Zacky, sure, and thanks for the kind comment - but so much of the credit goes to our very own sourdough clinic, for so much of this. If you haven't come across this, I found it a fantastic resource:EG Sourdough Clinic
One key thing I learned from the thread is the value of not
knocking back the dough during bulk fermentation. The stretching of both glutens and entrapped bubbles was very interesting, to me, and an entirely new technique from all I remembered as a kid. If anything - and I know this is debated - I tend to try
for entrapping additional air when folding over - I stretch and then "fwap" the dough a bit, to create a pocket of air, if possible, at each fold. Could be my being a former brewer...with aerobic phase of yeast being the generative phase, before going into anaerobic fermentation. I like a lot of growth in yeast, as opposed to dosing heavier at the start, because it's in growth/yeast budding and daughter cells that so much of the flavor by-products are kicked into the mix. Sorry if this is redundant information.
Anyway, once a week I take a couple of tbsp of my starter, and add enough flour and water to make for a fairly thick, renewed starter (thin for a first feeding, but I toss a final amount of flour and refrigerate whenever I feel the starter is renewed appropriately..the thickness makes it "tough" for yeast, and slows metabolism accordingly...just a hunch, to keep the starter churning slow but steady until my weekly bake). I will repeat this process, if necessary (discarding all but a couple of tbsp., with a small reserve in case my "new" starter gets accidentally killed, toasted, etc.), if I have for whatever reason let the starter autolyze by staying dormant on depleted nutrients too long. To be honest, though, even when gone unfed for 3 weeks, and I detect a strong whiff of acetone and other staling compounds, I still get a renewed starter back pretty easily.
Anyway, I'd encourage you to check out the above thread, if you haven't. I deviate very little from that - the only thing I did do differently is a 1 1/2 hour temper and final proofing, whereas Jack (Jackal10) gets fantastic bread by just dropping in his (I'm salivating) brick oven directly from the cooler. When I do that.....lol...I get what my wife affectionately calls "boob bread." For obvious reasons:
(Ahem...on the right, compared to the left).
Outside of that, my home oven has brick tiles down on the wire rack, I pull the bread for 1/2 hour, turn the oven to 500F, allow to preheat for 1 hour; bread then gets 1 1/2 hour total final proofing. When ready, I fill a wine bottle with about 1c of hot water - I previously heat the bottle so the water doesn't cool - stroke the tiles with a decent slathering of hot water via kitchen towel; drop the levain on a cardboard - yep, have never gotten around to getting a wooden one - peel, slash, drop in the oven and dump the water onto my now-fried iron crepe pan on a tile on the bottom. Drop immediately to 400, and pretty consistently go to 50 minutes, turning it with 15 minutes to go very quickly, as our apartment oven is crap and this aids an even crust browning.
poolish: 2 tbsp starter, 1/2c KA bread flour, 3/4c water.
dough: the above, added in toto
to 22.5oz KA bread flour, 2.25oz rye, and 13 oz. water. My back is fried, so I am limited in my ability to knead and use a processor for a 25-30s mix, only. Per the thread, rest 1/2 hour, then add 1 1/2tbsp salt, re-mix an additional 25-30 seconds, avoiding warming both times. Toss into oiled bowl, every hour, stretch and "fwap" fold for 5 hours. Drop into floured banneton - mine is some straight canvas lining a wicker basket from a dollar store - retard for 12-18 hours, temper and proceed as above.
I do want to stress I'm no baker, though it was my earliest cooking love (we're talking 8-9 years old...a, uh, fairly long time ago), so tap the expertise of Jackal's thread, and others, over yours truly's paltry contributions. I also love The Fresh Loaf - an entire sub-forum on sourdough and starter: The Fresh Loaf - Sourdough
Edited by paul o' vendange, 11 October 2010 - 06:16 AM.