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ElsieD

Establishing and Working with Homegrown Sourdough Starter

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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.

I made sourdough pancakes this morning based on a recipe I found on-line on The Food Network. This made 8 pancakes, enough for the two of us.

in a mixing bowl, beat one egg. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar and add to the beaten egg. (Don't know why you have to mix the two.). Add 1 cup sourdough starter and mix well. When ready to cook, mix 3/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 tablespoon water and stir into batter. Cook as per any other pancake.

This made The. Best. Pancakes. Ever. Crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.


Edited by ElsieD (log)
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Jaymes, would you be willing to post your sourdough fruitcake recipe?

Sure. I'll have to dig it out. But I'll start digging.

And I'm pleased you liked the pancakes. Our family certainly does.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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Got to thinking about that sourdough fruitcake and, before I started digging through recipe boxes and notebooks and clippings, it occurred to me that we have had several chats here on eGullet about sourdough, so perhaps I should check to see if I've already posted it.

And sure enough:

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/126475-sourdough-fruitcake/

Need to add one caveat - it's been a very long time since I made it so there might be some "adjustments" that I made automatically that I didn't write down and that now I've forgotten about.

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Jaymes, this looks delicious. Does it keep like a "Christmas" fruitcake? I ask because every year I make Christmas cake for two family members and I am looking for a new recipe and this could be it. Also, can I use butter instead of shortening? I am going out today and will pick up the ingredients to make this. Thank you!

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Jaymes, this looks delicious. Does it keep like a "Christmas" fruitcake? I ask because every year I make Christmas cake for two family members and I am looking for a new recipe and this could be it. Also, can I use butter instead of shortening? I am going out today and will pick up the ingredients to make this. Thank you!

Like I said, it's been a very long time since I made it. I had to laugh when I saw "buttery flavor" Crisco. I'm not sure they even make that anymore. When we lived in Alaska, as the wife of a senior military commander, I did a lot of entertaining, and I mean a lot. At least two or three times a week, I had guests in my home - anywhere from small groups of only two or three ladies for coffee or tea to full-fledged dinners for 80 - but they all involved food, so I was always in the kitchen. Worrying about whether or not something "keeps well" was never an issue. Rather, the issue was, "do I have enough."

And, thinking back, the memories are kind of hazy, other than a wonderment that I was able to do it all. I sure couldn't now.

I just remember that that cake was very well received and, although the first time I made it, nobody had heard of it, by the time we left, had become ubiquitous at holiday gatherings.

So festive and, because of the sourdough, so appropriate for Alaska.

Sorry I can't be of more specific help.

But it's been really fun looking back on those busy years.

So thanks.

.


Edited by Jaymes (log)
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If my starter is still alive by mid-December, I'm going to try that sourdough fruitcake. It looks just the ticket for holiday family festivities. Thank you, Jaymes.

My starter seems to be very healthy right now, and my first batch of bread is fermenting in the bowl per Mick's instructions. I started rather later in the day than I should have, but I'll report back on the results this evening or tomorrow.

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Weyll, I waant yew to look at that!

 

I followed the instructions, mostly.  As noted in the previous post I started late in the morning from a starter that had been fed late the previous night.  I didn't have bread flour, just all-purpose flour.  I don't know how much that affected the strength and structure of the dough.  It seemed pretty wet.  Mick, you didn't say whether the dough should be worked on a floured work surface or not; it seemed to me that flour was necessary, so I floured my counter.

 

Sitting in the 'proofing bowl' it looked pretty wimpy:

ResizedImage_1414385517353.jpg

 

When I flipped it off the cloth and onto parchment (no rye flour to help skid it off the paddle, and I hate the smell of burning flour anyway) it didn't look any firmer or rounder.  Therefore I hefted it around and tucked the edges under to make it poof up more ... a nip-and-tuck operation for slack dough, I suppose:

 

ResizedImage_1414385516280.jpg

 

Then the slashes:

ResizedImage_1414385516679.jpg

 

Into the oven it went.  After a few minutes' thought I decided to add ice cubes in a bread pan...not because it was recommended here, but because it's been recommended elsewhere to get oven spring.

 

After baking:

ResizedImage_1414385515653.jpg

 

It could have used a bit more baking time to get the interior done properly:

ResizedImage_1414385517847.jpg

 

...but that didn't reduce the enjoyment one bit!

ResizedImage_1414385516981.jpg

 

The flavor is excellent: a good, slightly but not wildly sour bite that lets one know this is no sweet dough.  I thought the exterior was on the verge of burning, whereas the interior was not quite cooked, or just barely cooked, or almost not done.  What does that say?  Cook longer at a lower temperature?

 

OK, so it wasn't commercial-bakery quality.  It was / is very good home quality, from my Very Own Sourdough Starter.  This is a great starting point.  I'd appreciate feedback on these questions:

1.  How would using bread flour, with its higher protein content, affect this loaf?

2.  What should I do to get a more cooked interior without burning the exterior?

 

Thank you, Mick;  I'm thrilled!

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Hi Smithy

You should be thrilled - your loaf looks really good!

 

So much about baking is using your judgement. Different flours  and ovens are just two factors that make it impossible to supply a recipe and method that will work precisely the same for everyone - and that's before you bring in personal preference.

In the UK, bread flour is about 11.5% not the 14%+ that is available and I've never really understood AP flour because it's not sold as such over here. But I gather it can be quite strong.

If you found the dough quite wet you must be using quite a soft flour - nothing wrong with that. If you used a flour with more gluten it would absorb more water, so you would find it easier to handle, and it would provide more structure, so it could be easier to shape. You might get a better rise although I don't see anything wrong with your loaf.

 

Flouring the work surface is also a matter of personal preference. I rarely use flour when I'm kneading but I always use it when I'm shaping  - just enough so you are in control. Flouring you hands, which is usually overlooked by bread writers, is much more important. And any time dough starts to stick to your hands drop it on the work surface and flour your hands again.

 

You loaf doesn't look as if the crust is burning to me - but again this is personal preference. If you think it is but the centre needs more, just turn down the oven to about 180C to finish off the bake. If in doubt check with a probe thermometer - the centre should be 96C+.

 

Ice cubes? They're meant for cocktails. Bit early here yet ...

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Way to go, Nancy! Now, make some of those pancakes and report back. I bought the stuff yesterday to make Jaymes's fruitcake and took some starter out of the fridge this morning in preparation for making 6 sourdough rolls tomorrow. I scaled Mick's recipe down to what I think I need to make that number. I had frozen some of that loaf pictured above and made french toast for my husband this morning alongside his square Scottish sausage and he loved it. I had some of the bread toasted and I normally never eat white toast but this was so good I finished that part of the loaf off. That toast was so nice and crispy on the outside and yet soft on the inside. I really am excited about this bread.

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HI Mick,

 

Thanks for all the great information! Your posts have been incredibly helpful!

 

If you are trying to convert a recipe from commercial yeast to a sourdough recipe, how do you know how much starter to use? I have read that you want ~30% of the recipe's flour to come from the starter.Is that about what you would recommend, too?

 

 

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Thanks Cookman. Anyone who has found these threads useful might want to consider buying my book "Bethesdabasics - Sourdough Made Simple" details of which can be found here http://thepartisanpress.me/bethesdabasics/. The cost of mailing outside the UK is pretty dire, but you can have the pdf version on your laptop, tablet or phone for a mere £10.00.

Again, there isn't a correct answer to your question. About 30% of the flour weight is fine. On the other hand I have formulas at 100% and there are people who explore using really low percentages with longer fermentation times.

 

What you have to remember is that if you want to retain the integrity of the original recipe the ingredient weights have to remain the same, i.e., if you simply add starter at 30% of the flour weight, you have changed the proportions of the recipe.

 

This is the way I do it.

 

This assumes you have a starter at 100% hydration (equal quantities of flour and water). This calculation assumes a starter at 15% of dough weight (not flour weight). You might want to increase that as high as 30%.

 

Take your yeasted recipe and add up the total amount of flour and the total amount of liquid, add the two together and call that the dough weight. Assuming you want to use starter at 15% of dough weight, calculate what 15% is, halve the amount and deduct that from the flour and from the liquid.

 

For example, say the recipe has 1000g flour and 600g water – dough weight = 1600g (forget about salt, etc.). 15% of 1600g = 240g = weight of starter (which is made up of equal weights of flour and water). So deduct half of this, 120g from the weight of flour = 880g, and the same for the water = 480g.

 

So your recipe becomes: flour 880g + water 480g + starter 240g = 1600g. That's a starter at 27.3% of the flour weight.

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So here is a picture of the test run of the buns. Tops look a little funny because I snipped them with a pair of scissors as they were in a bun pan and they were too low in the pan for me to be able to slash them with my knife. The buns aren't quite as "airy" as the bread was and I don't know why that is as I followed the same instructions. But, there is no danger they will go uneaten. Thursday I'll be making the sourdough fruitcake that Jaymes supplied the recipe for. At least, that's the plan.

Edited: the picture I planned to post showing all 6 buns was upside down. Given that we have eaten one, now there are five.......

image.jpg


Edited by ElsieD (log)
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Thursday I'll be making the sourdough fruitcake that Jaymes supplied the recipe for. At least, that's the plan.

I hope it turns out great. I'll admit I'm a little nervous about it because it's been so long since I made it.

If it doesn't, please pm me.

But of course if it does, feel free to come back here and wax rhapsodic.

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No sourdough pancakes yet, but I baked another loaf yesterday and I am *jazzed* about it.

I've been feeding the starter daily, and I think it's a bit more active and uniformly bubbly than before. Maybe this is what Mick means by 'stable'?

IMG_20141028_084911_941.jpg

I began the loaf earlier in the morning and lost count of the 'knead 10 times' steps; instead of 3, I may have given it 4 or 5. It still tended to stick a lot, at first; I floured the counter some and my hands a lot. It had at least 4 hours to ferment after that, and probably more than 4 in its proofing basket.

IMG_20141028_184345_630.jpg

I remember being at a bread-baking class one time and watching the teacher handle the dough. She patted and handled it almost constantly as she spoke, in the way that one might handle a small, beloved kitten. She spoke of the dough feeling alive. This dough felt like that when I shaped it. Alive.

IMG_20141028_184513_309.jpg

I didn't add steam. I lowered the oven temperature to 390F from the previous 410F, and - this is the most important part, I think - used an instant-read thermometer. The bread looked and felt right from thumping it after about 55 minutes, but the thermometer said the interior was 94 or 95C. I put it back in for another 10 minutes, and got 97C. Bingo.

IMG_20141028_194837_651.jpg

Look at that color! Look at that crumb! The flavor was darned good, too. My young guests, who are about to become the housesitters for the winter, declared it 'awesome'! It was. :-)

IMG_20141028_194953_783.jpg

This loaf was bigger than the first, using the same ingredients. It also isn't quite as sour, which is a good thing (the first loaf was almost too sour.) I think the size of the loaf is due to the extra rise time I gave it. Would that also affect the flavor, or is it a function of the starter's maturity? I think it may smell a bit more mellow than it did a couple of days ago.

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That loaf is a thing of beauty. What do you use to slash the dough?

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That loaf is a thing of beauty. What do you use to slash the dough?

 

My serrated bread knife.   :smile:

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I have been following along both this topic and Mick's topic from France. And I have been attempting to get my own starter going. I began my attempts while I was still up north but was never able to get a vigorous starter. I have been trying since I got home with even less success. After a few days I get this

image.jpg

I hope you can see it. It is black mold. My containers go through the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle. My flour is a recognized brand and was very recently purchased. I use filtered water from my refrigerator. I am careful to use only clean utensils when I am feeding my starter. I have tried with both rye and all purpose. The results are the same. After a couple of days mold appears. Ideas?

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Anna, just to confirm, yes, that's unusual.  By contrast, I've done something like eighteen starters in the past two months (playing with different parameters) and haven't been mold-struck even once.

 

As for solutions, it's hard to say without knowing in detail what you're doing.  Are you using the same container for each starter or do you transfer to a clean one at least periodically?  For comparison, I use the same container for the first few days, then transfer to a clean one each time I prune back and rebuild.  Second, how are you covering the starter?  Maybe mold is getting in that way.  For comparison, I work in canning jars and use plastic storage caps screwed down and then backed off only slightly to vent.

 

To be clear, not trying to say my way is the only one or the best.  Just thinking out loud.  And it could be you're dealing with a nasty environmental contamination and nothing you do within reason will make a difference.  In which regard, did you have the mold problem up north or only at home?

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Anna, just to confirm, yes, that's unusual.  By contrast, I've done something like eighteen starters in the past two months (playing with different parameters) and haven't been mold-struck even once.

 

As for solutions, it's hard to say without knowing in detail what you're doing.  Are you using the same container for each starter or do you transfer to a clean one at least periodically?  For comparison, I use the same container for the first few days, then transfer to a clean one each time I prune back and rebuild.  Second, how are you covering the starter?  Maybe mold is getting in that way.  For comparison, I work in canning jars and use plastic storage caps screwed down and then backed off only slightly to vent.

 

To be clear, not trying to say my way is the only one or the best.  Just thinking out loud.  And it could be you're dealing with a nasty environmental contamination and nothing you do within reason will make a difference.  In which regard, did you have the mold problem up north or only at home?

I have tried changing containers daily. I have tried changing them once I felt I was getting somewhere. I am using Cambro containers with very, very tightfitting lids. The containers are new within the last six months. I did not see mold up north. But mold is not an issue in my home normally. Thanks for your interest.

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It wouldn't account for the source of the mold, but I wonder if you can discourage it by adding a bit of yogurt whey to boost the lactobacillus?

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It wouldn't account for the source of the mold, but I wonder if you can discourage it by adding a bit of yogurt whey to boost the lactobacillus?

I am trying hard to put my faith in Mick's contention that this is easy and requires nothing more than flour and water. If he can run a bakery without faffing around with his starter then I ought to be able to make a loaf of bread! But thank you for the suggestion.

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So the only constant is the flour - perhaps the bag is contaminated with mold spores.

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I have tried changing containers daily. I have tried changing them once I felt I was getting somewhere. I am using Cambro containers with very, very tightfitting lids. The containers are new within the last six months. I did not see mold up north. But mold is not an issue in my home normally. Thanks for your interest.

I'm wondering about those tightfitting lids. It needs air. It doesn't seem that anything else is amiss here, you're doing everything right. Not sure if it's the lids, it's just that I don't see a problem with any of the rest of it. I usually cover my starters loosely with saran wrap. Sometimes I'll just put a paper towel over them. Try covering them loosely and see if that makes a difference.

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So the only constant is the flour - perhaps the bag is contaminated with mold spores.

Nope. Rye and all purpose.

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I like Kerry's thinking.

 

But since you don't believe it's the flour, maybe it's the filtered water from your fridge.  Try a bottle of spring water and see what happens.


Edited by weinoo (log)

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