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Q&A -- Sourdough Bread

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184 replies to this topic

#121 Andy Lynes

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Posted 27 March 2004 - 05:27 PM

A starter from Cambridge (UK) to Milwauke? I'm very impressed. Hope you've also read Dan Lepard's bread making course notes here.

Dan was quite insistant that open texture is a bit of a fashion and that traditionaly the bakers objective was for an even, close textured crumb, so as long as the loaf tasted great you have nothing to worry about, and it certainly looks great. In terms of what you need to do to achieve a more open texture, I wouldn't like to say, but maybe Jack or Dan have some comments.

#122 jackal10

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 01:57 AM

Glad it worked! Surprises me how easy it is, even these days, to send biologically active materials about the world. The package had a clear customs declaration of "Sourdough Starter"

You are now one of the guardians of the starter, with an obligation to spread the word, and the starter to those in need...

For bigger holes:

- Make the dough wetter

- Dan Lepard has an excellent technique . Durng the bulk fermentation (first rise) he folds to dough sides to middle and then top to bottom, like a "turn" when you make flaky pastry, streching the dough slightly as he does so, He says this stretches the holes. He does this every hour for four hours. I also find oiling the dough, putting a tablespoon of oil in the bowl) helps stop it sticking.

The bread looks great, and is stll better than anything you can buy!

The actual protein content of the flour is not that important. High protein flours can adsorb more water and stay workable. KA bread flours have flour improvers (vitamin C, diastic malt) added to them. You might find adding a generous pinch of Vitamin C powder will help.

Good Luck!

Edited by jackal10, 28 March 2004 - 02:09 AM.


#123 Priscilla

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 01:45 PM

Behind the curve, but sourdough is timeless.

Baked my first sourdough loaves yesterday ... thrilling! They did not embody ultimate perfection, but they looked quite passable, and the assembled eaters gave full and a bit astounded approval, and I can see full success on the horizon!

Thanks Jackal for the starter and all the info. All the bread baking I've done over the years I'd never ventured into sourdough. But I think there's another bread-baking lifetime ahead of me!

Priscilla

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#124 Chufi

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 09:32 AM

Hi,
I don’t know if I can still ask questions here, but I’ll try.
I made my first sourdough bread today. I followed the procedure Jack described, the only difference being that I used organic rye flour to make the starter (white bread flour to make the final dough).
The starter seems fine, active, and smells fine, slightly sour.

While making the final dough, I did find that I needed much more flour than stated in the recipe to make the dough workable. It was very wet. I think I ended up adding at least 1 1/2 cup of extra flour and even more while kneading.

The problems I have were with the baking. I preheated my fan oven to 260 C for one hour. I slashed the dough with a razor, but I was unsure as to how deep the slashes were supposed to be. Put the loaf in the oven. After 15 minutes, it smelled a bit burned and when I looked, the bottom was already charred. On top, one of the slashes had sort of burst, with dough bulging out.

I took the bread out after 20 minutes otherwise the bottom would have been charcoal. I waited a couple of hours to slice into it. Now the inside looked very funny: a combination of very dense, compact, wettish dough and HUGE holes. At some spots the crust (very thin) was separated from the actual bread by a large hole. The whole thing was inedible and I had to throw it out.
What went wrong?

#125 slbunge

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 10:00 AM

Thanks for bumping this topic up on the list, I'm on my second pass at Sourdough for this season now that the temperature has fallen to acceptable levels to allow the oven to be on for hours at a time.

I'm a bit embarrassed by my poor treatment of the starter I had at the end of the spring when I last made bread. I traveled with me in the car when we moved half-way across country and it was not fed for about six months. Though there was quite a bit of liquid separation and a disconcerting color to the starter when I pulled it from the fridge two weeks ago I decided to start a feeding schedule and see if I could get it back to health. Lo and behold it worked. My first loaf with the newly energized starter was a success (success in my terms means edible though weirdly shaped). Thanks again Jack for the starter.

As far as Chufi's comment is concerned, it seems like your oven is too hot. There are lots of folks who have more experience than I, but I use a standard US consumer-grade oven (no fan) with a baking stone on the floor and the bread directly on the stone. I shoot for 450 F (232 C). That seems to be the best temperature for my loaves to allow for good crust development, some spring to stretch the slashes that I make in the loaf, and a fully baked interior after 35 to 40 minutes. I usually move the loaf from the stone to an rack in the oven for the last 15 or 20 minutes of baking to keep the bottom from getting over done.
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#126 Chufi

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 11:25 AM

I'll try a lower temperature next time. Now where the loaf burst.. would that slash have been too deep or too shallow? That slashing is a scary thing because once you've done it there's no way back.

I suppose it was foolish to think that my first loaf would be perfect, but the way this one turned out was very discouraging!

#127 slbunge

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 11:32 AM

I use a scalpel because they are available to me. I can only get a depth of maybe a little more than 1cm into the dough before I run out of blade. Ultimately I think I would like to be able to cut deeper into the dough but I haven't yet purchased one of the blades that is shown in the pictures from the course. When I cut, the outside of the shaped dough has dried because it was chilled overnight. I usually oil the blade and try to cut very quickly to get a nice clean cut through the dried out layer and into the soft dough. By the time the dough has gone into the oven (only a minute or so later) the cut portion has opened significantly as the dried outer crust on the dough appears to be containing a more pliable exterior that wants to expand.
Stephen Bunge
St Paul, MN

#128 Chufi

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 08:22 AM

Well.. the first 2 ended up in the bin but today I have baked my first real sourdough loaf! I am so excited! I was much more patient this time with the kneading and proofing.. I baked the loaf for 45 minutes on 180 C.

Posted Image

it did not raise very high but maybe that is also because the basket I used was quite large, so it was very flat when it went into the oven.
More importantly.. it tastes great.

I do have a final question about the starter, because Jack's instructions and some of the info in this thread are confusing me.
This is what I do now:

- jar of starter in fridge.
- take out 1 cup of starter, refresh this with 1 cup of flour and one cup of water. Throw the rest of the old starter away.
- from the refreshed mixture, take 1 cup to make the dough for the bread.
- the rest of the mixture, put back in the fridge.

So this is what I do when I make the bread. What if I want to feed the starter between baking sessions? How often should I do that and how much should I feed?

Edited by Chufi, 17 November 2004 - 08:34 AM.


#129 jackal10

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 10:36 AM

On various people's advise (thanks!) what I do now is slightly different to that in the unit.

1. Take out jar of starter ifrom the fridge. Stir if it has seperated.
2. Make a thick batter for the sponge (poolish) with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water
3. Stir in a tablespoon of the starter. Let it ferment for at least 4 hours (or even up to about 12 hours) at 85F, until it is well bubbly.
4. Put the rest of the jar of starter back into the fridge for next time. If it is getting low, then make a double quantity of sponge (2 cups flour, 2 cups water) and put half of the finished starter back into the jar.
5. Use the sponge to bake with.

#130 deltadoc

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 08:23 AM

On various people's advise (thanks!) what I do now is slightly different to that in the unit.
4. Put the rest of the jar of starter back into the fridge for next time. If it is getting low, then make a double quantity of sponge (2 cups flour, 2 cups water) and put half of the finished starter back into the jar.
5. Use the sponge to bake with.

View Post


Jackal10,
I've been following your advice closely and would like to ask for clarification sake if in #4 above you meant "....and put half of the finished sponge back into the jar"??

Tx,
doc

#131 SethG

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 11:44 AM

Jack, I don't think I'm following you. You seem to be saying that you put your starter back in the fridge unfed.

If you just take out a tablespoon at a time, won't it take a while to empty the jar? And, more to the point, won't the starter over time become a little sluggish, and in need of more than one feed before you can bake from it?
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#132 jackal10

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Posted 19 November 2004 - 05:03 AM

Works for me.

I bake maybe once every week or two and the mother starter goes perhaps a couple of months between refreshments.

Edited by jackal10, 19 November 2004 - 05:04 AM.


#133 yushoe

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Posted 08 January 2005 - 03:25 PM

hope it's not too late to ask a question..

with a regular (smallish) oven and no pizza stone/tiles- what temperature should the oven be at, how long in advance should I preheat the oven and would be ok to bake the bread on a cookie sheet type of surface?

thanks

#134 jackal10

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Posted 08 January 2005 - 04:55 PM

220C/430F or ovens most ovens hot as you can get it.
Preheat for an hour if you can

Sure use a cookie sheet. I sometimes use a pan, upside down as it is flatter. A thin sheet might warp a bit in the heat, but that just means the loaf looks a bit rustic.

#135 yushoe

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Posted 09 January 2005 - 01:06 AM

well... i attempted the first loaf... it was edible but that's about it. there was very little rise in the bread, which may be due to underproofing? there was also a distinct difference between the center the loaf and the outside edges, on each slice there's an outside ring that's more dry and fluffy surrounding a center that's very dense, more moist and rather gummy.. but I thought gumminess was due to overproofing? I had halved the recipe so I baked it for about 30 minutes in a 500F oven. Any suggestions? more baking time?

thanks

PS: the crust was also rather chewy and there were very very small holes in the loaf, not like the big holes shown in the pictures here

Edited by yushoe, 09 January 2005 - 01:15 AM.


#136 jackal10

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Posted 09 January 2005 - 01:28 AM

Longer proof at the right temperature - 85F plus or minus only a couple of degrees. Proof temperature is fairly critical. The dough should feel light and alive, and if you make a cut you shoud seee the bubbles.

You are cooking to short and hot. Try 420F and 45 mins.

#137 lovebenton0

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Posted 09 January 2005 - 03:10 PM

Well.. the first 2 ended up in the bin but today I have baked my first real sourdough loaf! I am so excited! I was much more patient this time with the kneading and proofing.. I baked the loaf for 45 minutes on 180 C.

Posted Image

it did not raise very high but maybe that is also because the basket I used was quite large, so it was very flat when it went into the oven.
More importantly.. it tastes great.

I do have a final question about the starter, because Jack's instructions and some of the info in this thread are confusing me.
This is what I do now:

- jar of starter in fridge.
- take out 1 cup of starter, refresh this with 1 cup of flour and one cup of water. Throw the rest of the old starter away.
- from the refreshed mixture, take 1 cup to make the dough for the bread.
- the rest of the mixture, put back in the fridge.

So this is what I do when I make the bread. What if I want to feed the starter between baking sessions? How often should I do that and how much should I feed?

View Post


Chufi, I'm wondering what prompted you to do this? Why do you throw the rest of the starter away? :blink:

I never throw my mother starter away. I feed it occasionally, let it work up at room temp, then return to fridge, if I 'm not baking sourdough for more than two weeks. Otherwise I just use some to make the sponge, a bit more sponge than I need to bake with, and add the remaining sponge to the starter crock.

edit to add: that is a tasty looking loaf there. :biggrin:

Edited by lovebenton0, 09 January 2005 - 03:11 PM.

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#138 Chufi

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Posted 09 January 2005 - 04:09 PM

Chufi, I'm wondering what prompted you to do this? Why do you throw the rest of the starter away? :blink:

I never throw my mother starter away. I feed it occasionally, let it work up at room temp, then return to fridge, if I 'm not baking sourdough for more than two weeks. Otherwise I just use some to make the sponge, a bit more sponge than I need to bake with, and add the remaining sponge to the starter crock.

edit to add: that is a tasty looking loaf there. :biggrin:

View Post


I guess I was confused by the instructions in the course. This is what it said:
To refresh the starter:

1 c sourdough starter
1 c Strong white bread flour
1 c water

For the dough:

1 c refreshed sourdough starter
3 c Strong white bread flour.
1 c water (you may need more -- see below)
2 tsp salt

It did not say what to do with the rest of the refreshed starter, after taking out the one cup for the dough. So I threw it out.. next time I will add it to the pot in the fridge.
Seeing that picture of my bread, I am reminded I have to bake again. That starter is just sitting there in the fridge doing nothing!

#139 silverbrow

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 07:39 AM

I'm a bit worried that my bread is a bit too sour. I've made a leaven that seems to be working and developing fine. The first couple of loaves I baked were sourdoughs based on Dan Lepard's recipe. The outcome was pretty good for a first time and tasted excellent.

I then baked the oats and apples bread from Dan's book. The bread itself was good, it rose properly and had what I think was the right texture - the air holes were smaller than those in the sourdough and the crust wasn't as thick, nor was it as chewy, the loaf itself was nice and moist. The problem is though that it tasted really quite similar to the sourdough, it was just slightly sweeter - or is this the right flavour for the bread?

I'm therefore concerned that my leaven might have become too sour. Is this possible? Is there anything I can do to rectify it or should I start again? Last question, I've not refrigerated my starter but have been refreshing it daily, is it possible it's gone off? Just to clarify, no-one's had any adverse effects from the bread and frankly it looked pretty darn good - all I need to do now is sort out the taste.

#140 danlepard

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 01:20 AM

Hello asilverfish,

If your refreshment of your leaven is around 1:4 or 1:5 old leaven to fresh flour and water, and the mixture is kept on the firm side at 100g - 125g flour to 100g water, then it should be fine. My leaven at room temperature between refreshments, and I recommend that you do that. If the leaven smells cleanly acidic, its healthy. If it smells in the least bit unpleasant, start again.

It's more likely that you might need to tinker with is the recipe itself, to adapt it towards the result you want. For a recipe that combines yeast and leaven over a 1 1/2 hour initial (bulk) fermentation, I find that between 30% - 45% leaven to flour gives a range from very little acidity (30%, a slight tang to the crust) to 45% (quite a dominant sourness for a commercially yeasted bread). The oat and apple recipe was intended to be quite sour - a bread to eat with herrings in cream with raw onion and dill, or shavings of salt cured meat together with unsalted butter and mustard. So the recipe uses 100g leaven to 250g flour to keep the acidity quite high. If you reduce the leave to 75g (30%), that should bring the acidity down.

Regards

Dan

#141 silverbrow

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 04:34 AM

Dan
Many thanks for replying directly.

Given your description I think basically I've done it right. When I tasted it again last night I think it was spot on - I'd had a bit of a cold resulting in things not tasting quite as they should.

btw I think the book is great. I know you say at the beginning that you had a bit of a battle being so proscriptive about recipes but it works really well.

#142 kellytree

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 12:28 PM

todays sourdough breadPosted Image

#143 danlepard

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Posted 16 January 2005 - 10:47 AM

Hello Kelly,

Great loaf (is that your oven in your avatar?). Looks like a good crust and an a big open texture. Perhaps you could extend the first rise before shaping with another stretch and turn (that will opent he texture of the crumb around the big holes), together a longer final rise. You've got a very even crust, with the thickness of the crust at the base the same as the top of the loaf. And as for the blue sky, well.... I'm jealous.

regards,

Dan (chilling in London town)

Edited by danlepard, 16 January 2005 - 10:50 AM.


#144 kellytree

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 12:19 AM

Thanks for the advice - I have a problem with the whole stretch and turn thing - I just dont get it. The techniques , the whys and the hows-- I have read all about it but I know it is something that I have to see in 3d with my own eyeballs to understand.
Its like making homemade pasta - for me the only way to really learn was to go to my neighbors house and watch her do it.

Having said that if anyone is in the area (central Italy) and wants to come over and do some stretching and turning of dough let me know.

... yes that is the oven that I use for bread and pizza ect.

#145 jackal10

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 01:54 AM

Turning is easy, and makes much better bread. It is a gentle form of kneading and stretching, and introduces some air of its own.

Every hour or so during the bulk fermentation only (the fermentation after mixing but before shaping the loaves), but not during the second proof stage, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and fold it in three side to side, then top to bottom, as though you were making a turn (but without the butter) for flaky pastry or croissants:

Posted Image

Then put it back into whatever container you are fermenting the dough in.

Edited by jackal10, 17 January 2005 - 01:56 AM.


#146 kellytree

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 02:06 AM

I tried the turning and stretching thing once - I think I did it with the wrong attitude ... the whole time I was thinking well this is dumb- whats the point?
(yes I know the point of it has been explained various times on the message board)
It didnt make any difference in the bread - but like I said maybe it was an attitude problem. A friend of mine is convinced that the only way to get a good bread is to be positive when you knead the bread so that the positive vibes go from your hands to your dough (this is the same person that stuck rocks on her belly for 3 weeks to get rid of a toothache).

#147 silverbrow

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 11:41 AM

My leaven keeps exploding. I keep refreshing it, it's looking and smelling healthy but has recently started exploding. It's being kept in an airtight pot yet somehow continues to seep out despite that.

Anyway, why is it doing it? Does it imply a problem and if so, how do I stop it?
thanks

#148 jackal10

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 11:48 AM

Don't keep it in an airtight pot
Keep it cold - in the fridge
Make it wetter - 100% hydration, like a batter, then the gas can escape

#149 fiftydollars

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 01:55 AM

I want to make an authentic loaf of san francisco sourdough. So I am trying to start a mixture of flour and water per the course and I'm not sure how well it is going.

I started some flour by combining roughly equal amounts with water and leaving the mixture in a warm spot in San Francisco until it bubbled. It has been about 6 days, the mixture bubbles and smells a bit acidic... although I might not describe it as a "clean acidity" as someone described above. It is a bit slow (by comparison- see below) and by the time I feed it again, what was a relatively tight batter/wet dough, turns into a veru runny batter... like thick tempura-ish.

I also have a starter I purchased in an envelope (Goldrush- San Francisco-Style Sourdough Starter made by the same company that sells Marie Callender's corn bread mix) and it is very different than the stuff I purportedly might have caught in the wild. The stuff is a lot more active and although it does settle into a puddle of bubbly glop, it has a lot of strands of dough and as I try to stir it, it comes together and is definitely not runny. I have fed both of them the same type of flour and pretty much treat them the same way. They smell similar, but in almost every respect they are quite different. I realize they ARE different, but I wonder if my wild yeast is normal. I read in Cook's illustrated that it takes about two weeks for the starter to develop properly and it's only been half that time... but am I getting there?

Should I just keep to the stuff out of the envelope? It's from San Jose and for most that's probably close enough...

#150 jackal10

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 02:14 AM

Personally I would use the one you captured ....if its active you can start to bake with it.
Personally I don't like the Goldrush starter. I think its mainly for asale to the tourists, although they did do pioneering eductional work.
After a while whatever starter you begin with will evolve to your own, adapting to your flour and your feeding regime.

If you are in SF why not beg some starter or a piece of dough from one of the bakeries, like Acme, or visit SFBI http://www.sfbi.com/





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