I've been working with liquid sourdough starters for the last several years and have just started investigating stiff starters, something that you can store for longer term. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
It's been fun to keep at a single loaf for an extended period. I've been making Chad's basic loaf nearly every week for over a year, experimenting with different fermentation temperatures so that I can bend the formula to fit my always changing farming schedule. Here's what I got from delayed fermentations both at the first stage (stretched it from the recommended four hours to eight), and at the final stage (fermentation overnight in my root cellar, 45 degrees).
This time around I added ground rosemary (from my garden) to the loaves. Love the flexibility of this approach and formula.
First try at the Vermont sourdough turned out lots better than anticipated. I used a soupy levain as the base for the sourdough, building it over a couple of days. My second try at the baguettes still didn't work out as well as hoped for. Will try again.
Fortunately, these first baguettes taste lots better than they look. Pretty homely, really. Instead of the lean elegance of a French loaf, these are peasantly stubby. No gleaming crust either. And the crumb? Could be lots more open. I figure the dough could have used considerably more time for both the bulk and 2nd rise because my kitchen is cold. I also think I should have let the pre-shaped pieces rest a full 30 minutes before attempting the final shaping. I'll definitely try these again, and perhaps substitute a bit of the bread flour with AP.
Here are a few pictures. They tell the tale. Top left: ready for bulk fermentation. Top rt: After one hour and one fold.
Middle left: pre-shaped. Middle rt: the stubby loaves. Bottom left: a look at the crumb. Bottom right: just thought I'd throw in a look at my farm, Bull Brook Keep. This view is looking to the East.
My first baguettes are in their second rise under a canopy of dusted linen and plastic. I'm glad they're under wraps. They are undeniably ugly. Instead of rolling out slender columns of dough, I created things that look like squat electric eels, large cucumbers, chubby rolling pins. I hadn't allowed the dough to rest long enough after pre-shaping. Darn.
Enjoying the second Country Bread loaf made this weekend. I've got to admit, I'm a bit rusty. I've got to relearn when the preferment is at its peak, and when to end the second proof so that there's enough ummph for good oven spring. Still, the bread is tasty, thanks to Hamelman's formula. Here are just a few pictures of the process. The first shows the dough ready for the initial, or bulk fermentation. You can see the gluten development in the second photo. By the way, I proof doughs directly on the kitchen counter on a thin coat of oil. I invert a big, big bowl over the dough to create a moist environment for it.
There you see the finished loaves. It was wonderful to hear the crust sing when I pulled them from the over. The final picture shows crumb development. I hope to achieve larger holes as I rebuild and improve skills.
It feels great to be back on the bike. Made my first loaf of a long-fermenting bread after more than a year away from real baking. I'm still getting my sea legs back, but there were glossy holes in the crumb and the crust sang when I pulled the loaves of Country Bread (Hamelman) from the oven.
Hi all. It's been quite a while since I contributed to this site. Lots of changes in last 18 months: bought a farm, began raising grass-fed/grass-finished beef, sold house, now building farm house, started hosting an FM radio show about sustainable farming and its links to sustainable local economies and community. I've been relying on my bread machine for months, but I'm itching to get back to "real" bread baking. I've signed up for a Hamelman challenge to push me along. A secondary challenge is that my bread books are in storage while the farm house is under construction. I'm relying on a copy from the local library to help me make it through.