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ElsieD

Establishing and Working with Homegrown Sourdough Starter

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This is at least 12 hours later, because I had to wait for better light. The bubbles are mostly at the surface, but if you look closely you can see find bubbles in the interior.

1413641591417.jpg

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Nancy, thanks for the pictures. This is my starter this morning. As you can see, my bubbles are very small and none are visible from the side. I plan on feeding it today and tomorrow and if it isn't a bit more lively I will likely conclude that it is not active enough and discard. Sigh.

 

post-59376-0-30604200-1413642647 Elsie starter.jpg

image.jpg


Edited by Smithy Member request (log)

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I was on the Australian Thermomix forum and came upon this thread. I just read the whole thing and apart from the fact my eyes have glazed over, there is a ton of useful information in it. I am a lot more hopeful now that I can actually eventually, some time, make sourdough bread. I hope the rest of you who are trying to make sourdough find it useful.

http://www.forumthermomix.com/index.php?topic=11126.0

Edited to add: I had configured it to get the latest messages first so page 79 is actually page 1


Edited by ElsieD (log)

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Elsie

 

The last photo you posted looked to me like a starter that had peaked and fallen back - but the photos are not at all clear. Why don't you try it and see if it makes bread?

 

I read the first couple of posts from your thermomix link. Putting your starter outside to catch airborne yeasts is a waste of time. The last thing I am is a scientist but yeasts live on surfaces i.e. the most likely source of yeast is on the substance that predominates in the mixture - the flour you are using.

 

As for making a starter from flour and water being tricky - tricky as compared with what? You mean we don't do things because they are "tricky"? Getting a starter established is the main hurdle to making sourdough - once you've succeeded you have it for life if you give it minimal care. So maybe it's worth a little trickiness.

 

Next up - I tell a joke ....

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Elsie

 

The last photo you posted looked to me like a starter that had peaked and fallen back - but the photos are not at all clear. Why don't you try it and see if it makes bread?

 

I read the first couple of posts from your thermomix link. Putting your starter outside to catch airborne yeasts is a waste of time. The last thing I am is a scientist but yeasts live on surfaces i.e. the most likely source of yeast is on the substance that predominates in the mixture - the flour you are using.

 

As for making a starter from flour and water being tricky - tricky as compared with what? You mean we don't do things because they are "tricky"? Getting a starter established is the main hurdle to making sourdough - once you've succeeded you have it for life if you give it minimal care. So maybe it's worth a little trickiness.

 

Next up - I tell a joke ....

Since this post is addressed to me, I just want to clarify something. Nowhere did I say that making a starter was "tricky" and I don"'t need a lecture, not even a mini lecture, on whether I resist doing things because they are "tricky". In my 68 years of life I have had to deal with a number of "tricky" things and have never shied away from them.

That said, the starter I made following your method sprung to life yesterday, it's eighth day. The link I posted contained a number of posts by people who thought, as I did, that their starter had died and were encouraged to keep tending it. It certainly encouraged me and I hoped by posting it that if others had trouble with theirs, that it would encourage them to stay with it. Next step: Bake some bread!

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Really sorry, Elsie. "Tricky" was used by someone else and I wasn't careful enough with the way I phrased the post. You were the first person brave enough to give this thing a go. I'm amazed that it's only been eight days.That's pretty much the length of time I would have expected before it took off.

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Not to worry, Mick.

Tomorrow I plan on baking bread. I am going to follow the method and timetable as per Mick. If I read the instructions right, I will feed it one more time tonight, put what I am saving in the fridge for future use and leave what I will be using on the counter. Now, I don't have any rye flour so I will be using a tea towel floured with white flour in a colander. I have a couple of questions and if they can be answered, I would appreciate it. After the 4 hour ferment will it have increased in size and if yes, what should I expect? Once it has been shaped and set to rise for 31/2 hours, will I expect it to be double in size? If the answer to that is yes, and it has not done so, should I let it rise longer? I know what to expect with regular bread but of course, but since this is my first time attempting sourdough, I really haven't a clue. I will post my results but in the meantime, here are a couple of pictures of my starter.

image.jpg

image.jpg

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Just a thought for anyone wanting to begin their sourdough baking with something easy from the getgo.

When we first moved to Alaska, sometime during our first week, I was gifted with what I was told was a traditional gift for "cheechakos" (newcomers) some sourdough starter that supposedly dated back to the gold rush days.

And I made sourdough pancakes at least three times a week for the first year we lived there.

They were quick, easy, and much-loved by my family.

I didn't tackle bread until I felt like I knew what I was doing.

So if any of you would like to "start small," consider pancakes.

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Thanks for that, Jaymes.  This may sound silly, but how would one go about it?  I confess to only having ever made pancakes using Bisquik™, and possibly another mix sometime or other. 

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Jaymes, I too am interested in the pancakes. I will have extra sourdough starter so would like to try it. Thank you.

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Mine isn't looking all that great at the moment. I will feed it shortly and if it doesn't look like something tomorrow I will likely discard it and give up. Or for a lark, I may just add in a bit of yeast to see what happens. I use bread flour and have been using tap water. Your post has me wondering if chlorine in the water is a problem here as well. Our water quality in this city is very good but they also use chlorine. I do have some Perrier so maybe I should try a third and final batch if this one doesn't turn out and use that as the water source?

Cyalexa, I went to the blog you mentioned and while the blogger talked about starter, I could not find how she said to go about starting one.

Mick, are you out there? Any hints?

 

Once I started using water that was dechlorinated, either using  spring water or filtered tap that I'd let sit out over night, my starters really perked up.

 

I've just refreshed a starter that was in the back on my fridge since last fall, basically. Looked disgusting, but I discarded all except a T or so, and started feeding it white flour and dechlorinated water, in a nice, clean jar.  3 days later - it's up and running.

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Jaymes, I too am interested in the pancakes. I will have extra sourdough starter so would like to try it. Thank you.

You can Google sourdough pancakes and get recipes that are all basically the same, much like this, super easy:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sourdough-pancakes-recipe.html

My family got so accustomed to that sourdough flavor that, even now years later, when I make what they call "ordinary pancakes," they complain.

BTW, while we were up there, I made sourdough fruitcake, too.


Edited by Jaymes (log)
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Hi Elsie

 

The second rise, the proof, is the crucial one. Judging the state of the dough by increase in volume is difficult unless it is in a narrow transparent container.

 

The dough will certainly expand during bulk fermentation, the first rise, but it is difficult to see if it's in a covered bowl or square dough box. Four hours should be plenty at room temperature (18-24C). The Dan Lepard method is to slash the surface and to look for gas bubbles.

 

Once you've shaped your dough and put it in a proving basket or equivalent you can test the dough by dipping your finger in flour, pressing it gently into the dough and watching how the depression behaves. If it shoots back quickly the dough is underproved. If the hollow doesn't move at all it's overproved. You want to find a point where it's still pushing but closing slowly. It's something you need to learn how to judge. Don't worry - there's a lot of latitude because sourdough works so slowly.

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Following on from the previous post:

Question: Does dough expand noticeably during fermentation? Answer:

doughflow 02 small.jpg

When I'm baking for customers I ferment my dough in boxes in the fridge overnight. I reckon to get 7K of dough in a box. But on a warm night ...

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Okey Dokey, we have our first loaf of sourdough bread. I think it's a thing of beauty but maybe not.....are there supposed to be big holes in it? The making of the bread itself was very straight forward. I followed the recipe and directions supplied by Mick and did not have any trouble except for releasing the dough from the cloth when I was ready to bake it. I was worried the dough might deflate, but it didn't. I am sitting here eating a piece and the crust is crispy, the inside nice and chewy. Very, very good. I have lots of starter left and plan on making some pancakes on the weekend and am also going to look for a cranberry/raisin type fruit bread recipe. Anyone have one they care to share?

The photo is below - that white blob is excess flour I forgot to brush off.

Thank you Mick, for all your help!

image.jpg

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Kudos, ElsieD!  Congratulations!

 

As far as I'm concerned, those big holes are to increase the carrying capacity for butter or jam.   :wink:

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Elsie, that is indeed a beautiful loaf.

 

As regards the holes, it's a matter of personal preference.  What you get is mostly a function of how you manipulate the dough when forming the loaves.  A light touch produces lots of holes.  For a tight loaf without holes, you would knead the dough more firmly.  In between, of course, produces an in between structure.

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Hey Elsie

 

That's fabulous - you've made me a happy man! Now you can forget about your starter (so long as you keep it in good condition) and concentrate on making bread.

 

You'll have to forgive me but I can't agree with pbear's comments. You can't just talk about dough - there are all sorts of dough (although my spell-check doesn't accept the plural) and they behave in different ways. In fact you can't handle all doughs in the same way because they won't let you. You have to handle wet doughs quickly and with a light hand because otherwise they stick to the work surface and your hands and refuse to be shaped. Lower hydration doughs need considerable force to be shaped properly and for folds to be sealed. Let's face it, the dough has 3-4 hours to recover.

There are a whole lot of factors involved in creating an open crumb but the main one is probably high water content.

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The best way to handle a high hydration dough, I find, is to work in a bowl using a stiff silicone spatula.  Didn't invent the technique.  Read about it here on eG, as a matter of fact, originally in the context of no-knead bread.

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I have a question as it relates to baker's percentages. I have never used them. If I understand correctly, the amount of flour I use does not matter, whatever the amount is, it is shown as 100% and then the rest of the ingredients are calculated as a percentage of that. for example, when I used Mick's recipe to make my sourdough bread, the recipe called for the following:

518 grams of flour,100%.

306 grams water, 59%

137 grams starter, 26.4%

8 grams of salt, 1.5%

If I wanted to make a loaf 1/4 of that size, would I use (numbers rounded):

130 grams flour, 100%

77 grams water, 59%

34 grams starter, 26.4%

2 grams of salt, 1.5%

So the percentages remain the same, but the quantities are different? I realize I could just divide by four but I want to know of this is how baker's percentages work. Sorry if this is a stupid question.

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That's right. I was told that the system developed in commercial bakeries where mixes were done by the sack (of flour), so all the other ingredients had to be in proportion to the weight of a sack of flour. Flours are sometimes described by their optimum hydration, so a 60% flour would be one whose optimum absorbsion rate was 60% of the weight of a sack of flour (100lbs:60lbs). Salt traditionally is 2% as is, I think, yeast. So, in a basic dough, water is the only real variable.

The reason my ingredient weights are not conveniently rounded up is because I use spreadsheet calculators to put together bread formulas, to tinker around with them and to store the final formula. So I have several "libraries" of bread by category (Regulars, Specials, Ryes, Flatbreads, Brioches, etc.).This allows me to put together a bake day worksheet which also calculates ingredient weights. This is an example from yesterday's bake:

calc sheet small.jpg

So everything is controlled by the percentage column. But I can change the bread weight and enter the number of a particular weight of bread ordered by my customers. The +3% column is there because some dough is always lost on bowls, mixers, hands and, because the bread is for sale, it has to be an accurate weight.

All of this is a lot less important if you are just baking a couple of loaves where you can just multiply or divide ingredient weights.

 

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Thank you. The detail in your post is a lot more than I was expecting. Thank you for taking the time to explain it so well. Next up I want to make buns for sandwiches. To get the number I want, I will put my new found baker's percentage knowledge to use. I did use some sourdough this morning to make pancakes and I have to say they were the best pancakes I have ever eaten. Light and fluffy on the inside and nicely crisp on the outside, and as an added bonus, quick and easy to make. I think sourdough and I are going to have a long and happy relationship.

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BTW, while we were up there, I made sourdough fruitcake, too.

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