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Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 2)


weinoo
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Household bleach normally contains around 5% sodium hypochlorite and then a little bit of something like hydrogen peroxide. If you had a weak solution, frankly the chances that it would significantly kill the germs on your hand is pretty low unless you're soaking your hands in the solution for at least two minutes.

If your weak bleach solution had been out in an unopened container with exposure to sunlight for three hours, it's not unlikely that it was hardly more "germ-killing" than highly choridated municipal water.

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An experimental loaf I made yesterday... sourdough rye boule, locally brewed stout substituted for water. This turned out so well and tastes so good that I'm trying another one today using local extra strong porter.

3476192668_9c4485cc89_b.jpg

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Thank you! I used water for the preferment, but only stout when I built the preferment into the final dough. I guess that would make the total ratio of stout to water about 1:0.75.

About a third of the flour was rye, with the rest unbleached AP (and a handful of whole wheat).

The bread retains some of the malty sweetness of the stout, which blends well with the rye. It's got a lot of flavour. I picked a mild, sweet stout (2.8%ABV), which may be why the alcohol content didn't cause any complications.

The one I'm making now uses a strong (8.6%), dark porter. I boiled some of the alcohol off, added water to make up the difference, and made a preferment with the porter and some rye flour. I think for the final dough I might add some treacle and raisins to make a sort of sourdough malt loaf.

I'll be shocked if this one turns out properly, but we'll see.

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Thanks for sharing, Mike! I'll definitely make a stout rye loaf this week, and put up a photo of it here (if it works out reasonably well at least). I've made some variations on the beer bread in Hamelman's "Bread" book before (essentially a pain de campagne-style loaf with beer being half of the liquid), but I've never been blown away by that formula. A stronger porter, more of it and a healthy ration of rye sounds good to me. I adore the brown colour of your crust. Thanks again, and let us know how your malt variation works out!

Edited by hansjoakim (log)
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Baked the double porter loaf today... I ended up using only porter in the recipe (no water), about the same flour proportions as the previous loaf, a handful of porter-soaked raisins and a tablespoon or so each of butter and treacle. The dough rose well, and when I baked it the crust turned dark, dark brown. I glazed it with a water/honey solution, and the finished loaf looked almost like lacquered ebony. The crumb was moist, dark and chewy - very substantial. The flavour was big, rich and malty, and the sourdough tang added an interesting dimension as well. Not the kind of thing you could eat every day, but I was happy with how it turned out.

Hans, I hope your stout rye is a success! I look forward to hearing about (and seeing, hopefully) the results. I'm sure it will turn out well - plenty of both rye and porter should do the trick, I think that first loaf of mine could easily have stood up to more of both.

Edited by MikeJ (log)
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Continuing along with working on loaf sourdoughs via Ed Wood, here's one, baked this morning, that's 20% rye, 20% ww and the rest a/p. Quite tasty and getting easier all the time.

gallery_6902_5624_210064.jpg

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Hi Mike,

I baked the porter rye today, but a friend of mine is borrowing my camera for his hiking trip, so no photos today... :sad:

Well, it didn't really turn out the way I expected it to, to say the least. I used my trustworthy 40% rye formula, and substituted porter for the water in the final dough formula; apart from water in my stiff levain, all liquid comes from the porter.

What first struck me, was that the dough didn't rise as much as it usually does during bulk fermentation. I found this odd, because if anything, I thought the porter would bring in an increased level of sugars and speed up yeast activity? Anyway, I continued through preshape and final proof. Also during the final proof I noticed that it seemed more sluggish and tired than it usually does. When I put the loaf into the oven, it had reached approx. 70% of the volume I usually attain for these loaves. Still, when I poked it and studied it, the loaf looked fully proofed. Well... When loaded into the oven, I got a massive oven spring. The thing was really inflating during the first 10 mins., and had by that point reached more or less "normal" volume for these loaves. Some "rustic" tearing of the surface, but still... I was just happy the thing wasn't dead!

The crumb looks a lot like yours, Mike; a lovely, almost wooden brown colour, and the scent of the thing is amazing. There's a strong porter aftertaste to each bite. What I didn't enjoy about my loaf, however, is that the crumb feels slightly gummy, or cakey, when I chew it... There's something about the texture to the crumb that I didn't expect and don't particularly enjoy. I'm not sure what kind of bizarre chemistry has taken place in that dough prior to the bake...

I love the idea of combining porter and rye, but I had some serious issues with my trial run today at least. Mind you, I didn't cook off any alcohol prior to mixing the dough, but I was (as always) very careful with time and temperature before baking the loaf. If anyone has any idea about what might happen when a large amount of water is replaced by beer in doughs, please give me a wink :smile:

Edited by hansjoakim (log)
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Hans,

Very interesting! Based on your description of what happened to the loaf in the oven it almost sounds like it was slightly underproved - maybe the alcohol retards the activity of the yeast to some degree. I'm glad to hear it turned out well, aside from the crumb texture. Maybe the alcohol is to blame for that as well.

I think I got lucky with my porter experiments, because I've been doing some reading and issues like yours seem fairly common. If you try again, maybe it would help to use a less alcoholic porter or cook off some of the alcohol first?

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Thanks for your feedback, Mike! I would like to have another go at it, and I think cutting back on the porter is the best way forward. Maybe a lighter porter, and using 50/50 of porter/water in the final dough could be an option. After a few slices, the porter taste got pretty intense, so cutting back sounds good. I've never had any issues with the crumb in Hamelman's beer bread, and in that he calls for equal amounts of beer and water. Let's try to sober up the yeasts for the next iteration...

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Continuing along with working on loaf sourdoughs via Ed Wood, here's one, baked this morning, that's 20% rye, 20% ww and the rest a/p.  Quite tasty and getting easier all the time.

gallery_6902_5624_210064.jpg

Mitch, great looking crumb texture on that one. When you bake sourdough in a loaf pan, does it still get that characteristic sourdough crust on the bottom and sideS?

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Mitch, great looking crumb texture on that one. When you bake sourdough in a loaf pan, does it still get that characteristic sourdough crust on the bottom and sideS?

Actually not...the crust on the bottom and sides tend to be much softer, though not soft like a traditional white loaf. I really like it for its ease of slicing evenly matched slices.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Thought I'd say hi and mention my experience with sourdough.

Couple of observations first, though.

Firstly, having to restart my sourdough starter during the first trimester of my pregnancy was something I thought would prove to be very hard to do. I've had some pretty wicked morning sickness and gagging problems throughout the entire first part, so naturally I thought that the smell of the starter in the first 3 or 4 days was going to make me run for the sink. Strangely this was not so. It actually made me *hungry* for sourdough because I knew I was getting closer and closer as that smell went away to something...heavenly. I'm now the proud parent of a 10 day old very happy starter.

The second observation is that starting with whole rye, be it organic or just a good brand of stone ground, seems to be the thing to do if you want the starter active and bouncing within the two week time period. This is my second starter that I've started with rye and it works so well that it's what I recommend to people now. Rye only the first couple of days, not throwing any out, and then throw out half and feed white flour and water the rest of the time.

But anyway, on to the story...

I was having really good turnouts with my sourdough bread before, so I'm hoping that this starter will give me similar results. It seems to be giving me slow ones, but that has to do with the temperature inside my house, too. Today's sourdough is a test loaf, though, to see if I'm where I want to be for now in terms of flavor or if I should keep it going for a little longer before doing any serious baking. I wanted a sundried tomato sourdough for this weekend's turkey sandwiches.

I'm also looking forward to sneaking starter into every little thing. Banana bread, brownies, chocolate cake, muffins, and of course pancakes and waffles.

gallery_61610_6610_24958.jpg

EDIT: Had to post my UFO Bread photo. :)

Edited by Stephanie Brim (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I've started to experiment a bit with buckwheat flour, and had a go at a sourdough multigrain today:

gallery_63294_6668_52873.jpg

There's 20% buckwheat and 10% whole rye in this loaf, and the soaker is a combination of flax, sunflower, quinoa and pumpkin seeds. Mighty tasty, and I think the subtle flavour of buckwheat adds quite a lot to this loaf. Here's the crumb:

gallery_63294_6668_22176.jpg

Edited by hansjoakim (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Oooooh, I want to cry! My starter that I've had for quite some time has gone...off. Help! I moved from Indiana to Florida about 7 weeks ago. My starter was babied all along the way, being careful not to expose it to too much heat. However, it's gone...icky...now. It gets a dark colored hooch on top of it, and smells of nailpolish remover?!? It'll still bubble....I've dumped out almost all of it and "started over" with just a bit, but it still goes off-smelling once it's fermenting again. Please help...have I lost my starter? Or...what?

Thanks!

~Lisa

www.TheCakeAndTheCaterer.com

Bloomington, IN

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Oooooh, I want to cry! My starter that I've had for quite some time has gone...off. Help! I moved from Indiana to Florida about 7 weeks ago. My starter was babied all along the way, being careful not to expose it to too much heat. However, it's gone...icky...now. It gets a dark colored hooch on top of it, and smells of nailpolish remover?!? It'll still bubble....I've dumped out almost all of it and "started over" with just a bit, but it still goes off-smelling once it's fermenting again. Please help...have I lost my starter? Or...what?

Thanks!

Do it a couple more times by dumping it all out except a tsp. or two...and you might want to use some bottled water - who the hell knows what's in the water in Florida.

When I "feed" my starter, I use equal parts, by weight, of water and flour.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Went out of town for the weekend, so on Thursday I made some dough using about a cup of preferment, 3 cups unbleached white flour, a cup of water and a couple tsp of salt (I should measure more accurately, but I usually just adjust the amounts of flour and water until the consistency feels right)... Anyways, I put the dough in the fridge for three and a half days, and took it out yesterday evening. It hadn't risen much and the gluten was a little weak from fermenting for so long, but I let it come up to room temp for a couple hours, folding every 30 mins, and then shaped it and let it rise for another 2 hours. The oven spring was surprisingly good for a dough that old, and the texture is lighter than I expected as well... lots of flavour, very rich and buttery, and the a great chewy crust. I suppose you'd call it sourdough a l'ancienne, or pain a l'ancienne au levain. Sorry about the washed out colour in the pic -

DSC_0308.JPG

Edited by MikeJ (log)
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  • 2 months later...

I have a new sourdough starter. When I started the culture a few weeks ago with only water and flour I got a very bubbly starter in 24 hours - it looked like a pancake ready to turn. I was so excited to see how lively it became in so little time. I continued feeding it, and ended up with a starter that regularly doubled after feeding. It's been in the fridge for a week. I decided to use a recipe from Dan Leader, and refreshed the starter according to his instructions.

He says to ferment the dough until it is doubled, usually 2.5 to 3.5 hours. I gave up after 9 hours. (I did turn it as he suggests for a dough that isn't rising.)

In disgust, I put the unrisen dough in the fridge to deal with today. I decided to divide the dough and shape the loaves and leave them to rise. It has been 1.5 hours since they came out of the fridge. If anyone sees this in time, what do you think I should do? Leave them to rise for hours and hours and then throw them away? :blink:

The Leader recipe calls for 50% water and 62% liquid levain. The liquid levain called for 50g starter, 175g water, and 135g flour. I'm not sure what that makes the hydration.

Pictures may help:

Here is the dough in the fermentation phase:

P1010951.jpg

It was supposed to have risen to the bottom of the tape. After 8 hours, this is what I got.

P1010950.jpg

When I cut into the dough to see if it had any webbing or trapped gasses, there were none. But, in this photo you can see a big bubble. There were a few of those in the course of the fermentation.

And here is the loaf proofing, at least in theory:

P1010952.jpg

I'll proceed somehow with this, but am very disappointed. I hope someone can help me to figure out what I've done wrong. I'd like this sourdough loaf to be my everyday bread. The results, so far, make me think I should go back to yeast.

gayle28607

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I've had exactly this phenomenon happen to me a few times, but I'm not sure if I can pin down the cause. My first thoughts would be that your starter wasn't active enough, or that the proofing temperature was either too high or too low.

The other possibility that came to mind is that your starter might be contaminated. When you feed it, does it smell robust and yeasty? I find a contaminated starter often has has a slight "cheesey" smell.

I'd recommend keeping the starter out and refreshing it a few times using a low ratio of old starter to new flour and water (1:10 or so). Keep it nice and warm, and when it's unquestionably active, try another recipe - jackal10's sourdough recipe has always worked well for me.

Edit: good luck with baking the loaf you've got proofing... whenever I've baked these types of loaves what I end up with is a sort of dense fudge-y sourdough pancake, which is actually not as bad as it sounds.

Edited by MikeJ (log)
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Contaminated starter; I don't know. It smells really good to me. But then cheese smells good to me.

I am definitely going to work on making the starter more robust, though I truly THOUGHT it showed all signs of strength and health as per Jackal's lessons.

My dough temperature was 75 to 78 degrees during the fermentation period.

Your loaves look gorgeous!

gayle28607

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Contaminated starter; I don't know. It smells really good to me. But then cheese smells good to me.

I am definitely going to work on making the starter more robust, though I truly THOUGHT it showed all signs of strength and health as per Jackal's lessons.

My dough temperature was 75 to 78 degrees during the fermentation period.

Your loaves look gorgeous!

Thank you! That temperature sounds good, so I suppose it's down to the starter or the recipe. Don't be discouraged, I'm sure before long you'll be churning out sourdough loaves that will make you forget all about yeasted breads. :)

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