The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

but my understanding has reached a plateau.

JOHN01473's picture

1, I guess that when the penny finally drops and you understand something that's a good thing, the fact that its two years later makes me a slow learner. I have been struggling to make a sourdough that I am satisfied with and today I got another big step closer to that end. It was not perfect, but I know what to do better next time, so that's good for me. The two-year-old penny drop was my baking mentor showed me about testing to see if the dough is proved enough. It is this revelation that was good today. I had clearly never understood what he told me. In a recent post from "dabrownman", he explained this simple test. I think it's so vital that I wanted to pass it on.

"Jamb your index finger in the dough up to the first knuckle and see how the hole rebounds.

If it rebounds quickly it needs more time.

If it rebounds slowly - time for the oven

If it doesn't you are over proofed a lot".

Well when I did this I was taken back to what my baking mentor told me two years ago - kerching! - the penny dropped. He told me to wet my middle finger and dip it into flour then prod the loaf up to the knuckle and how does it bounce back.

Well today's loaves passed the prodding test for proofing they were baked and I got some oven spring. I have to say I in the past I would have left them a lot longer and that's how I was getting soggy crumb and no oven spring.

2, I also discovered that my oven tells lies. The internal thermometer I put inside the oven - it tells me that the 250c on the dial outside is actually 220c inside the oven. So today I baked the loaves until I got the internal temp to 96 C or 205 F in the middle of the loaf. In the past I baked at 220c, the thermometer tells me that it is really 210c). I never tested the internal temperature, but I suppose I know now.

3, I had too much dough @ 2lbs for my small pans and not really enough for my larger pans. If I had thought, what I should have done was correctly fill the smaller pans to half full. Next time I will get this right.

4, I also learned what effect starter hydration makes. I made one loaf with starter @ 66% hydration and another with starter @ 90% hydration. The 90% hydration had more oven spring, a better crust and better crumb and most importantly a better taste than the 66%.

5, the recipe I use originally calls for 100g of starter @100% hydration. In the past I have baked it at what I now know is 60% hydration starter. This 90% shows me the difference. Today I took 10g of starter @ 60% hydration and fed it 30g of flour and 30g of water. After 4 1/2 hours it doubled in size. The second feed was 45g of flour and 48g of water, this gives me 163g of starter @ 100%. When that has doubled I will make up my sponge to mature overnight to bulk up and bake tomorrow.

Sorry, I realise I have rambled on here, but I learned a lot today - gives me real heart to carry on.


Cat and Mouse

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