The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Back after a ten year break

garyhardy's picture

Back after a ten year break

Well it’s been a very long break in my sourdough journey. Work pressures and family life always made it difficult to have another demanding baby that was my starter. Now after early retirement I decided to start again. 

There is an old saying that a lazy engineer is the best engineer, as they will always find the quickest, easiest and least wasteful way of doing anything.

so with the cost of everything going through the roof I decided to plan a way to bake a few times a week with no waste. No fancy stuff had to be simple as time is precious.

I don’t throw away starter I don’t do complex builds. I build the starter over a few days from a very small amount and use that for baking when it’s at the right size.

My recipe calls for 150g of starter. So I start the build with

Day 1

10g starter

10g plaid flour

10g water

Day 2 morning

30g starter

75g plain flour

75g water

Day 3 morning 

I pour 150g of starter into the mixer bowl

followed by 300g water. Swill this around.

550g of good quality flour I mix this up either full white, or part wholemeal.

11g salt.

mix in stand mixer for ten minutes till smooth.

slightly oil glass storage container mark level

with a pen. 


I let the dough rise approx 30% takes approx 3 hours, after this shape and put straight into bread proving basket with shower cap on then into fridge for overnight proving

Bake day 

I bake around 8am

cast iron casserole pot in the oven at 235 deg c for 45 mins

Dough out of fridge, tip onto a baking sheet score, drop into casserole dish, I add some ice under baking sheet. Lid on back in oven for 20 mins


After 20 mins remove lid and bake reduce temp

to 220 deg c cook for a further 25mins


Start over with 10g of starter and so on. 




Benito's picture

Welcome back, I wasn’t around TFL when you were last here but have been baking for about 3 years now.  Good looking loaf, it doesn’t look like you’ve taken a decade long break at all.


garyhardy's picture

Thanks Benny, It's been a while and nice to be back

GaryBishop's picture

I'm also Gary and a lazy mostly retired engineer.

That is a great looking loaf and a simple process.


garyhardy's picture

There aren’t many of us left out there Gary, especially spelt the correct way 😊 


Been baking the same loaf playing about with the numbers for a while. I always struggled to work with really wet dough. So very happy with the outcome

clazar123's picture

I've been around long enough to remember you but I think your TFL "name" was a little different. 

Welcome back! Still a nice place to hang out.

garyhardy's picture

I have tried finding my old account and my email that I used never brought it up. So back all brand new lol.

garyhardy's picture

I have tried finding my old account and my email that I used never brought it up. So back all brand new lol.

alcophile's picture

Your 10-year hiatus certainly didn't diminish your skill level. That's a very fine looking loaf!

My hiatus was a little longer (30+ years) before taking up bread baking again and I can only aspire to achieve loaves that are that good looking.

I'm a lazy, but now retired, manufacturing chemist, so I like your approach.

garyhardy's picture

Thanks, it’s strange how it came back really, I do think having less Stress and more time definitely helps. 

HeiHei29er's picture

Hey Gary…. Another engineer here and welcome back!  Doesn’t look like you’ve missed a beat.  Love the crumb and the straight forward approach to the bake.  I’m with you on the high hydration as well.  Mine are usually on the low end of the range.

Look forward to seeing more of your bakes!

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

that I am Gary as well, and yes I'm an Engineer. Not retired yet though....frowning....

I always struggle to get a good oven spring, your bread looks wonderful! 

Perhaps I will give this recipe a go. Did you mention that you added steam while the bread was in the cast iron pan with lid on?

Maybe the lack of steam is my problem.

garyhardy's picture

I was just looking at my notes from years back, and I always struggled with consistent over spring. Having gone over what I do now, the only difference is letting it bulk prove in a glass tub so I can watch it rise and never let it go past 30% increase. I believe this is the key part. Also the ice under the baking sheet to create steam allows it to grow longer. 

good luck hope it goes well on your next bake

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

thank you for the suggestions I will give them a try for my next bake. 

Perhaps I will report back, again thank you.