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Q&A -- Sourdough Bread

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Thank you for the encouraging words. I’ll bake up some bread with my own starter and I’ll see what happens.

Baking my own authentic San Francisco sourdough is my goal (I don’t actually live IN San Francisco, but as I am so obsessed with authenticity, the flour was purchased and cultured in San Francisco to hopefully insure that the mix is indeed infected by authentic microbes. I’ve heard the bugs infect the whole SF Bay Area, but I don’t want to tell people this is Authentic San Francisco Bay Area Sourdough Bread anymore than I want to say it is authentic San Francisco-style sourdough bread. I want to be able to simply call it San Francisco Sourdough with no measure of inaccuracy (at least in terms of lineage)… and I hope the bugs don’t vary by neighborhood. I don’t want my financial district bugs deemed inferior to the bugs in more scenic locales or more popular neighborhoods). But a secondary goal is to actually succeed at some form of bread-like substance, which to some extent I have. The Goldrush did yield a pretty good round of bread. But I felt cheap and dirty using it… so if I am going to keep starter around as a pet for a while, I want it to be a pure bread (in this case a stray).

I did ask the good folks at ACME if they would sell or give me a bit o’ starter and I was firmly (rudely, actually) rejected. Of course, we have many good bakeries around here and at some point I will try to put the rejection behind me and go and ask a kinder, gentler, baker for help (I realize the starter is their “special sauce” in a way, but give me an effin’ break. I’ll be buying my baguettes from someone else, for a while as recalling the event brings back a flood of angry indignant feelings).

Thanks for the information and link on the SFBI, but I especially thank you for your course. It lured me into baking some bread and I appreciate that.

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I have been making bread from Nancy Silvertons book for several years, some suggestions in this thread has improved my bread. But I would like to make a Kamut sourdough bread, but it never works out? The bread is grainy and falls apart! What do I have to modify when using Kamut flour?...I tried playing with the quantities of starter but have yet to succeed.

Thanks for your help

Cheers,

stef.

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The acid in the sourdough degrades the gluten in the Kamut; kamut gluten is not good for making bread.

Most kamut recipes mix with a high gluten variety, such as 50:50 with Spelt or a hard wheat flour.

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Personally I would use the one you captured ....if its active you can start to bake with it.

Personally I don't like the Goldrush starter. I think its mainly for asale to the tourists, although they did do pioneering eductional work.

After a while whatever starter you begin with will evolve to your own, adapting to your flour and your feeding regime.

If you are in SF why not beg some starter or a piece of dough from one of the bakeries, like Acme, or visit  SFBI http://www.sfbi.com/

I have used the starter from Sourdough International (www.sourdo.com). It is very good, but I prefer to use their Italian ones. Those are fantastic

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Hey everyone,

I've been reading anything i can find on egullet about sourdough breadmaking, and it's been very informative! Now i'm hoping someone can help me with my problem.

I've been attempting to make sourdough bread for months now. Everything goes well up to a certain point... the yeast is nice and active, it has a wonderful smell, the taste is phenomenal, but for one thing: the bread doesn't rise. It comes out like a brick, and it's driving me insane!

I followed the instructions in the course by Jackal10 on egullet to the letter, including retardation and putting it on a pizza stone in a hot oven (i did get some good oven spring!). The texture is just far too heavy, with teeny tiny holes. I got better results from this method than the other method i was using though, which involved letting the yeast culture sit overnight before making your bread. This resulted in a gorgeous sour flavour, but of course meant the bread wasn't about to rise at all.

But with this one, i just let it sit for four hours. It had a sour hint to it, but not much at all. Does anyone have any suggestions? My culture's in the fridge now, and i'm thinking of trying again this weekend. I just bought a new digital camera, so i'm going to photo-document the process this time.

I've been thinking of trying the 'tablespoon of sourdough starter' method instead of the 1c i've been using. Might that help?

thanks for all your help. It's been VERY educational already, even if i still get bricks instead of bread :)

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Hard to tell what is wrong without knowing what you are doing exactly, but there might be several possibilities

a) Something is killing the yeast. Are you using high chlorine tap water, for example?

b) Too high a temperature. If the dough gets above abut 100F at any time the yeast will start to die

c) Not fermenting or proving long enough, or too cold. Needs to be at 85F (dough temperature).

I'd

1. Let the sponge sit until it was well bubbly

2. Let the bulk fermentation stage run until when you cut into the dough with a sharp knife you can begin to see little bubbles. As a first approximation try doubling your fermentation time

3. Prove overnight in the fridge.

Lets have lots of details and pictures, and the experts here can try and help.

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Thanks for the quick reply!

Well, i'm definitely trying again this weekend. i'm going to go get some bottled water to try, so i shouldn't have to worry about chlorine. I do live in the middle of the city, so that's a possibility.

And i've gotten out a thermometer, so i can try and keep things at the right temp. I'll be sure and take lots of pictures to document the process.

I'll get this right yet!

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(@*#($

Defeated again. Before i even started, this time.

My fridge seems to have two settings: freeze everything, or let the ice cream melt. When I went to get my starter this morning, it had a skin of ice on top of it. This could not be good.

I went ahead and poured it into my bowl, refreshed, and set it into the oven with a tealight to ferment. Normally, my culture produces bubbles very quickly, but after an hour, i had NOTHING. Not one measly bubble. Something was obviously very wrong. The temperature in the oven was holding steady at ~85f according to my thermometer, so i went about my day. I had a few errands to run. When I returned two hours later, the thermometer read 95f, and there was still no action in my sponge.

I killeded it :blink:

I've got a fresh batch of unbleached organic flour and spring water out to catch now. My starters usually develop very quickly, so i'll be ready to try again in a few days.

In the meantime, any recommendations on how to maintain a steady 85f temperature for someone who doesn't control their own heating? I live in an old radiator heated apartment where the landlord controls the heat. While I'd be willing to turn it up to heat one room to 85f for a day, it just doesn't work that way.

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Airing cupboard? Over a pilot light?

Picnic cool box and a big pan of hot water inside

If you want to be more sophisticated, then a low wattage lamp bulb and a thermostat.

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No pilot light or airing cupboard unfortunately :/

i'll try the cooler and hot water idea. Thanks!

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No pilot light or airing cupboard unfortunately :/

i'll try the cooler and hot water idea. Thanks!

i have had good results using my oven with just the viewing light turned on also.

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Jackal10 was kind enough to Airmail me some starter a month or so back. It arrived a bit off, but after 3-4 feedings, I was able to get it bubbling and smelling great. Followed his lesson to a T, and it came out fantastic.

Only alteration was no basket...so I used a mixing bowl with a dish towel (clean! :wink: ) for the overnight proof.

Set the oven to 440, and baked for 42 mins. Right out of oven:

gallery_27403_1073_158462.jpg

And cut into it about 10mins later:

gallery_27403_1073_345767.jpg

Feedback? I am excited about my first breadmaking experience! :biggrin:

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Oh, ewhite77, how elated you must feel! Congrats!

How long was the period of your 3-4 feedings? I received Jack's starter last Wednesday. It hasn't shown any sign of life yet :sad: . I'm really DYING to make my sourdough bread.

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Oh, ewhite77, how elated you must feel! Congrats!

How long was the period of your 3-4 feedings? I received Jack's starter last Wednesday. It hasn't shown any sign of life yet  :sad: . I'm really DYING to make my sourdough bread.

Each feeding was at least 4-6 hours. I think 2 of them were overnight, which for me is probably 7-8 hours. I should note that after the last time, the culture had a lot of good bubbles and a great smell.

I took that and put it in the fridge over the weekend. When I started his steps on Monday (with refreshing the starter), it picked up right where it left off, quickly getting a ton of good bubbles (almost a froth).

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Thanks for your reply. But, did you start feeding #2 after you saw bubbles or did you just went ahead and fed it without any sight of bubbles?

sign (and sigh)

Desperate in Kuala Lumpur


Edited by Tepee (log)

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Oh, ewhite77, how elated you must feel! Congrats!

How long was the period of your 3-4 feedings? I received Jack's starter last Wednesday. It hasn't shown any sign of life yet  :sad: . I'm really DYING to make my sourdough bread.

Each feeding was at least 4-6 hours. I think 2 of them were overnight, which for me is probably 7-8 hours. I should note that after the last time, the culture had a lot of good bubbles and a great smell.

I took that and put it in the fridge over the weekend. When I started his steps on Monday (with refreshing the starter), it picked up right where it left off, quickly getting a ton of good bubbles (almost a froth).

After the 1st feeding, there were very few bubbles. Each feeding got progressively better though. I read some from the Sourdough FAQ which helped explain some of the science behind the yeast growth. That made the prescence or abscense of bubbles make a lot more sense.

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Very comprehensive list of FAQs! Thank you very much.

Jack kindly offered to send some more, but, I'm determined to resuscitate whatever I have on hand (for now....).

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Glad to report that the starter is looking good now after 3 refreshments since my last post :biggrin: . I've a feeling I know what went wrong. I unwittingly almost did it in using flour which was not so fresh for the first feed. Last night, I opened a new bag of flour to refresh the starter, and voila, it started bubbling happily.

<<Raising up hand to ask 2 questions>>

When we do the turns (after the 2 hour or so rest), after each turn, is the dough left on the board to rest covered with cloth, or should it be transferred to a basket/bowl and covered?

Since the board is floured each time, can the dough ever be over-floured? Forgive me if I'm not making sense.

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I keep the dough in a bowl between turns. Since the dough is so wet, it would spread out all over the board if you just left it.

DSC00337.JPG

Dan Lepard putting the turned dough back into its container (a large plastic tupperware like box). Note also the light flouring on the baord

From http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=30269

The flouring is very light - just to stop the dough sticking. I foten use no flour at all


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Aaaaaaah....I see. Thanks, Jack! Targeting to make my 1st sourdough bread on Saturday. Wish me all the best!

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Ta da!

gallery_12248_1090_19765.jpg

gallery_12248_1090_9176.jpg

And now, for my 15 minutes of fame..........

First of all, I'm very grateful to all involved in this thread, to Jack (of course! For his excellent course), Dan Lepard, Samuel Kinsey and everyone who had put in their experience.

The first time I saw this course was more than a year ago. I always thought it was a good read but impossible to happen because of the distance the starter will need to travel. However, Jack convinced me of the endurance of the starter and he sent me some...took 5 days via airmail. I literally dropped everything to refresh the starter the moment I got it. It didn't respond...for....a...whole....8....days. Slight bubbling initially, then zilch. I wasn't about to let it die on me, so I pressed on to feed it. Second feed, still nothing. Then, I ran out of flour and opened a new bag. Bingo! That gave the starter a new lease of life. Things happened at a dizzying speed after that. 3 more feedings and it was a Thing that couldn't be tamed. Within 1 hour of the 5th feed, it was doubled. Time to make my bread, yippee!

I did altogether 4-hourly turns. And, boy, did it grow! When I turned it out for shaping, there were 2 golf-ball size bubbles. My bread was truly alive...I felt almost sorry that I had to bake it. Left it in the linen-covered tin to retard overnight in the fridge. Glazed it with milk/egg yolk mixture. On hindsight, my cuts were not deep enough. Baked in a 15 minute preheated oven, on a baking sheet, for 40 minutes, 220C turbo-fan. Poured in some hot water at 5 minutes, sprayed at 15. Hubby decided to add his touch by taking it out (with 15 minutes to go) and sprinkling sugar on the top. Bad idea. Before the crust could reach the desired color, the sugar started to burn. I had stop baking then.

This is the most delicious bread I've ever tasted. The sourness was there, just enough to linger for you to want to take the next bite to get the taste again. Beautiful texture. We all ate it as it is. It was enough.

And so, I am now a proud custodian of the Californian/Cambridge starter and I do pledge to spread the good word about its wondrous nature. As such, I would be more than happy to send the starter out to anyone from these regions. Just PM me.


Edited by Tepee (log)

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Meh.

My culture managed to develop mold today. MOLD!

It started off healthy, nice and bubbly. Then it went kinda dead. Ok fine... so i started doing refeeds. Today i went to check it and... ew. Just ew.

It had white mold growing on it, and a smell like my gymbag when I forget to wash my workout clothes for a week. Ick. Container and starter went into the trash.

But I shall persevere! Now it's personal. I'll figure this out yet!

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Hello again!

Thanks to Jackal10 for kindly sending me the starter for my bread. I got it in the post on Friday, whizzed it in the blender with some flour and water, and got bubbles so fast it was unbelievable! It's VERY active!

I've done a step-by-step summary of my experiment here:

http://www.claudia.ca/bread/bread.html (HEAVY graphics warning!)

Although the bread turned out better than any of my previous attempts, and the flavour was VERY nice, the texture still leaves a lot to be desired. I hope you all can help me out with that one!

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i'm trying my hand, once again, at sourdough. my starter is bubbling nicely along after its first feeding, and will probably be ready for baking tomorrow. now, a few questions, as i'm not able to find the precise information in this otherwise most worthy thread:

1) am i right in assuming that a kitchen temperature at about 18-20 C will give me a starter (and a dough) with a relatively high pH (which is what i'd prefer)?

2) whan the sponge/biga/whatever is ready fo ruse, do i then reserve a small amount of that as starter? or do i reserve a small amount of the first starter (and feed that?)?

3) should i feed the starter between baking days (once a week, c.)?

please forgive me if this makes for a highly redundant answer :smile:


Edited by oraklet (log)

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ok, i'm still hoping that this thread is not yet completely dead :hmmm:

so, reserving some of the starter (made from whole wheat flour and water), i made the dough, ending up with c. 40% whole wheat flour, 20 % durum wheat and 40 % strong refined wheat. the starter was about 1/5 of total dough. the loaves came out rather sour. apart from the sourness, they had a lot of fine taste nuances, but i'd certainly like the acidicy to be less dominating. am i right in thinking that i should use less whole wheat (but i love the taste of whole wheat!)?

also, there was some variation in the structure of the 4 loaves. i baked them in two batches, and in each of the batches, one had a marvellous bees' hive structure, the other was rather dense. can it be imprecise slashing that makes for the difference (i've noticed that the structure tends to be densest right underneath the slashing. i may be slashing in the wrong way), or may it be because the loaves are cut from different parts of the dough (the dough itself may be rather uneven, as it's "torn" a bit when i pour it from the bowl onto the working table)?

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