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Living and Baking in the Northwest

I love the Northwest. I am so happy to be back home after spending a month in warmer, drier climes. Yes it was fun, but I am back in my own kitchen and the weather is perfect for baking. Cool, humid, definitely wet…. the Northwest.

No, I can’t ride my bike anywhere unless I ride in the rain (that is what I have been doing!), but the weather makes me want to bake, bake , bake.

Not only am I baking in my own kitchen again, but I opened a 50lb bag of my favorite Pendleton Mills “Morbread” flour. I had to quit buying it when it was 49.00 dollars a bag, but this bag was 22.00 so I am back in business. Which is good, because for some strange reason, the “brand name” flour I have been using which had given me good results, has not been giving me very good loaves for a while, I have been disappointed many times and have taken to buying “off brands” in the hopes of finding a better flour. In my past flour testing, I have found some really good “off brand” flour.

By off brand, I mean name brand flours which are not that well known, but can be really good flour. Generic flour is always a risk because of lack of quality controls. We home bakers are at a disadvantage when it comes to flour. All of the best flour is bought up by the bakeries. I have gone to local bakeries before and asked to buy the large bags of flour they use. Whenever they have sold to me, I have consistently had superior results with the outcome of my bread. So if you can get any of your local bakeries to sell you some of their flour…. do it!

By flour, I am talking about white flour, Bread flour and All Purpose flour. I grind my own whole wheat, Spelt and Rye flour. By the way, this is only my opinion, I know many of you swear by your own favorite “off the shelf flour” and that is fine… if it works for you.

This week I decided to redo the recipe for the Alaskan Sourdough. I adjusted the recipe using 100% hydration starter and added some malt syrup. This bread is so good, it is one of my standard recipes. It is moist with a slight sweetness to it.

Alaska Sourdough @ 100%

  • Sourdough starter @ 100% – 12 oz/340g
  • Water -16 oz/453g
  • Evaporated Milk – 4 oz/113g
  • Malt syrup – 1 oz/28g
  • Melted, cooled butter – 1 oz/28g
  • Bread flour – 18 oz/510g

Mix the foregoing ingredients by hand or on low in your mixer. Then autolyse for 20 minutes. After autolyse add:

  • Salt – .8 oz/ 22g
  • All Purpose flour – 16 oz/453g

Mix your salt in first and then the remaining flour. The dough will be about 4lbs 5 oz/1978g and be at 65.8% hydration. This is a nice soft dough to work with. Let the dough ferment for six hours at room temperature, folding it at least four times during the bulk ferment. Then divide the dough and shape the loaves into the general shape you wish. Allow the dough to set for 10 minutes and then do a final shaping. Place the dough into the bannetons and cover the bannetons and dough with a plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. Next morning take out the loaves one at a time staggered 40 minutes apart.

Remove the plastic bag and proof in a warm place for 2- 3 hours or however long it takes to finish proofing. Preheat your oven and oven stone to 430F degrees. Place your roasting pan lid in the oven to preheat at least ten minutes before baking.

When your dough is ready, turn it over on a peel and then push your thumb down in the middle of the dough all the way to the bottom(don’t be afraid, you can do it!). Next make four slashes around the outside of the hole.

Place the dough onto the hot baking stone in the oven, quickly spray the dough with water, then cover the dough with the hot roasting lid and bake for 20 minutes.

At this point make the glaze for the crust:


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon corn starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt

Add all of the above to a saucepan and stir it together while bringing it to a boil. Remove from heat and use this to glaze the crust.

After the 20 minutes of baking is done, take off the baking lid and brush the crust with the prepared glaze. Bake for 8 minutes more, then brush the crust with glaze again. Bake another 8 minutes. If the crust is not brown enough bake for another 5 minutes or so. Take out your beautiful loaf and place it on a grate to cool.  Return the roasting pan lid to the oven to preheat and then repeat the above for the following loaves. I know you are not supposed to but…. this bread is delicious while still warm and covered with fresh melting butter………….. 🙂

I love the Northwest, but I also love sunshine. The two don’t always go together too well…. ah….well… off to bake some more…

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  1. Linda Thompson Linda Thompson
    January 20, 2011    

    I buy the 50 pound bags of morbread flour at cash and carry, Longview for $23 or so. the last time I bought they only had 25 pound bags for $13 or so. That was about 2 weeks ago.

  2. Angela Angela
    January 20, 2011    

    Hi Teresa, these look great!

    Could you leave them rest in a couche? Also, can calico be used instead of a couche?


  3. Patty Patty
    January 21, 2011    

    After a computer crash I’ve found you again! How do you DO this–such beautiful bread!!! I need to run down some malt syrup–is that what gives you the golden crust or the glaze or both?

  4. Patty Patty
    January 21, 2011    

    And that slashing is wonderful–thanks for the inspiration!

  5. northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
    January 21, 2011    

    @ Angela, yes you can use any cloth really, as long as it doesn’t have a nap. Just rub some rye flour into it to keep the dough from sticking. @ Patty, I like to keep some malt syrup on hand for baking. It is handy to have around.


  6. Angela Angela
    January 21, 2011    

    Sorry Teresa but whats a nap? I dont think that calico sleeps? 🙂


  7. northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
    January 21, 2011    

    Ha ha, funny! A nap is when any fabric that is not smooth, like terry cloth, velour, velvet, etc. Some kitchen towels have a “pile” or nap to them which the dough would stick to.

  8. Angela Angela
    January 22, 2011    

    Thanks Teresa

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