White sourdough in bulk: bread for sale

For a while now I’ve been planning on baking on a larger scale – perhaps to take some loaves to sell at the local farmer’s market, or to people at work. Since getting a new oven, I’ve finally been able to have a go at baking more than my usual 2 or 3 loaves.

The first three loaves of sourdough out of the oven
The first three loaves of sourdough out of the oven

This recipe comes courtesy of the administrator of the Sourdough Bakers group on Facebook, W Forrest, and all credit goes to him for the method, and the extremely helpful messages that I received when I asked him for some advice. One of the great things about baking – like many “crafts” – is that there is a diverse community of interested people who are always willing to share ideas.

Half a dozen sourdough ready for sale
Half a dozen sourdough ready for sale

The method, and the recipe, is similar to other sourdough recipes, with the exception of a few more shapings, which help the dough “spring” in the oven and retain the open crumb. The technique I have used to shape the loaves is a “letter fold” – taking a third of the dough, stretching it, and pressing it into the middle. This is repeated on all sides of the dough, and then the dough is shaped into a ball with cupped hands. The rotation with cupped hands, called a “tension pull”, is then repeated four times at 15 minute intervals. I’ve included a step by step photo after the recipe.

All in all, I baked 8 loaves, kept two, and sold the other six. The bread sold out quickly, and I’ll definitely be making this a regular bake whenever I have the time.

Sourdough wrapped in brown craft paper, ready to sell the next morning
Sourdough wrapped in brown craft paper, ready to sell the next morning

“Bulk” white sourdough – Makes 8 boules

  • 4000g strong white bread flour
  • 80g salt (kosher salt or ground rock salt)
  • 2600g water at 27°C
  • 200g white starter*

*The day before starting, I refreshed my rye starter with white flour to “convert it” and get it ready for use. I used 100g white flour and 100g water to 50g rye starter, and left the mix overnight at room temperature. The starter can be refrigerated and used straight from the fridge.

  1. To make handling the dough simpler, divide the recipe in two and use two containers (see images below).
  2. Combine starter and water in a large measuring jug and whisk.
  3. Add the starter and water mix to the flour and salt. Combine well in the large plastic container, then autolyse for 15 minutes.
  4. Stretch/fold the dough, and rest again for 15 minutes. Repeat the stretch/fold/rest four more times.
  5. Tip the dough out onto the counter, oil the container, and then shape the dough into a ball and roll around in the oil to coat. Bulk ferment overnight at room temperature for 10 hours, until doubled.
  6. Weigh out 850g portions and shape into boules. Rest for 15 minutes, then reshape. Repeat the shape/rest 3 more times. Put dough into floured bannetons and proof at room temperature for 4 hours, until risen.
  7. Preheat oven to 230°C. Score loaves, then bake in a cast-iron or ceramic lidded pot. Bake for 15 minutes with the lid on, and 15 minutes with the lid off.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
The dough, mixed in two separate containers
The dough, mixed in two separate containers
The dough, after resting and stretch/folding, ready to bulk ferment
The dough, after resting and stretch/folding, ready to bulk ferment
The risen dough after a 12 hour bulk ferment overnight on the counter
The risen dough after a 12 hour bulk ferment overnight on the counter
1) Weigh out the dough into 850g portions. 2) Take a portion of dough, fold over a third into the middle and press down. 3) Rotate 90 ° and repeat the fold. Repeat on all sides. 4) Using cupped hands, “tension pull” the dough: turn the dough, using the friction of the bench to pull the skin of the dough tight. 5) Rest the dough for 15 minutes, then repeat the tension fold. Repeat this four times.

RedBeard Bakery – Trentham, VIC

Daylesford, Victoria, is known for its food, wine, and relaxing mineral springs. We visit once or twice a year and always enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunity to visit places like The Lakehouse and the Hepburn Spa. The last couple of times, we have also travelled about 20km from Daylesford to the town of Trentham, to visit the historic RedBeard bakery.

The unassuming entrance to the bakery belies the historical interior.

There has been a bakery on the site since the late 1800s, and the most recent incarnation, the RedBeard bakery, makes excellent use of the renovated Scotch oven to produce delicious, organic sourdough. According to RedBeard’s website, the Scotch oven was once the most common form of commercial oven in Australia, but most were destroyed in the 1950s by large flour millers to undermine competition. The bakery offers tours and sourdough baking workshops, showcasing both the oven and the skills of the bakers.

A Scotch oven stores heat wonderfully well in its massive masonry structure. The fire is extinguished before baking commences and the bread is bathed in deep and even heat that is gradually released by the bricks and sand. – RedBeardBakery.com.au

When we visited, we were also happily there in time for lunch. Whilst sourdough is the mainstay of the bakery, it certainly isn’t all they offer. We had a reuben sandwich, and a baked potato with chickpeas, both of which were delicious. The bakery also produces biscuits, cakes, preserves, and even baking supplies (I picked up a new dough scraper, which I’ll be making use of this weekend when we get back home).

The atmosphere inside the bakery/cafe is great – products for sale in the background include recipe books and baking supplies.

We also couldn’t leave without buying a loaf of the famous sourdough. We chose a wholemeal and seeded loaf – called the ‘brunette’ – from the selection of rye, white, and wholemeal sourdough on offer. The loaf was just as delicious as the lunch – a soft and chewy crumb with a mild wholegrain flavour, and a nutty crust covered with toasted sesame seeds. It was fantastic toasted, and equally great fresh as a sandwich.

RedBeard Bakery’s ‘Brunette’ sourdough loaf.

Whilst Daylesford has its own bakeries, it’s worth the extra short drive to get out to Trentham and enjoy what the RedBeard bakery has to offer: a unique historical experience, friendly staff, great award winning food, and an opportunity to eat bread from one of the oldest ovens in the country.

Some of the sourdough on offer at RedBeard bakery.

Tramping around

This is just a very quick post whilst we’re traveling around to mention the La Cigale market on Saturdays and Sundays in Auckland. Obviously we didn’t visit New Zealand just to eat bread, but it is always good to find a place that sells good quality produce, especially when it isn’t overpriced because of the ‘artisan’ label.

The Pukeko Bakery had a stall up at the market on Sunday and, I assume, Saturday, and had a range of loaves from baguettes to sourdough. We chose a twice baked rye sourdough and a blueberry danish, and both were excellent.

I’m not actually sure where the bakery itself is as we were on the way out of Auckland when we visited the market, but it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.