The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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sewwhatsports's picture

I got home this morning from work and decided to refresh my wet starter in preparation for making some more bread.  I had 140 gms of starter in the refrigerator that I mixed with 150 gms of water and 150 gms of organic white flour after letting it warm up.  Popped it into the closed oven with the light on and 6 hours later I had a nicely bubbled starter.  Divided that to do 2 different breads.  I am doing the Vermont Sourdough with added whole grains (rye flour) from Hamelmann's book and am trying the Pane Siciliano again.  My first attempt there was less than successful so this time I am going to try to be more diligent with it.  I now have good semolina flour as well as the organic white flour.  I have both preferments in the closed oven right now.  Last I looked the temp was about 78-82 degrees.  The Pate fermente' is rising nicely and the Vermont sourdough is just beginning to bubble.  I plan to retard the sourdough to bake late  tomorrow in the evening.  I think it will also be that way with the Siciliano but with a bake earlier in the day.  I will have to check the temperature in my laundry room.  It is very cold outside (18 degrees here in Delaware) and supposed to get into the single digit temps so my laundry room may be just right to retard the dough tonight. 

I will try to remember to get pictures along the way with these loaves.  I don't go back to work until Wednesday at 7pm so I should have lots of time to get these loaves done.

T4tigger's picture

Conversion question

February 4, 2007 - 2:59pm -- T4tigger

I'm looking for help in the method I'm using to convert standard recipes to sourdough. In either Breads from the LaBrea Bakery or The Bread Bible I read the following method: 1) add the total weights of flour and water [I'm using a weight of 140 g./cup for flour and 225 g/cup of water] 2. Find 30% of the above weight to determine the amount of starter to use. 3. With 100% starter, divide by 2 to determine weight of flour and water in the starter. 4. Subtract the weight of flour and water in the starter from the amount called for in the recipe to know how much to use.
I tried this with the recipe for No-Knead bread and ended up after 18 hours with dough that was more like a starter than an actual dough. I'd appreciate any help!

breadnerd's picture

Sourdough Notes

February 2, 2007 - 3:47pm -- breadnerd

A question on (commercial) yeast in soudough breads made me dig out my notes from a baking seminar from a few years ago, I was extremely fortunate to take a class with Didier Rosada (who at the time was at SFBI and the "coach" of the usa bread team that won the Coupe de Monde.... It was a really cool class!

Anyway, it was fun to look over my notes, and I found a couple of cool items I thought would be interesting to revisit:


1. Sourdough Culture changes: When a starter starts to rise (increase in volume) it means it has switched from reproduction to fermentation. Fermentation is when the gas is being produced (causing the volume increase) and the production of acidity (lactic and acetic). I'm thinking that during feeding there is eating and the production of waster products, but by the time the amount of waste (ie gas) is pushing your volume up--that means the tide has turned and the shift has made to the fermentation (ie flavor developing) stage.

caryn's picture

Refreshing Sourdough starter- Can you take a short cut?

February 2, 2007 - 1:28pm -- caryn

In Maggie Glezer's book, Artisan Baking Across America, she instructs that you should refresh the sourdough starter 3 times before baking with it.  If the starter has pretty much quadrupled as she suggests after only 2 feedings, can it be used to start a bread dough, or must you wait and do one more feeding?  I have this situation right now, and would prefer to start a bread dough for tomorrow rather than wait for another feeding. Would this not be a good idea?  Or is her suggestion somewhat random?

pumpkinpapa's picture

Marble rye failure

February 2, 2007 - 7:41am -- pumpkinpapa

Ok my first attempt at a marbled rye sourdough was an awful mess. I think I need to add more starter next time as it was so sour the whole kitchen stunk, the kids stayed away from it. Good news though, the sheep loved it (I feed all leftover rock hard bread to the sheep)

I also used blackstrap molasses to colour the rye flour but next time I am going to double sift my dark rye so it will be lighter and maybe shift to caramel to colour the dark dough.

No pictures this time. 

Noche's picture

Hello From the Oregon Trail

February 2, 2007 - 7:03am -- Noche

I live below Twin Falls, Idaho near the Snake River. The Oregon Trail actually was on both sides of the river here. The view from my kitchen looks north over the river and I can see the Sawtooth, Lost River, Lemhi and Bitterroot.

 For two years I drove the Idaho State bus to school at Pocatello. At early dawn we would be at Raft River where the California trail split off from the Oregon and I picked up a young couple who lived there. She told of her father kicking around in the brush on the creek bank one day and finding a dugout with trunks sticking out of the bank and clothes inside and a partial human skeleton. Someone had failed the rigorous test. 

TheChief's picture

Levain's Formula?

February 1, 2007 - 7:46pm -- TheChief

Hi everyone,
I'm experimenting with levain-based breads these days and one thing that is not clear to me is this: I have a starter. Now, how much of that should be used to make the levain mix?
Checking what Jeffery Hamelman says in his book "Bread" and what Maggie is saying in her book "artisan baking" I don't seem to get what the rules are. 
Hamelman seems to be using 20%, Maggie uses 17%, 20%....
So how do you figure that out? 
What about the rest of the percentages? like for water and flour? what determines those?

Srishti's picture


This week I made some 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Nut & Seed Torpedoes with walnuts, hazelnuts, flax, sesame & pumpkin seeds:

and Some Sourdough Whole Wheat bagels

I don't think I'd ever like the taste of non-sourdough bagels anymore!!! :)

JMonkey's picture

Now, I'll grant you, whole wheat soybean bread garnished with sunflower seeds sounds like a parody of something you might find in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. And, in fact, you won't find it there.

Well, not with the sunflower seeds, anyway. The original recipe calls for sesame oil and sesame seeds. My daughter's preschool doesn't allow peanuts, sesame or tree nuts (one of her friends there is deathly allergic), so I had to go with sunflower seeds. Yes, it sounds like 70's health-food hell, but truly -- I kid you not -- this sandwich bread is delicious. The flavor is very warm and it keeps for a long, long time.

I love The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Her book taught me how to make light whole-wheat bread; without it, I'd still be churning out high-fiber doorstops. But that doesn't mean I don't think her recipes can't be improved. She's a bit light with the salt (in grams, at least -- the volumetric measurements are on the money), for instance, so I generally add a tad more to bring it up to the 1.8 to 2 percent range, and I almost always add a pre-ferement of some sort.

One other thing to remember -- if you're using cups, Laurel has a very heavy hand. Forget fluffing up the flour and spooning it in the cup. Dig deep and let it settle.

Here's how I made this bread:

The Night Before

Take 3/4 cup or 150 g raw soybeans (roughly 2 cups cooked) and cook them overnight in a slow cooker in plenty of water. If you're brave, let them simmer in a big pot with lots of water overnight -- I'm not that brave. In the morning, mash up the soybeans well.

Mix 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour with a pinch of instant yeast and 1.25 cups or 280 g water. Cover and let it ferment for 10-14 hours. By morning it should be full of bubbles.

The Next Day

  • 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour
  • 2.5 tsp or 17 g salt
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 1.25 cups or 280 g water
  • 1/4 cup of sesame or other oil (I used canola)
  • 2 Tbs lightly toasted sesame seeds (I used raw sunflower seeds)

    Break up the pre-ferment into a dozen pieces and mix it with all the other ingredients except for the seeds and the soybeans. Knead the dough until you can stretch a piece of it into a thin translucent sheet without tearing. This should take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, or 300 to 600 strokes. Once the dough is nearly fully kneaded, flatten the dough and spread half of the soy pulp on top. Fold the dough up, flatten again, and spread out the other half. Knead until all the pulp is well incorporated. Then, form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rise. When it's ready, you'll be able to poke it with a wet finger and the dough will either not spring back, or will do so very slowly. Divide the dough, form two loaves, roll the loaves in the sunflower seeds and place into greased pans. Cover and let them rise until they crest above the edge of the pans. Slash the loaves as you like, and then bake at 350 (with steam, if you like) for about 50 minutes. NOTE: Laurel directs readers to do two bulk rises and then shape. Since you've got a pre-ferment, I don't think another bulk rise will do much for the bread, but feel free to experiment.

    Soybean bread wasn't the only thing I made this weekend, however. I also attempted a sourdough pizza using the no-knead technique. The dough was 1/3 whole wheat, 1/3 white bread flour and 1/3 semolina, with salt and olive oil. It was pretty wet -- about 72 percent hydration -- and had about 15% of the flour (whole wheat) in the starter. I let it sit, unkneaded for about 12 hours, folded it, and then put it in the fridge for the afternoon.

    Here's the first pizza. Turned out less than OK. Crust was chewy, not crispy, and the flavor was far too sour. The second pizza? Let me just say I'll never forget to re-flour my peel when making two pizzas EVER AGAIN. I had to set the oven on "clean" the mess was so awful, and, in the process of incinerating the mass of cheese, dough and tomato sauce that remained cemented to the oven floor, it set off my smoke alarm at 3am.

    I also tried to get the no-knead thing right for whole wheat: All whole wheat flour, 85% hydration, 1.8% salt, 15% starter innoculation. 12 hour rest, fold, shape, place in a well-floured (but not well floured enough) banneton and proof for 3.5 hours at 82 degrees F. Bake in a cloche, hot.

    Behold! The super sour pancake!

    But I wasn't finished. I still had about 1 cup of starter left over, and didn't want to throw it away. So I decided to make Sourdough Blueberry Muffins. The only changes I made to the recipe behind the link were to use a whole wheat starter, use whole wheat pastry flour and add 1/4 cup milk to get the right consistency. Not bad at all! Very light and not super-sweet with a simlar sourdough undertone to the sourdough waffles I made the week before. So the weekend turned out ... about 50%. Which I'll take -- maybe next week i'll get the no-knead whole wheat sourdough right. Sigh.

    Here's the muffins.
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