The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough

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Joe Fisher's picture

Pugliese experiment

June 17, 2006 - 10:33am -- Joe Fisher

So I had to refresh my two starters today (Clyde - 100% rye, and Gertie - white flour), and don't have time to bake tomorrow. I remembered reading in the Reinhart book that you can replace the pre-ferment in a rustic dough with the barm from a white flour - no need to feed and activate first. Hey, I'm game!

So here's the recipe, from The Bread Baker's Apprentice (still my favorite book!):

biga 2cp/10.8oz Fancy or extra fancy durum flour and unbleached bread flour, in any combination (such as 50/50 blend) 2 1/4cp/10oz Salt 1 1/2tsh/0.38oz Instant yeast 1tsp/0.11oz Mashed potatoes (optional) 1/4cp/2 oz
pincupot's picture

using organic grapes/raisins for starter growth

June 13, 2006 - 11:32am -- pincupot

Has anyone used organic grapes or raisins to kick-start their sourdough starter? I read about using either of these in several cookbooks that I own or got from the library. One was from the La Brea Bakery breadbook. Does using either of these change/enhance/or otherwise alter the starter for better or for worse? Any ideas? Much appreciated...

smiddlet's picture

Seed culture question

June 13, 2006 - 7:19am -- smiddlet

Hi all -- Started my very first seed culture following the Reinhart method outlined in BBA. I initialize the process last Saturday, June 10th at 2:30 pm. Rye flour and water, as per Reinhart.

The next morning at about 10:30 am (Sunday the 11th - Day 2), the mix had risen about 25%, which I thought was nice. I added a cup of bread flour and the required water, and after checking back on the culture in only 30 minutes, I could see some nice bubbling and rising.

Monday (yesterday), I came home from work at about 5:30 pm and noticed that the culture had doubled, but had fallen onto itself. I could see track marks up the side of my Lock and Lock container as evidence. The culture had fallen down to its initial level. I halved the culture and added a cup more of white flour and some more water, as per Reinhart's instructions.

JMonkey's picture

Naming starters?

June 13, 2006 - 6:04am -- JMonkey

I'm curious whether other folks here who keep sourdough starters give them names? On other forums, "Bubba" seems to be a popular name, as does "Pokey" (for starters that take a lllooonnng time to ripen). Others seem to have an affinity for Greek gods, with "Hercules" being the most popular.

I've got two starters going right now with another on the way. Let me introduce my sourdough kids to you.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

In addition to baking bread, I have another obsession: The ancient Asian game of Go. As the game is well over 3000 years old, a whole host of proverbs has grown up around it. One of my favorites is the following:

"Just one game," they said. That was yesterday.

Friday night, I may as well have said to myself,

"Just one loaf ...."

(Photos in the full post)

I really didn't intend to bake all night. Really, I didn't. But I'd gotten home a bit early, and I knew it would be a busy weekend. Besides, the day before I'd worked from home surreptitiously so that I could cook a special meal for my wife's birthday and our fourth anniversary (we didn't intend to get married on her birthday, but she's got a family full of academics, and it was the only Saturday in June when none of them had a conference). Of course, the meal included bread. Ciabatta to be exact.

Nevertheless, aside from a quarter loaf of ciabatta, we needed more bread to last the week. But it was going to be a busy weekend. "Hey!" I said to myself. "Here's a brilliant idea! Let the dough rise after you get home from work, shape it, pop it in the fridge and bake it in the morning! Work is done!"

I'd soaked some wheat berries, flax seeds and rolled oats that morning, so as soon as I got home from work, I set the whole-wheat flour to autolyse and started dinner. I was ambitious: two loaves of my weekly whole-wheat sourdough sandwich bread and then another two loaves of seed and oat whole wheat sourdough hearth bread.

My wife had come home early, so she had taken a ball of frozen pizza dough out from the fridge to thaw (from the BBA, though I'm finding I prefer the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion "Now or Later Pizza" recipe better. It uses 1/2 semolina flour.)and cranked up the oven to the max. No pics of the pizza, alas, but it was tasty.

After dinner, I kneaded it up and set it to rise. I figured it starts rising at 8, two and a half hours for the first rise, a little over an hour for the second -- I'll be in bed by 11:30. Woo hoo!

I was clearly snorting something.

After all, it was 68 degrees in the house and I didn't let the water warm up after it filtered down into the Brita pitcher from the faucet. We're talking cold, cold dough.

Around 11pm, the dough was 3/4 of the way to doubled. I had some explaining to do.

"Er, honey, I believe I'll be up until about midnight and ... um ... I'll have to set the alarm to get up around 2am to shape the dough after the second rise and ...."

Her reply: "Couch."

Of course, I was dead tired after a long week at work, so did I hear my alarm? Nope. I woke up at 4:15 AM to two buckets of dough that had more than tripled. Ah well. I degassed and shaped them anyway, and threw them in the fridge. I then crept into bed with my wife and slept like a stone.

They turned out OK. In fact, I got some of the best oven spring I've ever gotten from 100% whole wheat loaves.

Sandwich loaves in front. Hearth seed boules in back.

A close-up of the boules.

As it turned out, though, it wasn't a busy weekend at all. My 2-year-old came down with a nasty cold, so I made bagels (her favorite) for Sunday morning using Peter Reinhart's formula. Six poppy seed and six garlic:

Cream cheese is off-screen.

Bread in the morning works great for bagels. But I won't try this trick with sourdough again on a Friday night unless I get home at 5pm or earlier.

Joe Fisher's picture

Swedish Limpa rye with candied citrus and cardamom

June 11, 2006 - 5:03pm -- Joe Fisher

Here's a pair of gorgeous loaves from Bread Alone.

I made the candied citrus rinds the night before (4 separate boils and rinses!), as well as activated the starter. This morning I made the dough and kneaded in the chopped rinds. I tried some different scores with my homemade lame. I do like the star pattern :)

It smells unbelievable! I'll post a report on taste and texture when I open them up.

I pulled them after the amount of time suggested in the recipe. When I thumped them, they sounded fair, but a bit off. Remembering my lessons from Reinhart, I put my instant-read thermometer in, and it read 140F! The crust was solid and very, very dark, but the interior was still wet! Back into the oven they went, and I left the probe of my in-oven thermometer in it so I could just set the alarm for 190F. I covered the loaves with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. They needed another good 10 minutes.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The sourdough starter recipe provided by SourdoLady worked wonderfully. Having had some less than satisfying results with previous sourdough attempts, I was unsure of what to expect with this starter. Since first mixing it up a couple of weeks ago, it has been bubbling happily and smelling deliciously tangy. Since orange juice was on hand, I used that instead of pineapple juice. It sounded peculiar when I first read it, but I'm happy to report that it proved itself (pun intended) this weekend.

I took it out of the refrigerator Thursday morning and gave it three feedings at 12-hour intervals to make sure that it was sufficiently active. I wound up with enough on hand for two batches of bread, so went ahead with a sponge for a simple white loaf from King Arthur's 200th Anniversary cookbook and another for a whole-wheat loaf from Bernard Clayton's book before going to bed Friday.

After breakfast Saturday, I finished the dough for each bread and set them to rise on the countertop while I did other chores around the house. They took about 2 hours to double in size. I was careful to deflate them gently and then fold the dough before shaping. I decided to shape the white into 2 batards. After shaping, they went on a piece of parchment paper to rise while sitting on the peel. Happily, and probably because they didn't have an extremely high hydration, they didn't sprawl too much while rising. The whole wheat bread went into a bread pan, per instructions.

Since the whole wheat bread wound up rising slightly faster than the white, so it went into the oven first, having had the top slashed and brushed with water. I parked the pan on top of a baking stone to get as much oven spring as possible. However, with it being virtually 100% whole wheat and a relatively dry dough, it didn't grow much more. It started at 425F for the first 20 minutes, then finished at 350F for the last 35 minutes. Then out of the oven and onto the rack for cooling.

After bringing the oven back up to temp, it was time to put the white loaves in. They were also slashed and brushed with water immediately before going into the oven, with a pan of water on the bottom rack for steam. These loaves had great oven spring, probably because they were in direct contact with the stone and because their moisture content was higher. They even have ears at the edges of the slashes! That is a first in my baking experience. I wish I had a digital camera so I could show them off instead of just carrying on about them.

Both breads taste wonderful. The white bread was very fragrant, with a well-rounded tang. The crumb has a fairly open structure, though nothing as big as a ciabatta. The whole wheat bread, not surprisingly, has a rather dense crumb with uniformly distributed small cells. In addition to the sourdough tang, it also has some of the bitterness that is inherent to the red winter wheat. It could be off-putting to some, but it made a great base for a ham and cheese sandwich! I suspect that it will be good toasted, too.

So thanks again, SourdoLady. I'll be baking more sourdough now that I have a starter that tastes so good.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I didn't really intend to become a sourdough fanatic, but it seems that's what I make 80% of the time these days. The pound of SAF instant yeast I bought in February is only halfway gone, despite my having baked just about every weekend since then.

Maybe it's because I've had a devil of a time getting my starter to get a decent "sour" and I've been obsessed with getting it right. It wasn't until last month that I finally I cracked it:

1) Stiff (50% hydration) starter,
2) A long, cool bulk rise at about 64-68 degrees (which means, in my cellar), and
3) An overnight retarding in the bottom of my fridge.

I make at least two loaves of the following bread every weekend. One loaf gets wrapped in aluminum foil for the freezer, and the other goes right in the bread box. It's a well-rounded bread with enough flavor to eat on its own, but also a good accompaniment to any sandwich, from peanut butter and banana (a favorite of my Southern roots, though, unlike Elvis, I refrain from frying it in butter), to mustard, turkey pastrami and a sharp cheese.

I also use it as a base for experimentation, adding spices, or fruits, grains or seeds.

It's 100% whole wheat, but to my mind, doesn't taste "whole wheat," at least, not in the usual sense of the word. There's no strong, bitter grassy flavor, though it's a very different flavor than a white flour bread.

Anyway, here's the recipe for my

100% Whole-Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread.

Ingredients

• 19.5 oz whole-wheat flour
• 14.5 oz water (at room temperature)
• 2 Tbs honey
• 2 Tbs Olive Oil
• 2 1/8 tsp salt
• 16.5 oz stiff, whole-wheat sourdough starter (I use a starter at 50 percent hydration)

All the rest Mix everything EXCEPT the salt and the starter together until you get a rough dough. Let it sit for 30-60 minutes so that the whole-wheat flour can absorb the water. This cuts down on the kneading time substantially. Without the "autolyse," you'll have to knead by hand for 30 minutes or more to get it to the right place.

Tear the starter into about 10 pieces. Add the starter and the salt to the rest of the ingredients DON'T FORGET TO ADD THE SALT (like I almost always come close to doing). Tastes awful if you forget it.

Knead the dough until you can stretch a tiny bit of it into a translucent membrane. You'll see plenty of bran blocking the light, but that's ok so long as the surrounding dough is translucent. Oil a bowl or container, put the dough in it and cover.

When it has doubled -- and this may take 3-4 hours depending on the temperature -- fold it and let it rise again. This second rise improves flavor and helps the final loaf rise higher. It should take about half the amount of time the previous rise took.

Once it has risen a second time, remove the dough and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a loaf, and place inside two oiled 8.5 inch by 4.5 inch loaf pans. To shape the loaves, I pat and stretch each portion of the dough into a rough 8"x4" rectangle. I then take one of the 4" ends, and roll it up, pausing every full turn to press down hard on the seam with the edge of my hand. Once the loaf is rolled and sealed, II then stretch it gently so that it's longer than the pan, and fold the edges underneath, again, pressing down hard to seal the seams. I then rock it back and forth quickly while bringing my hands from the middle of the loaf to the edges to stretch it out once again to fit the pan.

Here, you have a choice. You can either cover the pans with food grade plastic and stick it in the fridge overnight, or you can just let it rise and bake immediately. Retarding overnight will accentuate the flavor, and the sourness, of the bread. Depending on how sour your starter is, retarding might overdo the sourness.

Let the loaves rise until they crest about an inch or two in the center of the loaf above the rim of the pan. Try to catch it so that, when you poke the loaf with a damp finger, the indention starts to fill back in slowly. If you've retarded the bread, and it's already at this stage, you can either leave it out (covered) for about an hour to warm up or bake it immediately. I've had more luck getting oven spring if I warm it up.

Otherwise, let it rise until it's nearly fully risen. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slash the loaves artfully. These days, I like a few baguette-style slashes on a slight diagonal along the length of the loaf. But, really, it's up to you. As you can see from the photos, I've taken other approaches in the past.

Put the loaves in to bake and, If you wish, steam the oven by pouring 1-2 cups of boiling water into a pre-heated pan or skillet in the bottom of the oven. If find this results in a darker crust, and slighly larger loaves.

Cook for about 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, until the center of each loaf registers 190 to 200 degrees. Remove from pans and cool for 1 hour before slicing.

A couple of variations:

Cinnamon-raisin sourdough: Substitute 2 TBS butter for the olive oil and raise the honey to 4 TBS. Add 2 tsp cinnamon. Near the end of the kneading, add 9 oz raisins and, if you like, 4 oz pecans or walnuts. The extra cinnamon and honey will increase the rising time by about 40%, and you'll need 9"x5" pans. Add 15-20 minutes to the bake.

Multi-grain sourdough Soak 6 oz of your favorite seeds and grains (sunflower seeds, flax seeds, rye chops, wheat berries, oat groats, whatever mix suits your fancy) in 6 oz of water overnight. Reduce the water in the dough to 11.5 oz. Use a 9"x5" pan and add 15-20 minutes to the bake.

Greg's picture
Greg

Hi, this is a great site and I'm wondering if there's anyone out there making the perfect bagel in Australia?

I'm Sydney-based and would love to hook up with the perfect bagel.

Thanks,
Greg

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