The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


pumpkinpapa's picture

Drafty, dry winter weather makes for slow proofs

January 29, 2007 - 6:30am -- pumpkinpapa

I currently live in an old drafty farm house which in this cold winter weather is dry enough to dry salt in :) My last house was newer and less drafty and had a humidifier.

I've seen the proofing times rise dramatically and am trying to find ways to counter this. It's also tough to keep the temperature above  the 69 F or 20 C range too.

What methods have you found to lessen this kind of impact?

In the summer we swelter in humidity so that will be a completely different experience. 

kevroy's picture

I tried a new ciabatta roll today using a liquid levain starter in my sponge. I flavored it with a little fresh lemon peel, extra virgin olive oil, and chopped parsley. The idea was to keep it from interfering with other foods but still stand on it's own. Mission accomplished as far as that went, but the inside didn't have a nice open cell structure. The crust was nice and crunchy without being hard, though.

Earlier in the week I made a Kalamata olive sourdough with fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. The secret to this bread, I found, is that less is more. Previous attempts at this bread were so odiferously pungent my poor wife got dizzy from the smell! I cut the olives an herbs in half and ended up with a nicely flavored loaf that only gave my wife a headache.

pseudobaker's picture

Starter not rising?

January 24, 2007 - 9:34pm -- pseudobaker

Hi - I just found your site today and it has inspired me to try this whole sourdough business again.  I tried Maggie Glazer's sourdough starter back in November and thought it was working, but it never did "rise".  When she says the starter should "quadruple in 8 hours"...well, mine just wasn't doing that.  It would have a nice sour smell and had a definite fermentation going on (lots of bubbles under the surface), but was a sticky, gluey consistency and wasn't rising.  Now, hers is a "firm starter", so I don't know if that makes a difference.  I'm anxious to try some of the trickier breads in her Artisan Baking book, but they all require a starter!

CountryBoy's picture

Have Starter but now what...

January 22, 2007 - 2:48pm -- CountryBoy

I have the Starter from SourdoLady and her recipe and am ready to go with my first Sourdough Loaf but do not know how to go from the 1/4 : 1/4; 1/4 (flour, water, starter )to the next step of one full cup of Starter. Should I just have the next batch be....1/2, 1/2,1/2? How does one expand this stuff and what is the limit?  A week ago SourdoLady said she was changing computers and I never saw anymore posts by her.  Is she ok? We love you where ever you are SourdoLady...

JMonkey's picture

Many, many months ago, when I first started making sourdough, I tried making sourdough waffles with some leftover starter.

Man, was I disappointed. The flavor was nice, but the recipe said to expect some cool chemistry, and I saw none. What's more, these waffles were heavy and tough. Chewy. I like a crispy waffle with a tender, airy interior. Though the taste was good, these definitely did not fit the bill.

Then, last night, after I'd set up the final build for today's weekly sourdough bake, I had a revelation. I was making a no-knead version of white flour sourdough (odd for me, as those of you who know me know that I'm a health-nut hippie crunchy whole-wheat kind of guy. But every so often, I get a white bread craving, and, besides, we had company coming over. So what the hell?), and I had some starter left over. I hate throwing the stuff away. Glancing over at the unkneaded dough that would essentially knead itself while I slept, it suddenly hit me.

"Duh. You were using AP and whole wheat BREAD flour in the sponge for the waffles. No wonder it was tough. The stuff kneaded itself into bread dough!"


So I went to the freezer, where I had a bag of leftover soft white whole wheat flour (i.e. whole wheat pastry flour -- I grind my own, but Bob's Red Mill sells an excellent whole wheat pastry flour. Their regular whole wheat bread flour? Not so much.) I figured I had enough starter and flour for a half batch of the recipe I'd used before, which made six waffles. Plenty for my wife, my 3-year-old daughter and me. So using the sourdough waffle recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion as a guide, I whipped up a whole wheat version.

What a difference pastry flour makes. These were the lightest, crispiest, tastiest waffles I'd ever had. And, they were 100% whole wheat. I promise, if you make them with whole wheat pastry flour, especially WHITE whole wheat pastry flour, no one's going to know the difference:


  • 6 ounces or about 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbs sweetener (honey, agave syrup, sugar, maple sugar, whatever)
  • 9 ounces or 1 cup and 2 Tbs butttermilk
  • 2 ounces or 1/4 cup of active sourdough starter, preferably whole wheat, but not required. Should be the wet kind (i.e. 100% hydration.)

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

    Mix up the sponge the night before. Cover it and let it sit. The next morning, it should be very bubbly. In another bowl, beat the egg with the melted butter until light, and then mix in the salt and baking soda. Dump this mixture into the sponge -- if the sponge is acidic enough, it should jump when it hits the alkaline baking soda. Mix it all together and then spoon it into a hot waffle iron. You'll know your waffle iron better than mine, but it usually takes about 2-3 minutes. I judge by the volume of steam -- when it starts to dissapate, they're usually done.

    This recipe makes six traditional waffles. If you've got a Belgian waffle maker, I'm afraid you'll have to find out for yourself how many it will make, but no matter. The recipe stands well to doubling, even quadrupeling, and leftover waffles freeze beautifully, so don't worry about making too many. When you want one for breakfast, just pop it direclty into the toaster from the freezer. Delicious.

    If you want to use up more starter than I did, simply double the amount of starter and only add 1 cup (8 ounces) of buttermilk and 5 ounces (1 cup + 1 Tbs) of flour.

  • CountryBoy's picture

    Saving my Starter

    January 20, 2007 - 6:57am -- CountryBoy

    Is there some way that I can save my wild yeast starter?  I do not want to put it in the fridge and feed it every week or two.  I know that freezing it will kill it.  Is there some way for me to dry it all out and then reconstitute it when I need it?  It seems a waste of time and effort to throw out what I do not use.  Thanks.....

    jm_chng's picture

    Pot Bread

    January 18, 2007 - 4:55am -- jm_chng

    Hi Guys,

     I've got £100 worth of vouchers to spend. We've got some cast iron pots going for about that price, one with built in thermometer. I've got just a few days left to spend my vouchers. Is it worth me buying one of these pots for baking? I can't see me using it for anything else in the near future. What do you guys think? The alternative is bit and bobs for the house.

    This one

    This one

    sewwhatsports's picture

    How long?

    January 11, 2007 - 9:36pm -- sewwhatsports

    On another list that I am on there was a post about a person who is planning to make sourdough bread, about 3-6 loaves a week. What he was talking about was making the dough, shaping it and then retarding it in his refrigerator until he wanted to bake. He was thinking the dough would be good for up to 5 days. Am I incorrect in thinking that that is way too long to retard a dough, that the yeast will eventually use all of the available nutrients and then will basically go flat? I told him that I would do some research and you are the experts. So what say you all, how long can sourdough be left to retard in the refrigerator prior to baking and still give a good loaf of bread? Thanks in advance for any and all help.


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