Sourdough with Rye and Wholemeal. A Family Loaf.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently I found a Romertopf baking dish at an op shop (thrift store) for the princely sum of $4.00. These turn up frequently in second-hand stores. They have become obsolete in many households due to the popularity of electric slow cookers.  But not for the bread maker. Snap them up!

Celia, of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, inspired me to purchase one. The Romertopf baker enables a high rise, moist loaf, to be made with a fairly hydrated sourdough mix. Don’t ask me about the level of hydration here- I am not that technical, yet.

The dough
Starter, 300g , bubbly and ripe,  (read Celia’s starter notes)
bakers white flour 500g
wholemeal flour 200g
rye flour 100g
water 610 g
salt 18g

Total flour weight 800g

The Method

  1. Place the starter in a large mixing bowl, add the other dry ingredients, then add the water bit by bit, mixing by hand until there is a sticky dough and all the dry has been incorporated into the wet. You could also use a wooden spoon.
  2. Let this sticky dough rest in a large bowl for 30 minutes or so.
  3. Attempt to lift, stretch and fold the dough in the bowl. As it was  fairly wet and this was a bit tricky, I tipped the lot into a stand mixer and gave it a slow knead with the dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough was wet but silky.
  4. It then proved in a large oiled bowl, initially for 4 hours ( winter evening). As it wasn’t ready for late evening baking, I put it in the fridge overnight to slowly prove (7 more hours).
  5. The dough was ready at 6 Am.  I then shaped the loaf on a floured board for a final prove, around 1 hour.
  6. As it was growing sideways, and looking ridiculous, I tipped the lot into a Romertopf earthenware baking dish. This had been pre- soaked in warm water, then lined with baking paper. The top was slashed, the lid went on.
  7. The loaf started in a cold oven turned to 220c , for 25 minutes, then 20 minutes with the lid off, then 10 minutes at 175c. The fan was on throughout.

    Slashed and laid in the Romertopf
    Slashed and laid in the Romertopf. Wet and unpromising.

Result. One huge family style loaf, good for sandwiches and general purpose eating. Everyone loves it- it’s disappearing quickly. The Romertopf method gives the crust a golden glow.


  • very moist loaf, open crumb, golden crust, not as sour as I would like it, though sour notes improved on second day. Will do this again, and increase the rye, or introduce spelt.
  • A great family loaf, huge in size and a good keeper. Next time, I won’t use the mixer. In summer, I might attempt the whole rise in the fridge over a longer period.
  • In a discussion with a gifted baker, Craig, I seem to recall his comments about slow proving and that modern bread may be causing digestion problems due to over yeasting and fast proving. I must explore slow proving further.

    Golden crusted loaf
    Golden crusted loaf

Grazie Mille to Celia for introducing me to the Romertopf  method.

Slow Braised Squid, Peas and Tomatoes.


Every day I rise at dawn and follow the same morning rituals. I wish I could say that this included yoga or stretching or a brisk walk around the oval!  One day, maybe next week, if it’s not raining.  After grabbing the first cup of tea, I turn on the computer, check a few emails, then look at the Bureau of Meteorology ( BOM for short)  for rain, wind, and temperature predictions. This morning a nice big dark rain pattern is above me: I can hear it pounding loudly on the tin roof as I watch the colourful radar pictures on my screen. I shiver with delight.  After grabbing a coffee, and perhaps a toast, my next ritual is to plan the food for the day. I usually make a rough plan, leaving a little room for spontaneity. Before heading to the kitchen to make stock or soak beans, I check the newspapers, the Age, The Guardian and La Repubblica, the latter to check on the demise of Berlusconi. Berlusconi Vai Via.

This slow braised squid recipe hits the spot on rainy days. The fish is locally caught and sustainable and the ingredients are few. Squid is the poor cousin of Calamari. In Melbourne, squid may cost around $5-6 a kilo whereas calamari costs around $20.00 a kilo. Squid comes into its own when it it is cooked slowly for a long time.  It is cheap and slippery, just like Berlusconi.

Seppie con Piselli e Pomodori  – Squid with peas and Tomatoes.

  • 60 ml Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finley chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kilo fresh squid, cleaned, peeled, sliced in thin lengths, includung tentacles.
  • 1 cup red wine
  • pinch or dried chilli flakes or 1 chopped fresh chilli
  • 200 g peas ( frozen are fine)
  • 400g g peeled tomatoes or 1 can of tomatoes with juice.
  • 1 small bunch of flat leafed parsley, finely chopped.
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based enamel casserole. Cook the onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add the squid and stir around a little, then add the chilli, wine, salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes.
  3. Cover, then cook on lowest heat for 30 minutes, then add the peas, then cook a further 10 minutes.
  4. Add parsley before serving.

Serve with either polenta or mashed potatoes in wide bowls.

What morning rituals do you follow? Do you need tea or coffee before the brain fires up?