By Captain Kyle
Because good bakeries are few and far between!
4 cups of good quality baker's flour- We use Laucke Organic Wallaby Flour which uses Australian grown wheat and is milled fresh, offering a premium product that is still loaded with nutrition.
1 ½ cups of water
2 tablespoons of sea salt
3 heaped tablespoons of sourdough starter
1 tablespoon of semolina flour or rice flour
Large mixing bowl
Silicon spatula or dough scraper
Spray bottle with fresh water (optional)
Clean tea towel
Take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed her with equal parts water and organic rye flour, ideally, this should be done mid-morning when the sun is starting to warm up your galley. To find out more about feeding and caring for your starter click HERE for our Complete Care Guide.
Leave your starter to feed in a warm spot on the counter for a few hours until you see plenty of bubbles forming. This may take 1 hour to 4 hours and is totally dependent on the temperature and the health of your starter. A well-fed starter will resemble an airy mousse and might even try to climb out of it's jar if left. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup of room temperature water and 3 heaped tablespoons of starter. If your starter is happy and ready to go she should float. Ensure you leave a minimum of 1 tablespoon of your starter in the jar for next time, this can now go back in the fridge for another day.
Mix the water and starter together in the mixing bowl and then add your first 3 cups of flour. We use a silicon spatula to bring these ingredients together, scraping the sides of the bowl to create a damp dough ball.
Once combined cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm spot in the galley for 2-3 hours to rest.
The dough is now ready to take on the 2 tablespoons of salt, a further ½ cup of water and the remaining cup of flour. Again, mix with your spatula bringing it all together into a dough ball. Cover and rest for ½ hour.
Every half hour for the next 2-3 hours come back to your dough and stretch the dough, flouring and folding it 4 to 5 times. Not only does this process activate the starter but it also helps to create a soft and airy dough. Between each ½ hour, cover and rest in a warm spot.
On your final fold shape the dough so that will fit into your proving basket. We flour our basket with semolina so the dough doesn’t stick to the fabric and also add a few seeds (in this case nigella seeds) that will become the top of your loaf after baking.
Bench rest the dough in the basket covered with a tea towel for an hour before transferring the covered basket to the fridge overnight.
Bright and early head to the beach with your bubbling ball of dough still in its basket, fresh from the fridge. It can, of course, be baked in an oven or even in a Dutch oven on the stovetop but we enjoy the process of baking on the fire at the beach.
Campfire cooking requires trial and error but the challenge of this method always keeps us on our toes. We like it! Ideally, you want some glowing coals to place your Dutch oven amongst with a smaller fire burning close by so you can add new coals partway through the cooking process if needed.
Ensure your Dutch oven has been heated well before you start baking.
We have found the easiest way to get the dough from the basket to the pot without deflating the loaf is to flip the dough onto a sheet of baking paper before spraying the dough with water and lowering it into the hot pot on the fire. Replace the lid and wait patiently.
After 12 minutes you can take a peek to determine if you need to add more coals to increase the temperature or pull coals away from the pot to reduce the temperature. At this stage of the bake, you want to see some rise in the loaf as well as an even light brown color. I also spray the loaf again with water before popping the lid back on.
Again, set your timer for a further 12 minutes, meditating on its goodness as you wait patiently. You will likely start to smell those nostalgic bread smells now.
After a peek you may need to again add some extra coals and wait a further 5-8 minutes depending on the intensity of the heat that your fire is producing. But if the loaf is looking well coloured test the temperature with a thermometer probe (we use our yoghurt making/milk thermometer). Ideally, the inside of your loaf should be sitting between 90-98c and when you tap the underside of the loaf it should sound hollow.
With all these wafting bread smells refrain from devouring it for at least half an hour, allowing it to cool on a rack.
Finally, slice and slather with all your favorite toppings- mindfully eating this masterpiece you have created. Enjoy!
Sure, this isn’t the easiest way to make bread but we do it because we enjoy the process. Cooking on a fire can be challenging but the joy of peeking under the lid of the camp pot to find a blistering beauty below is so satisfying. Reflecting on the method, making changes and adapting it to suit you and your situation will always result in a learning process, honing the art of cooking and inspiring creativity.
Share your sourdough stories below...
Can't have a campfire at your anchorage? Tip on how to bake sourdough in the oven or on the stove top?
As you quickly learn living on a boat, not all boat ovens are created equal- for some tips and tricks on galley baking check out Amy's article, 5 Tips for your Onboard Oven. So, as a general guide for baking your sourdough loaf we recommend 40 minutes at the highest temperature. If your oven has a hot spot be sure to spin your loaf half way through. For stovetop baking in a Dutch oven use a similar technique to our beach bake. Heat your pot on high heat, insert loaf, cover and cook for 12 minute intervals until temperature is achieved in the centre of the loaf. Note, not all stovetop bakes will achieve a thick, golden crust but instead a softer lighter bake.
What is the best way to store a sourdough loaf?
Store your loaf wrapped in a tea towel or in a simple cloth bag for longevity. Alternatively, slice and freeze for a quick toast and go meal option at a later date.
What is the difference between sourdough and regular bread?
Health experts all agree that naturally-fermented sourdough bread is healthier than ‘regular’ bread- yay for carbs! Sourdough is more nutritious, easier to digest, and has a lower glycemic index. Sourdough also contains far less gluten than other 'regular' bread.* So much so, that salty souls who typically suffer from gluten sensitivities can often eat artisan or homemade sourdough bread with little-to-no side effects.
*Disclaimer: Wheat-based sourdough is not guaranteed to be safe for all those diagnosed with Celiac Disease or serious wheat allergies. However, it is reported to be well-tolerated for those with mild to moderate gluten sensitivities. If you suffer from gluten intolerance, please consult with your doctor or health care professional.
A liveaboard sailor, pilot, and jack of all trades. Kyle has been a graphic designer for 19 years, whilst he has traveled the world via boat, bicycle, and bus. His business Nauti Drawings and freelance graphic design has allowed him to create a nomadic existence and satisfied his perpetual need for travel. He is a mad keen spearo, as well as a self-proclaimed sourdough baker, and always keen to explore new wellness concepts and trial alternative lifestyle techniques.
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