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nanetteb

Sourdough Starter - Hows, Whys, Whats

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How do you know when a homemade sourdough starter is ready to roll? I made the sourdough starter briefly discussed in the intro to Classic Sourdoughs by Ed Wood. It was 1 1/2 c. flour and 1 c. water sitting out at room temperature. After about 2 1/2 days (I stirred it down twice a day), it was about like bubbly muffin batter so I fed it with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Then it bubbled up to about twice the volume.

In the book he says it is ready when you have one to two inches of foam on the top. Now I'm thinking beer foam or something like that. Instead I have a bubbly muffin batter. It is definitely alive in some sense as you can kind of see things moving if you stare at it long enough. Am I ready?

Also, the book's recipes either specify a liquid culture or a sponge culture. It doesn't say which type I made but am I right to assume it is a sponge culture? You can kind of pour it (I needed to divide it because it was bubbling over the container) but it isn't as liquid as some sourdough starters I've had in the past.

Thanks for any help you can give me!

Nanette

http://cookingincolor.blog-city.com

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nice loaf, jackal!

i'd like to know how to keep the stinking flies away from a starter-in-progress.


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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i'd like to know how to keep the stinking flies away from a starter-in-progress.

Two things you can do:

1. get an old pair of sheer stockings, cut an appropriately sized piece, stretch if over the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band.

2. Use an old fashioned canning jar with a rubber gasket (like these). What you can do is remove the rubber gasket and the metal stuff so all you have is the jar with the glass top resting on it. This keeps things from getting into your starter and also allows the gasses created by fermentation to escape.

Keep in mind, by the way, that there is no reason whatsoever to maintain a lot of starter. I usually keep no more than 50 grams of starter (equal parts flour/water by weight) around and whenever I want to make bread I use that starter as the inoculum to make whatever amount of sponge or chef I need. The little bit of starter that remains stuck to the bottom of the starter jar is the perfect amount to serve as the inoculum for the 25g of flour and 25g of water I put back into the jar to maintain the starter culture.


--

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Thanks for that source for canning jars slkinsey. I am going to get one for my starter. And the online class looks great.

Have any of you ever tried putting a new starter outside to ferment? Ed Wood recommends it in Classic Sourdoughs and I'm curious to see if the wild yeast outside my house have different properties.

Also, how often do you have to use your starter to NOT refrigerate it? If it stays looking halfway decent and I feed it/replenish it every day would that work? I think I'd like to go on baking jags for a couple days each week and keep it out at room temperature for that time (and refrigerate it for the rest of the week when I'm not baking).

To break in my new starter I made the World Bread from Classic Sourdoughs. I was amazed at how beautiful the dough was to knead. (I've baked before but have never done so without commercial yeast.) I put one loaf in a loaf pan and the other half I patted out and filled with cinnamon and raisins and then rolled back up.

Because I had so much starter and I don't need to keep mass quantities of starter I also started a sponge for the blueberry sourdough waffles as well.

Nanette

http://cookingincolor.blog-city.com

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Temperature is the critical thing. If the starter not dormant at fridge temperatures, then it should be held at 85F, and fed regularly (say every 8 hours or so). There are commercial sourdough storage units that do just this.

The yeat/Lactobacillus pairing is remarkably stable once established, and not much else can live in the very acid conditions. The LB secretes a sort natural antibacterial agent to keep out other bugs. So long as it is not grossly invaded by anything else (keep it covered) , it should be OK, If it smells good, it probably is good. You could keep a back-up supply in the fridge, just in case.

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I wonder if anyone is able to help me. Two days ago I decided to take the plunge and make the French-style Sourdough Starter from Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer. I used dark rye flour from Shipton Mill rather than the whole rye flour specified because I had some to hand. The mixture bubbled up, more than doubled in size, and smelled and looked awful. It subsided and I fed it.

The recipe indicates not to expect the chef to have risen very much, if at all by the end of the next day or two. It’s now three and a half hours after feeding time and the chef has almost tripled! At the moment there is a slight aroma. The surface of the dough has a few cracks and it’s tacky but not sticky. It isn’t riddled with tiny bubbles but there are some.

Should I be patient or will the chef require feeding soon? I've not done this before and I'm not sure what to expect....

Thanks

Steven Leof


Edited by sleof (log)

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Don't worry!. Keep it warm (85F) and keep feeding it regularly with the flour (or rye) you plan to use in the bread. It will stabilise to the normal sourdough, and the smell should improve over a couple of days...

You are probably getting more activity since dark rye has more free sugar/ amylose in it than normal rye (and a lot more than wheat flour). That is why it is some advise using it to begin a starter. Now you have activity going (the starter rises), unless you are planning on making full rye breads from it, I would switch to feeding it with bread flour (or bread flour and 25% rye if you are making the normal sort of rye bread), You are aiming to triple in volume each refreshment: mix equal quantities of starter, flour and water.

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Thanks. It's at room temperature (about 74F). Maggie Glezer advises feeding it again after a day or two. Are you suggesting I feed it as soon as it triples (or in the morning)? I'll probably use flour with 11.5% protein from Shipton Mill. By equal quantities, do you mean in terms of weight or volume? I usually weigh ingredients.


Edited by sleof (log)

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i'd like to know how to keep the stinking flies away from a starter-in-progress.

Use an old fashioned canning jar with a rubber gasket (like these). What you can do is remove the rubber gasket and the metal stuff so all you have is the jar with the glass top resting on it. This keeps things from getting into your starter and also allows the gasses created by fermentation to escape.

i like that idea :smile: (i used to think that it should be more exposed to the air...)


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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Thanks Jackal10. It is pretty hot here lately.

Do you think high altitudes (I'm at about 7,000 feet) can affect a sourdough starter in any way? I think my starter is a pretty fast starter as it was ready in about 2 1/2 days. Last night I left it out and it wasn't fed for about 12 hours and I think it suffered a bit. The bubbles were larger and fewer, the smell was milder, and it was less thick with some hooch. I fed it and it responded slightly and I waited about 4 more hours and fed it again and it came back to life with tiny bubbles throughout, a good cheesy sour smell, and a nice thick consistency. It is in the refrigerator now. I think I screwed up by not feeding it for 12 hours - it needs to be fed more often I think.

The bread is baking now and smells absolutely wonderful, much better than commercial yeast-risen bread.

Nanette

http://cookingincolor.blog-city.com

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Thanks. It's at room temperature (about 74F). Maggie Glezer advises feeding it again after a day or two. Are you suggesting I feed it as soon as it triples (or in the morning)? I'll probably use flour with 11.5% protein from Shipton Mill. By equal quantities, do you mean in terms of weight or volume? I usually weigh ingredients.

If its active, and if you are keeping it warm, I would feed it more often. By tripling I refer to how much you add to the starter if you need to increase its volume, not the performance of the starter. Tripling in size overnight is a pretty active starter!

I usually bake once a week, so I refresh the starter then, incubate for about 4 hours, use half for the dough, and put the remainder in the fridge for next week. It usually seperates in the fridge, but I just stir the hooch back in.

I meant by volume: 1 cup flour to 1 cup water to 1 cup starter. Its a batter, as I use a sponge or batter starter.

By weight 150g of flour percentage of 100%, and 225g of water.

In bakers percentages, where the weight of flour is always 100%, the water is 150%

My sourdough bread recipe is in the recipe archive.

The science part of the egci sourdough unit is here I hope I won't be in trouble for letting it out early, but you need it now. You will have to wait for the main text and pictures.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Thanks for the information which is most useful. My starter is firm, apparently what the French call a chef. Started it off on Tuesday with 100 grams each of flour and water and have carried on in the same vein (albeit with different flour). After the initial period of intense activity for a few hours from this time yesterday, it seems to have gone dormant. However when I went to feed it a short time ago, it had a slight aroma and was riddled with small holes....

N.B. Actually, after the first refreshment which was 100 grams of flour added to the starter in its entirety, I've been adding 45 grams of water and 90 grams of flour to 60 grams of the starter, discarding the rest.


Edited by sleof (log)

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Just thought you might be interested in another source of information: There's an article in the current (Summer 2003) issue of Gastonomica titled "Sourdough Culture," about starter itself AND the people who care passionately about and for it. The author posted a request for stories on several websites, and those responses she cites are listed in the endnotes.

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last night when making a biga, i thought i'd have a go at sourdough. my memory is not the best, so i just mixed, by volume, 1 cup of graham's flour with one cup of lukewarm water. should i have any hope of success?


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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Sure. Keep it warm (85F), and when it starts to bubble feed every 8 hours or so with equal quantities of the flour you are going to use and water. Keep it warm!

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Sure. Keep it warm (85F), and when it starts to bubble feed every 8 hours or so with equal quantities of the flour you are going to use and water.  Keep it warm!

and equal quantities is still by volume?

would it be too warm in an oven with just the light on? could it catch some wrong culture there (heh, it would be a rather sterile environment, i guess)?


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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N.B. Actually, after the first refreshment which was 100 grams of flour added to the starter in its entirety, I've been adding 45 grams of water and 90 grams of flour to 60 grams of the starter, discarding the rest.

Well, it's day nine and my chef seems to be tripling every eight hours or so. I understand that I should wait until it quadruples in this time before using it to leaven bread. Any idea how much longer it will take?

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Tripling every eight hours is fine. If it smells good, then it is ready.

It may improve as you use it regularly.

oraklet: I use equal quantities by volume, and use a batter type starter.

An oven with the light on should be fine. Most of the bugs come in the water or the flour.

Get yourself a digital thermometer - they are not expensive, and it will take the guesswork out of your cooking.

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I understand that when I refresh my chef the water content should be 50-57%. How do I determine the percentage of starter to include? What effect will it have for example if I use 25% as opposed to 40%?

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Usually the starter is about 1/3rd the weight of flour, and you can adjust the total water content in the recipe to match whatever you need. Less starter if you want to ferment for longer.

An example is given in the Scientific part of the Soudough course referenced above.

e.g.

Total flour (starter + main dough) 75g+450g=525g

Total water (starter + main dough) 112+225 = 337g or about 65% hydration

57% is a very stiff and dry dough!

These are bakers percentages, relative to the flour content, which is always 100%.

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65% is pretty low compared to what i mostly use (c. 75%). has this to do with it being sourdough instead of biga? or is it just a matter of using softer flour (i tend to use quite hard flour)?


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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I usually use it a bit wetter than this, but with my flour 75% would be liquid. The flour is 12% protein

I like it best when it just holds together. It gets a bit wetter during the first fermentation, but dries off a bit in the banneton.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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I have a question.

I googled up the starter recipe on Italian sites, and apparently most links suggested to make in advance a kind of sugary solution, mixing a small amount of water with smashed fruit pieces, keep it aside for 1 day until fermented, filter and then add flour and water and proceed as usual. Another link mentioned a starter made with smashed boiled potatoes, mixed with their water and kept aside to ferment.

What do you think about that?

Pongi

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      Tandoori Roti
      We wanted to show how the tandoor is used to prepare breads. These pictures are of a special roti or bread, called Tandoori Roti, being prepared in the hot tandoor or clay oven.
      The basic recipe entails preparing a dough of whole-wheat flour. (See the paratha dough prepared earlier.) The flattened rolled out discs are then cooked in the tandoor until the dark spots begin appearing on the surface of the bread.




      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By eGCI Team
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
      Sourdough Bread
      by Jack Lang (jackal10)
      Acknowledgements
      Dan Lepard, for inspiration and and contribution.
      Charles Lang, whose hands are in the photographs.
      Brendel Lang for the painting.
      The Members of the eGCI team for considerable labour and expertise.
      Samuel Lloyd Kinsey (slkinsey) my fellow instructor.
      Jill Grey, my partner, for putting up with the mess.
      Introduction

      The object of this lesson is to teach you to bake better bread— bread that will be the envy of your non-baking friends—bread so good that people will wonder where it came from!
      The recipe is archived here.
      Why sourdough? Because it tastes better. This is the real stuff; not some machine-made pap. You will make bread you just can’t stop eating, and that will spoil you for mass-produced bought bread. Once you have mastered basic white bread, you (or we) can go on to whatever variations you like or request. This is daily bread, fragrant with tastes of the yeast and the grain, and with a crisp crackling crust. Perfect on its own, or with good butter, or jam, or cheese and maybe a ripe tomato. It keeps (in a paper bag, not in the fridge) for close to a week, although you may need to toast it toward the end of the week. Toasted it makes magnificent bruschetta. You can bake weekly, or less often as the bread freezes well.
      This recipe and technique may seem straightforward, but it contains the results of years of experimentation and optimisation. We’ll make plain, white bread. Once you have mastered that, you can go on to fancier loaves. However (unless you really need the bran) you will come back to this basic bread just because it is so good and so pure.
      Bread comes in many shapes.

      English bread shapes

      European bread shapes
      This lesson will teach the basic French boule or flattened ball shape. We will also look at baguettes. But you can make any shape you fancy. The same dough works well in a tin, too.
      You can find more technical details regarding the history of sourdough bread and the composition of the starter by clicking this link. Reading this background history and science is not essential, but very helpful. It will give some insight into why as well as the how.
      Where to get your starter
      You basically have three options –
      1. Buy a starter off the web or from a local artisanal bakery. One place is here.
      2. Order the eGullet starter.
      You can obtain the special egullet starter by sending a PM to jackal10 with your snail-mail address. The starter will be sent out free, although the cost of the starter and postage is about $10. Please donate at least that much to your favourite charity, and we would appreciate it if you could include the name of the charity and the amount in your PM.
      Your egullet starter was collected originally in the vineyards of California, but has travelled extensively since. It produces a light, mild bread. When it arrives, it will look like raw dough in a plastic bag

      How your starter will look when you unpack it.
      You can leave it in the fridge until you are ready, or better, turn it into your own starter. To do this, add one cup of flour and 1 cup of water and mix to a smooth batter. You can do this by hand or in a food processor. Put the batter into a basin, cover and leave in a warm (80-85F/27-29C) place for 4-8 hours, or until you see bubbles on the surface. Ideally refresh it a couple of times, and you are ready. You can store the starter in a jar in the fridge.
      3. Make your own.
      You can make your own starter and harvest the local wild yeasts with some patience. The key is the remarkable stability of the yeast-lacto bacillus pairing. If you keep almost any fermentable mixture of flour and water at about the right temperature, and when it begins to bubble, feed (refresh) it regularly, you will get the right bugs.
      Some people add grapes with bloom on them (yeasts live on the surface), rye (high in enzymes), or other things, but that is mostly superstition.
      How to roll your own starter
      a) Mix 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to a smooth batter.
      b) Cover and leave in a warm (85F/29C) place until it starts to bubble (12 hours or so but it can take several days). Don’t worry about off smells or colours at this stage. Skim any obvious muck.
      c) Refresh it by adding another ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water and stir. If the volume gets too much for your container, throw some away. Cover the rest and put it back into a warm place.
      d) Repeat the last step for 4 times at 8-12 hour intervals. The starter should be active, and smell wholesome.
      Starters can be kept in a closed jar in the refrigerator for months. They may separate into two layers, but just stir them together before use. They will, of course, keep best if used and refreshed regularly. If the starter seems sluggish, refresh it a couple of times (step c above) before use.
      Starter doesn’t freeze well, but can be dried for a reserve supply. If you need to ship it, make some into a lasagna sheet, or stiff dough.
      For best results always use the same flour, so the bugs can get used to it. Some people keep separate starters for white, rye and for wholemeal (whole wheat). I use white unbleached flour, which has added Vitamin C as an improver. As mentioned above, if your flour does not already have Vitamin C in it, you can add 1/2tsp Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) but it is not critical.
      Recovering a sick starter
      If your starter smells off (cheesy or of peardrops), or has gone sluggish you can recover it by following the procedure for a new starter above, but inoculate the initial flour and water mix with a tablespoon or two of the old starter.
      Practical Section
      A typical bread-making timetable is
      Day 1:
      09:00: Refresh starter
      - Starter ferments -
      13:00: Make dough
      13:15: Dough kneaded (by hand)
      -Amylisation-
      13:45: Add Salt
      14:00 Finished dough
      - Bulk fermentation-
      16:00: Shape
      -Retard overnight –
      Day 2
      Pre-heat oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
      Ingredients for 1 loaf or four baguettes.
      To refresh the starter:
      1 c sourdough starter
      1 c Strong white bread flour
      1 c water
      For the dough:
      1 c refreshed sourdough starter
      3 c Strong white bread flour.
      1 c water (you may need more -- see below)
      2 tsp salt
      The dough in the illustration is ordinary unbleached supermarket (Tesco) strong white bread flour, 11.7g protein, with ½ cup of spelt flour added for flavour. This supermarket adds Vitamin C and amalyse to their bread flour. Different flours may adsorb different amounts of water. This flour needs a bit more water. The object is to make a very soft dough -- one that has only just stopped being a batter and just holds together.
      Sourdough Bread Instructions
      A. Refresh the Starter
      1. Mix together 1 cup starter, 1 cup strong flour and 1 cup of water. It should be the consistency of very thick cream.

      Starter just mixed.
      3. Cover, and allow to stand in a warm (85F/29C) place for 4 hours.

      Starter after 4 hours.
      After 4 hours or so, it should be bubbly. Temperature is fairly critical, as discussed above. Any hotter than 85F/29C and you start to kill the yeast; any colder and it will not be as sour and will take longer to rise.
      What we are making here is a sponge starter or poolish. Starters (pre-ferments) can be roughly divided by hydration into wet, batter-like pre-ferments, often called poolish from their origin and dry, dough-like pre-ferments, often called biga, as the technique is typical of Italian bread. Some bakers call a poolish a sponge; others use sponge to refer to all pre-ferments.
      B. Make the Dough
      Assemble Ingredients as listed above.

      The storage jar with the rest of the starter is at the back right, ready to go back into the fridge for next time.
      The easiest way is to whizz together refreshed starter, flour and water (but not the salt yet) in a food processor for 20 sec.
      Alternatively mix them in a large bowl:

      Ready to mix

      Dough after mixing.
      Should make a softish dough. The wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the final bread. Different flours need different amounts of water – add more water or flour to get the right consistency. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of flour so that it just stops being a batter and holds together as a dough. On the other hand if it is too stiff then add more water. Plenty of loose flour will stop it sticking too much.
      If you are making the dough by hand then knead for 10 minutes by the clock.

      Be rough with it. Lose your temper with it. Take out your frustrations on it. Slam it about. When it is properly kneaded it should feel resilient to the touch. It has been described as feeling like an earlobe, but I describe it like feeling a soft breast or buttock. You should be able to take a pinch of dough and stretch it so thin you can see through it – called the “windowpane test”.

      When kneaded the dough will stretch without breaking
      You cannot over-knead by hand. It is possible (but quite difficult) to over-knead if you are using a mixer or a food processor, as the dough can get too hot, and if worked too long and hard the gluten will begin to break down.

      Finished Dough
      Gather it together, and wipe a little oil over the surface to stop it sticking, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 30 mins.

      Resting
      This pause, before the salt is added, is for several reasons:
      - It lets the enzymes do their stuff. They begin breaking down starches into sugars to feed the yeast to make a better crust colour. Salt tends to retard this reaction.
      - It lets the dough (and you) rest and relax after the exertions of kneading.
      - It allows the flour to complete its hydration, High levels of salt can interfere with this.
      - It allows time for you to prepare your “banneton” to receive the finished dough. See Preparing Your Banneton below.
      After 30 mins add the salt and whiz for another 20 sec, or knead for another 10 mins. Oil, cover, and leave for 2 hours or so in a warm (85F/29C) place. The exact time is not critical – anything from about 90 minutes to 3 hours will work. Temperature is more critical than time.

      Rested Dough
      The dough will have expanded a bit. Don’t worry about whether it has doubled or not. A lot of nonsense is written in some cookbooks, resulting in much overproved dough. The dough will also have got a bit softer and wetter.
      Turn out onto a floured board.

      Dusting the board with flour
      Now handle gently - don't knock all the air out. The time for rough handling is over. Take the sides and fold to the centre.

      Folding the dough
      Folding the dough like this (you can also fold top to bottom as well) gently stretches the gluten and the bubbles forming in the bread. Dan Lepard's technique for his wonderful bread is to repeat this folding operation every hour for up to 5 hours during an extended bulk fermentation phase, resting the dough between times. When the dough is ready for shaping bubbles are clearly visible if you cut a small slit
      in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
      Turn the dough over and shape into a ball. As you shape it try and stretch the surface a bit so it is taut.

      Shaping the dough
      Put it upside down (on its stretched, taut surface) into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton). The top of the dough in the banneton will be the bottom of the finished loaf.
      Preparing Your Banneton
      Traditionally, bannetons are made of cane or wicker, lined with linen, but you can improvise from a basin or a basket and a tea-towel or a piece of muslin. Ideally they are porous, so the outside dries slightly to help in crust development.

      Dough in the banneton
      Don’t worry if the top surface of the dough in the banneton is uneven: it will even itself out. Put into the fridge, covered with a cloth, overnight.

      In the fridge
      The dough is soft and needs the support of the basket. You could bake it after letting it rise for a hour or so, but its easier to handle, and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. The cold will practically stop the fermentation, and so timing is not critical, and it gives you back control in that you can bake the dough when you want, rather than when the fermentation dictates.
      I’m lucky enough to have a brick bread oven that has a brick floor that holds the heat. The shell of this one I imported from France, from a company called Four Grandmere. If you are inspired to build your own, Dan Wing’s and Tom Jaine’s books are given in the references

      My oven

      Inside the oven
      You can approximate a similar environment in a domestic oven by putting a pizza stone or a layer of quarry tiles or engineering bricks on the lowest shelf to provide bottom heat.
      You are aiming for 440F/230C or even 500F/260C, as hot as most domestic ovens can manage. Heat the oven at least an hour before you want to bake to allow time to stabilise, and for the heat to soak into the tiles or equivalent. (If you have a wood fired oven you will need to light the fire about four hours before baking.)

      My oven heating up
      If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven. You are strongly advised to do this as oven thermostats are surprisingly inaccurate.

      Thermometer
      When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

      The dough from the fridge
      Again, don’t worry that it does not seem to have expanded much. Most of the expansion will be in the oven (called oven-spring). This will result in a lighter and better-shaped loaf than if the expansion is from proofing when some of the gas may leak out.

      When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and remove the cloth. (For the wood fired oven we use a peel, lightly dusted with dry polenta meal so the dough does not stick.)

      Slash the top firmly with a very sharp knife. Professional bakers use a razor blade on a stick, called a “lame”. Slash quickly and decisively – it is a slash not a cut. Don’t mess the dough about. Spray the knife blade with cooking spray to prevent it from tearing the dough.

      The slashes allow the dough to rise in a defined way, and lessen the resistance to expansion by making weak points in the crust. In ancient times the pattern of slashes identified whose bread it was in the communal oven.
      Here a slightly careless slash has caught the dough on one side, so the finished loaf will be a bit uneven and rustic.

      Into the oven:

      Just loaded:

      20 minutes later, and halfway through the bake. Most of the expansion has happened. Our loaf is the one on the left.

      The pattern on the rye bread on the front right is created by using a banneton made from coiled cane. No cloth is used in that sort of banneton. Bannetons can be obtained from any good baking supplier. The ones shown come from Four Grandmere and the San Francisco Baking Institute.

      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a good colour. You might need to rotate it after 30 mins.
      Let the bread cool to warm before you slice it. Hard to resist the temptation to slice into the loaf too soon, but it needs time to finish cooking and for the structure to firm up as it cools.

      I like an open texture, as it gives more room for the butter. The crust is a little thick as the bread was slightly over baked.

      That completes the basic bread lesson.

      Variations on the basic recipe/technique
      I’d advise practicing plain white bread before trying variations. When you get that right you can get fancier. You might not get it completely to your satisfaction the first time, but as you go on your baking will improve. There are infinite variations possible.
      Crust Variations:
      My brother prefers a flour dusted crust. These were the other loaves in the bake:

      To get this effect, lightly dust the banneton and the top of the dough with flour before putting in the dough.

      The legs in the top of the picture are my sister-in-law, painting the scene. I’m the one sitting down; my brother is loading the oven.

      The dough is slashed in a feather pattern. To achieve this, make alternate slashes from each side of the loaf to just over halfway across. This pattern was tought to us by Ian Duffy, then of the San Fransisco Baking Institute.

      This is a loaf with 25% rye flour.
      For a shiny, thinner crust, put an empty pan in the bottom of the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it after you have put the bread in the oven (be careful of the hot steam), and shut the door quickly. The idea is to provide a burst of steam, which gelatinises the outside of the dough. Professional ovens have steam injection for this purpose. Alternatively (but not as good) you can paint the bread with water before it goes in the oven, or use a garden sprayer. (Be careful not to get cold water on the oven light or it might shatter.) The baguettes below are made like this.
      Other crust variations you can try:
      Brush with milk or cream
      Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)
      Toppings (stick on with egg-wash or water):
      Porridge oats (oatmeal)
      Muesli
      Poppy seeds
      Sesame seeds
      Grated cheese


      Flavours and additions
      Add with the salt, but you might want to chop them and then hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit too fine
      Onions (soften in butter first),
      Hazelnuts, walnuts
      Olives,
      Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed?)
      Caraway seeds
      Dill weed
      Raisins
      Smarties or M&Ms
      Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
      Flour variants: I’d recommend replacing only 1/3-1/2 of the plain strong white flour with:
      Wholemeal (whole wheat) (will not rise as much)
      Granary (has added malt)
      Rye flour (makes a sticky dough)
      For dark rye add 1 Tbs black treacle (molasses). Some like caraway seeds as well.
      Spelt (ancient wheat) (Poilane is reputed to use 1/5th Spelt. This was the example bread).
      “Mighty White” (steamed, corned grains)
      For a sweet bread: add sugar and butter with the fruit. Saffron for Easter.
      Baguettes
      Baguettes, that typical French loaf, are long thin loaves made with a soft, white dough. Because they are thin, they are baked at a higher temperature but for less time. The dough is delicate, and needs supporting continuously during proof and baking. You can get special pans for this. I’ve now thrown away my tin baguette pans (the ones in these pictures) and instead use a silpat baguette form (from www.demarle.com). You can just see it in the crust variation photo. Much easier and no sticking.
      To Make Baguettes from the Finished Dough
      Divide the dough into four, at the shaping stage:

      Roll and stretch into long cylinders, tucking the end in neatly. Cover, put into a large plastic bag, like a dustbin liner so that they do not dry out too much, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day take them out, and slash the tops.

      Put them in the hottest oven you can, and throw half a cup water into a pan or onto the oven floor. Beware of the hot steam!

      Bake until golden, say 30 mins

      Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with cheese and a glass of wine, or maybe some good soup.

      References
      Dan Lepard Baking with Passion - Dan Lepard - A great book. Website: www.danlepard.com.
      Joe Ortiz The Village Baker ISBN 0-89815-489-8 wonderfully evocative.
      Bread Builders. Hearth loaves and Masonry Ovens - Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The definitive book on building and using brick bread ovens.
      The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart
      Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
      Elizabeth David English Bread and Yeast Cookery ISBN 0-14-046791 is, like all her books, masterly for its time.
      Tom Jaine, Building a Wood Fired Oven for Bread and Pizza. Prospect Books ISBN 0907325
      Web resources
      www.danlepard.com
      www.fourgrandmere.com (Click on the Union Jack to get the English version).
      www.sfbi.com
      www.demarle.com
      www.sourdoughhome.com
      http://samartha.net
      www.sourdo.com
      www.faqs.org SLKinsey is a contributor- a good resource.
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By Terrasanct
      Hi all, haven't been here for years, not since about the time Bourdain was stuck in Lebanon.  It's been a while.  But I knew it was the best place to ask a food question.  On a trip to Seattle a year or so ago, we stopped at the Starbucks reserve at the headquarters.  They sell Princi baked goods.  There were so many things I couldn't figure out what to get, so I got a big round loaf of bread and a package of three huge crackers.  The crackers were just so good, and we've been getting them on every trip.  Since the apocalypse and everything, no traveling and lots of baking.  I ordered some overpriced semolina, thinking those huge crackers must be semolina based.  The crackers I baked were very good, but not quite the quality I was hoping for.
       
      So here are the things I could do differently--I only have regular olive oil right now, not extra virgin.  That might make a difference in the richness. The recipe calls for half semolina, maybe a higher percentage would be better?  I was able to roll out really thin, so that's not a problem.
       
      If anyone is familiar with those crackers and how they are made, I'd appreciate it.  Maybe I'll stick around this time.
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