The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crusty Loafer's blog

Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

Much improved this week.  After last week I did some TLC to my starter.  I had been using it and then feeding it and sticking right back into the fridge until the next bake. I wasn't giving it any feeding before I baked.

So I got some rye flour and several  50/50 rye/bread flour feedings to build it back up. I also experimented with different feeding ratios.  I did a 1:1:1, then a  1:5:5, followed by a  1:3:3, before I settled on a 1:4:4. The last one gave me what I wanted,  and that was the ability to feed once in the morning before I left for work. The starter would go through a complete cycle of rise and collapse in about  24 hours being left in room ambient temperature...about 62 to 68 degrees.  Feeding it in the morning would put it near peak by 8 PM when I would use it in my bread. Still a young levain. 

I increased my hydration from  65 to 67%, also my flour from 400 to 450 grams.  Salt 2% and I increased my levain from 15 to 20%. 

I noticed the dough felt much better. Last week it was stiff and hard to work with. This was more in line with my expectations.  After mixing and a 30 minute autolyse I kneaded it doing a lot of stretch and folds for 15 to 20 minutes.  

Then I let it do a bulk rise, long and slow...approximately 16 hours. The next evening after supper i shaped and put in my banaton basket for the final proof while I preheated my Dutch oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then I baked it at 500 for 30 minutes with the lid on.  Then I removed the lid and baked another 15.

Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

Made a few adjustments.  Last bake was good,  but the crumb was waxy and still a little moist. Flavor was still very good though.  I lowered my hydration from 70 to 65 %. Plus I added the salt with the flour and blended all dry ingredients before adding my water and leaving. After mixing i let autolyse for 45 minutes and did 30 minutes of stretches and folds.  After that,  into the fridge for 7 hours.  In the morning I removed from fridge and placed in oven with the light on.  After supper I shaped and proofed in a banaton basket for 1 hour.  Then preheated my Dutch oven for 45 minutes at 500. Baked at 500 for 30 minutes with ther lid on.  Then I removed the lid and baked an additional 15 minutes.  

Crust looks good.  Cooling now will cut tomorrow. 

Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

I have always loved the smell of fresh baked bread.  It holds a special place in my imagination.  Up until a year ago, my forays into bread baking was limited to a bread machine and a store bought package.  Last spring I attempted to create my very own sourdough starter.  It took a couple of tries, but eventually I was successful and had a very lively culture, all lovely and bubbly.

Then I began accumulating assorted items to pave the way for baking good sourdough bread: a 5 quart dutch oven, two proofing baskets, a lame for scoring my loaves, a bench knife and dough scraper and a large clear plastic container for doing bulk fermentation.

I have done a number of attempts at the process.  Each time was a learning experience.  Some new bit of information would come to light and I would note it and add to my knowledge.  Trial and error can teach you alot.  

But my most recent attempt, I followed Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread Country loaf recipe with some success.  I took from my refrigerated starter 40 grams and added 100 grams each of King Arthur's Bread Flour and water.  This was early in the morning just before I left for work.  When I got home that evening, my levain was ready to go with a sweet smell to it.  I had the young starter he advocated.

I used 1000 grams of Bread Flour, 750 water, 200 starter and 20 salt.  I used Autolyse (rest) method, allowing it to rest and absorb the water with three turns every half hour.  

My only hiccup in the whole process was in the shaping of the loaves.  Up until this time, I was used to working with dough at 60 or 65% hydration.  this was 75%.  I found that when I would try to create the tension in the dough's surface, it would only tear and not truly hold its shape.  I forged ahead, placing the two loaves in my baskets and refrigerated them overnight.  The next morning I fired up the oven to 450 degrees F and baked them 35 minutes with the lid on the dutch oven and then removed the lid and baked another 20 minutes.  The results were good for a first attempt.  However my crust was not as burnished as I would have liked.  I am thinking my folds should have been double to build the gluten enough for my shaping.  


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