*sigh* Let me try again to submit my questions- After 30 minutes of typing and copying, somehow I lost the entire thing when I hit save!
Anyway, here I go: I have been trying to use the recipe supplied by Gold Rush in their sour dough starter packet (yes, I got frustrated and tried a store bougth starter- but I have used several different starters with this recipe)The recipe (for a 1 pound loaf) calls for: ! cup starter, 1/3 cup warm water (90-100 degrees) 1 tsp salt, 2 cups bread flour (11-13% protein), and 1/4-1/2 tsp instant yeast.
The directions (with my comments/questions in italics) are :
1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except the optional yeast). Mix until combined. Knead dough by hand for 15 minutes or with a dough hook for 10 mniutes (or until gluten develops). I take this to mean until the dough can pass the window pane test.
2. Flatten dough, place in a large plastic bowl. Dust the dough with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the dough for 6-8 hours. If using yeast add to dough at this stage. Be sure yeast is well distributed throughout the dough . so, does this mean to add the yeast AFTER the 6-8 hours, or right before you rest the dough? I have been adding it sometime during that first knead. I even went to the Gold Rush website to get clarification, and was even more confused after reading their explanation of the directions.
3. Knead dough onto floured surface until gluten development. (does this mean it LOST the gluten development while resting the 6-8 hours?) Knead until dough is smooth, shiny, and satiny (my dough is always smooth shiny and satiny after the first round of kneading. it looses this texture when I start to knead again, and becomes very lumpy and ugly). Test for proper kneading by pressing your finger into the dough, if the dough stays indented it is developed. ( mine will stay indented, even though it is not smooth, and is lumpy)
4. Shape dough into desired shapes (rounds, loaves, rolls, baguette). Place on parchment lined sheet pan or greased pan.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 4-5 hours (or over night in the refrigerator) until dough has doubled in size (the only time I got a second rise out of any of the attempts is when I let it proof in a VERY hot kitchen, as the AC had gone out and it was 105 degrees outside that day. It took about 6 hours, and it rose double, but looked weird, bubbly and with holes in it, though it kept its shape fine. Oddly enough, when it baked, it had no holes in it, and was very heavy and dense. )
6. With sharp knife or razor blade cut designs into the top of the bread dough. The cut enables the bread to rise evenly in the oven and for the crumb to open.
7. Preheat the oven to 475 F. Place pan with 1-2 inches of water on the bottom shelf of the oven. When water is visibly steaming, the oven is ready. Place the dough pan in the middle of the oven and reduce the heat to 425 f. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
I have used the bread flour with appropriate protein content (it was whole wheat, though) and a combination of rye and wheat in different ratios.With the WW and rye flours, I have added 1 tbsp gluten for each cup of flour I have used. Every time, the bread has turned out very dense. no rise in the oven, and except for the last time, no rise with the proof. I have let it proof in the refrigerator over night for all but the last time, as it took so long for the first rise. The dough has doubled every time with the first rise. While all the results have been edible, and the more recent loaves have had the increasing tang (though not quite yet to my preference) , the crumb is not what I would like, and the crust is tough and chewy.
So, any comments or suggestions or explanations as to why things happened (to the best of your knowledge) would be appreciated. I like this recipe because it SEEMED to simple. I am trying to do two things:
1- make a good San Francisco type sourdough with that tang. I have seen that San Joaquin Sour Dough recipe on someones blog (sorry my mind is not clear so late in the evening and I forget whose blog/recipe it was..Dave Or Dan, perhaps?)
2- make a reasonable facsimile of the German wheat/rye sourdough that I had when I was a child in Germany. I have been able to find fairly good representations of this bread at various artisan or European bakeries, but I would love to be able to make some myself.
I have tried 2 other sourdough rye recipes, one that used its own type of "starter" ( I think you baker types call it a preferment or levain or something) and they were good enough tasting, but not quite right. They also, were very heavy and did not rise the second time.
All of the flours I use are organic. I have used King Arthur Brand od some of Bobs Red Mill and also some unbranded organic ones that I bought in bulk from my food coop. The gluten I used was from Bobs Red Mill Vital Gluten.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give!