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Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 1)


adrober
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I use an AGA and its wonderful for bread.

Cook your bread DIRECTLY on the floor of the top oven. No intermediate shelf or pan to reduce the heat transfer to the dough. If you must use a piece of silocone paper to make the dough handling easier, but no need. Use a peel (AGA make a beautiful one http://www.agacookshop.co.uk/epages/Store....Products/W1825) to put the loaf in and take it out.

As soon as you have put the dough in the oven and before you close the door throw in a cup of water (beware hot steam) and shut the door.

Try not to open the door too much and cool the oven until the bread is cooked = 40 minutes.

A common mistake is to overprove the dough before putting it in the oven. A lot of the rise comes from oven spring.

Active sourdough takes 4 hours from mix to bake, or 2 hours bulk fermentation and overnight in a refrigerator

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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You do not need to cool down for the latter part of the bake.

Contrary to the myth bread in stored heat brick ovens actually cooks in rising heat, as the oven recovers from cooling when the door is open and the cold dough is put in. The AGA mimics this well.

Adding steam (water) in the first minute gives a fantastic crust.

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Go ahead and make bread with your mature starter. It will be OK.

Do you mean starter, of which you use a tablespoon, or preferment, which is maybe up to 33% of the loaf? Either way its OK. If its the preferement, the loaf will be flavoursome.

This is perhaps the key to getting more flavour in the loaf. It comes from the preferment, which should be ripe. I ferment my preferment typically for 24 hours.

Thanks, jackal, for the clarification. Yes, it is a preferment. So, what happens if the preferment spends an extra day in the fridge (think 36-48 hours instead of 24)?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I ferment my preferment at 27C (next to the stove) for 24 hours

If you leave it in the fridge after that for another day or two you get a little more lactobacilli activity and a slightly sourer bread, but it will still be delicious.

I often start to make bread, and then something happens or I run out of time, so I just put the preferment in the fridge, covered, until I'm ready

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's what I got from the Cooks Illustrated video podcast.

15oz flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp instant yeast

7oz water

3 oz pilsner

1tbsp white vinegar

Mix, cover in bowl with plastic.

Set aside to ferment for 8-18 hours

10-15 turns to knead, form into ball

Place in parchment coated skillet. Oil parchment.

Oil bread and proof 2 hours covered with plastic loosely.

Preheat oven to 500 with lidded Dutch oven inside

30 min before proofing is done.

Transfer dough using parchment to pot.

Cover and bake at 425 for 30 min.

Remove lid and continue baking until bread is 210 degrees

20-30 minutes

Cool 20 min.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am on day 4 of making my very first sourdough starter and I followed the directions exactly as written in "The Bread Bible" by Beranbaum. I have noticed a layer of water has collected on top of the starter. Yellowish water that looks like the starter is separating.

Is this normal? Should I just feed it and stir?

Thanks!

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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This is called "hooch" and is normal after the starter has been sitting for awhile. You don't need to drain it, just mix in as necessary.

Just keep feeding as you normally would. I have never drained the hooch.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I am on day 4 of making my very first sourdough starter and I followed the directions exactly as written in "The Bread Bible" by Beranbaum. I have noticed a layer of water has collected on top of the starter. Yellowish water that looks like the starter is separating.

Is this normal? Should I just feed it and stir?

Thanks!

Try this and it will tell you everything you really need to know about S/D LINK

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Thank you!

I fed it like normal. Dang its been only 5 days and it stinks! Who know something that sinky could produce something so good...LOL :)

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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I had no luck with my first starter, which had yeast in it. So I started over with a method I saw on an old Julia Child show. She had a pastry chef on...forget who...and she made the starter with grapes and flour. Let me tell you...this starter is kicking major ass. It's alive and super-smelly in the best possible way. I've been reading and reading...so many sources, and trying my first loaf in a little while. Can't decide if I want to go on the stone or in the Le Creuset. I took one piece of advice from the eGullet lesson, which was omitting the salt for the first rise. We'll see what happens.

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Well, for any interested, the bread came out just perfect. I went with the dutch oven. I left the lid on for about 45 minutes, and the bread was about 190 degrees in the center. So I did the rest without the lid, until about 210F. The result was a lovely crust that wasn't too thick or brown, nice open, chewy crumb with a mild but present sour taste. I was thrilled, but sad the wife wasn't here to taste.

That hour long wait after baking is just brutal!

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Congrats Dougw! Sourdough is just a thing of beauty.

Here's a question: what's the ratio of new flour/ water that you are adding to feed the sour dough starter? I'm reluctant to start up again because I had way more starter on hand than I could ever use....it's such a responsibility. I took to calling my starter "Audrey"....it would start singing "Feed Me!" whenever I walked by......

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For heavens sake, leave the mother starter in the fridge between bakes.

So long as you use a sponge it will become active just fine, otherwise just refresh it the day before. I guess I only refresh the mother once a month or so when the jar in the fridge is looking a bit empty.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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Here's a question: what's the ratio of new flour/ water that you are adding to feed the sour dough starter?

I'm not sure if your comment was specifically directed at dougw, but I use a 1:1 ratio (by weight) for a 100% hydration starter.

As Jackal suggests, I also refrigerate my starter. If I need to build up starter for baking, then I take out some starter from the fridge, add flour/water and leave overnight, and use that as my refreshed starter. (If I have some left over after baking, I throw that into the fridge with the other starter.)

When my refrigerated starter runs low, typically after 2-3 week, I just build up the starter again using the above method, then put it back in the fridge again.

I can't remember the last time I had to throw out starter.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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IF you are a bakery or restaurant or other commercial production where you use a volume of starter everyday then you do indeed need to refresh everyday.

However for home baking this is too much. Thre are those who clim a difference in activity, but I've never noticed a difference from keeping the mother in the fridge, and using a sponge method, and I think keeping the mother cold gives better flavour and more consistency.

I use a 50% hydration preferment (biga) and mother, as I think it gives better flavour, although slightly more work to mix and knead.

You do need to regenerate the culture from a small amount (say 10g mother to 200g flour and 100g water, fermented 12 -24 hours at 27C) both when making the sponge and occaisionally to refresh the mother so as to prevent the build up of by-products in the culture medium.

Other than as a professional operation I can't imagine what I would do with 300g of starter daily...

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I've been "re-reading" Kitchen Confidential on the iPod lately. I read the print version the first time, and now it's adding a lot to hear the reading by AB. Last night I heard the chapter about his infamous bread guy calling into work to beg Tony to "Feed the bitch!"

I love my starter too much to degrade her like that. She has improved my life immeasurably, unless you are measuring the waistline of the baker...

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Well, I did the no-knead method with my starter. 24 hour ferment on the sponge, 18 hour ferment on the dough. Kneaded(cheated) like 10 times, nothing much then tried baking in a cold oven in the Le Creuset dutch oven with the lid on for 1 hour at 450, then 15 min. lid off.

Utter perfection. Nice holes, chewy, sour crumb, crunchy yet flaky crust.

I rule.

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Well, I did the no-knead method with my starter. 24 hour ferment on the sponge, 18 hour ferment on the dough. Kneaded(cheated) like 10 times, nothing much then tried baking in a cold oven in the Le Creuset dutch oven with the lid on for 1 hour at 450, then 15 min. lid off.

Utter perfection. Nice holes, chewy, sour crumb, crunchy yet flaky crust.

I rule.

Nuh-uh. No pix. No can rule. :laugh:

As a side note: what does everybody have against kneading?? It's the best part. You get to play with the dough, work out your frustrations and your upper body? So, like, what's the problem??? :blink:

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As a side note: what does everybody have against kneading?? It's the best part. You get to play with the dough, work out your frustrations and your upper body? So, like, what's the problem??? :blink:

No problems with kneading here.

Thanks to my KitchenAid, it gives me a chance to clean up or enjoy a break or fine beverage.:biggrin:

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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After an annoying experience yesterday morning, when my proofed loaf stuck to the peel and ended up in the garbage (that's what happens when I bake at 8 a.m. and forget the parchment), I put up another loaf for baking today.

Much better results, as these pix show:

gallery_6902_5624_21145.jpg

gallery_6902_5624_401.jpg

And, it tastes really good, used for making a couple of panini with prosciutto and cheese.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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