The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Bread Baking

  • Pin It
bblearner's picture
bblearner

Sourdough Bread Baking

My first try to use a starter to bake a sourdough bread was Mountaindog's Cherry Pecan Pain au Levain which was so dense and almost unedible.  I was sure something was not right with my starter.  So I requested MD post some pictures of his levains for me for guidance, which he did with nice illustrations.  I followed that to feed my starter for over a week and tried to build a levain with bubbles that would match those of MD's and finally I thought my starter was ripe enough to make breads, I tried the Country French Bread (Thom Leonard's), also from MD's blog :




The crumb was still a little dense because I overlooked the part on folding.  So a week later I had another try and followed the recipe as closely as possible and this was a better one :



 



I was so happy that my starter finally is working and the following one is Richard Bertinet's sourdough bread with a small touch of spelt flour :




Honestly, I like the flavour of the Country French Bread more.  My next exercise will be the Pecan Cranberry Pain au Levain, again. 


I would like to thank everybody on this site for their generosity of sharing techniques, experiences, recipes, etc. and a special thanks to Mountaindog's encouragement!

Comments

LindyD's picture
LindyD

They say practice makes perfect, and you're on your way to perfection!


The fun part about the bread road we travel is that 99% of the time, the bread tastes wonderful - always much better than that chemical-filled fluff on the store shelves.


BTW, Mountaindog is a girl...a very nice one and a great baker.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

<blush> Coming from you that's a great compliment...

bblearner's picture
bblearner

My apologies to Mountaindog for matching her to the wrong gender.  That could be explained by my not having studied her blog well enough.  Thank you very much for pointing that out LindyD. 


It is exactly this reason that I'm going onto the road of bread baking.  I have a long way to go because it's only 70% of the time that my bread tasted good!

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hey, bblearner, your photos show defintie steady progress with each loaf you make, good job! Your last pic especially is looking good, much more open crumb. If you try the country french again, try bulk fermenting it in a straight-sided container with a piece of tape to mark the side, if possible, so you can really see when the dough has doubled. Let it go as long as needed to fully ferment, it may take a lot longer than you think if your location is not really warm. My country french dough takes about 4-6 hours to double at 70F, my starter is on the slow side, but does the job eventually.


Here is a photo of a sourdough boule I made a few years ago when my starter was brand new, and in my eagerness to try it before it was "ready", I got a nice doorstop that even the animals raiding our compost pile left behind:



Your doing great, keep it up and Good luck!  --MD

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi MD


I baked the Pecan Cranberry Bread yesterday.  I cheated a little and used a firm starter and a bigger portion since I noticed Richard Bertinet's recipes use starters of 50% hydration which he calls them ferment and constitute one-third of the total flour weight.  The starter was built on Thursday night and I planned to bake my bread today but the dough rose almost as fast as one made from instant yeasts.  It was shaped into a big batard (I scaled down the flour to 377g + 187g starter) at 5:30 pm and it was doubled by 8:00pm.  So I baked it at 8:30 pm instead of cold proofing it overnight.  The result was quite satisfactory to me although the crust was too dark but the crumb was even more open than the boule I showed above.  Taste was good too.


I was wondering why this had happened.  Was it due to the right temperature of the warm water I used this time or the numerous folds I performed at the time of kneading the cranberries and pecans in?  Even in Bertinet's book he said sourdough breads need 16-18 to rise before they could be baked.  Perhaps I'll cheat once more to see if this could happen again!!


I shall get a very large measuring jug to bulk ferment my doughs.


Thank you again.