Busier than normal…

The past 10 days has seen the local co-op in Buckfastleigh closed for refurbishment. This has given the small retailers in town a chance to shine and show what they can do!

I’ve been baking almost double the bread for the Seed and Holne community shop which has been great fun! It’s good to see a few more people enjoy hand-made organic breads. Lets hope they continue to do so, even though the co-op appears to be back in business.

Making a Sourdough loaf

It takes the best part of a day to make the Moorbakes sourdough bread, so I thought I’d put together a page on how it’s is made….

Step 1: Lunchtime the day before

So I start at about lunchtime and need to work out what I’m going to be baking for tomorrow… Sourdough isn’t something you can make at a moments notice – this is a 20 hour process! So for tomorrow I’ll be making 3 small Maltsters and 3 small Devon Rustics. Fortunately these both use the same starter (white wheat) so I only need to make up one lot of levain.

First job is to make up the levain, or starter. For the above 6 loaves, I need just under 650g of levain – I only keep about 500g of the mother in the fridge, so I use the mother to make the levain for the bread. I take the mother out of the fridge, measure out enough to make up the levain add in flour and water, mix, cover and leave in a warm place for the next 8 or 9 hours. (Not forgetting to top up the mother and put it back in the fridge!)

levain-1This is our starter mixed with flour and water. It’s not looking that exciting yet…

If I was only making 2 large or 3 small loaves, I could skip this step and take 320g of the mother and use it directly, however it’s impractical to keep much more than that mother in the fridge, so this two-stage process works well and it very easy to scale up if I were making 2 or 4 times the amount of bread I’m making here.

That only took a few minutes, but it’s the start of the (almost) day-long process.

Step 2 – Mix and Knead the Dough

… Some time later – at about 9:30pm to be precise, and this is what the levain looks like now:levain-2

…it’s now a light and airy mix, full of bubbles with a nice tangy smell and taste to it. It smells and tastes like it should  (I always taste a tiny bit just in-case!)

This is split between 2 bowls – one has the white + wholemeal mix for my Devon Rustic loaves and one has the Shipton Mill 3-Malts and sunflower seeds mix for the Maltsters.


Add water, salt, a bit of kneading and there we are:


After kneading, a little bit of vegetable oil is rubbed round the bowls and the dough is transferred back into them and covered and left to rise overnight. They’re going to get about 9 hours rising time!

Step 3 – Scale, shape and rest/prove

Now it’s about 7am which isn’t too bad a time to get up. Quite reasonable for some! The dough has risen slowly and gently overnight and now we have 2 full bowls of nice soft and sweet smelling dough:

drustic2Devon Rustic dough, after an overnight rise

maltster2Maltster dough, after an overnight rise

Nothing special here for people who already make bread – tip the dough out, divide it up using the scales to make sure each piece is the right weight, then pre-shape in preparation for the final shaping on the baking trays:


proving…final shape and proving on trays

Step 4 – Decorate/slash and bake

When they’re ready – usually after 45 minutes to an hour, it’s time to get them ready for the oven.

provedThe maltsters get a dusting of flour and 3 cuts, the Devon Rustics get sesame seeds and 3 cuts too.

ovenIn the oven

The loaves get a roasting at about 240°C for 11 minutes with a good slug on water in a tray at the bottom to create some steam, then the oven is turned down to about 210°C for a further 21 minutes before they’re checked for readiness and removed to cool.

coolingCooling on a rack

drustic3Devon Rustic


After that, they’re bagged and labelled and take up to the shop where they’re sold and hopefully enjoyed by happy customers!