The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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NanooseGuy's picture
NanooseGuy

Help! Help! Sourdough Starter Woes

I am a newbie to sourdough baking.

I started my first sourdough starter on Sunday January 26th. After 4 days using orange juice (water on day 4) and whole grain rye flour I got bubbles, a "fruity" aroma and a slightly acidic taste. Success!

On day 4, I modified my twice daily feeding schedule to a 1:1:1 ratio using 50% AP and 50% Whole Wheat. I continued this schedule. The starter peaks (a little more than double the volume) in 7.5 hours at 73F.

On day 10, I tried my first bake, following the basic sourdough recipe in Reinhart's BBA. A total disaster. The firm starter did not rise more than 20% and, of course, the final dough did not rise properly either. I ended up forgoing the actual baking and throwing out the dough. I surmised that my problem was a starter that was too young.

A couple of days ago I decided to try again, this time following Hamelman's Vermont sourdough recipe in "Bread", which I cut in half so as to only make one loaf. Last Thursday (day 12 in the life of my starter) I created the liquid Levain using a small portion of my active starter. I waited until my starter had peaked and was, supposedly ripe (7.5 hours after feeding) before building the liquid Levain according to the recipe. This was done at 8:00pm and I left it overnight on the counter to ferment ( at approximately 70F) for 12 to 16 hours.

I tested the Levain the next morning. It smelled "floury", like raw dough, no signs of acidity or sweetness; but there were a few bubbles. Even after 16 hours there appeared little change. I concluded that the my starter was not "ready" and decided not to carry on. I noticed that my starter was subjected to a "new" feed (all AP flour) when the liquid Levain was built and I have read that this change in feed may cause problems. So perhaps the 50/50 feed mixture I am using was a contributing factor.

I decided to keep the liquid Levain and have been feeding it 100% AP flour, trying to develop an "all White" starter. So far, it smells the same (doughy) and has a few more bubbles but I would not call it very active.

From what I have observed my starter appears weak and lacking in LAB, although I have read that a starter should be "ready" to use after a week or so. I can understand the lack of sourness (LAB) because I have been keeping it at around 72F and feeding it twice daily. But what contributes to, as Hamelman states in his book "With liquid-levain cultures, ripeness is indicated by a mildly acidic aroma and a subtle sweetness, as well as by numerous small bubbles, somewhat like soap bubbles, that partially cover the surface. It should have a pleasing tang when tasted, acidic but not aggressively so."

Kneading One's picture
Kneading One

Knocking back after first ferment

I am using a wild yeast starter and have never tried knocking the dough back after the first ferment (4+ hours) process. I have read in a couple of books that this technique is often applied. I am not too convinced that the dough would rise again after knocking it back, so I have avoided this process. Does anyone here apply this process of knocking back and doing a second ferment prior to shaping/proofing? Thanks for your input.

Richard

foodslut's picture
foodslut

An ideas for leftover bread soaking water?

Part of my newer baking routine now is that I throw tiny left-over crusts of bread into a paper bag.

When I bake my next batch of bread, I soak the crusts, drain the water so it's pulpy, not mushy, and mix it into my dough (usually about 30-35% baker's percentage or so).  I find it adds another layer of flavour, but I was wondering:  anybody have any idea if I can use the pressed-and-drained-off water for anything?

If anybody would know, I figured it would be the keeners here.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.

Tony

hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Home oven for baking & selling bread

Hi Baker Friends,

I am trying to come up with a home operation to bake and sell bread from home.  I'm in Michigan, so it'd be under the Cottage Food Law. My main reason for doing this is to test the waters and see if I can really scale up what I bake on a weekly basis (a few loaves- more like the Tartine style naturally leavened loaves) and see how my breads would sell even if in limited numbers. I am thinking maybe 10 - 15 loaves to be sold one day a week.

Without getting into other details, the home oven we have is a simple Frigidaire brand gas oven. It's been working fine for the type of breads I have been baking. I use two dutch ovens side by side to get two round loaves at a time. I tried baking one loaf on the top shelf and one on the bottom to see if I can bake maybe 4 loaves at a time, but it's too much juggling of heavy and hot dutch ovens plus the baking is not even (burned bottom, or not enough color on the top crust).

Given that, I am thinking I'd just bake 2 loaves at a time, which means using the oven for 5 - 6 hours straight in the 450 - 500 F range. That sounds like quite a bit of fuel consumption and I am also a bit worried about the oven itself whether it can handle that kind of abuse every week (in addition to the regular cooking we have to do). Finally, is there any health risk (i.e., carbon monoxide) associated with running the oven for that long (although I know that becomes an issue when you have incomplete combustion, which should not be the case for me)?

If anyone has any experience with this kind of home baking, I'd very much appreciate any feedback.

 

Thanks!

Hazim

hairybaker's picture
hairybaker

Fridge proving?

Hi 

I'm making a simple white loaf from James Morton's excellent book, Brilliant Bread. This is the recipe:

500g strong white flour

One 7g sachet instant yeast

10g table salt

350g of tepid water

I've mixed all the flour, salt, yeast and water together, left it alone to absorb into the dough after given it a few turns in the bowl. I let it rise for an hour and placed it in the fridge. Tomorrow should I just remove it from the fridge when I get up and let it come to room temperature, shape it, let it rise again and bake?

I wanted to use the fridge so I can have bread ready to bake when I want it rather than spending three hours indoors waiting around when I'm busy.

Did I put it in the fridge at the right time or should this have been after the second rise? Any tips on bread baking for busy people?

Any help would be gladly received.

Thank you

Hairybaker

Capn Dub's picture
Capn Dub

Different Brands of Flour

I have noticed something interesting about flours that I thought to share with y'all.  I'm wondering of one of you real flour experts, perhaps someone who runs or has worked in a mill, can explain it to me.  I have tried every brand of AP flour available to me, and have noticed little difference in their performance in my particular application--until now.

For some time now I've been using King Arthur Unbleached All-purpose, mostly for feeding my starter.  A couple of weeks ago I bought a sack of Red Mill Unbleached.  (It doesn't say all-purpose, but I assume that's what it is.)  As soon as I opened it I noticed a definite difference in its appearance.  All the other brands have a "flat" appearance, but the Red Mill has a slight gloss to it.  Furthermore, it felt somewhat different--looser, perhaps; I don't know how else to describe it.  Upon using it, I found that it wet much more easily when mixing into my starter, and the starter was somewhat stiffer.

Being the curious type, I decided to investigate.  Weighing a cup of KA, using the "spoon and scrape" technique, I found that the average of five trials was 116 grams.  (KA says a cup weighs 120 grams.)  The Red Mill came in at 124 grams.  Now that would explain the difference in the stiffness of the starter, but it says nothing about the gloss and the wetting properties of the different flours.

Does anyone know why the difference in the appearance, feel, and wetting characteristics?

Regardless, I have become a fan of Red Mill.  Being basically a lazy man, I like the fact that it's easier to mix.  My father always said "If you want to know the easy way to do something, ask a lazy man."

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

Emmanuel Hjiandreou's basic sourdough - still spreading!

As you can see from the pics, I still have spreading issues, different recipe this time. It is not a high hydration recipe at all, 500g flour, 300g water and 150g starter at 100% hydration, not sure what that makes the overall hydration, but surely not high enough to cause the spreading pictured. I must admit I didn't reduce the hydration at all to compensate for my humid environment, and did throw in a good amount of white spelt, which may not have helped. Do you think it might be my shaping at fault?

Sons of Bread's picture
Sons of Bread

Bread wrapping paper canada

I saw this wonderful paper in Germany for wrapping bread and want to find the product in Canada( specifically Vancouver). The paper is 2 layered. Thin paper on the outside, thin plastic/ Saran on the inside with perforated holes holes between both layers every few inches. Keeps bread fresh longer. Paper layer has logo printed on it.

I think you buy it by the reim. Size I got was 50  x 75 cm.  Any clues Canada???.

tkarl's picture
tkarl

Long-time breadmaker here -- I've lost my touch. Please help

Me:  I always use a breadmaker and I ALWAYS make whole wheat.  I bought the original DAK Breadmaker when it first came out.  I had tweaked my DAK WW recipe so that the rising bread nearly kissed the glass top every single time.  Then I bought an Oster about 3 years ago primarily because they had a WW recipe that did not require any added Gluten flour.  The Oster worked fabulously.  That is the good news.  My problem now is that I cannot repeat my successes now no matter what I do.  Now, Every single loaf comes out to about 1/2 of the expected size -- in BOTH Bread Makers.

Ok, to provide more specifics:  1)  My room temperature is now (Chicago winter) is set to 57 degrees.  Not expecting things to work right because of this, I have warmed the breadmakers, the flour, the water, the yeast -- everything.  2)  I've proofed my yeast.  According to Red Star, 1/2C water + 1t sugar + 2 1/4t yeast (all at 115-120 degrees) + 10 minutes should raise the volume from 1/2C to 1C.  It does.  All my jarred yeast stays in the freezer.  3)  I've created a nice warm environment by putting 1/2 gallon jars of hot tap water outside the BM.  Then I put blankets around the whole thing plus a warming pad on top.  All this was of course is removed when the baking starts.  4) I am very careful when measuring.  I use the same measuring cups & technique I always have.

Just recently, I've also began milling my own flour.  Today, I thought to use store-bought WW flour to see if the milling was causing an issue.  I fired up BOTH BMs and they now both have 1/2 loaves in them.  I'm at my wits' end here.

What has happened to my bread-making capability?  Assistance appreciated.  Oh, and this is my 1st post here.

Cory_v's picture
Cory_v

First attempt at pizza

The dough is from here. But I only had white four so... wasn´t really country dough. Made the sauce myself which turned out pretty good. Got the sauce recipe from here. I made a nasty mistake with the dough though. Lets just say the outside of the pie crust ended up much thicker then the middle. Live and learn I suppose. Also, I´m stuck with a gas stove which doesn´t get that hot to begin with, but also the door doesn´t completely close. Not ideal for pizza as you can imagine. No pizza stone either, just the bottom of a cookie sheet. Yummy pizza regardless! (Although I will not be getting that particular peppered salami again!)

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