The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Greg's picture

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.


JMonkey's picture

Feeding ratio for starters

May 18, 2006 - 10:01am -- JMonkey

I've had a heck of a time getting a really sour sourdough, and I'm convinced that it's my local microflora. I've taken some measures to get more tang out of my bread -- firm starter at 50%, long cool rise, overnight retarding. It helps. But it's only mildly sour, not the sharp tang I'd like to get.

My friend, who lives 4 miles away, took some of my starter. Over the last four weeks, her bread has progressively gotten more sour, and she's doing everything exactly as I do.

Anyway, I'm curious about the ratio of refreshment. I've decided to see what a really liquid starter (125% hydration) like Jeffrey Hammelman uses would do. Now, in the King Arthur Baker's Companion and the BBA, they recommend not going any further than quadrupling when you refresh the starter. Hammelman, on the other hand, increases his by a factor of 8.

Valerio's picture

Starter Storage

May 9, 2006 - 8:46pm -- Valerio

After a few attempts I was finally able to grow a couple of wild yeast starters. I have baked a couple of loafs already and the taste is great.

Now I am wondering on whether I should store the cultures at room temperature (I am in Los Angeles and temperatures are getting into the 80s or 90s now) or in the refrigerator? Right now I feed the cultures once every 3-4 days and store them in the fridge.

mamagarrett's picture

One Step Forward, two steps back

May 9, 2006 - 10:18am -- mamagarrett

I finally managed to find some unglazed quarry stones and make my faux brick oven this weekend. I was amazed at the difference in the amount of rise I got, and also the beautiful color. I was so thrilled to pull those first loaves out of the oven..

The problem is, the taste. While I used to get the most wonderful sour taste out of my sour dough bread, lately, I have noticed less and less. At this point, my sourdough tastes about the same as if I was using regular baking yeast. I have never made sourdough and regular yeast bread at the same time, so I don't know if contamination is possible, or if the yeast that produced the delightful flavor at first have now died off.

JMonkey's picture

I've got folks lined up all the way til June to get some sourdough starter, thanks to my Craig's List ad, and in the past two days, I gave away my first batch. Two baggies of whole-wheat starter and two baggies of white. Since it's a stiff dough, it's easier to give away. Wouldn't want to try bringing the 100% stuff to the office on my bike.

I also finally finished up my sourdough primer document to go along with it. Three recipes, conversion advice for tranforming commercial yeast recipes into sourdough, and standard care and feeding info.

Looks like I might end up getting some free organic greens and herbs out of it, too. A fellow who delivers to Boston every weekend told me he'd gladly share some of his harvest for some starter.

Cool stuff.

JMonkey's picture

Every weekend, I bake 2-3 loaves of sourdough (usually whole wheat) for my family's weekly bread. I love sourdough, and I particularly love that I've figured out (finally) how to coax sour flavor out of our sweet New England microflora (long, cool bulk rise with a stiff starter).

I absolutely hate, however, having to throw away starter when I feed it. Drives me bannanas.

So I had an idea earlier this week. Why not place an ad on Craig's list and give it away? I came up with a quick ad:

Less than 24 hours later, I've got 18 folks lined up, all of whom will gladly give my sourdough "waste" for the entire month of May a happy home. At this rate, I'll just have to put up one ad per month.

So now, I can make my sourdough guilt free. :-)

Pedro Pan's picture
Pedro Pan

"My all time favorite is a blue cheese and walnut bread with 25% toasted waluts..." The Bread Baker's Apprentice, P. 234
Good place to start. This bread was/is truly amazing-- I more or less followed the proportions except I used the WW SD starter and added 25% WW flour to the final dough. Blue cheese was Stilton (Costco). Walnuts from Trader Joe's. This was some serious bread. Dinner was Lasagne coi Carciofi, Artichoke Lasagna...ooh baby...but thats another story. The walnut/stilton bread with salad was a perfect compliment to a great sunday dinner.

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sonofYah's picture

I am going to try linking to some pictures. Please be patient with me.

These are pictures of a starter I am experimenting with. See my earlier blog entry for an explanation.


The control starter
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Sourdough Jack's starter
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Both starters for comparison
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sonofYah's picture

Well, Pesach and Unleavened Bread is over and it is time to get the bread ingredients out of storage.

Been a while since I was able to post. Have been super busy. Having a blast at the bakery job. The railroad job? All I can say is that I still have it and it is paying the bills.

I have been browsing the newsgroup a lot lately. One of the messages I really found interesting was one concerning a 30+ year old sourdough starter packet. It seems that one of the regular posters on the group found an old packet of unopened starter in one of their sourdough books. This person did a little experiment to see if she could revive the starter. She seems to have had success.

I went on the 'net and found a copy of the book with a packet. Yesterday, I started my own little experiment. I measured out equal amounts of all-purpose flour and water in two seperate quart jars. To one I added my 1/2 ounce packet of starter powder. Twelve hours later I had activity in both jars. But the jar with the sourdough packet was markedly more active. The aroma of the starters were different as was the textures of the respective starters.

Not wanting to skew the results, I took 50 grams of starter from each jar and discarded the rest. I started with the control starter first, doing one at a time to control cross-contamination. I rinsed out each jar and added 50 grams of distilled water and 50 grams of all purpose flour. I added the water to the starter and made a liquid starter. I returned the starters to the respective jars. I then added 50 grams of all-purpose flour to each jar and stirred until well incorporated. I marked the levels in each of the jars. Again, twelve hours later, I checked the jars. This time I took pictures. There is quite a difference between the two. When I learn how to post pictures here, I will do so.

I am kind of suprised that the control jar (with no starter powder) took off so quickly. But then again I did a lot of bread baking before Pesach and Unleavened Bread. And no matter how good I tried to clean my house, there would still be yeast floating around in the air. (A spiritual lesson there) Hoping this didn't affect my little experiment. But the jar with the sourdough starter is significantly more active as you will be able to tell when I upload the pictures.

BTW, I made my first homemade matzah in a stone lined oven. Was a smashing hit with the daughters. And I got it in the oven in less than eighteen minutes. Just made a little over a pound.

Till then, let us bake bread.

Keen de el yeshuati

ross's picture

what i refer to as 'rye light', naturally leavened, organic, and 100% hand made...
i baked seven of these yesterday, 3 lbs each. pictured are half-loaves.


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