The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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CountryBoy's picture

Autolyse, Vital Gluten, Oven Temp ?s

February 7, 2007 - 5:50am -- CountryBoy

#1-Re Autolyse: some say 15 mins and others 60 mins. #2-Vital Gluten is suggested for more chewy bread but I see no difference #3-Sourness: I put my dough in the fridge after it is shaped and the final loaf is still not sour. I try thick or thin starter and still not sour.  My homemade starter is fine for having the bread rise but just not for sour.  Is the idea of homemade starter a myth and do I have to buy one for real sour? #4 Baking temp- Rose Beranbaum in the Bread Bible sets the oven at 450 and others at 350 degrees; is there a difference?

bwraith's picture

how/where to get/work with flour fresh from the mill

February 6, 2007 - 9:54am -- bwraith

I've done a fair amount baking of sourdough hearth breads using standard recipes from Reinhart, Glezer, et al. I've always used standard flours from KA, such as their whole wheat, white whole wheat, rye blend, bread flour, Sir Lancelot high gluten, and others. Recently someone brought me some "sifted stone ground whole wheat flour" from Littleton Grist Mill in NH. I found I had some trouble with it that I suspect revolves around the need for malted barley flour addition, possibly aging, and possibly hydration differences, as well as needing to figure out the protein content and adjust for that, as well. But, it did get me thinking about exploring the availability of flours straight from mills in retail quantities and motivated the questions below.

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?


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