more of the work by hand. And with the dough cycle, you don't have the advantage of baking the bread while you sleep, so if you want a loaf for breakfast you basically have to bake it the night before.

A few experiments later, and I've found a hybrid method that really works for me. First, I run the dough cycle, which brings everything together and kneads the dough. And then, without taking the dough out of the machine, I run the French bread cycle, which does extra rounds of kneading and rising before baking the loaf.

The timescales for a breakfast loaf end up approximately as follows:
  • take the sourdough starter out of the fridge at lunchtime, and feed it to make the preferment
  • put the dough cycle (45 minutes) on about an hour before bed
  • run the French cycle (6 hours) overnight
On the other hand, if I want bread for lunch, I make the preferment in the early evening, leave it overnight, and start the dough cycle at the crack of dawn (a 6am start means bread by 1pm).

You'll need to experiment a little to figure out what works for your particular sourdough starter (since wild yeasts will always be a bit variable), and your bread machine. Start smaller and work your way up to larger quantities, as you don't want to risk the mixture going everywhere if it rises too vigorously.

My machine is a Panasonic SD-2502, so if you happen to have the same model, I'm using dough cycle 22 followed by baking cycle 8. But I'm guessing that most machines will have a similar range of options.

Bread Machine Sourdough
Makes 1 loaf

For the preferment:
100g sourdough starter
125g warm water (about 40°C)
100g strong white bread flour
  1. Make the preferment about 15 hours before you want the bread to be ready.
  2. Mix the sourdough starter with the warm water.
  3. Gently fold in the flour, and stir until no lumps remain.
  4. Set aside for 8 hours, or until the surface is covered in small bubbles.

For the loaf:
390g strong white bread flour
150g sourdough preferment
6g salt
205g cold water
  1. Add the flour to the pan of the bread machine.
  2. Measure 150g of the preferment into the pan of the bread machine. (Note that this is about half of the amount made in the previous stage, giving you some left over for next time.)
  3. Dissolve the salt in the cold water, and pour over the top.
  4. Run the dough cycle.
  5. Without removing the dough from the machine, set the French bread cycle running.


Midnight Cowgirl said...

I love using sourdough bread for sandwiches, but I have not attempted making my own :)

Carole said...

Just popped by to let you know you,ve been featured today over at Carole's Chatter. Cheers

Rachel said...

There's more scope for experimentation with breadmachines that the instructions lead us to believe, isn't there!

Deena Kakaya said...

I admire those who have the time and patience for sourdough...your idea sounds like a deliciously wonderful idea for me x

Anonymous said...

I got rid of my bread machine a long time ago, I just never used it. Then I see things like this and I'm like...oh, gosh, wish I would have kept that.

Jan DeSanti said...

Thank you for sharing your recipe for this, I am trying it today in my machine! Kind regards, Jan D, Colorado, USA

Anonymous said...

I felt I had to write to say many thanks for your sourdough recipe.
I had tried hand kneading several times before with no success and had lost heart to try again-even though I love Sourdough bread.
But your recipe has helped me to make my first real Sourdough bread using my SD-253 Panasonic breadmaker.It had a lovely,moist,chewy texture and tasted so good.

I'd like to scale up the recipe to make a larger loaf and would appreciate
any suggestions you might haveas to how I might do this.


Rachel Cotterill said...

Hi Les, I would suggest starting by looking at the recipes that come with your machine, to see how much volume it can take -- you probably don't want to go over the amount of the largest recipe (unless you're going to knead it in the bread machine & bake in the oven, which is another possibility). Other than that, I'd suggest scaling it up gradually, maybe increasing all the ingredient amounts by 10% to start with, and if that's fine, adding a bit more the next time. As long as you keep the same ratios, you should be okay to experiment.

Paul Banks said...

Hi Rachel, thanks for your blog and this item on using a bread machine for making a sour dough loaf. I have an old Panasonic SD-206. I have followed your recipe but had to compromise on the methodology as my machine doesn't have a French Bread cycle. So adding the ingredients, putting it on a dough cycle for 45 minutes and then just leaving it hoping it will rise sufficiently to make a big enough loaf. I am time poor so I have resorted to Kitchen Aid previously to knead my dough, but the bread never rose very well. Could this be due to too much time in the Kitchen Aid I wonder?

Anonymous said...

Can you make wholemeal sourdough in the Panasonic machine?

David said...

The recipe method you have suggested inspired me I have had good results with whole meal stone ground organic 50% to 50% white plain organic flour (not strong). I use the cycles you have suggested the the 45 minute dough for mixing and the french bread cycle for baking.
My panasonic bread maker seems to need good hydration (75%) to get a lighter risen bread.

Tonight I am experimenting with:
10g starter mixed in 400g tepid filter water (approx 40ยบ)
450g white organic plain
150g whole meal rye organic
Dough cycle (45mins)
6 hour French bread cycle after a 6 hour delay
It has worked before using 150g strong wholemeal so hopefully it will work again! The above recipe uses only a small amount of starter and doesn't refresh the main starter. It means its less labour intensive but you need lots of active starter

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