The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Simple sourdough - a work in progress

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varda's picture
varda

Simple sourdough - a work in progress


 


I'm a simple person and I'm driven by simple hopes and desires.   So while I may drool over the pictures of impossibly gorgeous pastries that get posted with alarming regularity on this site, I have no inclination to emulate those bakers.   All I want is to master bread with essentially three ingredients:   flour, water, and salt.   And that's not so simple.  For the last several weeks I've been cranking out alarming quantities of the stuff and slowly tweaking the few parameters available when the ingredient list is so short: dough hydration, starter hydration, and percentage of flour in the starter.    (Oh and also mix of flour and proofing strategies.)    I finally put together a decent spreadsheet to help me with this tinkering.    And now I can just put in the hydrations, and percentage starter (and flour mix of course) and I'm off to the races.    While I started down this road with Hamelman's formulae, I find I'm unwilling to go back to that right now, as I find I prefer higher hydrations and starter percentages.  


The first loaf baked after 1.5 hours final proof.   The second which retarded overnight, had a bit more spring. 



Basic Sourdough bread baked on Jan 17, 18, 2011      
           
Starter 67% starter first feeding second feeding total  
starter seed 245   plus 3.5 hrs plus 12 hrs  
Heckers 138 50 45 233 94%
Hodgson's Mill Rye 2   5 7 3%
spelt 7     7 3%
water 98 35 32 165  
hydration       67%  
total grams       412  
           
  Final dough   Starter   percents
Bob's Red Mill White 500         Heckers 124    
Hodgson's Mill Rye 30                HM 3.7    
KA White whole wheat 70              spelt 3.7    
water 439   88   72%
total starter / flour in starter 219   132    
salt 13       1.8%
hydration of starter         67%
baker's % of starter         18%
Estimated pounds of bread     2.53    
           
Mix flour and water plus 30 minutes      
Mix salt and starter plus 50 minutes      
Stretch and fold plus 35 minutes      
Stretch and fold plus 65 minutes      
Cut and preshape plus 30 minutes      
Shape and place seam side up in brotforms.  Cover with plastic   Heat cup of water for 2 minutes in microwave.   Place one in microwave, other in back of refrigerator wrapped in a towel plus 45 minutes      
Turn oven to 500 w. stone plus 15 minutes      
Remove basket from microwave and place next to stove - put loaf pans plus towels in oven plus 30 minutes      
Turn heat down to 450 slash and place loaf in oven plus 15 minutes      
Remove steam pans plus 15 minutes      
Place loaf on rack          
After 19 hours remove second loaf from refrigerator, and preheat oven, stone, towels and bake as above.          

Second loaf: 

Slices from first loaf:

 

Comments

Syd's picture
Syd

Well, you must be doing something right, Varda .  That's a lovely open crumb.  It looks tender and moist, too.  That is just the combination of bread flour/rye/ww I like myself.   How did it taste?


Syd

varda's picture
varda

Well I appreciate the sentiment even though I'm definitely not Sylvia.   I think she is one of the bakers on this site whose work is so fabulous that I don't even aspire to it but there are many of those.  What I'm noticing is that taste follows form.   So the better the bread looks the better it tastes.   That doesn't seem like it should be true, but yet it is.   In any case, I get a better crumb at 72% hydration than 68%, and better texture as well even with the 20% or so whole grain.   When I try that high a level of whole grain at a lower hydration the crumb condenses and I get bricks.     But I've made so much of this bread at this point, that even though I feel like I can do a lot better at it, I'd better do a switch soon before I get bored to death.   Someone said recently that Paris baking students make hundreds of thousands of baguettes in their training.   The problem with non-students such as myself is that whatever we make, we eat (well at least some) so that goes against too much repetition.

Syd's picture
Syd

My apologies, Varda. :( It was too early in the morning and I didn't have my glasses on!  Yes, wholewheat loaves definitely benefit from a higher hydration.  They also benefit from a longer autolyse.  Try autolysing for an hour next time.  You will find you won't have to knead for nearly as long and that it will also contribute to a lighter loaf. 


Syd

varda's picture
varda

There was just a whole lengthy thread on autolyse recently and I finally started doing it.   Before that I thought it was a frill.   And many people swear that it doesn't make a difference.    But I am curious.   I don't really knead.   I just get things mixed up in the mixer and then stretch and fold a couple of times at intervals.    The first time it is all gloppy at the beginning and then magically "rubberizes" while folding.   The second time, less gloppy and even more rubberization during the stretch and fold.    But I can surely try the longer autolyse and see what happens.   Thanks.   -Varda

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You seem to have conquered the blow-out problem, Varda.  Good going!

varda's picture
varda

Hey LindyD.   Yes, conquered, or semi-conquered.   I tamed my starter, heated up the ferment with warm(er) water, heated up the proofing, slashed with vigor, watched shaping videos, baked one loaf at a time, so they don't interfere with each other, and so forth.   And still I don't know how to get the two slashes to open up the same amount (yes I know I could do one slash, but I want two, darn it.)   I think it is an oven issue - the one in back opens more than the one in front, and I don't want to let out the steam to rotate.   I am now taking a brief sabbatical to bake other (easier?) breads.  Thanks for your support as usual.   -Varda

JerryW's picture
JerryW

Hi Varda -- I think I have your formula figured out.  You begin with 245 g. of stiff starter, do two small builds to 412 g, use 219 and save 193 for the next bake.  I assume that's Heckers all-purpose flour you're using?  Just curious -- why different flours for the starter and dough?


What temperature do you bake it to?


Thanks.


cheers,


  jerry

varda's picture
varda

Hey,   I think I use multiple flours because I'm easily distractable and something else always seems better.  But really, I was experimenting with the idea that a lower protein flour would be healthier for the starter, and I think I am coming to the conclusion that that is incorrect.   I took another stab at this today and used KA Bread Flour for the starter, but also reduced the hydration of the dough and also didn't add any whole grains.   The loaf came out less slack, so what have I learned?   I think I've learned that I don't have the self-discipline to change only one variable at a time.  But yes, I think you do have my formula figured out.   I don't usually start with such a high amount of starter, but I had fed it not long before and had it in the refrigerator, and it seemed robust enough to have used it without any builds, so I just added a bit to what I already had.  I haven't been measuring internal temp of the baked loaf.   Just turn it over and rap it and listen for a hollow sound.   That seems to work pretty well.   I just got a thermometer but somehow don't like the idea of poking a hole in the loaf.   I guess that's silly and I should at least try it.   -Varda