Norwich Sourdough Bread

Now that I have sourdough starter again, I've baked a batch of my favorite sourdough bread -- Norwich Sourdough Bread. The recipe is from a site that is a fantastic source of very well and precisely written sourdough recipes, as well as a weekly source of inspiration for baking new things, Wild Yeast. I'm submitting this post YeastSpotting.

I have copied the entire recipe below.

Norwich Sourdough
(copied from the Wild Yeast blog for reference and safe-keeping. My notes are in red. I removed all internal links from the recipe. The pictures are mine as well.)
(adapted from Vermont Sourdough in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman)
Yield: 2 kg (four or five small, or two large, loaves). A 400g loaf ends up at about 325g.
    Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
    First fermentation: 2.5 hours
    Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
    Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
    Bake: 35 minutes
Desired dough temperature: 76F
    900 g white flour
    120 g whole rye flour
    600 g water at about 74F
    360 g mature 100% hydration sourdough starter
    23 g salt
Starter, flours and water.
Don't forget the salt.

The ripe sourdough starter.

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute. I did the mixing by hand.
  2. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 3 or 4 minutes. Needless to say, when this is done by hand it takes a bit more time. As soon as I could (i.e. the ingredients were all mixed) I removed the dough from the bowl and kneaded. Kneading time was 15-20 minutes. Because the dough is somewhat sticky, the technique I use is to hold the dough cutter in one hand to scrape the dough from the counter and knead with the other hand.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
  5. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes. I found this dough folding video helpful to see how to stretch and fold.
  6. Starting the fermentation.
    Before first folding.
    After first folding.
    Before second folding.
    After second folding.
    At end of fermentation period.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces. I usually make four 400g loaves and refrigerate the rest to use for pizza dough later. Preshape the dough pieces into light balls. I divided to 5 400g pieces.
  8. Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes. Oops, I forgot this step.
  9. Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
  10. Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2 – 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust. I put the loaves into the fridge for the night after proofing for 1.5 hours at room temperature.
  11. Before proofing.
    After 1.5 hour proofing.
  12. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now. I dump a cup of ice cubes into the oven to make the initial steam.
  13. Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.
  14. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer. My oven can barely make it to 475F without shutting itself off for a while. I also didn't use a baking stone. And I noticed that after putting the loaves and the ice in the oven, the temperature drops to as low as 350F. It all comes out great in the end.
  15. Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, if you can manage it!

Sourdough Challah

About 2 years ago I first managed to grow a sourdough starter using the very detailed and complete instructions from Sourdough Home. Once I saw that the starter was able to double itself, I tried to bake the sourdough challah from the same site. I mixed the dough as it appears in the recipe -- and waited. A few hours later, I gave up. The dough didn't rise and I thought that something had gone wrong. I threw the dough away and moved to other recipes.

Since then I've managed to bake a number of sourdough breads with the starter though I've never tried making sourdough challah again. I also lost my original batch of sourdough.

I marked the line after feeding -- the level here is after the yeast beasties expanded!
So after a number of attempts to grow a new one, I've finally succeeded in growing a great new batch of starter, dubbed Spongebob by my Son. Spongebob was given its first real test last Friday when I used it in a new attempt to bake sourdough challah.

As you can see, it came out really well!

Preparation times

Activate starter 3 hours
First rise (triple) 12 hours
Second rise (double) 3 hours
Baking time 30 minutes


233 grams (1 cup) active starter at 100% hydration
1/2 cup water
460 grams (3 2/3 cups) White Flour (all purpose or bread flour)
2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Misc - another egg for egg wash, poppy or sesame seeds


  1. Mix the starter, water, egg, egg yolks, sugar, oil, 1/2 the flour, and the salt. Stir. Add more flour, a bit at a time, until the dough is too thick to stir.
  2. Pour out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour sparingly, until the dough is smooth, satiny, has lost most of its stickiness, and is fairly firm. You probably should not use all the flour called for above.
  3. Cover and allow to rise until tripled in volume.
  4. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, cut into four pieces of the same weight. Divide one piece into three pieces of the same weight. Form all the balls into strands of about 12 to 14 inches in length, tapered so the center of each piece is thicker than the ends. You should now have three thick and three thin strands. Braid the three thick strands into a loaf and set aside.
  5. Braid the three smaller strands into a smaller loaf. Lightly indent the top center of the larger loaf down its length. Wet it slightly with water. Put the smaller loaf on top of the indention.
  6. Beat another egg with a few tablespoons of water. Brush this egg wash all over the nested loaves and let them rise until doubled.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350F. With baking stones or tiles in your oven, this will probably take about 45 minutes to an hour.
  8. When the oven is ready, brush the loaves with the egg wash again. Sprinkle the loaves with poppy or sesame seeds. Slide into the oven, bake about 35 minutes. If there is a white line between the braids, continue baking until it disappears. Press lightly between the braids on the highest part of the bread. It should be firm.
  9. If your loaf is browning too much, cover it with baking parchment or a brown paper bag that has been cut open. Crease the parchment or bag to form a tent.

Italian Challa

I baked the recipe from "Living in the kitchen with puppies"

Notes from the recipe:
Substitute 25 grams of fresh yeast.

Bake at 160 degrees Celsius.
Finished internal temperature: 90 degrees Celsius.

Sugar glazed baked doughnuts

I got this recipe from Melanger to Mix -- 'Coconut ice' doughnuts.

This is the second time I've made them. This time they are a bit more doughnut shaped. At my family's request, I skipped the coconut this time. I used the glaze from the recipe to cover most of them, and covered the rest with nutella chocolate spread.


100g condensed milk
150g whole milk
17g fresh yeast
45g white sugar
60g eggs, (1 large)
5g salt
480g all purpose flour
20g gluten
75g unsalted butter, diced

Substitute for 100g condensed milk
1/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk
33g granulated white sugar
1/8 cup (30 ml) boiling water
9g melted unsalted butter
Process in blender or food processor (or mix by hand) until smooth

100g icing sugar
15g whole milk
Red food coloring
Desiccated coconut

  • Warm the condensed milk and milk to 37C (lukewarm).  Add to a bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment along with the yeast and allow to sit for five minutes.  Add the sugar, eggs and salt.  Add in half of your flour and start to mix on a low speed for a few minutes.  Then add a further quarter of your flour and mix again for a few minutes.  Stop mixing when there is no dry flour in the dough.   Then start to add the butter gradually piece by piece.  Mix the dough for a few minutes once all incorporated.  Lastly, add in the remaining flour and mix until dough comes together into a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl too much.  It should be smooth, soft, elastic and slightly sticky.   Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature until doubled – anything between 60-90 minutes.  
  • In the meantime, prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. When the dough has risen, sprinkle a pinch of flour on it and knead to deflate the dough.  Divide the dough into 18 even pieces.  Like you are preparing a bagel with the roll and loop method, roll into a rope about 10-15cm long.  Form each rope into a circle and join the ends, pressing well to seal.  Place on the baking trays cover with a towel and leave to prove again for 20-30 minutes and preheat the oven to 200C. Make sure you don't proof for too long, the ones that were shaped first puffed up so much that the hole mostly disappeared.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, while baking preparing the icing.  Simply mix the icing sugar with the milk and add food coloring if desired.  Once baked, allow to cool for a few minutes, then top with the icing and sprinkle on with desiccated coconut. These are most delicious eaten when warm, but are also great to freeze.
Makes 18.

Cinnamon Orange Monkey Bread

This week I baked a Monkey Bread. I think it was a little dry, but still very tasty. The recipe is very quick and easy

I got the recipe from the Dessert Before Dinner blog. There it was called Orange Cinnamon Monkey Bread but I couldn't taste the orange (especially compared to the cinnamon) so I've switched the name order.

382 grams white flour
135 grams whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
17 grams fresh yeast ("1 package yeast")
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm orange juice
1/4 cup honey
28 grams butter, melted

Mix for dipping dough
Cooking spray (for coating pan)
100 grams granulated sugar
119 grams brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 1/2 tablespoons 3% fat milk
28 grams butter, melted

58 grams powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tablespoon splash of milk

  1. Proof yeast in a small amount of the warm orange juice and milk.
  2. Combine flours, salt, butter and honey with yeast mix. Mix until combined and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Let rise 1 hour.
  3. Combine sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in one bowl. Combine milk and butter in another bowl. Divide dough into 8 pieces (and each piece into 8 pieces). Dip each piece in milk/butter and roll in sugar mix. Place dough balls in bunt cake pan. Let rest for another hour until doubled in size.
  4. Bake cake for 30 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius, or until internal temperature of cake (measured with a temperature probe) is 85 degrees Celsius. Let rest 5 minutes in pan before inverting onto a serving plate.
  5. Mix glaze ingredients before pouring over warm cake.
  • 1 hour for each rising period was plenty. 
  • I used a fresh yeast (see pic).

Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made some chocolate chip cookies that came out great.

The recipe came from this post in a blog called "A tender CRUMB". I spent a while converting the measurements to the metric, and substituting the pastry and bread flours listed with regular "all purpose" flour with supplements as found on the web. You can find the calculations I did in this spreadsheet.

The cookies were delicious. They didn't come out soft, but were very good nonetheless.

This is the recipe I used (for half a batch of the original recipe above, something like 45 cookies):

unsalted butter 225 grams
white sugar 288 grams
dark brown sugar 124 grams
large eggs 2 eggs
AP flour 336 grams
cornflour 8 grams
gluten 7 grams
salt 9 grams
baking powder 5 grams
baking soda 5 grams
pure vanilla extract 0.5 tablespoon
bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 454 grams

Passion fruit pancakes

This morning I finally found a good way to eat the some of the passion fruits falling from the vines in our yard (apart from just spooning them up). Passion fruit pancakes!

The pancake recipe is a simple one I found a few years ago. It's the best non-sourdough pancake recipe I know.

Here's the recipe (makes 12 pancakes):
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk

Mix all wet ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to dry ones. Cook pancakes on frying pan or griddle until brown on both sides.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
The passion fruit (with a little powdered sugar) is a great topping. The passion fruit juice is absorbed into the pancakes, and the fruit remaining on top is delicious. This is definitely something I'm looking forward to having again!

S Hotel J P Nagar Bangalore India review

I stayed at the S Hotel for a week during January 2009. As I was unable to find any reviews, I thought that it might be helpful to post a review of my time there. Not to mention that this is a shameless attempt to get traffic to my blog.

The room was nice, just as it appeared on the web site. It was a little stuffy though, and the fact that there were no non-smoking rooms was unfortunate (the room had the smell of smoke). The only window opened to a ventilation shaft.

The bathroom was also nice, though the biggest problem with the room was that there was no hot water beyond a certain hour. I only found hot water between 19:00 and midnight; there was certainly no hot water in the morning.

The staff were always very friendly, if not always too capable. One receptionist never seemed to understand anything I wanted, with the other on shift always coming over eventually to help. I asked for a wakeup call every morning. The first morning it was 20 minutes early, a couple of times it never came at all. I think it was on time twice.

The breakfast was not bad, though it got a little monotonous. At least my situation was better because I ate the Indian food. It seemed that there was even less of a selection of Western food.

The location of the hotel was reasonable for me, though only because it was close to my work. It was quite a long drive from the center of town to the hotel in the evening; site seeing wouldn't be easy from the hotel.

Driving in Bangalore

The full chaos of driving in Bangalore has to be experienced to be believed.

First of all, there's the use of the horn. I arrived at 2 in the morning. The streets we drove along to the hotel were quite empty. But my driver still constantly honked his horn. They do it as they approach intersections, where ever pedestrians may be considering crossing or other cars might want to merge. Or even for no discernible reason. There is constant honking.

Next, is keeping high beams on most of the time. This is for lit city streets when there is oncoming traffic!


Another thing is the use of speed bumps. They seem to be everywhere; small streets or major roads, you never know when you might encounter a speed bump (though they are evidently marked well because my drivers always managed to slow down before reaching them).


But the main thing is the matter of right of way; the concept doesn't seem to exist. Drivers are not so much aggressive as simply unwilling to give the right of way unless they are forced to.


At first glance, it would seem that this is similar to how driving is done in Israel. I think that one of the main differences is that Indian drivers cut it a lot closer than Israeli ones. So in India stopped cars will merge into flowing traffic in cases where in Israel it would cause other drivers to panic and slow down or stop. Fortunately, speeds are bit slower than in Israel, so it is easier to avert accidents.


Not giving right of way is also very much felt when stopped in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Each car, auto-rickshaw and motorcycle driver feels that he must go forward as far as possible. Even if this means blocking cross streets while the way forward is completely blocked with no progress in sight.

Dinner, Day 6

Vegetarian Biryani (if I'm not mistaken)
Vegetarian Biryani (if I'm not mistaken)

Lunch, Day 5

The guys I was trained in Bangalore took me out for lunch. We went to a restaurant in a mall.

Buffet lunch
Buffet lunch
Washing bowl
After meal snack

Quiet night street

Quiet night street
Originally uploaded by daver667
I took this on the street my hotel was on.