The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

24-hour Sourdough!

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AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

24-hour Sourdough!

Well, I've finally created my most perfect sourdough bread with such a rich flavor that I will probably never make anything else. Forget store bought bread, even from a good bakery. La Brea, eat your heart out! I started with the basic no-knead Sullivan Street recipe. Mix only the flour and water together, nothing else, and let sit in a covered container for 12 hours at room temperature. You could call this a 12-hour autolyse. Next, sprinkle the dough in the container with salt (2% of the flour weight) and add 10 grams (only TEN - not a typo) of active, refreshed sourdough starter. Now get your hands dirty and mix this all together for about five minutes until well incorporated. Coat the dough with some olive oil and let rise in the same covered container for another 8-12 hours. If your ambient room temperature is above 75 degrees, you probably want to stick closer to 8 hours on the 2nd fermentation. Those with lower temps can ferment longer. Your dough will more than double in size during the 2nd fermentation.

THESE IS ROOM TEMPERATURE, COUNTER-TOP FERMENTATION - NO REFRIGERATION

After the 2nd fermentation is complete, place the dough on a floured surface and stretch/fold a couple of times to tighten the gluten and allow the bread to retain its shape. After the second stretch/fold, form the dough into a ball with your hands and place into a floured banneton to rise for another couple of hours until almost (not quite) doubled in size. Invert the banneton onto a pizza peel, cook in a cloche or on a covered pizza stone pre-heated to 450F for 30 minutes covered, then uncovered for another 10-15 minutes or until you see a nice, caramel colored crust.

This bread will smell absolutely heavenly while baking, give off a fruity yet pungent aroma, and should leave you with a silky smooth, moist and soft crumb. I think most recipes can be adapted to this longer fermentation process to give you more flavor and a deep, well rounded tanginess. They keys to this bread tasting so good: 1) almost obscenely long fermentation time, and 2) very small amount of sourdough starter (total starter weight is only 2% of total flour weight). You will be impressed!

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

The basic Sullivan Street recipe can be found here.

Fred Rickson's picture
Fred Rickson

24 hours is not an especially long build time if one is manipulating for sour and flavor.  And, a small amount of starter is fine for a long build because the bacteria and yeast double every 20-30 minutes and the growth rate is exponential.  Large amounts of starter are only helpful for quick builds where the organisms do not have a lot of time to produce their effects and you want a large inoculum.  Very nice looking loaf.

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

Thanks for the positive feedback! Most recipes I've seen call for large amounts of starter and hours of cold refrigeration. I think this is going in the wrong direction. Large amounts of starter only serve to degrade your gluten structure faster, requiring refrigeration to retard that process in order to get any flavor. So refrigeration is basically a compensation for using too much starter. Why not use less starter and ferment at room temperature on your counter for the same or longer length of time? It would seem to give you a better tasting loaf with much nicer texture and fewer hoops to jump through.

Many recipes that I've seen call for up to 30% starter by weight, 2-4 hour bulk ferment and then an 8-10 hour refrigeration. Instead, why not use 1%-2% starter by weight and ferment at room temperature (without kneading) for 12 hours? The time investment is the same, but the resulting bread is out of this world delicious.

Fred Rickson's picture
Fred Rickson

I don't get this point.  A starter only has organisms in addition to flour and water.  That's it.  You seem to be saying that lots of organisms, all at once is a bad thing (something about destroying gluten), while it is those same beasts that will give us the flavor and tang of sourdough.  I have known a bunch of other amateur bakers (like me) liking a nice high tang and flavored sourdough, who start with a cup of starter (the organisms) and build for 2-4 days mostly at room temperature.  As long as the final flour addition, and subsequent kneading and loaf production, is dependent on maximizing yeast production for rising (time X temperature) there is never a gluten or rising problem.....but the taste is an absolute mimic of SF sourdough or better.  I would suggest to everyone to grab a teaspoon, and sample your starter....that is sourdough at its basic self.

 Sorry if all of this is old fashioned, my only bread-making books are two by Bernard Clayton, a James Beard (Beard on Bread) and Baking with Julia.......and Beard didn't even think much of sourdough (overrated). 
AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

Fred, thanks for the feedback but just a minor point if you don't mind... Saying "here we go again..." makes people like me, who are new to bread baking and this forum - and who are simply sharing our success - feel like a burden. Obviously there are many here who know a lot more about baking bread than I. Perhaps if you shared the specifics of your technique we could all learn something.

In my experience, I cannot ferment the entire bulk of bread flour using a high percentage of sourdough starter because the acids included with starter, plus future acids produced during fermentation cause rapid gluten breakdown. I've not only experienced this but have read the same on many blogs. If you're able to use a full cup of starter in one batch of bread dough and then bulk ferment the entire volume of dough at room temperature for 2-4 days (let alone 12 hours), well then you are a bread god! :) For a 12-hour room temp bulk fermentation, I cannot use more than 10 grams of starter or my dough will be over-fermented after 12 hours and unbakeable. This is also why I decided to ferment for 12 hours first without any starter, to avoid acid production, and introduce the starter after the first 12 hours. Even using a scant 10 grams of starter tripled my dough in 12 hours. That's quite impressive.

Using a small amount of starter also minimizes any problems your starter may have. If you add a lot of starter that may be so-so, then a lot of your bread will be so-so. By using very little starter, even if slightly off, any errors have a better chance of correcting themselves by the time that small amount of starter has grown and spread throughout the entire volume of dough. When I say off or so-so, I simply mean the ratio of yeast to bacteria.

I'm sure there are as many techniques and recipes as there are bakers, so use what works! :) By the way, I grew up in San Francisco and my 24-hour sourdough beats the best SF sourdough that I've ever tasted. I was surprised by what a positive effect on flavor and texture was gained from a simple 12-hour autolyse.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I fully understand and agree with your reaction to, "here we go again".  Rest assured that you are anything but a burden to the site and that is one beautiful loaf of bread that you baked.

Jeff

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Beautiful loaf.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

no knead loaf!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A very perfect loaf!  

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

I just looked up the recipe/formula at the link. According to my calculations, it is about 80.5% hydration. Is it hard to work with? Is it slack, sticky, etc?

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

At 80% hydration, the dough is very slack. However, the dough does get firmer after dusting with flour and stretching/folding. I recommend using a banneton or brotform for the final rise and to ensure your dough does not spread. The recipe works equally well at 60%-70% hydration.

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

Thank you all for your positive feedback! I never thought I could make sourdough in Arizona that would rival or exceed what I grew up with in San Francisco. Nothing beats homemade! :)

Lloyda's picture
Lloyda

l tried this recipe on thursday / friday but did not have 100% success - produced my first ever pancake.Nothing 1ike yours which looks really good. Loaf was more sour than I usually get, which I liked. l do want to try again with this recipe as the times potentially fit in with my work patterns. 

Firstly, eveything was slower than expected. Maybe my starter was not as active as should have been. Should I add more in the future to get things going faster?

Secondly, I found the dough very difficult to handle. shaping into any form of ball was virtually impossible.what would be the effect of reducing the hydration a bit?

The main reason for the pancake was over proving.lt was so slow I left it in a cold room overnight, when I should have put it in the freezer. I do wonder if the dough would still have flowed into a pancake as it was so slack.

Lloyd

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

Hi Lloyd,

Ambient air temperatures, the health of your starter, and the length of time left to ferment and/or proof are all variables here. I live in Arizona (Phoenix area) and my yeasties have a really hard time recovering after I put them in the fridge, which is why I haven't had much success with dough and starter refrigeration. It seems to really inhibit yeast activity even after it's brought to room temperature.

I keep my starter at room temperature and at 100% hydration. About 8-12 hours before I start making the dough, I refresh my starter using a 1:2:2 ratio by weight of starter:flour:water. This ensures that my starter is not too acidic and that the bacteria are in a better balance with the yeast. The fact that you didn't see much activity leads me to believe that you did not have a very active starter. In that case, you can try using more starter to see if you get better results. When I made the pictured loaf, my ambient temps were around 72 degrees. If your air is warmer, your fermentation times will be shorter.

It's a balancing act when you're attempting to ferment dough this long at room temperature. My first suggestion would be to ensure you have a strong, bubbly starter. Use it just as it peaks. Try autolysing for 6 hours instead of 12, then after adding your salt and starter continue fermenting until the dough just about doubles in size. That is probably a safer indicator than using time. Once you figure out what steps work in your situation, you can experiment with changing the variables to see if you can improve the results.

Lloyda's picture
Lloyda

Hi

I guess my ambient temperature could be a problem for me. Generally around 18C (65F) during the day at the moment. Guess l need to allow more time.

One other question. the recipe you started with added yeast at the begining,but you autolyse for 12 hours before adding starter. How did you arrive at this approach?

Thanks,

Lloyd

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

Hi Lloyd, I was just experimenting to see how long I can stretch the fermentation time of my dough at room temperature. I've read several articles here and elsewhere discussing how it's the longer fermentation time, not the quantity of starter, that yields a good sourdough flavor. With this in mind, I tried several approaches but always used the doubling of the dough as an indicator of when fermentation and proofing were completed. I tried the 1-2-3 sourdough recipe with more failure than success because of my generally higher ambient temps here in Arizona. The only way to get 1-2-3 sourdough to work was to either ferment at ambient temps for a very short time (4-6 hours max) or use some combination of ambient and refrigeratred fermentation. Neither gave me a the full rounded sourdough flavor that I wanted and that only a longer fermentation could provide.

I have also been reading about how an initial autolyze period helps with dough structure and flavor. So I thought, why not combine some of these techniques to try and stretch out the amount of time, at room temperature, that I can ferment and proof my dough? So on a whim I tried to autolyze for 12 hours and then ferment (w/ starter and salt) for another 8-12 hours. My results were truly spectacular. The resulting bread tastes so much better than anything that is fermented for a shorter time (even with much more starter) or for a longer time in the refrigerator. I just don't have much luck with refrigerating my dough and/or starter. Maybe it's the yeast here in AZ, but my 37 degree fridge temps seem to do a good job of killing most activity even after bringing dough and starter back to room temp.

When fermented for a long time, bread acquires a more pungent and nuttier flavor profile. You also get nicer and larger holes in your crumb - something I love in my bread. I read that a good way to determine whether your dough is properly aged/fermented is by taking a careful look at the larger holes in your crumb. Are they smooth and almost shiny in appearance? If yes, that is a sign of good fermentation. If not, you may want to let your dough rest a bit longer.

In the end it's all about experimentation. I only started bread baking a couple of months ago, I still have a lot to learn! :)

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Gorgeous! 12 hour room temperature autolyze?!! and it worked? this is an all white flour bread, right?

Very nice boule, AZblue!

-Khalid

 

AZBlueVeg's picture
AZBlueVeg

While the base recipe is the Sullivan Street 'no-knead' method, I have successfully used the longer fermentation time with a lower hydration dough - closer to 65%-70% - with excellent results. The lower hydration dough spreads less, gives higher oven spring, but also yields a drier crumb with smaller air holes. I've tried this extended autolyze method successfully at lower hydration, it's just a matter of taste and what kind of texture your prefer. The higher hydration of the original recipe will give you something closer to a ciabatta-style crumb.

I'mTheMami's picture
I'mTheMami

Beautiful loaf. will be trying this method soon!