I was interested in the idea of making sourdough in my bread machine. I had only one condition: the whole process, from start to finish, had to be in the machine. No finishing in the oven. No shaping the dough. No getting my hands messy. Ideally it would follow my routine of baking overnight on the timer. If this wasn’t possible, I wasn’t going to bother.
I’m vaguely interested in breadmaking, in the same way I’m interested in playing the piano. I’d quite like to successfully bake sourdough loaves, but I’m not keen on any heavy lifting, or, for that matter, thinking. My approach is almost entirely empirical. I have a vague idea of what’s going on, but I’d rather travel by experimentation, meandering and impulse. But whatever the result, making your own bread has the advantage that you know exactly what’s in it. My interest is in no small part prompted by reading about Ultra Processed Food and how so much supermarket bread is ultra processed. I want healthy bread.
It’s mostly working out. It started with loaf 1 on the 9th Oct 2023, and since then, the number of bricks have become fewer.
The discipline of taking notes helps me (as “I’ll just remember” never works) and hopefully may be of help or interest to others. It didn’t take long before I realised that taking notes of each loaf was interesting but not always helpful. As the number of loaves increased, I soon lost track of the good, bad, and frequently ugly ones. What I needed of course, was a spreadsheet. There are few projects that can’t be made more interesting with the addition of a spreadsheet. I have a table on the bread table page, but also a minimalist version on a separate webpage that I frequently refer to when I’m about to begin Loaf n + 1.
Here’s my setup.
Menus I use (from page 11 of the manual)
For the dough, I use menu 11 (rustic sourdough) and menu 30 (sourdough starter). Menu 30 is really for using the machine to create a cup or two of starter over a 24 hour period (using a tiny amount of dried yeast) but it’s handy for leaving the dough in a controlled environment for the rise at 30℃.
Menu 3: Bake Raisin
Menu 10: French (bake)
I’ve often found the 6 hour French menu quite tolerant. It also has a short knead period which might be relevant if dough is being overworked.
Menu 11: Rustic Sourdough (bake)
- Timer can be set for max 9 hours
- There’s a period of rest during the knead (45-55 min) period.
Menu 18: Bake only
Menu 29: Rustic Sourdough (dough)
Menu 30: Sourdough Starter
Menu 32: Pizza Dough
This is pretty much the one I now use all the time for sourdough premix and main mix. I usually stop it after 20 minutes when it’s in the middle of the first Rise.
Abbreviations I sometimes use
- EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sometimes with the brand. I find it easier to manage than butter, and since reading about UPF I tend to stick with extra virgin olive oil from a single source if possible.
- swf – Strong White Flour. Brand sometimes in brackets.
- wmf – Wholemeal Flour
- M29, M32 … – Menu 29, Menu 32 etc …
Other Notes and Resources
- The book Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own by Andrew Whitley
- www.mygreekdish.com. The only website I’ve found that explains how to produce sourdough bread entirely using a breadmachine and without using any dried yeast.
- The private Facebook group Panasonic Bread Maker Recipe Group UK & Ireland is a goldmine of information. Mostly UK based so lots of good advice about quantities and availability of ingredients.
- I’ve a tendency to stay clear of YouTube, but Elly’s Everyday Wholegrain Sourdough channel is great, and her video on maintaining a sourdough starter really appeals. As she says 3:27 in, If that approach appeals to you, give it a try.
- Cotswold Crunch comes up a lot. More info on the Cotswold Flour website.