The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bakery Bought Sourdough

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Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

Bakery Bought Sourdough

Having only tasted my own homemade sourdough I was curious how a sourdough loaf bought from a store would compare.  So today I bought a loaf from our local Eurphorium Bakery who claim:

"If you’ve tasted better bread anywhere in the world, then please let us know because we have artisan bakers at the ready to compete on the world stage. Our Almond Croissants have been called ‘iconic’, but we aren’t just taking on the croissant. No! We’ll bake whatever takes our fancy from wherever in the world. It could be sourdough, rye bread or an organic ciabatta – nothing will keep us from bringing the best of baking to the best of British."

I have to say the loaf looked wonderful, it had such a beautiful rise to it that it put my homemade sourdough to shame on that score, although the crumb was not as open as my bread.  However the real difference was the taste.  If I had never tasted homemade sourdough then perhaps I would have been happy with the flavour, but gosh it was just so bland.  My bread has a real sour taste to it with an open crumb and is never doughy like this bread was.

What I am curious about though is how they get their sourdough to rise so much.  Even my other half has asked why my bread doesn't turn out such a nice shape and it does disappoint me somewhat that despite my efforts I can't seem to match these shop bought loaves in height.  I would say my loaves are about 4ins high compared to about 6ins at least for these store ones.

The recipe I use, which was very kindly given to me on here, is 500g white flour, 200g starter at 100% hydration, 300ml water & 11g of salt.  I usually mix in my standmix, autolyse for 2hrs, do some stretch and folds for a few hours, shape and leave for half an hour.  Shape again and put into bannetons, cover and put in fridge overnight.  Take them out the next morning, leave them for about 2/3hrs then bake at 290c on a granite baking stone with steam.  

Lyn

 

tchism's picture
tchism

How often do you feed your starter and how long after feeding do you use it? 

Also, what kind of flour are you using to feed and for the bread?

 

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

I normally bake once a week, so I take the starter out of the fridge usually a couple of days before I bake as I find it needs usually 2, maybe 3 feeds, before it doubles in size as our fridge is quite cold.  It doesn't seem to be the most vigorous of starters, today the temp outside is about 25c and I've had to put the starter on a heat pad for it to start growing as it was doing very little.  I always make sure I use bottled water for the starter too as our water is quite hard where we live.

I feed with wholemeal flour, usually I buy Wrights strong wholemeal bread flour, but I was running low so I've been mixing it with Redbournbury organic wholemeal flour.  The flour I am using for the actual bread is Allinson Very Strong white bread flour.

Lyn

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I so hear you!

When I came to the UK * I am German married to an English Man living on the Isle of Wight * I was sooooo happy when I found Sourdough bread , I think it was in Morrison.

I never bought it again as it was crumbly and the crust of a greyish tint and to soft.

When I started to bake my own bread and than started my Sourdough Starter * 13 Month * ago, it was a revelation.

Both my Starters , 100% Rye starter 120% hydration and 100% Wheat Starter 100% hydration , are very active indeed.

My Rye starter lives on my Kitchen Counter as I bake every 2 days.

I have to feed the Rye Starter every 12 hours.

My Wheat Starter lives in the fridge.

I take him out once a week, open the jar so that the lid is not fully closed, let my Starter warm up and rise, than take half out , feed, wait until he grows a bit again , put him in the fridge.

When I take him out of the fridge to feed and let air circulate in the Jar, within 25 minutes he has doubled in size , bubbly, so I do only need to feed once before baking with that Starter.

My Rye Starter also doubles and triples well after feeding.

I do bake in a Dutch Oven and my bread rises well too.

It never did rise as much when I was using a baking tray and sprayer water in the Oven for Steam.

I use the Very Strong white bread flour from Sainsbury and the strong Wholemeal flour from Sainsbury.

For my Rye Starter I use the Organic Rye Flour bought at Sainsbury.

I do stir both starters for about 30 seconds after feeding so that they do get a lot of air. 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Lyn,

Ironically your choice of very strong flour is probably one of the causes of lack of spring in your dough!   The trouble with very strong flour is that it can take an age for the gluten to modify and become sufficiently extensible to achieve extensibility in the dough, and thus plenty of spring.   Allinsons Strong White flour would be a much better choice in my opinion, and a good bit cheaper too.   Remember also that using wholemeal in your culture will speed everything up and that you have less tolerance in the leaven.   If that is the case, it may break down too quickly thus compromising dough strength.   I prefer to use white flour in the leaven and add the wholemeal portion to the final dough.   But, it is really a matter of what works for you of course.

Do you adjust your water temperature to ensure your leaven is running at a minimum of 24*C once refreshed from out of your cold chiller?

I don't think using tap water will have any impact on how your leaven performs.

Best wishes

Andy

PetraR's picture
PetraR

to do the bulk fermentation in the fridge over night and than shape and proof for about 2-2.5 hours.

I remember I did it the way you do it and my dough had always over proofed and I did not get such a good rise.

 

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

Thanks for the replies, I will get some of the Allinsons strong bread flour instead of the very strong flour and see if that makes a difference as it would be lovely to have the same rise as the store bought sourdough.  I hadn't realised about the wholemeal flour in the starter making any difference but it did remind me of when I had some white starter for an apricot and almond loaf and that starter used to double very quickly.  However I got fed up of feeding it every week when I wasn't using it, so I just dried some and put it in the freezer.  Might be an idea to try to revive that and see if it's still alive!

My mum is German and she cannot get enough of my sourdough bread as it reminds her of when she lived in Germany as back then all the bread she ate was made with a starter and she just loves the taste of it.

Lyn

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I am using the Sainsbury own brand Strong flour now, it has a bit less than 14 % Protein, I think it is 13.9 % , it gives me such good breads.

Allyoops's picture
Allyoops

It might be that the store bought loaf has added yeast, which is often the case, but no mention is ever made of the fact. Even a small amount of added yeast will make the loaf higher and better looking, although adding nothing to the taste and integrity of the bread.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I hope you told them that your sourdough tastes much better than theirs!

tchism's picture
tchism

Wholemeal flour could be part of the cause if its the same as wholewheat ( I think it is ) here in the U.S. the larger particles in the flour can pop the gas bubble in the bread dough and lower the amount of rise. I don't typically use more than 30% whole wheat in a recipe to maintain good rise. Also if you have the same issue with white flour you could play with hydration. The flour in the UK may not need as much water as the flour here in the States. Just some thoughts.

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

I did think that maybe the store bought bread had added yeast to it, but I guess they would never admit to that!

Didn't occur to me that the larger particles in the wholemeal flour could be popping the gas bubbles.  I have just fed my starter again and also am trying to revive the white one having defrosted it overnight.  Just hope they are both okay!

Lyn

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Lyn,

If the bread you bought was wrapped, then the ingredients would have to be listed, and the addition of any yeast thus be declared!

Regarding wholemeal, it has nothing to do with the bran popping gas bubbles.   With regard to the pre-ferment, the use of wholemeal simply means there is a lot more food available for the yeast in the form of vitamins and minerals.   This means a speeded up process.   If you really want to look at the true complexities of using wholemeal, in particular the problems of phytase, I would have a good look through Debra Wink's posts here on TFL.   It's difficult science, but she explains it all as well as anyone else I can think of.   In particular, you may want to dwell on this comment she made here responding to our much-missed colleague Eric:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/55463#comment-55463

"Everything happens much quicker with wholegrain"; that is the essential drift.   We are really looking at enzymatic activity here.

Best wishes

Andy

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

Thanks for that link I will go and read it!

The bread wasn't wrapped, they have it all displayed unwrapped on a huge table and you just pick up the loaf you want to buy.  I may email them and ask them, you never know they may be honest with me!

Lyn

ananda's picture
ananda

As stated on the website:

"Our on-site artisan bakers use four real ingredients"

Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast methinks!

And they absolutely should be honest with you Lyn

Andy

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

Didn't see that bit Andy!

Lyn

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Just this weekend, I baked a higher rising loaf than normal (two actually, because I usually bake two at a time). I started my baking adventures several months ago with a specific recipe which ended up being not at all what I wanted in a finished product. So, I went through a phase where I was changing everything all the time, and had terrible results. Then, I simplified and started getting better. Now, I've begun experimenting again, trying to still improve. My standard for a while had been 60% hydration, 2% salt, and whatever amount of starter I felt like using at the time, usually around 20% to 30% of total dough weight. I wanted my bread to be softer, because I was making sandwich loaves. So, I read on here that sugars and fats both soften the loaf. So, to my standard, I added around 4% sugar and 7% or up to 8% oil. That did work, but I also wanted my loaves to be fluffier. The added oil made my bread seem very weighty, almost dense, even though it was very soft. So, I tried a couple more things. I upped the hydration a bit, and that bread was better.

Then, I made the dough for this weekend's bake. I had been using only Bread flour, but this time I used mostly AP, and only some Bread. I used a tad less than 2% salt. I upped the hydration even more, to 68% total hydration. I think that is going to be the limit for me being able to still handle the dough, until I improve more. I did several stretch-and-folds during bulk fermentation, which really tightened up the gluten. And I didn't use any oil or sugar. It rose a little higher than normal during final proof, and had a good, though not impressive, oven spring. I had a lighter crust (previously had been thick and hard), a soft, fluffy, yet substantial, crumb, and an even hole structure, important for sandwiches, but the holes were just a little bit larger. I didn't score, but there was no breakage, even though I got good oven spring. The time and temperature of my bake didn't change. For two 1000g pan loaves, I baked at 375F for 40 minutes. My only regret - the bread is too big to fit in the pop-up toaster!

mixinator's picture
mixinator

A big rise and bland flavor are the earmarks of added baker's yeast.

We know it's going to contain flour, water and salt. The fourth ingredient? It could be true sourdough starter or it could be baker's yeast. You'd have to ask them.

I've had several packaged sourdough breads which were very bland in flavor. Looking on the ingredient label invariably revealed "yeast" as an ingredient. I suspect this is baker's yeast. It makes the bread rise faster and the bakery can turn out more loaves in less time.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

mixinator,

You said "A big rise and bland flavor are the earmarks of added baker's yeast."

Although that is probably true, it is also possible to get a huge rise and bland flavor out of a true sourdough loaf. If you don't believe it, just ask me! I've done it before, usually by forgetting to add the salt!

ananda's picture
ananda

I do not think this is a classified ingredient...it is flour and water!

Something else to throw into the mix here: some of us are not looking for overt sour flavours in our wheat breads.   Just because we proudly shout about using only natural levain in commercial bread, it does not necessarily mean we want to sell bread which is in any way sour in flavour.

Best wishes

Andy

mixinator's picture
mixinator

DavidEF - I'm sure what you say is true, however,  a commercial bakery has a major incentive to use baker's yeast and is less likely to forget the salt :-)

mixinator's picture
mixinator

some of us are not looking for overt sour flavours in our wheat breads.   Just because we proudly shout about using only natural levain in commercial bread, it does not necessarily mean we want to sell bread which is in any way sour in flavour.

A yeasted  (as in baker's yeast) bread would fit the bill here.

I've seen breads labelled as "San Francisco style sourdough" which are made with baker's yeast and aren't the least bit sour. This is misleading IMO. If they called it "French bread" or anything else besides "San Francisco style sourdough", I'd be OK with it.

ananda's picture
ananda

But Lyn and I live in the UK.   And I don't use yeast to bake my artisan loaves!

Andy

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Some thoughts.

Autolyse is 1.5 hours is bit long - 30 minutes is adequate.

"Stretch and folds for a few hours" - this builds gluten structure. Does it pass the windowpane test and how how much does the dough enlarge?

"Shape and leave for half an hour. Shape again and put into bannetons, cover and put in fridge overnight. Take them out the next morning, leave them for about 2/3 hrs -" I take it that this is the "proofing" phase. This makes it difficult to ascertain total proofing time. This, by the way, is one of the big gotchas in sourdough baking. Your dough might be suffering from overproofing, the boogeyman of oven spring.

I suggest trying to augment the recipe timing by retarding first in the fridge followed by final proofing prior to the bake. This will allow you to carefully observe the dough as it warms and doubles in bulk.

Good Luck and let us know and see the result...,

 

Wild-Yeast 

Officially it is known as San Francisco Sourdough French Bread - a mouthful of terroir slang for naturally levained bread. Sub categories are Wharf Bread (for tourists) and neighborhood bread.

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

Sounds a good idea to retard first in the fridge as I am a bit confused as to knowing when the dough is proved enough.  I have a sneaky feeling that the way I am doing it the dough is overproving as when I poke it there is no indent at all, it springs right back, which I am guessing means it's overproved.  It would also be easier for me to just make up the dough and put it all in the fridge instead of spending half my evening shaping and putting into bannetons.  Do you suggest I do the stretch and folds before I put the dough in the fridge?  As you can tell I am fairly new to baking sourdough!

I don't normally do the windowpane test, guess I should start to do that.  Usually I can feel that the dough is silky and ready, but yesterday the dough was very different and didn't really get to that silky stage.  I do wonder if this was because I was using a different white flour as it seemed quite dry.  Guess I will see when I bake it later today.

Lyn

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

eans it is not proofed enough.  When you poke it it should leave an indent that slowly fills most of the way back when it is ready for the oven - right then.  The hard part is that I don't get the right read for dough in baskets and certainly not if it is cold from the fridge.   Having the oven ready to go when the bread is ready is the real problem.  better to go by vision  When it is 85% proofed, rise in volume then in the oven ti goes for more whole grains and 90% for more while breads.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Overproofed dough tends to be gooey.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Hi Lyn,

Springing right back shows the dough is "not" overproofed. It's when it "doesn't" spring back that it's overproofed.

It sounds as if your dough has developed adequately - it will exhibit a satiny sheen indicating that the dough has a developed gluten content. I use the finger touch test in which I touch the dough with my forefinger and withdraw it slowly - the dough should stick to the finger and stretch two or three inches indicating extensability.

Usually the dough will swell to double its size during the stretch and fold sessions (bulk ferment). Weigh and Shape into the bannetons then straight into the fridge  should work. The dough will rise some in the fridge due to retained heat but will not become overproofed. Withdrawing the bannetons from the fridge and watching the dough carefully till it is almost doubled in bulk will yield the best oven spring (best to underproof slightly for maximum spring).

Let us know how it comes out.

Good Luck!

Wild-Yeast 

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

I made up my dough exactly as I always do, but with the different flour that I have never used before and it's come out awful.  I did suspect when I was making the dough that it seemed quite dry but hoped it would still rise, however when I turned the bannetons out all the loaves were split.  I baked them all the same, but they look awful.  The flour has a protein level of 12.7% which I would have thought was okay for bread.  I even noticed that my starter was thicker than usual so have just put a bit more water in it.  This flour was quite expensive and I really thought I would get a much nicer loaf.  Oh well, onwards and upwards!

Lyn

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Some flours do require more water to hydrate properly, and some less. Try going by feel instead of sticking hard fast to the recipe. You know now that it feels dry, so try again with the same amount of water, but when it gets to the point that it feels dry, add some more water to it. Add just a little at a time until it feels right. See if the loaves turn out better that way.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

You were wondering why your loaves don't rise as much as the store-bought loaves. We suspect the store-bought loaves are made with added baker's yeast. If that is the case, it's an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Davo's picture
Davo

Looking at the underlined bits below, I think you might be confusing  what a good "rise" means. If their bread is not as open as yours, it must be denser (and so for the same weight, of less volume). So, the overall expansion of their bread is less than yours. But it has a nice shape, and presumably an impressive-looking bursting-at-the-seams appearance, and quite vertical - not so spready-outy?? If that's what you mean, the answer is easy - it's underproved. This is probably also why it tastes a bit bland (not tangy) - the flavour (including the sourness from the acidity) is just not fully developed, because it was - if my guess is right - baked too early. I'd stick with your bread, just the way you make it, if you like the flavour. If you want to get it slightly "tighter" and more vertical, just cut down the final proof (or also the bulk ferment) times slightly. Try taking off an hour from your bulk ferment and an hour off your warm-up time out of the fridge. But remember, there's a trade off - you will eventually get to a point where your bread is nice and tall and bursty-looking, but also denser than it might be, and less flavoursome. For me, the overall size of the loaf and the poke test are the indicators of readiness for the oven. If you bake when the poke test springs back quickly and pretty much fully, your will get dense bland impressive looking loaves! If it comes back slowly about 2/3 of the way, I reckon it's about ready. If it won't spring back at all, get it in a hot oven pronto (and don't slash at all) - in fact if I suspect overproof I want the oven really hot so as not to bake a pancake, so I will typically return loaf to fridge and get the oven as hot as possible as soon as possible.

"I have to say the loaf looked wonderful, it had such a beautiful rise to it that it put my homemade sourdough to shame on that score, although the crumb was not as open as my bread.  However the real difference was the taste.  If I had never tasted homemade sourdough then perhaps I would have been happy with the flavour, but gosh it was just so bland.  My bread has a real sour taste to it with an open crumb and is never doughy like this bread was.

What I am curious about though is how they get their sourdough to rise so much.  Even my other half has asked why my bread doesn't turn out such a nice shape and it does disappoint me somewhat that despite my efforts I can't seem to match these shop bought loaves in height.  I would say my loaves are about 4ins high compared to about 6ins at least for these store ones."

Littlebrooklyn's picture
Littlebrooklyn

I'm going to stay away from the bakery part of the supermarket now.  If my other half hadn't suggested buying a loaf to compare to mine I don't think I'd have bothered and yes I do prefer the taste and crumb on mine, so I will just keep on trying to adjust my timings so that I get the best loaf possible.

Lyn