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ElsieD

Establishing and Working with Homegrown Sourdough Starter

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DianaB, that is a beautiful boule! Congratulations! I'm glad you found this topic.

I still have my starter from Autumn 2014, and bake from it every week or two. In addition to the active starter that traveled with me last winter I have 2 batches that I split from it and froze as insurance when it was established. Someday I'll thaw and revive one and compare it to the current starter to see whether the flavor has changed.

My starter has had some brushes with death due to lack of feeding and too-warm room temperatures. I've settled into a routine, more or less, of storing it in the refrigerator and feeding it weekly unless it's starting to look too puny: runny, or worse yet developing a layer of free liquid on top - the "hooch" mentioned earlier. If it starts to look runny I feed it earlier: 1 part starter, 1 part water, 1 part flour. If it starts throwing off hooch I feed it earlier also, but double the amount of water and flour. Since I began refrigerating it I haven't needed to feed it more often than twice weekly; at room temperature it was a daily occurrence. When I'm getting ready to bake I feed it a day ahead of time, and let the smell and the amount of starter I'll need determine the proportions of starter to water and flour.

I'm still a novice. I'm not nearly as disciplined or practiced as many of the other bakers here at eGullet, and I look forward to their answers.

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Thanks so much for your advice Smithy, that sounds like a good approach to adopt. We were delighted with our first attempt at sourdough (DH and I). Might have another attempt tomorrow. The starter is bubbling nicely now it is back to room temperature but refrigeration in between sounds like the right way for us.

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I usually use my starter every weekend, so on Wednesday I will remove it from the fridge and feed it at 1:5:5 (starter/water/flour), leave at room temperature, repeat on Thursday, on Friday make a sourdough sponge, then bake on Saturday. Starter gets a 1:5:5 feed and then back in the fridge on Friday for a rest :) I've also left it for weeks at a time in the fridge with no obvious adverse effects on the starter. Probably wouldn't do this regularly though ;)

 

I don't bother checking the pH of the starter, if it's active, bubbling and smells good then it's likely ok - the easiest way to check your acidity (IMO) if you don't have pH strips is to mix a little starter with water and put a bit of baking soda in it - soda should fizz up immediately if there's acid present.

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keychris, thanks for weighing in. Your proportions show one of the things that fascinates me about sourdough: the variations in how to handle it. I generally use the 1:1:1 because that's what Mick promoted early in this topic; somewhere along the way I picked up the 1:2:2 proportion. Another member, an experienced and accomplished baker (judging by photos), uses 1:3.75:3.75 with a longish ferment. (Translation because the formatting is clumsy: for 60g starter, refresh with 225g each flour and water.)

So far I've been playing as I noted above with 1:1:1 and 1:2:2 and starting to relax a bit about the proportions - as in, by accident I've gone to 1:1.5:1.5 (50% more flour and water than starter, instead of equal amounts or double) and realized the world wouldn't end. How did you arrive at 1:5:5, and what difference do you think that makes to your end product?

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Yes, what we need are mature starter owners rather than mature starters. The main thing is to make sure you don't starve them (the starters not the owners) by adding at least the weight of the starter in flour when you refresh. Apart from that do what suits you and what you can get away with.

 

Mick (back in SW France)

 

Mick

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boule 003 small.jpg

 

Not the most spectacular of loaves but consider its history.

 

Last Friday I put some starter in a freezer bag and left it overnight. Saturday it went in the hold luggage of a flight from Liverpool to Bordeaux. When we reached Arcachon I just lobbed it in the fridge. On Monday I refreshed it and left it on the counter top. Tuesday I knocked up a dough at 100% hydration using T65 flour and put the dough in the fridge. Yesterday (Thursday) late afternoon. I shaped it and turned on the nasty little microwave/convection oven we have here to what it claims to be 230C. As soon as it came up to temperature a mere 10 minutes later the dough went in the oven.

 

Not really many rules left to break here.

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DianaB, that is one beautiful loaf.

 

Haven't been baking as much sourdough the last couple of months.

 

 

 

I hadn't fed my starter in about six weeks.  So I fed my starter and I also fed the discard. I fed them both again the next  morning and they went into the fridge. My starter is fed with locally milled organic rye.

 

The next day  I used 100g of starter in a 750g batch of dough (700g bread flour and 50g rye) at 72% hydration. NO YEAST.

The dough went into the fridge for an overnight rise.

It came out of the fridge at 3:00 AM and the bread was out of the oven just before 8:00 AM.

 

Sourdough%20August%2018th%2C%202015%207-

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Quite right Anne. NO YEAST in sourdough.

figue 008 small.jpg

Celebrating this homemade starters 16th birthday with a Fig and Goat Cheese Brioche. Don't you just love the way it is so over-stuffed the filling is just bursting out.

figuecrumb 003 small.jpg

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The rest of the brioche dough stayed in the fridge overnight and today became two burger buns and a brioche jambon de bayonne baked in a coriander (cilantro} box.

brioches 001 small.jpg

The burger buns in action:

 

mickhat 004 small.jpg

 

Big Sunday market in Arcachon tomorrow. Stock up on someone else's bread.

 

Mick

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I had neglected my starter again. So Thursday night I fed it with fresh milled organic rye and I also fed the discard with half rye and half white. Left  out overnight and by early morning they had both more than doubled.

  

Friday morning I fed them both again, this time with white.  

 

Feeding%20Sourdough%20October%2030th%2C%

 

They had both almost doubled in three hours.  They went into the fridge when I left for work.

 

Friday evening, I used 100g of starter in 750g flour at 68% hydration.   The dough went into the fridge for an overnight fermentation.  

 

Sourdough%20October%2031st%2C%202015-L.j

 

It had almost doubled by morning. 

 

I had to work Saturday, so my son took the dough out of the fridge at 3:00 PM so that it would be ready for me to bake last night.

 

Sourdough%20October%2031st%2C%202015%201

 

Bread came out of the oven around 9:30 PM

 

Sourdough%20October%2031st%2C%202015%204\

 

Sliced this morning.

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You get beautiful color on your loaves, Ann_T. What temperature(s) do you use?

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Thanks Smithy.  I bake on a stone at 500°F.

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Been back two and a half weeks now. Put the starter through the same degrading treatment in reverse (tied into the corner of a freezer bag, buried in hold luggage, subjected to a trainload of Saturday Night drunks for four hours, rail replacement bus, etc.). But it bounced back better than we did after the first refreshment.

 

In France we quickly got into a sensible bread routine. Stock up with bread from the one decent Sunday baker’s stall, so good it will last through the week, and pad that out with briochey type breads suited to the softish flour available in the supermarkets for fun and pleasure.

 

Still baked the odd campagne:

camp sea 004 small.jpg

 

Pizza (in this oven you bake the base first before adding the topping):

pizza 001 small.jpg

 

Fig, Jambon de Bayonne and Roquette Flatbread:

fig 003 small.jpg

 

Enriched doughs: the crumb of the Jambon Brioche shown in the earlier post:

briochecrumb 001 small.jpg

 

A soft Tahini, Butter Bread. This is a Dan Lepard bread from Le Comptoir Libanais by Dan and Tony Kitous, an excellent Lebanese cookbook, that I’d been meaning to convert to natural leavening for some time. They ended up stuffed with lamb:

tahini 001 small.jpg

 

Finally, the owner of our little gite, a very charming retired French judge, brought round some delicious apples from a friend’s tree. So he and the neighbours were presented with apple brioche where the milk was replaced by a Normandy cider/pureed apple/honey reduction. I have to say it was very good:

pommebrioche 001 small.jpg

 

The point of this ramble is this. You might remember that this thread grew out of another I started in France last year where I made a starter from scratch and encouraged other people to have a go. I have a feeling that not many have maintained their starters and still bake sourdough bread. But that doesn’t matter. Possibly some did.

 

All I am trying to show is that sourdough is not difficult, it is reliable, can be manipulated to fit in with your routine even when you’re on holiday (with judicious use of the fridge) and that there’s a lot more to it than churning out the same old white, crusty bread for years on end.

 

Thank you and Good Night.

 

 

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So he and the neighbours were presented with apple brioche where the milk was replaced by a Normandy cider/pureed apple/honey reduction. I have to say it was very good:

 

When you do something like this, do you make any other changes? Milk is very different than a cider/honey reduction. Anything done to accomodate those differences?

 

My bread flour starter that was in the freezer for several months is now bubbling away, I'll probably bake this weekend. But the rye starter didn't make it, alas. I'll be starting a new one. I would have expected the opposite since rye starters are so easy, but there ya go.

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Hi Cakewalk

 

No I didn't make any allowances for the difference in the liquid but it was a pretty casual baking session.I think I retarded the dough during fermentation and definitely for the overnight prove.

 

I stored my starters in the fridge for about five weeks while we were away. The wheat starter bounced straight back but the rye took a couple of refreshments and a few days which surprised me too.

 

Mick

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I've been playing around with preferments again.

 

Friday morning I mixed one tablespoon of my starter into 200g of flour and 200g of water and left it to develop for the day.   Friday night I added the starter to a 750g flour and 487g of water and 20g of salt.

 

Sourdough%20November%208th%2C%202015-L.j

 

Left in the fridge until Sunday and baked Sunday night.  

 

Sourdough%20November%208th%2C%202015%20s

 

Two baguettes and

 

Sourdough%20November%208th%2C%202015%20K

 

one Kalamata olive baguette.

 

Saturday morning, I did the same thing, but used two tablespoons of starter in the preferment.  Added to a batch of dough Saturday night. 65% hydration. (800g flour/450g water/22g salt)

 

Sourdough%20November%209th%2C%202015-L.j

 

Baked Monday.

Sourdough%20November%209th%2C%202015%20s

 

Sliced this morning for breakfast.

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Oat & Honey

 

A bit more complicated than basic sourdoughs. Uses oats three ways. First you make a porridge. Then you add toasted oats. Finally the dough is coated in oats.

oatcouche 002 small.jpg

To coat the doughs you need two trays, one is lined with a wet tea towel and the shaped dough is rolled in this before being rolled again in oats in the second tray.

 

Proved doughs after three and a half hours:

oatproved 001 small.jpg

Finished breads|:

oatbaked 001 small.jpg

Mick

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Mick - when you say you make a porridge, is that the same thing as a soaker? Is it actually cooked, or do you just let it stand in water overnight? And when you add the toasted oats, are they whole or ground? Those loaves are very nice. A friend has asked me to bake bread for Thanksgiving dinner, and she wants something "with a lot of grains and seeds and whole wheat." I've been playing around with soakers, but I've been cheating and using yeast.  :blush: I'd love to do a grainy, seedy sourdough! I don't see how it could get off the ground (so to speak) without some bread flour and/or some yeast. Any advice? 

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Hi Cakewalk

 

Yes you cook it and the toasted oats go in whole.

 

If you can wait until tomorrow I can give you my Multigrain formula - 50:50 wholemeal/strong white bread flour/four grain soaker.

 

I have to crank up my Thanksgiving bread (pecans/cranberries/bourbon) for my American customer in two weeks time!

 

Mick

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Multigrain
 

Dough
multigrain dough crop.jpg
Soaker

multigrain soaker crop.jpg

 

Make the soaker a few hours in advance of the dough and allow to cool.

 

Use your usual method for mixing and kneading the dough (I do three short bursts of ten kneads in total for pretty much any dough).

 

My timings in a moderate climate would be four hours (or retarded overnight) fermentation and three and a half hours prove, followed by fifty minutes @ 210C.

 

Sprinkle a little of the same grain mix in the bottom of the proving basket.

multigrain.jpg

Mick



 

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Thank you so much. This is next weekend's project. And I guess it has to work, because it's the last weekend before Thanksgiving. I will probably have questions for you during the week. But for starters: what are jumbo oats? I have regular rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant), which I figure will do the trick, no? I will probably refrigerate overnight, I can never work out a sourdough in one day. The one thing that is really glaring at me is the salt. I am tempted to double it. Would that completely kill the dough? When do you add the soaker? At the same time as mixing the dough together, as long as it's cooled down?

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Hi Cakewalk

 

It's no more complicated than making a straight white sourdough. The reason for soaking the grain is so that it doesn't draw water from the dough which should be able to stand alone so, from that point of view, it shouldn't be adding water either. (Health freaks would also say that it makes the bread more nutritious by making the grain more digestible but that's not my concern.) The cooled soaker goes in at the same time as the other ingredients.

 

Jumbo oats are just large rolled oats http://www.mornflake.com/our-oats/types-of-oats.aspx

 

Salt in bread is usually reckoned at 2%. I have reduced mine to 1.7% because customers are very aware of salt these days. Doubling it won't hurt the dough.

 

Mick

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focrumb 002 small.jpg

A fine tombstone of a focaccia made from scrap dough. Monday night I made a batch of 80% hydration dough for pizza and put it in the fridge. Thursday I made pizza. Saturday it was time to either sling the remaining dough or bake with it. Poured the dough into a baking tray, poked in some rosemary, dimpled the dough with my fingers, poured over a few tablespoons of olive oil/water/salt emulsion and, as soon as the oven was up to 250C, wacked it in.

crois 003 small.jpg

On a more subtle note, first attempt at croissants for about 15 years. Not quite as good as the photo pretends but a reasonable starting point. Starter at 35%.

 

Mick

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Well that dough came out of the fridge this morning looking and feeling exactly the same as it did when it went in last night. My starter looked fine and bubbly to me, but something happened between then and now. I wanted to save it somehow, so I added a bit of yeast and water. I'll see what happens and wing it. The flavor of the dough is very nice, shame to waste it. (I ended up using 10 g of salt.)

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