Sourdough bread

Country sourdough-yeast bread

Yeast-risen bakery bread



Send me a postcard


Sorry, but a Javascript-enabled browser is required to email me.

Frequently asked questions


- crumb,

- types of flour,

- temperature for raising,

- using a bread machine.


Question 1 : (starter)

I am trying to make a starter... It doesn't seem to work. I started last Monday and it is now Sunday and I don't even have a bubble. It is also giving a strange odour.
- Should the starter smell something like bread?
- Should I consider my starter a failure or should I wait a little?
- I used tap water could that have caused it to fail?

Reply 1 :

- It certainly doesn't always work the first time.
- The odour given off does not resemble that of bread. It is much stronger; it's the smell of fermentation. I would even go so far as to say that the smell is just the opposite.
But one rarely finds real sourdough bread at the baker's it is generally a mix of yeast and starter which gives their so called "sourdough" bread that distinctive aroma, as the taste of real sourdough is an acquired taste.
- Wait another day or two, stirring well morning and evening, even though it is probable that the starter has failed.

It is possible that the room temperature is too low at this time of year, and that does not aid the fermentation process. You could try mineral water, chlorination and the pH of tap water is not favourable to fermentation.

But above all persevere! You often need several attempts to make a starter.

Question 2 : (crumb)

I have been trying to make bread for a long time, each time with varying results. After numerous attempts with different yeasts (dried and fresh) and different flours (white (UK) all purpose (US), wholemeal (UK) wholewheat, (US) ) there is always something which I have never managed to achieve:
the bread is good but the crumb is compact like regular white bread. I never get the air bubbles like those in good French bread from a bakery.
Why? What should I do? Could the oven be the cause? I know that bakers' have special steam ovens. I tried putting a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam during baking but it had no effect.

Reply 2 :

It is normal that your bread should rise less than that from a bakery.
For the most part they products to force the rise (like ascorbic acid (vitamin C powder)) which are not harmful but which alters the flavour of the bread when used in excess. I believe that they also use specialized flours, in short, you can not expect to achieve anything other than the texture of regular white bread.
The steam will help the bread to rise a little but it will mostly effect the crust: its color and is good taste and crunchiness.

Question 3 : (types of flour)

I would like to know what type 55 and 65 flours are.

Reply 3 :

With regard to the various types of flour, here is what you need to know: You can obtain various types of flour from wheat, according to the mass of flour obtained compared to amount of the whole wheatgrain used. This is called the rate of extraction: It varies from approximately 70 % for a type 45 flour (France) white flour (UK) cake flour (US) up to 95 % of the whole grain for whole-wheat flour (type 150).

The rate of extraction increases when you use more of the whole wheatgrain: The more whole wheatgrain that is incorporated when the flour is made, the higher the rate of extraction, and the darker the colour of the flour (whole-wheat flour is brown). The rate of extraction is also significant to the amount of weedkillers and insecticides found in flour; the percentage of which increases in proportion to the amount of whole grain included. Making organic flour a necessity! (read a very interesting email (in french sorry) on this subject) You use type 45 (white or cake) flour in cake and pastry making, type 55 (strong (UK) all purpose (US) to make white bread, then various types of flour (65, 80, 110, 150) for more or less whole wheat breads.

You can find flour type 45 and 55 very easily commercially (at least in France, especially 45). The others are more difficult to find, but you can very often find whole-wheat flour in the supermarket. The type of flour is generally written on packaging.


Question 4 : (temperature for raising)

I have a problem. During the winter I have no problem in finding a place in the house which is sufficiently warm to raise my bread (near the wood stove for example.) Now that we hardly heat the house, I am wondering where I should leave my bread to rise.

Reply 4 :

With regard to the temperature for raising, there are in my opinion two solutions:
- Build a wooden box with a heating lamp and a thermostat,
- Lengthen the rising time: This is what I do when I have the same ambient temperature problem. The rising times which I give on the site are only an indication; When the weather is cold, I sometimes have to let the bread rise until 6 p.m.! The main thing is to always let the dough rise in the same container, then note the point to which the bread can reasonably rise. For the 2nd rising, you allow 3/4 of the time of the first and then pop it straight into the oven. It is true; that in theory, the longer the bread takes to rise the more you risk an acidic tasting starter, but that has never really bothered me.

Question 5 : (using a bread machine)

Where could I find on the Web or elsewhere a machine for making bread at home (one that kneads and cooks.) Do you know of any interesting models, and what do you think of them?

Réponse 5 : (from Dany)

You can find various types of bread machines in the United States and in Canada, countries where they have made their own bread for a long time, because so much of the bread there was insipid... It is unbelievable, you put all the ingredients in, program it, and the machine does the rest: kneads, raises, and cooks... you can even have piping hot bread ready when your alarm clock goes off! Imagine the dreamy odour which tickles your nostrils, and makes you leap out of bed, forgetting the wretched ringing of your alarm clock! The price is affordable, and this dream machine can be very useful; but be aware you will never obtain this marvelous bread made with sourdough or yeast, made with so much love...
I ‘m serious: bread made this way closely resembles sandwich bread, it has no true crust, and takes the form of a cylindrical square... Admittedly it has a pleasant taste; so try it out of curiosity, or when you are in a hurry; use it like a portable... because as with all things it requires the knowledge of how to giveand take time with love, a love that our ancestors handed... We should also continue, like them, in this way. Dany.