The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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T4tigger's picture

REALLY sticky bread dough!

November 14, 2006 - 9:08am -- T4tigger

I've tried making the basic sourdough bread recipe from The Bread Bible a couple of times with questionable results. The book says that the dough will be sticky.....major understatement! I keep ending up with a completely uncontrollable mess that refuses to stiffen up even with a considerable amount of added flour. I am using all-purpose flour instead of bread flour and am wondering if that would be the cause for the dismal dough.

breadnut's picture

Sourdough Starter and Final Proofing Question

November 14, 2006 - 1:24am -- breadnut

I have 3 Starters going. All were created using flour and water, they are all at 100% hydration, and all are maintained at the same temperature (~ 72F). However, they all behave differently. (Starters 2 and 3 were created originally from starter 1)

Starter 1:  5 hours to double

Starter 2:  2 hours 15 minutes to double. 4 hours to triple

Starter 3:  5 hours to triple. 6 hours to quadruple

fstephens's picture

Sourdough Separation

November 3, 2006 - 9:08am -- fstephens

Hi everyone!  I've finally gotten the courage to embark on my first sourdough.  I've been using the recipe/feeding schedule from the Bread Bible and it was going wonderfully.  After four days of feeding, I had a nice citrus smell going an a responsive, frothy starter.  Then day 5 happened.  I miscalculated my start date and had to leave my starter during the final feeding.  I left premeasured water and flour and detailed instructions for my boyfriend who, within 3 hours of the allotted feed time, assured me he feed, waited, and

zorra's picture

Recently I baked the following bread with chickpea flour. This recipe is my own creation. The chickpea flour gives the bread a light sweet taste.

chickpea bread

100 g chickpea flour
150 g white flour
5 g fresh yeast
~110 g water
1 TL honey
5 g salt
50 g refreshed sourdough

Dissolve yeast and honey in 20 g water. Mix the two flours and salt. Add sourdough, yeast and rest of water, mix and knead your dough (by hand or mixer) until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and leave covered for 1 hour or until double in size. 
Shape and leave to prove for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 230C. Mist inside with a spray. After 10 minutes reduce heat to 190 C and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove and cool.

Recipe in German:

JMonkey's picture

Sourdough ripening time

November 1, 2006 - 8:38am -- JMonkey

Given my failure over the weekend, I'm trying to figure out how to ensure that I use my starter when it's as close as possible to maximum ripeness. I've got to time it pretty well, because it's a busy weekend. Saturday is just out, because it's my daughter's 3rd birthday party. Sunday will work, but that means the starter needs to be ready to go by either 2pm or 10am. Church comes right in the middle.

If it's ready at 10am, I can knead it up and let it rise from 10:30am until after we get back from church, which is usually about 1pm (we walk, and always hang around for a while after church to munch on goodies and socialize). If it's ready at 2pm, that gives me time to start the autolyse at 1ish and then knead everything up when the starter's ready.

T4tigger's picture

sourdough questions

October 31, 2006 - 10:40am -- T4tigger

Greetings! I'm a sourdough newbie with some questions. I began a rye starter (named Max) several days ago and things seem to be going relatively well. It is pretty bubbly, which I keep reading is a good thing!

My question is about feeding and rising. I'm feeding by volume not by weight. I use 1/2 cup starter, 1/2 c flour and slightly less than 1/2 cup water. I've read that it should take at least 8 hours for the starter to double in size, but Max takes off and doubles in about 3.

Should I reduce the amount of water to make the doubling take longer? Does it really matter how long it takes to double? When I'm ready to bake bread, do I let the bread rise as long as it takes Max to double?

JMonkey's picture

I had ambitious goals for the weekend. I'd try a sourdough version of the whole-wheat ciabatta, try the "stretch-n'-fold, no-knead' technique with my weekly sourdough, and make a pizza, using regular yeast.

The ciabatta turned out OK. There wasn't much of a sour flavor, surprisingly, and I'm not sure why that was. Perhaps the powdered milk interfered with the bacteria's growth? I also didn't get big holes, but rather got rather uniform small holes. Still, it was a nice bread and made killer sandwiches, but I was disappointed that I didn't have the same success with sourdough as I did with the yeasted version.

The whole-wheat bread I made didn't turn out so hot. Flavor was fine, but I didn't get nearly as much rise as I usually do and the crust was abnormally pale. I think I know the culprit, though -- I let the sourdough starter over-ferment. My daughter didn't want to take her nap, which delayed me for about two hours making the bread. I'll have to try the new technique again some other time (essentially, I kneaded it for about 3-5 minutes until everything was evenly distributed, and then did a fold once every 30 to 45 minutes until I'd done six. The dough was definitely gaining strength, until near the end when it suddenly got soft. As I said, I think the starter went too long, got too acidified and weakened the gluten network).

Pizza? Fantastic! I used the whole wheat recipe from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking book, which, surprisingly enough, is almost identitcal to how I've been making my pizza for the past year -- roughly 4 ounces whole wheat bread flour, 4.25 ounces semolina flour and 4.25 ounces white bread flour, 10 oz. water with 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 tsp yeast. Knead it gently, let it rise 45 mins to an hour, fold it and then stick it in the fridge for 8-18 hours. Make the pizza, put it in a piping hot oven on a stone, cook for about 12 minutes. Delicious.

I've tried Peter Reinhart's pizza formula, and I've decided that I like this one much better. For one, this recipe uses about 12 oz dough for a 12-inch pizza, whereas the BBA uses half that much. I like a thicker crust and also find the dough is much easier to shape. The BBA's crust gets so thin, that I'm constantly struggling not to tear it. Plus, the whole wheat and semolina flours in the KAF formula give it a wonderful buttery, rustic flavor. As for the toppings, though, I go with BBA all the way. Three cheeses (2 parts melter, one part hard cheese, one part optional -- which is always a goat cheese), mix herbs with the cheese, and a less is more approach to toppings. Just delicious.

Sorry, no photos. I was kind of demoralized by the non-holey ciabatta and the ugly (but fine tasting, so we'll eat it) whole wheat sourdough, so I didn't have the heart to take photos of that. As for the pizza, my family was hungry -- had I made them wait for a photo to eat it up, I'd have faced serious recriminations. It would not have been pretty.

Joe Fisher's picture

Pepping up a sluggish starter?

October 25, 2006 - 12:38pm -- Joe Fisher

For a while, my starters (white and rye) were very active, rising dough quickly and making light, open crumb.  Now I'm getting very sluggish rises and dense, chewy crumb (most notably the white starter) from the same recipes.  I do get a huge oven spring out of them, so *something* is alive in there!

I feed or use the starter once a week.  When feeding, I keep about 4oz and add 2-3oz of flour and 3-4oz of water to make a poolish-like mother starter.  When making plain sourdough, I make a firm starter from the mother starter, like French bread dough.

I've tried overnight proofs in the fridge, and using a pan of hot water in the oven to simulate a proofing tent.

pmccool's picture

With bread in the freezer, there wasn't much reason for baking this weekend, so I contented myself with some sourdough English Muffins.  After all, the starter was due for another feeding, right?  Now that they are cooling on the rack, I suppose that I really do need to get to work in the basement. 


Baking is so much more fun!



cognitivefun's picture

here's how I create great sourdough loaves without kneading

October 19, 2006 - 7:19pm -- cognitivefun

My recipe for sourdough wheat bread

4 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup of unbleached full-flavor (dark) whole wheat flour
2 tspns fine sea salt
2 tbspns safflower or other good quality, flavorless oil
4 tbspns good local honey
2 cups wheat sourdough starter
3 - 4 cups icewater

My starter is flour and water only. It doesn't matter if you
use a firm or slack starter. Just make sure it is a good
lively starter that smells good.

In this recipe, I make my dough in a food processor in two batches
because home food processors can't handle the full amount of
dough in one batch. I have tested this with the classic Cuisinart


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