The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first Sourdough

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scotch2cubes's picture
scotch2cubes

My first Sourdough

I have to say, I am surprised. It was much less terrifying than I anticipated. (and i can anticipate terrifyingly with the best of them) Sadly I cant relate any useful information as it was an interesting amalgam of techniques and styles gathered from all over the web and various books. I began my starter somewhat over a week ago, I used info from "joy of cooking" (the original one, not the "pour two cans of this together and call it soup" one that they publish now) ....All the diehard artisans just stopped reading my thread.... ;) I had no idea what to expect since there are so many conflicting... You must do it EXACTLY like this Or EXACTLY like that at EXACTLY this temperature. I mean really? who can follow those kind of explicit guidlines? So I made my starter, at random intervals sprinkled it with water and flour, either all purpose or an organic oatbran I had. By about day six (it smelled really good by about day 3) I tasted it... WOW!!! tangy sour yummy. I then went through a bizzare series of events.. day off, I start my sponge, Waaaay too late in the day for my start but I did anyway. After about 5 hours at room temperature, which was EXACTLY 82 degrees (lol) I said to myself... self, this is going to rise way to slow to start a second rise at 1am, being as you have to work in the morning. I had read in various places, refrigerate it to retard the fermentation so, into the beer fridge it went... as I said I had had the day off so there was room. Next morning before work I peeked... yep still there. An hour or so before leaving work  had the wife pull it out to begin warming it up... probably should have been about 4 hours in hindsight. By now its 3-pm we have "Shrek the musical" to go see at 7:30. So I add my additional flour, sprinkle a bit of yeast in some warm water to perk things up since the dough is still very chilly, just about the temp I would have had one of those beers at. Shape form, shape form, stress levels climbing, timeclock ticking. Loaves are in the oven with the light on, 30 minutes, nothing, 45 minutes nothing.... wait wait no its somewhat larger. By 5:45 I had one nice Boule and a "french loaf" shaped loaf, ready to go. Preheated that oven, threw em in, and 40 minutes later Presto SOURDOUGH! (which would have to wait several hours since we were now late for Shrek) got home, cut into that puppy and it was really really good, wife says its the best tasting sourdough she's ever had. I agree it is quite good. It has a very nice consistency (crumb I guess I should call it) crusty exterior. It could be a bit holier I think.. more holey? holier? you know what Im saying. After reading a bit more yes... reading even MORE. I see I should have had a moister dough to achieve that effect. But, being a novice the wet dough was very intimidating. (I still cant watch "The Blob") and I may need more stretch and fold stretch and fold.

All of this being said. I say to anyone afraid to give it a whirl, Go for it, after all they made this stuff in wagons banging across the praries while fending of indian attacks, how hard can it really be?

your friend,

Scotch 2cubes

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

are amazing.  Once you get good at it you won't go to work anymore and those pesky Shrek outings will be long forgotten and a thing of the past - never to almost get in the way of making SD ever again :-)

I have to get me a hat like yours too!  Welcome to SD baking.

Laurentius's picture
Laurentius

Hi Scotch,

Good for you it worked out. Most people can follow those explicit guidelines. They are not set in stone rules, they are there to teach you discipline, observation skills in the dependence upon each factor upon the other(fermentation time, temperture, mixing, proofing, and so on, which are repetable). Once you have a basic understanding of these factors, your exploration of creativity is much less stressful and much more fulfulling. The haphazard approach might work the first time, but the real test is     when they say "Play it again , Sam!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Making bread isn't rocket science, even though there is science underlying it.  Housewives have been making bread by feel for millenia, many of those millenia using wild yeasts and with little or no temperature control.  We can't help but succeed with the addition of accurate measurement and modern equipment.  Gleaning aspects of your reading to try out in your own process can be very fulfilling, and need not be stressful at all because with each variation you might not get the bread you envisioned, but it will be bread.

Laurentius's picture
Laurentius

Hi Mango,

I'm in total agreement with you for the most part, housewives, sisters, daughters and many men have been baking bread by feel for millenia, but not in a ramdon fashion. Cooking and baking for the most part has been passed down from generation to generation, the (feel) that we talk about is more(practiced) than (intuitive). Standing at the elbow of your mother or grandmother every morning or evening being taught how to make biscuits or hot cakes, apple pie or corn bread, and the greatest praise that you can be given is, "This taste just like grandma's. My mother nor my grandmother could read a cook book, but if they tasted something that they like and talked to the cook about it, they could (feel) it out. Their measurements were a tad, pinch, smitgen. Temperature was in luke warm, babies breath, hand in over long enough to count to 5 or 10. To the onlooker, its voo doo, magic, feel, to the apprentice its measured, it exact. Knowing the basics allows one to be creative and intuitive.

 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

The basics of bread-making consist of mixing water and flour in proportions that will create a dough that can be handled, plus salt for flavoring and yeast for leavening.  In the case of sourdough, the salt is left out until the yeast on the grain (or from the air, if the flour has been completely sterilized) can take hold, and some of the inoculated dough is held in reserve as starter for future batches.  Details dictate what kind of bread results in each case, but there will always be bread if the previous four things are combined in such a fashion that a coherent blob of dough can be formed, and it rises.  In that sense, I suppose the basics could be called random, because differing details can lead to so many types of bread.  And while this so-called randomness is a liability to a commercial baker who must produce bread to a standard by law, it is none to the home baker unless one is the sort to throw away cooked food because it didn't come out looking like a particular photograph.  After confidence is gained in basic bread-making, one can seek out the secrets of making loaves that are different from what one's procedure has produced.

Perhaps I am biased because I am an experimentalist by nature and by training, but I feel that too many new bakers are frightened by what is essentially utilizing a natural process that is hard to prevent.  It's difficult not to ferment things, and bread is a very forgiving food in its preparation.