Sunday, 15 April 2012

sourdough with atta..tude

lately when i've been supermarket shopping i've noticed a plastic container of flour on the shelves called 'atta' flour with jimmy from masterchef smiling at me..i'd looked at the price..ha..expensive..and i'd briefly looked at the contents..but beyond that i didn't think much more about know when you see something and you don't know what it is exactly or what it's for and your mind is so full of things that you don't explore that unknown thing at the time and then you just move on..well that was me and that atta flour..

at around the same time i was doing a bit of internet searching for local stoneground bread making was a rather fruitless search until i came across an article that piqued my interest which was about four indian brothers by the name of 'grewal' who stone grind pesticide free wheat which they grow near mildura 543 kms north west of melbourne..i looked into buying the 'grewal' flour locally but most outlets i sourced on the internet were a water the camels with a packed lunch and don't wait up for me drive away..

one day i had a light bulb moment though and i decided to poodle off to see if my favourite indian grocer in footscray had's an easy 3-4 km drive from where i live and guess what..there are several op shops in the area too.. in fact it was while op shopping that i found the indian grocer..

i was pretty pleased to find that the grocer had 'grewal' flour even though it only came in 10 kgs bags..when i read the blurb about it on the bag i realised that it was atta flour..that same flour i'd seen in the supermarket..they had several varieties but the one i wanted was chakki atta which is whole wheat stone ground flour.. i checked with the staff to find out whether it was suitable for bread making and they assured me that it was so i paid the $10 and schlepped my booty back to the car with a very self satisfied and congratulatory feeling..i had found cheap, pesticide free, stoneground and locally (by australian standards) produced bread making flour..triumph..

hubris is sure to fall on it's knees and mine did when i made my first atta loaf..after i bought it i looked on the internet regarding the suitability of atta flour in yeasted and sourdough bread (by this stage i realised that it's mainly used to make indian breads) to find mixed but mainly negative responses..i went ahead anyway and made a yeasted loaf with half atta and half white flour..the resulting loaf was one of the most tasteless loaves i've ever eaten..although having said that it was nice and crunchy when toasted and my generosity with the vegemite or jam helped to camouflage its blandness..not being one to give up easily or aka stubborn i then made a sourdough loaf with a mix of white and atta flour that wasn't bad..i took that as a sign of hope..

yesterday i made another sourdough loaf with 20% atta flour and i made a change to my method by covering the bread with a metal lid for the first 15 minutes of baking..i was pretty happy with the result..the loaf rose well, the crust was crunchy and the crumb flavoursome, moist and with a density that i like..

i'll be making this bread again using the same recipe and as well i'm going to experiment with making indian's something that i've wanted to do for a long time and i do have plenty of flour to practice with..:)

i am hoping to eliminate the tearing and lifting of the crust by leaving the dough to prove longer and/or
improve my slashing technique

it was quite warm when i cut it

atta sourdough


1 tbs sourdough starter
100 gms white bread flour
125 gms filtered water

final dough
250 gms levain
200 gms warm filtered water
200 gms white bread flour
100 gms wholemeal flour
100 gms chakka atta flour
1 1/2 tbs crushed murray river salt

method levain

day 1
~mix the starter with the water and flour and cover and leave for 16 hours

method final dough

day 2
~put the levain in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water and mix well
~add the flours and mix until well combined
~autolyse for 10 minutes
~add salt and mix for 2 minutes
~rest for 10 minutes and mix again for 2 minutes
~remove the bowl from the mixer, cover the dough loosely with greased cling film and place somewhere warm and draught free for 3 hours 
~remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured bench and cut the dough into two 
~knead each piece of dough for a few seconds, cover with the cling film and leave for 10 minutes
~knead again for a few seconds and leave for an additional 10 minutes
~shape each piece of dough into rectangles about 15 cm x 10 cm then fold the four corners towards the centre and then roll each piece into an oval shape pinching the seams along the long side and folding and pressing the ends in*
~place each piece of dough between the floured folds of a tea towel, cover with cling film and leave for 3 hours or until a finger pressed into the dough leaves a clear indentation
~preheat a baking tray and an oven proof metal lid large enough to cover the bread and facilitate unimpeded rising**
~dust loaves with flour and score each with three parallel slashes 
~dust the baking tray with a little rice flour and place each loaf on the heated tray
~spray the dough liberally with water and cover with metal lid 
~bake using the bread baking function at 220 deg c for 15 minutes
~remove lid and lower the temperature to 200 deg c and bake for a further 20 minutes or until cooked

note: */** see this excellent video for shaping help and cooking information

happy monday..x

this post submitted to yeastspotting


  1. I love your passion for bread making Jane! This is a very informative post, we travel to Mildura a few times a year and I keen to track down some of this flour. You have provided some very interesting links. Also, I am hearing you on the collage for your photos, it took me months to get it right also! Worth the effort, they add interest I think :)

    1. thanks jane..i do love making bread and now that i'm time rich i can play baker as much as i want..

      i made roti last night with it to have with a curry i made and they were delicious and really quick and easy to make..such a great standby bread that would also be good as wraps for lunch or with soup..

  2. Looks good to me. I don't know if we get chakka atta flour in the UK; I'll have to keep a look out.

    1. thanks anne..i remember all the wonderful indian food available in the uk when i was living there decades ago so i'd be really surprised if chakki atta wasn't available..

  3. My friend Gill has recently been experimenting like you with making sourdough breads with Indian flour, not sure if it is the same as yours she was using a flour she calls chapati flour,might be worth comparing notes with her..... you can find her blog here.

    I think the crumb of your bread looks rather delicious, fluffy and soft, would be just the thing for mopping up casserole juices or a good curry. Maybe try making roti dal bread or something like that if you want to play around with the flour a bit too. I must get baking this week, it's been too long xx Jo

    1. hi jo..i had a look at gill's site and it looks like the same flour..i made roti last night and it was so easy and great with the curry i made..

    2. Good morning teawithhazel and Joanna.
      Your loaves look absolutely wonderful.
      Is the crumb sticky? I found when I mixed the flour with white, it produced a doughier crumb, that toasted rather well.

      And I'm so sold on atta flour, I bought a 10kilo bag. Planning to incorporate it into my weekly bake.
      I loved the result.

      Especially cooking 100% atta flour sourdough.

    3. i love playing with different flours's such fun seeing how differently flours behave in different mixes and with yeast and sourdough..

      i don't think the mixed flours produced a particularly sticky loaf gill..i'm looking forward to making a 100% atta loaf to see how it works with the sourdough starter..since you've had success i'm feeling optimistic..

  4. That bread looks absolutely delicious - l love the colour of it. Will be on the look out for atta flour now.

    1. thanks choclette..the loaf really did have that colour which is quite different to any other loaf i've's an interesting flour to experiment with and worth sourcing if you like to play with flours..