Sourdough made easy… (Part 2)

OK, in Part 1, I mixed, lightly kneaded 2 batches of dough for honey spelt and maltster breads. This happened between 9 and 10pm last night and it’s now just before 7am when its time to press on…

risenHere’s the tubs of dough. As you can see they’re well risen and ready to go.

scaledNothing really special here – I put the tub on the scales, zero the scales then tip out the dough. Put the empty tub back on the scales (which weight negative!) and divide the number by 4 to get the weight of each loaf… Divide the dough into those 4 lumps, then roughly shape into a boulle.

couche1I’ve re-shaped them and transferred them to the couche. My shaping is a 2-step process and one day I might even video it, but there’s a quick 2-turn roll, then a stretch and fold in thirds followed by another roll… It needs a video!

The couche is covered by the spare linen,  the oven it turned on to heat up to 250C, and it’s left to prove while I have breakfast, shower, etc.

couche2Almost there now. The spelts have risen and spread, the maltsters have also risen but not as much – it’s always a trade-off when doing anything else with spelt (unless I use 2 ovens) as its much quicker to prove. Fortunately they get a good bit of spring in the oven.

 Next up, it’s onto the transfer board, slashed and into the oven!

transferCouche to transfer board – this is a piece of 3mm plywood shaped to fit just inside the guide rails in my oven, so I can use it as a full-width peel to load bread into (and out of) the oven.

ovenThis is the oven (with one bulb broken!) Note three shelves, each is a 10mm thick steel plate that fits into the guide slots. Each one weighs nearly 17Kg. the oven is heated up to 250C. Once the door is closed, a little button on the front panel opens the water solenoid which jets a spray of water onto the back panel which fills the oven with hot steam.

Finally …

doneAnd there we are. Low-impact sourdough baking. Minimal kneading, let all the hard work happen overnight and it only takes up a few moments in the evening and morning and it fits in well with the rest of the days activity.

The last thing now is putting them in bags, sticking the label on and taking them up to the shop! This lot were in the shop by 9:30 and sold-out by lunchtime. Must make more!


Sourdough made easy… (Part 1)

Sourdough is the “King of Breads” (according to some), however it’s the daily bread here in the Moorbakes kitchen. I did a post last year about how I make it, however since then a few things have changed, so here’s an update with pictures and wordes.

Firstly what is sourdough bread? Simply put, its bread made without commercial yeasts. It relies on natural yeasts present on every grain of wheat (spelt, rye, etc.) which have been fed and watered and kept alive for use in bread. This goes by various names – The “mother”, or “starter”, “levain”, and so on. They’re all the same thing – active natural yeasts working alongside lactic acid bacteria to ferment the bread and give it a mild acidic tang.

Some people keep their starters at room temperature – this is fine, but at room temperatures, the yeasts and bacteria will be working very fast – so-much so, that the culture will need feeding daily, and that means feeding it, then throwing away the excess… This Scottish baker doesn’t like the sound of that, so I keep mine in the fridge. It still works, just slower.

So we start by taking the mother out of the fridge to use in our bread. I use the mother directly from the fridge unless I need more than is in the jar – then I take some from the jar, add in flour and water and leave that on the counter for a few hours to get going, then use that in the bread (and top-up the jar and put it back in the fridge again)

startersHere we are at the start. It’s about 9pm and I’m making 2 different types of bread for tomorrow. On the left here is the makings of my honey spelt and on the right is “Maltster”. This is a granary style bread. I keep separate spelt and wheat starters and the jars are in-front of the bowls. Because I have enough starter in the jars I’m going to use it directly from the jars which have just come out of the fridge. I’ve weighed out the flours (the maltster is Shipton Mills three malts and seeds (the light version) and the spelt is a 30/70 mix of wholegrain and white spelt. Salt is added too and its given a mix just to disperse the salt.

These loafs are using 30% (bakers percentage) of sourdough starter in the mix. Until very recently I was using 40% sourdough starter, but the new bakehouse is a few degrees warmer than the old kitchen so I thought I’d see what happened when I dropped it down to 30%. This is the first time I’ve tried the spelt loaves at 30%…

(Note – the Moorbakes bakehouse is in the process of being renovated and it’s almost done here – all that’s missing is the nice acrylic splashbacks that are currently on-order – hence the wooden batons and bare wall behind the bowls!)

startersAddedStarters added into the bowls. 330g starter in each one.

allAddedI’ve now added water and honey into the spelt mix and just water into the maltster.

The next step is to mix the dough in the bowls – nothing special here, use one hand as my mixer and the other to turn the bowl – when all the water is incorporated into the flour, tip it out onto the bench and (literally) push it about a bit to make sure its mixed. This isn’t kneading, just mixing.

mixedThis is the maltster mixed into a sticky/shaggy lump. You can just about see the spelt is the same to the right.

At this point, we do some magic. Well, no, not really… But after doing this for a few years and occasionally being distracted, as well as reading up on no-knead breads and so-on, what I do now is just cover them and leave them alone for half an hour. This may be autolyzing, but some will say that a “true” autolyze won’t have salt (or even yeast) in it. Whatever – all I know is that after half an hour’s wait, the dough will be very different and even the maltster which has a lot of wholemeal in it will pass a “window pane test”.

snoozingThe doughs relaxing after mixing. At this point, I set a timer and top-up the starters and put them back in the fridge. Sometimes I even clean the outside of the jars…

relaxedAfter half an hour.

stretchyQuite hard to try to demonstrate a window pane test with one hand… But compare that with the photo above – it’s smooth and stretchy and I’ve not kneaded it at all.

kneadedAt this point, I have kneaded the doughs. But lets not go overboard. I literally did 3-4 rock and roll kneads. It took me 30 seconds per lump of dough. You can do stretch and folds if you like, but standing over it, kneading and kneading and kneading is not what I’ve done here.

boxedInto the fermentation tubs for an overnight snooze. (I’d use the metal bowls, but I know that they’re not quit big enough for this quantity of dough).

I did check the temperature in-case anyone wants to know – it was 24C.

So that’s that. It’s taken 10 or so minutes of my time over the space of an hour. This is my “Low Impact” soudough baking. Not much kneading. Does it make a difference? I don’t think so at this stage. I do have a machine (or 2) that can knead dough and I do use them, but for smaller lots like this, it’s less washing up if I leave them on the bench…

bakehouseThis is the moorbakes “bakehouse”. Well, the workbench. The ovens are behind me… The splashback will be fitted soon!

so off to bed now and up at about 6:45am tomorrow morning, ready for part 2 when we get them ready for the oven and Bake!


It’s time for chickens, eggs, nests and all things yummy.

Coming to you from Moorbakes this week are vanilla Easter nests. Enjoy!

Waiting for the others to hatch...

Half term…time for sweeties!

It’s half term this week, which in Devon means lots of visitors! Often our guests are families and ones that want to enjoy themselves, forget diets and find something of how they imagine England was 50 years ago!

Enter Moorbakes…..

For the holidays we have designed some special cupcakes; chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream loaded with sweeties….enjoy the cakes and your time in this beautiful part of the country!

Cupids cupcakes

Valentines day is always a bit of a bother!

I want to make a fuss and be made a fuss of, but don’t want to go overboard…after all I am normally still reeling from Christmas and New Year. Cupcakes seem a pretty good compromise; sweet, luscious and pretty, unique and not hideously expensive.

For Valentines Day 2011 Moorbakes are planning red velvet cupcakes with vanilla buttercream decorated with hearts and flowers.

1. You can risk it and hope you are one of the lucky customers who gets to Gifted early enough to buy your cupcakes from February 10th.

2. Order in advance. If you live in the Buckfastleigh area you can order a box of 4 Valentines cupcakes and collect them from Gifted on Saturday 11th February. We must have orders by Wednesday 9th February, to ensure we are able to create your special cupcakes. You can order using the website, email or though Lucy. A box of 4 cakes, pre ordered is £5.50.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Old photos

Although Moorbakes have been very poor at taking photos there have been a couple of occasions when we have felt that a record of our creativity has been required. Below is the back date of our previous offerings….the future holds better images……