Week 122: Caramelised onions sourdough loaf

I have been baking my weekly sourdough for quite some time now, but I seemed to be getting something wrong, because the dough during bulk fermentation was so wet that it’s always just a blob in my proofing container, even at 70% hydration.

So I was very, very thankful when a new friend I met online pointed out to me where I got wrong. Apparently the bakers’ formula is calculated only on the flour added to the dough, not including the flour in the starter! She also provided some advice on slowly increasing hydration levels and understanding different stages of the bread making process to achieve different textures.

After making the necessary changes, this loaf turned out a lot better and more presentable than the previous attempts.

Makes 1 approximately 8-inch round loaf


120g sourdough starter

400g unbleached bread flour

20g olive oil

8g fine salt

200g room temperature water

60g of caramelised onions


1) Start feeding the sourdough starter 2 days before making the loaf. I keep my starter in the refrigerator so, on the first feed, I added 15g flour and 15g water to 30g of starter. And on the second feed, a further 30g flour and 30g water.

2) The sourdough should be fairly bubbly before you start with the loaf. Add the active starter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Then add the rest of the ingredients.

3) Mix using a dough hook for about 3 minutes, stopping to scrap the sides of any dough, then mix for a further 3 minutes until the gluten strands are nicely formed.

4) Lightly oil the proofing container and allow to proof 3 to 5 hours at room temperature until at least double the size.

5) Scrap dough only a lightly floured surface and flatten the dough slightly. Add caramelised onions into the middle of the dough and wrap it up. Knead to distribute the filling. Then shape it into a boule.

6) Proof in a proofing basket for another hour.

7) 15 minutes before baking, preheat convection oven and Dutch oven at 240C.

8) When ready to bake, transfer the loaf from the proofing basket to the Dutch oven, dust with flour and slash the top of the loaf, then spray generously with water.

9) Bake the loaf in the Dutch oven for 15 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 230C and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, remove the cover of the Dutch oven and bake for another 15 minutes until the crust is nicely browned.

I am fairly happy with the crust and the crumb. Sure, the crumb could be improved, so can the distribution of the filling. But, it is finally “light” compared to my previously dense loaves. Looking forward to my next loaf.

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