The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi ... take two

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snapper4you's picture
snapper4you

Hi ... take two

Looks like my intro. post came a cropper. (like my first sough dough attempt.) So trying again.

Hi! I’m Wazza and I live in BrisbaneAustralia. I’ve been home baking bread for most of my adult life but until recently I was never tempted to bake a sourdough. Anyway, very recently a friend gave me a bread book, Classic Sourdough -  A Home Baker’s Handbook so I thought I‘d give it a go. Its starter recipe worked for me on the first try. I ended up with a culture with a bubbling layer of foam about two inches high and set about making my first sourdough. Everything went according to plan giving me a smooth dough that rose to a satisfactory level above the baking tin. However, when I placed it into the oven it failed to give me the bloom that I was expecting. As a result the bread was heavier than ideal, with a tight crumb. Taste was fine, sour but not overly so, but not a loaf I would boast about.  I’ll probably bake a couple more as I have the culture living happily in my refrigerator and maybe use extra of it next time. I used one cup for the first attempt. Possibly I’ll let it rise a little more before baking and see if that helps.

Cheers … Wazza

 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

How long after you began the sourdough culture, did you bake your first loaf from it? Starters do take some time to get completely established, stable and reliable. Also, keeping it in the fridge is a great way to slow it down so that it doesn't require as much attention, but of course, you should let it wake up for a refreshment cycle or two before baking with it. Around here, a refreshment cycle is usually considered to be the cycle of time between feeding, rising as high as it can, then feeding again. You would take the starter out of the fridge, wait for it to peak, feed it, wait for it to peak again, then it may be ready to bake with. If the starter isn't well established, refrigerating can cause lots of unpredictable results, mostly just failing to rise very well.

snapper4you's picture
snapper4you

Hi David, my sourdough culture was ready to use after five days. I wasn't ready to bake at that time so I fed it and refrigerated it. After taking it out of the refrigerator I let it sit at room temp. for about an hour and then fed it again. It quickly reestablished and it was then that I used it for my first sourdough loaf. I note that you suggest a second feed and rise after refrigeration. Thanks, I'll try that next time.

Wazza

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Wazza,

I've always known my starter to take a while to become as active as possible after coming out of the fridge. Yours may not take as long as mine, so as long as the results are good, there is no problem using it within any amount of time you are comfortable with. But, for now, you are probably in the midst of two kinds of changes. One, your starter is still developing its character, and two, you're still learning what that character is. Until the starter is stable and reliable, it will be hard for you to predict timings, especially with refrigeration going on. That will slow down your starter, not only in growth activity, but also in becoming the mature sourdough culture you can depend on. I would really recommend taking it out of the fridge and keeping it fed every day, perhaps twice a day, for a couple of weeks to give it the chance to stabilize completely. I've seen recommendations ranging from two weeks to a month, but never less.

There may still be a struggle for survival going on between different organisms, and changing temperatures may interfere with that process. In the end, you want a few organisms to become well established and the others to fade, so that when you feed it, the regime doesn't change unexpectedly. While it's out, you can keep the culture small, less than 100 grams if you wish, so the amount being discarded at feeding time isn't so great. And if you don't want to discard your "discard", you can mix it into just about any baked goods for extra flavor. I like to add some to pancakes, some people do waffles, or english muffins.

snapper4you's picture
snapper4you

Thanks again David. Some interesting tips there, especially about using the discard in other forms of baking. I do a lot of baking other than bread but I'd never thought of using culture mix. I'll take my starter out of the fridge today and give it a couple of extra feeding weeks and see how things eventuate.

Thanks again ... Wazza