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1st Sourdough: Flatbread - most unintentional

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Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

1st Sourdough: Flatbread - most unintentional

Hey there, been a bit.

After trying multiple times and for long periods to get a starter started, I finally hit on a success. I used SourdoLady's Pineapple Starter recipe (except I used OJ) and, lo and behold, foaminess overflowing!! Literally. Twice, even. So after cleaning up the goo off the counter for the second time, it was time to bake up my fist loaf of actual sourdough bread. I know, this is a rather immature starter but IT'S ALIVE!!

I had hunted down what looked like probably a good, simple recipe with few ingredients and little chance of messing it up. I used the Sourdough International's San Fran Sourdough recipe. Pretty simple: 1/2 cup culture (they expect you're using their San Fran starter) 2 1/2c water, 2 teaspoons salt and 7c flour

After making up the preferment (1 1/2c flour, 1 c water + the 1/2c starter) and letting it proof overnight, you then add the rest of the stuff, holding off 1c flour to knead in. "Mix in and spoon knead remaining flour, one cup at a time, reserving one cup for the floured board.  When too stiff to mix by hand, transfer to the floured board and knead in the remaining flour."

Hmmm... "When too stiff to mix by hand..." Never got to that one. The dough was soppy and runny and gooey.  This can't be right, I thought, but no, follow the instructions, only add the last cup of flour as you knead it. But it was still runny, only a little thicker than thick pancake batter. maybe once it sits for a few hours... Nope, still wet and extremely soft. Then I remembered that Mike, on his site, says several times not to make your dough stiff, it prefers to be wet. Hmmm... This wet? Naw, it is barely handleable. So I did add another cupr or two. But still quite soft. Didn't want to push it any further. So I made my loaves. Soft, squishy loaves. After they's sat for about an hour, I popped them onto the pre-hearted stone at 375F (again, strange, most recipes say 450 or so). 

40 minutes later, this is what I got:

flatbread

Rather pale crust and not much rise although a fair bit of spread.

However, it's quite yummy. Yes, I know, you're supposed to let your hot loaf sit for a while and it's best a few days later. But come on, first loaf... had to try it!

So next time around, I'm on the hunt for different recipe unless someone has tips. Probably like "Are you SURE you didn't just add too much water?!?!" Or maybe my "cups" of flour didn't match theirs; I was going with 120g cups, maybe theirs was closer to 200? It would be nice if all recipes included gram weight.

 Also: How do you store your bread? I dread putting it in a plastic bag and losing the crunch of the crust which is quite pronounced. Should I put plastic and a rubber band around just the cut end? What's the normal way? What did people do 150 years ago when Baggies weren't as popular?

Anyway, I also wanted to put out a big thanks to MiniOven and Mike Avery for their help while I was getting frusticated trying to get that insanely tricky combination of flour and water to do what it's supposed to and failing.I can now safely discard the five different attempts at starter and keep the one that's alive, alive. (I had also decided, a week back, to order Carls which should arrive sometime soon, so I'll fire that up and then I can do a side by side comparisson test.)

staff of life's picture
staff of life

First of all, put all your flour in the bowl, then adjust the liquid content.  The amount of salt, yeast, etc in a recipe is based on the amount of flour, not water, so you can mess things up that way.  Secondly, it sounds like your dough had no elasticity.  Since you're just trying to get your feet wet, were I you I'd err to the stiff side, not the wet side.  Stiff doughs are easier to handle.  And to make your dough more elastic (able to hold its shape), give it a few stretch and folds: fold it lengthwise like you're folding a business letter, then widthwise.  Do this every 20 mins or so, for about 3 or 4 times.  You'll start to notice that the dough gets more body, and holds its shape better in the container that way.  Susanfnp has a video on youtube and I think also on her blog, wildyeastblog.com, demonstrating this technique.  While you're on youtube, type boule shaping into the search engine and you can learn about how to give your bread a shape that it will hold.  A proofing basket also helps, sourdough especially.

Store your bread cutside down on a cutting board.  You can cover it with a cloth if you like.  You're right, plastic will ruin your crust.

SOL

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

 Thanks for the input SOL. The problem was decidedly not lack of folding, did that four times, every 30 minutes, before shaping the still sloppy dough. I think it's most likely I figured (assumed?) their "cups" of flour wrong and got a much, much too soppy dough.

Their recipe calls for a total of 2.75c water (2.5 water + 1/4c in the starter) - a cup of water is 238g, 2.75 x 238 = 654g; they want 7.25c flour (7c = 1/4c in starter), a cup of flour is 120g, 7.25 X 120 = 870g. Now if their cup was closer to 200g flour, that could have made a difference of over 500g. Even with just a 50g more per cup (170g), that would mean I was missing 350+g, almost 3 "cups" and enough to turn my sloppy dough quite a bit stiffer.

So the lesson here is: Don't use recipes that call for cups. Grams only. At least until I have a feel for what the dough should feel like and can be a little more sure that "this isn't quite right yet".

Also, this isn't my first time making bread, just the first sourdough with starter so I was trusting their instructions to be right. Oh well...

And thanks also for the storage tip on bread-on-the-go.

The second loaf, I must now say, isn't quite so good the next day. It's very heavy and the crust extremely hard & chewy, this from someone who likes crust with real body. It's a write off, the dogs are liking the many treat cubes though.  

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is bothering me... This may be a silly Q but I noticed you switched order while writing measurements, first water and flour, and then flour and water, could it be that the recipe you were looking at is also switched?  The mind might then read 1 1/2 c water to 1 c flour instead of the other way around for the preferment. Just a thought... Was the preferment soupy?

How long was the bulk rise the second day? Due to all that added flour, it should have taken all day!

Mini O

Eli's picture
Eli

Paul here is the recipe that I used and I have been sucessful with it if I stay close to the formula.

Starter 13.5 ounces  166%

Water  12 ounces

Flour (bread) 22.5 ounces

Oil 1 tablespoon

Salt 2 tsp

I combine the water and flour and allow about a twenty minute autolyse. I then add the starter and then allow to rest 5 minutes. Then I add the oil, allow to rest 5 minutes. Once I have a good dough and the temp is about 76% I add the salt and work it in. The dough will be tacky to sticky. Set aside and cover in an oiled bowl; mine takes about 3 to 4 hours of bulk fermentation. I then, gently, shape and place in covered couche or whatever and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours. Take it out and allow it to rise approx 1-2 hours--depends on your starter and your ambient temp.

Preheated range to 495 to 500 remove from couche and drop on heated stone. Steam first 3 to 5 minutes and then turn heat down to 425. Bake for 30 minutes or till internal temp is around 185 (it will continue to cook and reach around 200).

I have been lucky with this formula and the measurements should be pretty close, although Ihave had some scale problems today. Let me know if it works for you.

 

Here is pix of the formula results that I place here on TFL

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6903/batards-and-pain-de-provence

Eli

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I'll need to give that a try after I see how Mike's SF sd  turns out. Thanks for the recipe. 

166%... (mental gymnastics time, I SUCK at math) what's that, 1-2-3? 1-2-4? 1-3-5? I'm sure there's a list somewhere. And if not, there should be!

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Paul

dolfs's picture
dolfs

166% merely means that the overall hydration is 166%. The overall hydration of a starter is always equal to the feeding hydration ratio (assuming a consistently fed starter and not some kind of conversion build), which is made up by the last two numbers in the three number sequences you give (the first determines the percentage of the previous stage starter). The hydration is the third divided by the second number.

Thus a 1:2:3 tells you that you add flour and water in a 2/3 ratio, thus hydration is 3/2 = 133%. Therefore 166% = 5/3 so it corresponds to an x:3:5. If you'd like a just fed starter to contain 20% old starter, it means that x must represent the 20% and 3+5 the other 80%. Therefore 8=80% and thus 20% corresponds to 2 and so your overall formula is: 2:3:5. A 10% would be described as 1.77:3:5. but we don't like decimals here, and since 1.77 is close to 23/13 we could say 23:39:65. Most people find that too complicated and would rather adjust the 1.77 to 1.67 and come up with 2:9:15, or even reduce that to 1:5:8.

In my experience, though, starter ratios are chosen simply and the hydration percentages are just a number, rather than starting with a desired percentage and working backwards. After all, a simple ratio is easy to remember and requires only multiplication while feeding. The actual hydration is then relevant in determining how much water to put in the final dough to achieve an overall desired hydration.

1:2:1 is a 50%, stiff starter, 1:2:2 is a 100% liquid starter, and 1:2:3 is a 133% and even more liquid starter. If you want smaller amount of original starter, these three can also be done as: 1:4:2, 1:4:4, and 1:4:6, or even 1:6:3, 1:6:6 and 1:6:9.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Dolf,
Without making a big deal about this, I think you might be stating ratios as you have used them, in a non standard way. Maybe that's a little strong, just not the simple way to use and understand refreshment ratios.

In practice I usually start by measuring out an amount of starter that Reinhart calls the seed culture. For this example let's say 10 grams of seed culture. Then I always add the water next. So for this example, (I use a 1:3:4 ratio) I multiply 10 X 3 and get 30 grams of water which I whisk in. Then I multiply 10 X 4 and get 40 grams of flour which gets stirred in. This may not satisfy the rocket scientist but it's easy to follow and get right every time, regardless of the amount. Of course you can change the ratio if you are trying to maintain a more firm or less firm seed culture. 

Peter Reinhart is known to state his ratio's in several formats which I think only serves to further confuse the readers. I don't find any advantage to writing the formula in reverse to the way I will implement it. Apologies to the math department.

Eric

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

As long as I know that 166% is X:3:5, that's enough info for a math-challenged dude like me. I did know that the "X" factor was not entirely relevant.

I guess I could fire up the ol' Excel spreadsheet and put a table together. But I'd need to know what the heck I'm doing to start with which is the hitch here. And I blame it squarely and totally on my high school math teachers who made me hate it.

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Paul

dolfs's picture
dolfs

My main interest was in trying to explain where the numbers come from and what they mean. The only thing that is different between what I described and what you write is that you and I reverse the last two numbers. As to what is correct? I'll leave that to the judges.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Hi Mini,

I just double-checked the recipe, it's definitely 2.75c water total. I had pre-measured everything (switching it to grams as per standards for US cups) so even if the order was wrong, I didn't add any more of anything (except a few dashes of flour when everything was gummy). And yes, it took 24 hours of proofing, 12 for the preferment, 12 for the bulk, then shape rise for 45 min. and bake.

So right on the printed out recipe I added the grams for total water and flour which I measured out before doing anything else.

Well, I'm not going to fuss over where it messed up, just put this in the "trial run" pile and not admit to making a "real" loaf yet. I'm working up a batch of SF Sourdough from Mike's website now and it's already much nicer to work with. Sadly, it's not given in grams, either. But I KNOW what he assumes his cups to be (120g) so that's a plus.

So I think THIS will be the "official" first run.

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Paul

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Well, the loaves are now out of the oven and here's the results...

Mike's San Fran sourdough, I kinda botched it.

They are definitely softer (less seriously "chewy" crust, one hopes) and bigger than the previous attempt. Still rather pale and anemic, however.

I had big problems getting them onto the peel (chunk o' cardboard) as they had stuck quite well to the cotton cloth I had them covered with, even though it was VERY liberally coated in flour. The moisture from the dough obviously got drawn into the cotton and made glue, removing it caused mucho damage to the loaves' skin and one definitely lost all it's lovely, long time built inflation. So I have a sort-of good loaf and another flattish loaf.

This time though, I know where the problem originated - the final proofing step - and can remedy that next time by using parchment paper to rise them on and not need to move them off anything. Perhaps put them under an inverted plastic tub instead of laying a cloth on top so there's plenty of room for them to increase without contacting anything.

The crumb is a lot less dense than the previous loaf, the crust is decidedly less thick and chewy.

There you go, attempt #2 and not exactly awesome. We'll see what round three does.

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Paul

Marni's picture
Marni

I've been following your starter adventures, what happened to Audrey? I also used Sourdolady's formula after a failed starter attempt.  It worked right away.  I'm sure you'll get a great bread soon, although I have tried about four different recipes and have yet to find one I'm going to stick with.(They've all been tasty enough, just not THE ONE.)  That's okay with me though because I'm enjoying the adventure of finding it.  For now we can just be thrilled watching that starter go crazy with each feeding. 

Marni

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Audrey went to sourdough heaven (the recycle bin) along with the other 37 different attempts at starting a starter once this one beat the others to the finish line a couple of times.

We shall remember her fondly.

But after all the other attempts and getting incredibly frustrated at the process (Dag nabbit, it's just flour and water, fer pete's sake!! How can you mess that up so consistently?!?) I was amazed to see it bloom quite vibrantly at the end of day three, last day of the OJ and rye, then go full blast on it's first normal water and UAP feed. It was SOOO nice to finally see I wasn't actually cursed or something!

What was "different" I have no idea. Same flour, same water, same kitchen, same temps... but this one took where all the others failed completely. This will remain a mystery I don't really care to explore as it was so annoying. And I was getting the evil eye over having taken up a corner of the kitchen for this three-month failure. Ha. Soon I'll have REAL BREAD!

I had already made a couple batches of Floyd's Rustic Bread so I was at least getting some of the basic dough handling/folding tricks down in the meantime.

Mike's SFsd loaves have another 5 hours of rise to go. And in the meantime, I've got some English Muffins rising as well, they have 27 more minutes before they hit the griddle.

Can't wait!

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if it goes flat for a few days.  I really thought Audrey and her kids were going places but.... have they really been turned into pancakes?   Nothing left?  for maybe another experiment?  

Mini O

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I thought it would as well and it sorta kinda a little bit did but as this one went off like a rocket right away, I didn't see the point (for now) of working on another that was being problematic when I have one that's actuallyworking well. After a month of Audrey and the kids not really going anywhere, it was also the idea that they had failed. Maybe with a lot more nurturin and patience they'd take off too but for now, I don't see the purpose. If I didn't have one that was going full blast, sure, keep at 'em but I do so I didn't. 

And yes, she's in the bin. I could go fetch her but I'd rather focus on making the one that's really working work in real bread.

Once I have one that's good and mature and proven to work well consistently, I can always start a new starter from scratch that will likely have issues (going by the track record to date ;) ) then I can work on getting it going too.

Although I did give it a name and everything, I'm not all that emotionally attached to it so other than I used 5k of flour over the entire span of trying to get it andthe others woking, I'm OK with just focusing on the one that's growing and showing promise.

Oooo... time to go check the SFsd's and see how they're getting on and if they're about ready to toss into the oven yet.

The English Muffins turned out looking great although the house filled with plenty of smoke tryng to get them griddled up. Heheh. They also could have used a bit more cooking time, they're still a touch less-than-well-cooked inside but getting pretty dark outside. Lower temp and longer time next time.  They tasted nice though not "great!", missing a tiny bit of tang, they were a little too "smooth" tasting. I'll want to look up what to do to make it zippier next. The texture was good though, all craggy and nookie, I gave them 1.5 hrs proofing to develop the holes. And of course fresh, warm and topped with Saskatoon Berry jam, they were darn good, even without the "tang". I ate too many.

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

good.  You sent me searching for Saskatoon Berry.  They look somewhat related to Sugar Plums  (which I think is a general category) Tell me they're ripe in August just before blue berries.  I bet the bears love 'em and as they grow low on shrubs, depend on bears and dear to propegate the wild ones.  I think the small tree by the Catholic Church in town is simular but with dark red berries.   I'm the biggest bird that raids that tree.  The natives here don't know the fruit.  Seeds?  Would they be good in muffins?

Paleness in loaf....ding ding ding...bells are going off....where did I read something about that....? 

Mini O

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mariana wrote:

"Pale crust is not something you should agree with. Something with sugar/protein metabolism in the dough is not right, so the caramelization and Maillard reactions haven't proceeded as they normally would in these particular loaves."

She goes on to write about "washing a starter"  and starting a new one using Calvel's method taking only 3 days.    HERE 

It could also mean that your sourdough needs some more developement to get darker crusts; that is; if you've already tried leaving it in the oven for 5 more minutes. 

I thought I read somewhere that over mixed dough and/or over proofed dough can also lead to pale crusts.... 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Now it also occurs to me (and did when I read the recipes) that both these sourdough recipes, the original San Fran sd recipe off SDI's Sourdo.com and Mike's from his site call for baking at 375ºF while I've seen a fair number of recipes calling for, as in the Calvel recipe you pointed to, 445ºF to starting at 500º then knocking back to 450º after a few minutes. That could be as much as a 125º difference and would certainly make a difference in how the crust forms and/or browns, even if it's at 500º just for the first bit.

Since we're talking about basically the same standard ingredients, flour, water, salt and starter with the main difference being the hydration level, why does one recipe require substantially lower/higher temps compared to others?

Let's look at the hydration levels of the three recipes we're looking at here. For SDI and Mike's recipes which are in cups and not grams, I'm assuming a "cup" is 120g flour or 238g water.

Clavel: 2284g flour, 1461g water or 63.9% hydration - requires 445º for 30-40 min
SDI's SFsd: 870g flour, 625g water or 71.8% hydration - requires 375º for 40-45 min *
Mike's SFsd: 795g flour, 610g water or 76.7% hydration - requires 375º for 45 min

Now I know that to avoid the edges burning when baking cakes, you can lower the temp of your oven from the normal 350º to 325º if you add an extra 10 minutes. Yet in the samples above, Clavel raises the temp by 70º but only reduces the time by about 5-10 min. That's a substantially more intense heat and on a 'dryer' dough

Is this possibly a reason why the two 375º recipes gave me 'white' loaves, wetter and slower cooked?

* (This would indicate I REALLY munged that one up somehow to have it so much wetter than Mike's)

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Paul

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hey Paul.

How is your adventure coming along? Sorry if I'm resurrecting an old thread. However, I jsut wanted to point out a couple of things. First has to do with the baking time. The three formulas you listed above are fairly substantial loaves, smallest one being Mike's SFsd. 795g + 610g = 1405g total. That is a 3 pound loaf. I cannot imagine that  something that big would finish baking in as little as 45 minutes at 375F. That simply doesn't seem like enough time. And as you know the longer the dough remains in the oven the deeper the crust will form. Also the paleness might be due to the fact that the initial high temperature is reduced to soon after placing the loaf into the oven. I usually wait between 4 to 7 minutes before I turn the temperature down.

My second point is about storing the bread. I do put my bread in a plastic bag and even freeze it if I baked a lot. Tossing it into the oven restores the crust just fine. Frozen takes at least 30 minutes in the oven, and one placed in a plastic bag comes back to life in about 10 to 15 minutes, at 350F for both. So it's really not a big deal. 

Rudy 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Hey Rudy,

I've just posted a new thread on the latest adventure and it seems to be improving as I get past what's finally breaking up into clear and distinct issues and not just one giant ball of messups that just confuses the begeesus out of a noob like me.

As for your mention that Mike's recipe indicates a rather short (45 min) time at 375ºF well... I ain't touching that one other than to say it's 3 lbs of dough and makes two 1.5 lb loaves, I did not attempt a giant single loaf. But from there, any queries about the temp and time should get addressed by Mike who knows a bazillion times more than I likely ever will. I just follows the instructions.

Here's the actual ingredients list, with my <-- gram conversion:

Ingredients for two loaves:
1/4 cup starter <-- ~65g
1 cup Whole wheat flour <-- 120g
5 1/2 cups White bread flour <-- 660g
2 1/2 cups water <-- 595g
2 tsp Salt <-- 12g

So the output is actually 1452g or 3.2 pounds

 Thanks for the storage tip, good to hear. Mind you I haven't actually had much issues with storage yet, even the somewhat failed loaves seem to disappear rather quickly, either through human or canine consumption. But if/when i do get a recipe and process that consistently works well and up the number of loaves per bake, this will come in handy.

And lastly, I'll add that I just found a new glitch to the formula I hadn't been aware of: US "all purpose" is 10% protein, Canadian AP is 13%, regardless of brand (close to US "bread flour" levels, KA bread flour is 12.8%). Now I've got to wonder if that higher protein level has been messing around with my recipes calling for UAP and causing unexpected issues with the doughs' behaviour.

All I can say is "Gah!!" and keep at it.

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Paul

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Ahhh I see, you are splitting it into two loaves, now that makes much more sense now. OK. :)

Just found you rnew thread too. I guess I'll post in there, then.

Rudy