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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Frequent Flyer

Sourdough Fermentation Data

We all know that all other factors being the same, the more sourdough starter in the dough, the faster the rise during bulk fermentation.

 Since your starter may resemble dough (60 to 70% hydration), others may use a liquid starter (200%+ hydration), and mine is the consistency of mashed potatoes (100% hydration), The percent of flour used in the starter (as percent of total flour) is unaffected by hydration. This is a concept I’ve seen in print somewhere and one I find very useful.

The goal in this experiment was to determine the fermentation rates at various percentages of flour in the starter to total flour. Another way to view it would be the time required for the dough to double at various percentages of flour in the starter to total flour.  

Using the same totals for ingredients (85g flour, 57g water and 2g of salt), 4 doughs were made.

The sourdough starters used in the doughs contained 10%, 20%, 30% and 40% of the flour (9g, 17g, 26g, and 34g). For example, the total flour in the dough was 57g.  if the % total flour in the stater was 20%, then 17g would be in the starter.  For my 100% hydrated starters, the total starter weight was 34g.   Each dough weighed 114g.   

These were kneaded 20 strokes, placed in straight sided glasses and were stretched and folded 3times every 20 minutes. The dough levels were measured at the same time every 20 minutes at first, then every 30 minutes until the volumes had doubled. The glasses were marked with the percentage of total flour in the dough’s starter and photos taken prior to measurements. The times for the dough are shown in photos taken.  Only 2 are shown here.


The data are shown in the table below.

The curves for each dough show growth of dough vs time. The 40% dough (40% total flour in the starter) was the fastest growing dough and doubled in 120 minutes and the dough with 10% of the flour in its starter took 270 minutes to double.

As the percent flour prefermented increased, so did the color in the bread, the taste, and the openness of the crumb. Proof times took 45 minutes to 90 minutes depend on the percent flour in the starter. I made a deli rye tonight with 20% of the total flour in the starter. The rye conformed to the tables and graphs.

There’s nothing new here, just data specific to my dough and a guide for making future sourdough breads.


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Frequent Flyer

For fun, I sifted some whole wheat flour that I had ground to see how the dough behaves (more like white flour or more like whole wheat).  I liked the result and used most of the removed bran to coat the rolls with all over.  Taste and crumb were very good.  I chose to make rolls to maximize the amount of bran that could coat the bread.

The rolls were light and fluffy but dark in color, indicating there was still bran in the flour.  I removed 6.7% of the flour by sifting with a hand held Kitchenaid strainer (5" in diameter, hole pattern is 20 per linear inch).  

The recipe was a slow-rising one (2 to 3 hour fermentation) and 1 to 1.5 hour proof.  There was no retardation.




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Frequent Flyer

Just for giggles and pure laziness, I didn't knead the Japanese Milk Bread this time - just a few stretches and folds like it was an artisan bread.  The dough was sticky and I just placed it into a loaf pan for sandwich bread.  

The water roux (1 part flour to 5 parts water) was 20% of the total dough and I used all purpose unbleached flour instead of the usual bread flour.

flour              100%

Water             33%

Milk                33%

Inst yeast       1.6%

Sugar              15%

Salt                 1.5%

egg                12.5%

butter                8%



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Frequent Flyer

I've used Reinhart's Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe to make Hawaiian Rolls for a friend on a couple of occasions.  I modify the recipe in his Bread Baker's Apprentice book to use a poolish at 100% hydration and to include more flour as I find this recipe very sticky for some reason.  The original recipe's overall hydration is not that high, but maybe I screwed up the measurements somewhat.  Next time I may try Floyd's Hawaiian Rolls recipe which is similar but includes pineapple juice.

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Frequent Flyer

It's been a year or more since I've made Jason's Quick Ciabatta recipe, so I made a variation first and followed the next day with his standard recipe.

For the variation, I mixed Jason's standard 95% hydration dough until it started to climb the mixer paddle.  At that time I added enough flour to make a 75% hydrated dough and retarded it overnight in the fridge. The next day, I shaped, proofed and baked the loaves.

Later that day, I made the standard recipe which is always fun for me to make and will be nice for dinner tomorrow with the kids.


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Frequent Flyer

....or my "tinkered with" version.  I love Eric's bread but needed to refrigerate the dough for time sake and chose to do that after shaping.  I shaped two loaves (used 1/2 recipe), placed in a couche, covered with oil sprayed plastic and refrigerated immediately.  The next morning I removed the loaves, placed on the counter while the oven preheated (about 30 to 45 minutes) and baked on a stone with steam for 12 minutes.  I rotated the loaves, and baked (I guess) another 30 minutes at 375F.  

Other variations were molasses vs sugar (about the same weight) and an egg glaze.  I've not got the cornstarch glaze method working right now.


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