The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ericreed's picture
ericreed

Success!

My sourdough starter finally seems to be right! My first loaf that raised properly and had good oven spring using only natural levain. It only took 6 weeks to make it happen.

Really a test mini-loaf, just around 400g total, in case it didn't rise again. And this  what happens when you forget to score the loaf and the yeast actually have some oomph to them.

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Now you are hooked.   You won't  mind forgetting to score it.    Just letting it pop out where ever it wants is no problem since SD bread  tastes much better than yeast bread.   Many times I proof seam side down just so it can pop where ever it wants and I can see how 'artisan rustic ' it really is:-).

Happy SD baking

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

It is really neat to bake this way. I marvel at my loaves and my pizzas. And at the fact to that it works without feeding it all week, right out of the fridge. 

hankjam's picture
hankjam

I was no where near this after 6 weeks, good stuff.

I call this a bug loaf and I've had many as I don't seem to be able to slash deep enough... and I finally retreated to the confines of a Dutch Oven, which works pretty well for me... just need to get my courage up to bake on a sheet again...

Memo to self: I really need to go through the archives here to get the received wisdom.

Andrew j

 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I actually make pretty much all my breads to go in a dutch oven. I think it's much easier to get the steam than trying to mess with a steam tray in the oven or spritzing the walls.

For me, there were two main problems I had. First, I was initially underfeeding my sourdough apparently. Many recommendations out there maintain a feeding of 1 part culture, 1 part flour, 1 part water. Switching to 1:2:2 twice a day seems to have been the key for my culture to get active enough. The second problem is that I'm trying to learn exclusively from written materials, so it's difficult to know what dough is supposed to feel like. And my levain doughs feel nothing like doughs with commercial yeast. They stay stickier, they don't rise as much, and the finger-dent proof test doesn't seem to work the same. I wasn't sure this loaf was ready when I put it in the oven still it looked so flat, but it surprised me with the lovely spring.

Slainte's picture
Slainte

Love the loaf!  How does it taste?

I'm about at the same stage as you.  It took me a few attempts to actually make a starter in the first place (150 yr old drafty house, coldest winter in ages, snowsnowsnow -- Debra Wink's method was the key for me, though I used oj, not pineapple).  I too am not sure how stiff the starter should be, but I just roll with it.  In Tartine loaves, you only use a tablespoon of starter anyway.  Our water is very hard;  I've been good about letting water for my starter sit out on the counter to dechlorinate, and then promptly forgot about that and used tap water in my loaves. Don't know if that makes a difference. My last bread was 'meh'.  And the dough was so sticky!!!  Couldn't get it out of the proofing baskets without destroying it.  Did yours turn out of the basket easily?  You have the lovely banneton rings on your loaf!

PS. One trick about using a Dutch oven -- if you put your loaf on parchment paper before slipping it into the oven -- crumple the parchment paper and then unfold it prior to putting the dough on it.  It then sits 'flatter' in the oven. (hope that makes sense)

ericreed's picture
ericreed

It's really good. Basically Hamelman's pain au levain, mostly white flour with a bit of rye thrown in. The sour was present but not overwhelming, good crumb with big irregular holes. (I'd take a picture but we already ate it all.) One of the best tasting breads I've made, I'd say.

I do find sourdough to stay stickier than bread with commercial yeast, which probably isn't helped by the fact that they often spend much longer in the proofing basket. Finding that perfect amount of flour to use in the basket is always a challenge. I usually end up overflouring it a little. In this case I appear to have been right on, it came out no problem with the lovely markings as you see.

For me with my D.O., I lay a piece of parchment paper on a small circular cutting board that I have and cut out a circle to match that. Put the parchment covered board on top of the banneton and then flip it. From there it's easy to slide the bread with the parchment paper into the D.O. where it fits just about perfectly so there's no crumbling or folding of the paper and I can get the dough in gently without deflating it.

Slainte's picture
Slainte

Isn't it an amazing feeling to make a great bread from three basic ingredients?  It's magical, eh?  I always feel like I am touching history when I bake bread.

I'm going to grind up some rice and use that flour (along with some ap) in my bannetons and see if that helps.  I also really like your idea of flipping the unbaked loaf onto your parchment and a cutting board -- I've been trying to flip it into a hot covered oblong baker, which is definitely not working!  Great idea!  Of course, my shaping is probably a huge factor too.  Gotta work on that.

Have you tried Tartine?  I'll take a stab at Hamelman next.  

ericreed's picture
ericreed

Tried being the operative word. It was before my starter was right and things didn't work out well. I'll have to do it again at some point. But I'm  a big fan of Hamelman.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

That the rising times Hamelman gives for his sourdough seem off for a lot of people, including me. In "Advanced Bread and Pastry", Michael Suas mentions that for small batches of dough, their rising time should be increased by I think it was 20%. I wonder if Hamelman's times are based on the commercial production amounts he gives in the recipe and not the home amounts. Anyway, I expect it to take longer than given for those recipes. I think this one was an hour extra bulk and 45 minutes for final proof.

Slainte's picture
Slainte

I haven't baked a lot from Hamelman; that is important information to know.  Thanks!

Hamelman'so sourdough seems to have a 66-68% hydration if I'm doing the math correctly.  Tartine's is 75%,  I've just finished shaping 2 more loaves, and they are proofing in the bannetons now.  I spritzed the bannetons with some water and then coated them really well with a combo of rice and ap flour, squishing the flour in with my fingers. We will see how they turn out.  I will use a cutting board and parchment paper.

Is there anything in particular that you prefer about Hamelman's methods?

So much to learn!

 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

It's more his style of writing and presentation. I'm kind of analytically minded, I have to think my way through baking, I can't feel my way. You can see on a screenshot from mybread here,I put all my recipes into an excel spreadsheet before I bake them. Hamelman's book being more geared to professionals just fits me better. But I do like Tartine and I started with Ken Forkish, who has a very similar method to Tartine. (I think he based his off Tartine?) I still basically bake all my bread in their format, if you will, as boules with a base of 1000 g flour in my dutch oven. (Well, 500 g flour, I usually only do one at a time.)

Slainte's picture
Slainte

LOL, I think the reason I like Tartine is because of the pretty pictures! I'm drawn to the look of his book, the feeling of history, the stories.  Is it fair to say you like the science, whlie I prefer the art?  Understanding, of course, that it is a rare person who fits entirely into only one camp -- most of us tiptoe into the other from time to time.  Yo me, a perfect evening would be eating bread and drinking wine with Chad and Liz, while talking about France.  

Wonderful how there is room for all of us in the big tent of bread baking. :)

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I think it's fair to say that I cannot separate the art from the science or science from the art. To appropriate a Richard Feynman quote, albeit one about astronomy, "What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?" To me science only deepens and expands aesthetic appreciation. Hamelman's "Bread" embodies that spirit, I think. He says of sourdough, "Bread baking has always brought me in touch with the ephemeral nature of life, and never moreso than when I am producing sourdough breads. I have often maintained that sourdough represents the true alchemy of the baker." But while utilizing the metaphor and romance of alchemy to speak of the emotions evoked by bread, the information and writing itself is grounded in the more prosaic world of chemistry and facts.