Fantastic sourdough in just under two months..?
My name is Amy and I am new to the boards. I am a mostly self-taught pastry cook, but I've also worked in an artisan bakery as a pastry assistant. I've been off work for almost 2 years because I had a baby last May. I no longer live in the city where I worked before, and where I live currently there are no artisan bakeries (just a LOT of really large, commercial bakeries).
I was trying to decide what to do about a job, and finally decided that I would like to go into business for myself rather than work for a production line bakery. I'm applying for a youth business loan but in order to qualify I had to come up with a viable business plan. I knew that realistically, there simply would not be sufficient demand for specialty pastry items in the relatively small city I live in. Thus, I think it's basically essential that I make artisan bread the "bread and butter" of my business and pastries just a "sweet addition" (har har har).
The problem? Until two weekends ago, I'd never even once raised a starter and made sourdough from scratch. Sure I'd seen it done a million times when I worked at the bakery... but that really gives me only a minor advantage over someone who'd never even touched a bag of flour. :)
According to the timeline in the business plan I submitted to the funding program, I am to start soliciting local retailers and restaurants to use or sell my products as early as mid-October, with hopes to go into production by the end of that month!
So, I just wanted to introduce myself and say "hi" because I'm probably going to be lurking around these boards quite a bit trying to learn from others' experiences and hopefully pick up some tricks and tips. I still have a LOT to learn, and am not even 100% confident that it can be done. What do you think? Heheh. But I am going to dry my darndest, anyway.
If anyone has any knowledge or experience they'd like to impart, I'm all ears! Below I've added some thoughts & pics of my first ever spelt sourdough loaves.
Thanks in advance,
My first loaves:
I've got 2 starters going right now, and the first is a rye-based starter recipe from King Arthur Flour cookbook, but rather than using white wheat flour I've been using spelt flour in it.
Pictured below is my first ever spelt sourdough (just came out of the oven a few hours ago). I have already noticed a few problems with it, some of which I think I can account for and others not so much. First, the bottom of one loaf is burnt, but I know that this is because I am using a painfully small oven right now with a horrid temperature guage and total inability to maintain an even temperature--and even though I have an internal thermometer, the oven gauge is so totally off it's like my oven is 500 degrees one minute so I turn it down a tad and the next thing I know it's 550! Sigh. Anyways, the other problem is my baking stone won't fit in it, so I am going to borrow my sisters' and see if it will fit until I get my good ovens. (Hence the burnt bottom).
Spelt Sourdough #1: My first sourdough
Second, taste-wise, I didn't find the bread quite as flavourful as I had hoped for a rye-based starter. I'm going to try proofing longer next time, maybe overnight in the fridge turned right down to be around 60 degrees. Does that sound OK?
Spelt Sourdough Image #2
Third, it was a little denser than I might have wanted--and I think this was because I kept adding flour because a) it seems that you need to use a tad more spelt flour than all-purpose in recipes and b) I didn't realize that sourdough dough was supposed to be fairly wet and tacky. I was blaming it on the spelt.
Fourth, my shaping and scoring abilities (not to mention photography skills) leave much to be desired. Hopefully diligently learning from YouTube videos and practice will help.
Spelt Sourdough Image #3
Finally, the burnt bubbles on the top of the loaves--what's up with that?
Again, thanks in advance!