Meet Paul, Our New Pet

I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to our new pet, Paul.


I admit he doesn’t look like your usual pet and it’s probably a bit odd to keep a pet in a jar, but there you go, according to Mr Hollywood he is to be treated as a pet.

If you hadn’t worked it out, Paul is a sourdough starter and Mr Hollywood is Paul Hollywood of ‘Great British Bake Off’ & ‘Paul Hollywood’s Bread’ fame.  You can also work out that when Paul recommended that we treat a sourdough starter as a pet that needs to be fed and watered, we didn’t go too far to get a name!

Having managed to master the art of making bread, I felt it was time to move on a challenge and make some sourdough.  Years ago I attempted to make a starter and it went horribly wrong.  So this time I initially looked at trying to blag a starter or buy one.  But then I bought a bag of flour which had a recipe for a starter on it so I thought I’d give it a go.  Over the course of a week Paul, as he is now known, was created and nurtured.  Then came the point where there was enough starter to make some bread, so I looked up a recipe on the internet.

There are hundreds of slightly differing ways to make sourdough bread on the internet.

I eventually settled on one that I though would fit into my routine, make the dough, prove for two hours, knock back, prove for 8-12 hours, bake.  So I timed it that the 8-12 hour prove was overnight and we would have fresh bread for breakfast.  Sourdough is very sticky and on this occasion, as I didn’t use enough flour to line the bowl therefore it got stuck and didn’t tip out easily so it was a bit of a mess that made it onto the baking stone.  The resultant loaf looked alright, tasted good, but had an enormous air hole the whole way through.

For the second attempt I tried another recipe that didn’t require quite so much proving.  Again it looked good but was a bit flat, not very holey and tasted a bit under cooked.  I did a bit more research and came across the opinion that sourdough bread making is very much trial and error, knowing your oven etc.  I also reflected that it had taken us several goes to get the normal bread making right so I shouldn’t be surprised that this was taking time.

This is the third attempt…

loaf 3

loaf 3 cut

Not bad.  But could probably do with a harder crust and a few larger holes.  It tastes delicious though.  This bread had a two hour prove, followed by a five hour prove.

This week I watched Paul Hollywood’s Bread which focused on sourdough and realised that our Paul is quite sloppy compared to those shown in the programme, so I need to cut back a bit on the water I am giving him.  This might make some difference.  I also noticed that Paul H was doing his kneading with oil rather than flour, which I assume is a way of kneading the bread without adding too much extra flour into your mix.

So when I attempt to make another loaf this weekend I’ll experiment with kneading it in oil.

If you haven’t come across Paul Hollywood or the Great British Bake Off here are the links or perhaps you had better avoid, GBBO can be rather addictive!


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