The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Getting sourdough consistent resutls

  • Pin It
gavinc's picture
gavinc

Getting sourdough consistent resutls

I now get week by week repeated success with Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough which is our regular bread I bake each weekend.  My take-home message to all sourdough newbies is to persist and pay attention to detail.  It's tempting to skip and make do with estimates and a "she'll be right" attitude, but if I want consisency week after week with sourdough, I have to do all the below:



  • Always have a fully active starter to build a fully active levain.

  • Use baker's percentage and scale all ingredients-

  • Take the time to measure the temperatures of the room, flour and levain and work out the desired water temperature so you can achieve a final dough temperature after mixing of 24 to 25C. (Believe me this doesn't take long and is not difficult).

  • Fold during bulk fermentation. (I do two at 50 minute intervals and shape after a further 50 minutes).

  • Final ferment for 2 hours; (or retard in the fridge until the next day works great for additional flavour, but not essential).

  • Bake in a hot oven 235C for 40 to 45 minutes (I find lower temperatures will not get the oven spring).  Use steam.


This never misses.



cheers,


Gavin.

Comments

xaipete's picture
xaipete

That's a really nice looking loaf of VSD, Gavin. It looks like you got a lot of volume and a great looking crust!


--Pamela

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Pamela, Your encouragement is always appreciated. Thanks.

sybram's picture
sybram

Thanks gavinc.  I'm keeping your list of "must do" steps.  I've just started my sourdough starter (2), and this is just the kind of help I need.  I can't wait to start using them to bake bread.  I'm only on day four, but I'm surprised how interesting it is.  I can't keep from looking at it often, sort of like waiting for the baby kittens to be born.  I feel like I'm watching a birthing process.


Syb

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Syb, Be careful. Bread baking is consuming.....good luck.  TFL is a fantasitc resource.  If you run into starter/culture trouble, look up all things written by Debra Wink on this site.


Cheers,

sybram's picture
sybram

Yes, thanks, Gavin.  One of my starters is Debra's pineapple one.  The other I got off someone's blog on TFL.  I'm sorry I forgot where I found it, so I can't give proper credit.  It's one with 1/8 tsp of honey in it.  They both seem to be doing as per described in the instructions, so so far, so good.  I figured I'd better start at least two, since I haven't been what I would call highly successful with my breads so far--somewhat, but not highly successsful.  I'm really looking forward to the SD baking.


Syb

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Lovely bread and nice write up too...  Have you ever baked any of these in your WFO?  This bread holds up well too..do you take it on your camping trips?  I just image it wrapped in foil warming by the campfire!


Sylvia

gavinc's picture
gavinc

 Hi Sylvia,


I use the WFO only occasionally for bread, as by the time we've had Pizza, it's been a full day of eating a refreshments with friends.  I have to be more disciplined to have some sourdough ready on these days.  I have to dedicate a bread baking day with the WFO and concentrate solely on that; but my neighbours seem to sense that the WFO is fired up and materialise around the oven with refreshments and anticipation.  These spontaneous days turn into very funny afternoons with grown men behaving in odd ways - discussing bread recipes and the like.  These same men 30 years ago gathered and spoke only of cars and bikes!. Age does funny things.


Gavin.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Fine job, Gavinc.  Hamelman's sourdough is my regular bread as well, although I do retard it overnight and bake it at 465F(240C) because I like the added intensity of flavor and the taste of a caramelized crust.


You've nicely explained Hamelman's instructions.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I'll creep the oven up a little and give it a go.  I think I use a little too much flour on the brotforms, but I'm scared of not having the dough drop free onto the peel.  I forgot to dot point that I do a rough mix of the final dough and autolyse for 30 minutes before the full mix.


Cheers,


Gavin

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Gavin - I understand that apprehension.  My experience with brotforms is that no matter how much I flour them (I use a 50-50 mix of flour and rice flour), some part of the dough sticks.  Sometimes the dough deflates as I try to get it unstuck.  So I avoid them unless there's no choice. 


That's why I bake this bread either in loaf or a freestanding boule form - that way I can rely on the safety of parchment to get it to the hot stone.


I've wondered if laying a piece of wide plastic wrap inside the brotform first, then spraying it with oil so the dough wouldn't stick to the plastic, would work. Maybe I'll collect my sourdough discard and experiment.


Anyway, you reinforced some excellent points.  


 

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Wonderful loaf, Gavin! There's no way of getting consistent loaves without attention to the details you sketched out.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

My time at the weekends is precious that I can't find time to experiment as much as I would  like.  I'm still fixed on the Hamelman sourdough, but at least I've taken a few lessons from folks here.  I've crept up the temperature as advised by LindyD and it's proven to be a nicer finish to the crust.  I've had to renew my starter from scratch as we were away for four months; thanks to Debra Wink, I only had to wait a week before I could get a decent loaf.  I've found a source for whole meal rye and use it at 10% which has given a stronger flavour.


Latest results: