The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Onion Bread

PetraR's picture

Sourdough Onion Bread


This one was made with a flour I got at the Farmers Market last week and used it yesterday to get that bread started.

The Flour is from Wessex Mill and called Onion Bread Flour.

The recipe is as simple as can be.

200g  80% hydration starter

700g onion bread flour

400g water

  15g salt

1tbsp caraway seeds

2tbsp olive oil.


Mix your starter with your water, olive oil, caraway seeds.

Autolyse for 30 minutes and add the salt

Knead for 15 minutes by hand or until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic.

I always knead for 2 minutes, rest the dough for 2 minutes, knead for 2 minutes, rest the dough for 2 minutes... until you get this supple soft and elastic dough.

Form your dough in to a ball and put in a slightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm.

Let the dough rise overnight.

Gently get the dough out of the bowl, degas it , form it in to a tight ball and put it in a well floured banneton and either put your banneton in a large plastic bag , cover with some oiled clingfilm...

* I put one of those one use plastic shower caps on mine *

Proof your dough for 1.5 - 2 hours * depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

* I let mine proof for 2 hours *

After 1.5 hours proofing preheat your Oven, with the dutch oven in it, as hight as you can * mine is about 240C * fan.

After 2 hours proofing time tip your dough on a big enough piece of baking paper and slash it. 

Put your bread WITH the baking paper in the dutch oven, put the lid on and bake on highest setting for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes take the lid off, turn the heat down to 180C and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Let the bread rest and cool for at least 2 hours before cutting it.


Have fun baking.


Sorry about the quality of the crumb shot.


nmygarden's picture

Nice to hear from you, Petra!

Your bread looks fabulous - I bet it smells (and will taste) great! There is a good feeling to making something wholesome for our families and ourselves. From our hands to our families. All the best to you,


PetraR's picture

you are so right, it is wonderful to making something good for the family.

I can not wait to cut a slice in the morning.


Dave's picture

Awesome loaf Petra!

You really nailed this one! Beautiful crumb shot! Nice even, thick crust structure all the way around. Looks like you have a nice dark bottom on the loaf. That's the best in my opinion. Really adds a great smell and taste!

Awesome scoring as well. So cool the way the way the bloom pulled back that far like that. So open. And a nice bold bake. Love the caramel color on the separation!

Seriously nice work! Man, I bet it tastes amazing!

So why do they call it onion bread flour?? Anything to do with onion in it?? Grown around onion?? Hanging out with onion at the mill??




PetraR's picture

Yes, I a quite happy with this bake.

Mind, you all bread is better than the bread you can buy in the Supermarket in the UK.

I am German and I love my crusty bread :)

Reg. the Onion Bread Flour


I have used it for the first time, but for sure not the last time.


dabrownman's picture

kinds of onions in bread though. This one came out perfect =- Love the bloom and spring and tet crust and crumb are to die for. Well done and happy baking

PetraR's picture

It is very yummy and will be baked more often.


liming's picture

hi, PetraR, your bread is gorgeous! Can I check with you that your total hydration level is 60%? if yes, then it's amazing that there are so many large holes in it at a low hydration level. (I'm struggling to produce large holes for my 65% hydrated bread) 

Could your secret be your high percentage of starter (28%)?  I have been using only 10% starter, as I am not sure what a higher percentage of starter will achieve. :)




PetraR's picture

They hydration just from the 400g water would make it 61% hydration, but there is also about 100g in the Starter  and about 30g  of Olive Oil and it all adds up to 530g of liquid. which , by my calculation would make 76 %  hydration.

But I am not really sure, I just used an online Bakers Percentage Calculater and it said it was 62.5 %. hmmm

Hope that helped.


liming's picture

thanks for your calculation, PetraR. but your oven spring is really fantastic, given that high level of hydration! I used to do 75 - 80% hydrated bread, and the dough are all very slack and wet and can't hold its shape, not to mention having an oven spring! 


PetraR's picture

What hydration is the starter you are working with and what flour are  you using?

I feed my starter 1:1:1 so I do feed my 150g of starter in the Jar with 150g of water and 150g of flour, my starter is very active so I only need to feed him 6-8  hours before baking.

I do knead my dough by hand so that it is not over worked.

I knead my dough for about 10 - 15 minutes but I only knead 2 minutes, let the dough rest for 3 minutes, knead for 2 minutes , let the dough rest for 3 min....

I let my dough rise until it has doubled, degas gently fold in to a ball and make sure that it is a tight ball, let it proof in the banneton for no more than 2 hours , bake in a Dutch oven.

I do that with all loafs that I make and they all turned out like this with a lot of oven spring.

The ones that have rye flour and / or wholewheat flour mixed in have a much tighter crumb though.

Maybe you use your starter a bit to early or a bit to late?

If in any doubt you could fill a glass with some water and carefully take some of your starter out and carfully drop it in the water.

If the starter floats you are good to bake, if it sinks to the bottom of the glass you left it to late or tried to early.

I timed my starter several times and mine is ready for baking between 6 & 8 hours depending how warm the kitchen is on that day, so when it comes to the 6 hour mark I keep an eye on him.

I am not so good with all the dough hydration and such, I go by eye and feel of the starter and the dough.


liming's picture

and my starter is 80% hydrated white flour, it's about one month old and has been kept in the fridge since it's about three weeks old. I usually take it out onto the counter 24 hours before baking, and fed it once or twice before using it. 

Is white flour not optimal for a starter ? 




PetraR's picture

My Starter is made with strong white bread flour.

3 weeks is still very young so that I guess is part of why your bread does not have a great oven spring yet

My Starter is almost 3 years old and I did not get that great of an oven spring when he was just a few weeks old.

My starter is usually fed 1:1:1 so equal amounts of starter,water and flour.

In the Summer my Starter lives in the fridge but since I bake so much I leave it on the kitchen counter and feed it every 24 hours.

When I bake I feed him 6 -8 hours before baking.

I feed mine about 12.00 in the afternoon, mix and kead about 8 pm in the evening and let the dough rise overnight so that I can put the dough in the banneton by 8am and bake at 10am.

You will find what times are best for you to feed and bake. 


liming's picture

thanks for sharing your process, my flour is made of 50% whole wheat and 50% white flour. maybe the whole wheat flour is the reason why I couldn't have a good oven spring...

I'm using the same float test for my starter: buy in my case, I harvested my floater 12 hours after refreshment, it passed the test nicely. (I have used earlier starter before, like 2 hour  or 5.5 hour mark, but I guess my starter is not at its peak and caused a very long rising time)

I didn't do much kneading, all I did was stretch and fold and long proofing (cold retardation in the fridge and sometimes frozen in the freezer)

I don't have a dutch oven yet and am about to get one soon, so I guess the baking temperature is also important. What baking temperature do you use? I've learned somewhere that a lower baking temperature can produce good oven spring too, like 350F. 




PetraR's picture

Earlier you said it was made from white starter?

Wholewheat flour in the starter is perfectly alright and will not stop a bread from having a good oven spring.

I strongly believe it is because your starter is only 3 weeks old, he needs to get stronger , it will happen in time :)

Mine is almost 3 years old and my first few loafs where not very good but practice will help:)

I bake at the highest setting that my oven can produce and that is 250C/450F

I preheat my Dutch Oven with in the Oven for 40 minutes, I put my dough in , put the lid on, bake for 30 minutes at 250C/450F , take the lid off and turn the heat down to 180C/200C which is about 350F/390F and bake for a further 20 minutes.

I have not heard of good ovenspring in a lower temperature oven, I have to google.