Because I have been poorly, I never did get round to making the rye starter I intended to. From my original starter, I have made 3 loaves of bread, with the folllowing results:
1) Traditional circular Sourdough, baked on a metal tray. This was made before I took ill. A decent effort – although it didn’t rise as much as I had wished for, it had a pleasant taste and texture, and got quickly eaten.
2) Sourdough on a loaf tin, made while I was poorly. Complete failure, didn’t rise, got binned.
3) Sourdough in a loaf tin. Made yesterday, halfway gone already. Pretty good effort, rose quite well, but still denser than a conventional bread. Nice taste.
When making loaf (3) I should have kept some dough back for the next starter, but I didn’t bother. Over the last few weeks, all different types of flour went into it, as I didn’t get out to the shops. As a result, I thought I would use it up and start again from scratch.
However, the experiments so far have been interesting. When I used to make sourdough, it was before I had ever owned a bread machine, and I thought I would have to unlearn much that I have done over the past few years with my machine.
Certainly, I originally saw the two methods as being totally divorced and separate. However, for the last loaf, I actually used my bread machine to prepare the dough, before knocking it back and doing the final stage and baking by hand. As natural yeast requires a lot longer time to rise than modern commercial yeasts, a basic bread machine like mine wouldn’t allow a long enough rise time to do the whole job, although the “French Bread” setting comes close. I understand there are machines out there with an “Artisan Bread” setting, which might be suitable.
On the other hand, I am not sure whether bread like this is totally suitable as a square loaf, so I think I am better off proceeding as I am – using the machine to prepare the dough for me, and then shaping it by hand.