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Monday, January 5, 2015

Making Bread - 100% Wholemeal Flour, 100% Sourdough Starter

What in the past have been rock solid bricks requiring only the most passionate devotee to begrudgingly consume are now gone forever.

Seed Loaf

Parmesan and Pepper

Thank you Josie Baker and your book Josie baker Bread for solving our problems of technique.

But also thanks to Richard Bertinet and his book Crust with its DVD on handling dough.

Josie's book is structured to lead you through a series of breads starting with simple loaves using bakers flour and yeast. Each new recipe adds a degree of complexity as you move to wholemeal and other flours and then making and using Sourdough Starter in place of commercial yeast. This gradual process builds confidence as success follows success.

Sourdough Starter

 Richard Bertinet publishes his videos online here. We were lucky to have our local library stock two of his books.

BUT there are a few things to remember from our experience:

  • Start with a sloppy wet dough which is what you get when you follow Josie's recipes. Use the weight measurements in the recipes which are deadly accurate as opposed to the volume measurements where cup sizes vary.

One of our well used bread tins
Oiled and floured ready to take the final rise dough

  • Being lazy we use the bread machine to do all the mixing but it is pretty easy by hand or in an electric mixer.
Final Proving rise

  • After the bulk rise, shape the loaf and put it in the refrigerator overnight before its final proving rise the next day. Miracles occur with the dough. Don't forget to wrap it in plastic wrap to stop the top drying out. And always use plastic wrap during the rising phases. Although it is only an option to refrigerate and come back to making the bread is in every recipe (before the bulk rise or after shaping) we found it a key element of the success to perform either one of the refrigeration's. Yes, that means it takes two days to make bread. In fact three days if you include prepping the starter.
Protected from drying out - reusable many times

  • Always use the tinfoil tent cover for the first part of the baking. This one of the keys to success. Other than protecting you from aliens this is best use of tinfoil hats.
Tin Foil covering - reusable many times

  • Use a pizza stone or a granite tile as the heat sink in the oven. This requires heating the oven well in advance. We use an overly thick granite tile which takes a lot longer to heat through but it really pays off.
Granite tile on top of a pizza stone

  • The bread will keep for weeks in a freezer bag in the refrigerator.

Our favourites are the Parmesan and Pepper Loaf followed by the Seed Loaf.

The seed mix soaking - about 6 or seven different seeds

Coarse ground Pepper


  1. You must be very pleased with the results of those efforts. I am keen to expand my bread-making ventures also. Thank you for sharing these two resources.

    1. Hi Barb, The only downside with successful bread making is that you become passionate and enthusiastic and want to keep making more variations. Then you have more bread than you can consume which results in either giving it away to friends and family or as in the case of Josie Baker - starting a bread baking business. Still there are worse things that can happen.