The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
txfarmer's picture

From Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, you can find recipe here:

What a great country sourdough, crumb is suprisingly open (only 65% hydration, with some whole grain and wheat germs in), crispy crust and nice chewy texture inside. I am experimenting with firm stater, converted my 100% starter to 60% last week, fed it according to Glezer's instruction in the same book. Even though my wet starter has been performing great, raising beautiful breads, but I want to explore what more flavor a firm starter can bring out, hopefully a bit more sourness. 


I am impressed by the firm starter's rising power - 4 to 6 hours of bulk fermentation (I did 5), 3.5 to 4.5 hours of proofing(I retarted the dough after shaping). It rose quite a bit in the fridge, after taking it out, I proofed it for 2 hours, it's longer than any of the doughs I made with my wet starter before, so I got nervous of overproofing, baked the bread even though the dough was still pretty bouncy. Should've listented to the dough, it exploded a bit at the scoring marks, not terrible, but definitely underproofed. Next time I'd do 3 hours after retarding.

The most impressive part is the flavor - definitely a bit more sour than my previous breads made with wet starter, just more noticable, not overpowering at all (we don't like overly sour breads, but do like some subtle sourness to make the flavor of the bread more well rounded). Along with the barley malt syrup, toasted wheat germs, and 4 different kinds of flour, the taste is deliciously complex. I would definitely make it regularly. I might try to make it with my liquid starter (with hydration adjusted) next time just to see how the dough and bread would be different. 

Since the flavor and character of a starter takes time to develope, I am going to keep this firm starter for a while, make a few more breads before deciding which one to keep.

Niashi's picture

Sourdough Culture went dormant on it's own.

March 14, 2010 - 5:06pm -- Niashi

I'm sorry, I've been looking through these forums and I cannot find a specific answers to my issue. Mine was never in the fridge, never in the freezer. Infact, I just started this culture about a week ago. It was extremely active at the beginning then went dormant. There are tiny tiny bubbles, but that's it.


ZD's picture

Home Tempering, Grinding, and Bolting Wheat to get High Extraction Flour

March 14, 2010 - 3:59pm -- ZD

Wheat Tempering

Success begins with perfectly tempered wheat. Tempering consists of adding water to dry grain and allowing the grain to rest for a period of time before it is milled. The purpose of tempering is to toughen the bran and thus make it resist being broken into small particles during milling and to soften or "mellow" the endosperm and make it easier to grind. It also helps obtain bran with lowest possible starch content and flour that has ideal quality and higher extraction.

pmccool's picture

While I have been baking in the last several weeks, most of it has been geared to sandwich loaves.  Don't get me wrong; that is some pretty important baking.  While it has been nourishing to the body, it hasn't been anything to stir the soul.  I've had some old favorites: Clayton's Honey Lemon Whole Wheat and plain old honey whole wheat.  I gave Beatrice Ojakangas' Granary Bread a try.  Lovely stuff, but not at all anything that qahtan or others who have had the real thing would recognize as such.  Essentially, it's honey whole wheat (um, I'm beginning to see a theme emerging here) with golden syrup subbed in for the honey.  I'm going to digress for a moment.   For all of you in the U.S. who have been wondering what on earth golden syrup is, here's the inside scoop: it's molasses.  Yes!  Really!  A very light, mildly flavored grade of molasses, but molasses none the less.  There.  Now you know.

I've also been experimenting with some rye breads.  The most noteworthy was a spectacular flop of the Sour Rye, year 1939, which came to my attention via Shiao Ping's blog.  It looked and sounded so lovely in Shiao Ping's post and I'd been wanting to venture further into the rye world, so I thought I would give it a try.  The first bad decision (I won't bore you with the entire list) was to opt for the free-form loaf, rather than the panned loaf.  Being in full "never say die" mode (not readily distinguishable from denial), I soldiered on to the bitter end and was rewarded with something that had the general dimensions and texture of a 1x8 pine board, albeit somewhat darker.  The flavor was worlds better than pine, but the amount of chewing necessary to extract the flavor made the whole enterprise unrewarding.  Hence, my retreat to Ms. Ojakangas' book and the selection of her version of Granary Bread.  A man's gotta eat, after all.

This weekend, still smarting from last week's debacle and still wanting rye bread, I hauled out Mark Sinclair's formula for Sour Rye bread.  This I've made before, and in quantity, so I know how it works and how it is supposed to turn out.  There are some differences between my execution and Mark's.  First, he's a professional baker and I am not.  Second, he uses dark rye and what I had on hand was medium rye.  Third, he has some really big and really cool toys, while I was doing all of my mixing by hand.  Since my use of Mark's formula is by his permission and a consequence of my internship at his Back Home Bakery, I'm not at liberty to share it here.  If you really, really want to make this bread, sign up whenever Mark offers opportunities to intern with him.  If you want something very close to Mark's bread, look up Eric's Fav Rye on this site.  Mark started with that and made some adjustments that suit his selection of ingredients and production scheme.  Both are excellent breads and they are very nearly the same bread.

As noted, I have medium rye flour on hand, so my bread came out somewhat lighter than Marks.  Since I don't have a mixer here, I mixed by hand.  Initially, the mixing was primarily to combine the ingredients uniformly.  Since Mark relies on the mixer for kneading as well as mixing, I continued to work the dough in the bowl in what was essentially a stretch and fold maneuver to develop the dough's gluten network.  As the dough became more cohesive, I dumped it out on the counter for some "slap and fold" or "French fold" kneading, a la Richard Bertinet.  This worked very effectively to finish the dough's development.  The dough was then gathered into a loose boule and placed in a greased bowl for the bulk ferment.  After the dough had approximately doubled, it was divided in three pieces of about 710 grams each and pre-shaped.  After resting a few minutes, the dough was then given its final shape and placed on a Silpat-lined baking sheet for final fermentation, lightly covered with oiled plastic wrap to prevent drying.  As the dough was nearing the end of the final fermentation, I pre-heated the oven.  When the oven was ready, the loaves were uncovered, brushed with egg wash, liberally sprinkled with poppy seeds and slashed.  The baking sheet was put in the oven and hot water was put into the steam pan on the lower rack.  Half-way through the bake, I rotated the loaves so that they would bake evenly, even though I was using the convection setting.  I also pulled them off the baking sheet and let them bake directly on the oven rack so that they would bake and color evenly.  They were a bit closer together on the baking sheet than I thought they should be for optimum results.

And the results?  Well, I'm a happy baker today.  Here's the finished bread:

Sour Rye, Back Home Bakery

I won't have a crumb shot until tomorrow, but the exterior is encouraging.  Slashing can definitely improve and I might have allowed the final proof to go a bit longer, but I'm pretty pleased with how things are looking so far.

Maybe I can get back on that 1939 horse again...


Here is a picture of the crumb:

Back Home Bakery Sour Rye crumb

As I surmised from seeing how the slashes opened during the bake, the bread could have been proofed a while longer.  However, it's rye bread; it is supposed to be hefty rather than fluffy.  The crumb is very moist and surprisingly tender.  The interplay between the earthy rye and the pungent/astringent caraway flavors is balanced so that each complements the other, with neither dominating.  It makes a wicked base for a ham and swiss sandwich.  The lighting for this photo was an overhead fluorescent fixture (sheesh, I almost spelled that as flourescent!), hence the greyer tone of the crumb



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