The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough trouble - flat loaves

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Sourdough trouble - flat loaves

It seems my sourdough has enough yeast in it to make bread rise, but I still end up with flat, dense loaves (it is about a month old now). At first I thought I was over proofing, but that doesn't seem to be the issue. I am using a converted no knead recipe which follows:


6.75 oz AP flour


5/8 tsp sea salt


4.5 oz water


5.5 oz starter (67% hydration)


I mix the water/starter together then add to mixed dry ingrediants. Let sit 12-18 hours, fold over a few times and proof. I tried this recipe twice once with a 2 hour proof (pictured below) and the next with a 1 hour proof thinking I over proofed. Then into a steamed* oven on a baking stone.


*An oven with a hot pan of water in it.


When I do this with regular rapid rise yeast, I get great results, but when adjusting for my starter I get terrible rise, but great sour flavor. Any ideas on how to improve my technique? I think I probably should cut down on the starter amount, but don't know too much about sourdough baking. This is a new world to me.


The rapid rise version I use is as follows:


6.75 oz flour


5/8 tsp sea salt


1/8 tsp rapid rise yeast


6oz water


The results with sourdough picture first and instant yeast second:




 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

When you feed your starter how long does it take it to quadruple?


--Pamela

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

The starter quadruples in about 8-10 hours at 75-78 degrees F. It has great flavor too so I am at a loss.

marieJ's picture
marieJ

 I tend to agree with Paul.  Your loaf looks almost identical to my first ever sourdough. The first recipe I ever attempted with my first ever starter was pain de campagne which directed that a total proofing time should be at least 10hours - up to 14-16 hours. My starter was 'Frankenstein Monster active' - feeding every 8 hrs like a voracious freak of nature. The loaf was first proofed for 3 hours, as directed, then final proofed overnight for 8 hours. I then baked it for 1 hour at 220C with steam tray.  The result was exactly the same as your loaf. Flat as flat as flat!!!!!  Interestingly the crumb was beautiful like I would expect an ancient style of bread.  The crust was rock hard and like double glazed glass!


The solution to this issue was to watch the starter & it's behaviour. I keep my starter at the consistency of a wet, unworkable dough. Once fed it has an obvious active span of about five hours of highly animated activity. Like all cultures it continues activity after this but not with the same vigour. Having seen this, I used Avner Laskins' recipe style of 2 hours for first proof - 6 hours for final proof. even this required some adjusting.  The method I use now is to proof for 1 hour then final proof for 7 hours. It has worked well for me and proves to be consistent and reliable.  I hope this helps in some way.  Good luck and joyful baking.


(Remember, practice, practice, practice and you and your starter will get to know each other very well.)


 

vdalais's picture
vdalais

Thank you soo much, this advice has made me very excited to start my next loaf, i've got one just about to go into the oven which hasn't risen much. But i have an increadible amount of activity in the first proof (10hours). 

Thank you for sharing this useful information! 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

From your comments, I'd deduce that the problem is in the amount of wild yeast acitivity you have in your starter.  I might try feeding the starter and resting it at room temp. for about 6 hours, then feeding it again and after another rise chill it for a couple of hours before applying it to the recipe (sans instant yeast) and see how that works.


Congrats on the results of that second loaf.  Looks great ...

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Maybe the temperature that you are keeping your starter at is the problem. Try keeping it a bit cooler (at approx. 70º) and see how long it takes to 4x there. Too warm a temperature does have some effect on the action of the starter, but I don't remember what it is off the top of my head (perhaps it impedes yeast action). Dan Dimuzio knows.


I use a 67% hydration starter; it 4x in about 12 hours at 70º.


--Pamela

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

The starter has been on a steady feed diet every 12 hours - 1oz starter, 2oz water, 3oz flour. I did that for about a week until the day before I made this loaf where I doubled everything. Not too sure it is a lack of yeast though, initial fermentation of the bread is very good. How are you determining it is a yeast issue?


I will try to bring down the starter temperature during its rise. Right now I have it in the fridge so I wouldn't have to feed everyday. I have a feeling it is my technique causing these issues, not the starter so I don't mind storing it. It does help that not much room will be taken up. With it in the fridge I plan on feeding every 5 days minimum.


Hopefully I can get to the bottom of this without using too much more flour... It just seems like a temperature issue would be too simple, but I don't really know what is going on.


Just as a note the lower bread pictured has no starter in it. Just instant yeast for the action material. It was just an example of what I was expecting.fully I can get

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I understood about the picture. Take it out of the fridge and feed it as you have been doing every 12 hours. Find a less warm place to keep it, e.g., a cooler with an ice pack in it--put a thermometer in there so you know what the temp is.


--Pamela

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I will need to go out and get a cooler to continue this in, probably this weekend. How long should I continue the twice daily feedings at a cooler temperature? Also, do you know of a source where I can read about the effects of temperature on a sourdough starter?


Thanks for the help!

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Send Dan DiMuzio a message and ask him what he thinks.


dghdctr


--Pamela

flournwater's picture
flournwater

My earlier remarks about my experience of feeding the starter prior to applying it to the bread mix, exclusive of additiional yeast , involved a 100% hydration starter preparation.  I maintain my starter at that level and make the math adjustment when I'm ready to add more flour for the initial rise.  I see your starter is somehwere in the mid 60% range.  Makes me wonder if the mix is too heavy and would benefit from a greater volume of water for the wild yeast to do its work or, perhaps, if the mix is kneaded enough.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I typically knead the starter 2 minutes before putting it into the container and letting it rise. Since it quadruples in size between feedings (12 hours max when on the counter). I wouldn't expect it to be a yeast issue. Bacteria wouldn't be causing that much rise, would it?


 


When I was at a decent grocery store this weekend I did pick up some rye flour as I have read that it is good food for a starter, should I try adding that in as 10% of the total flour feeding?

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Rye will add to the flavor profile, but won't help your flattening issue.


After proofing, does the natural starter loaf look normal? At what point is it deflating? You have us scratching our heads because the commercial yeasted loaf looks normal, so we're assuming this isn't a technique-related problem.


The physical appearance of the dough during bulk fermentation, shaping, and final proofing should be the exact same, it just takes longer. So comparing your success with your failure, at what point do you lose the rise?


- Keith

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

The loaf rises like normal over the 12-18 hour time period. During shaping the loaves also feel the same. It is during proofing that I encounter issues. The sourdough loaves don't seem to rise as much as commercial yeast loaves. Should I try to proof the sourdough loaves longer than 2 hours (my normal proof time for commercial yeast)?


If I recall correctly, it does seem as if the sourdough loaf falls flat during proofing while the instant yeast loaf rises normally. If I am remembering this correctly, I have no idea what would be causing it. Perhaps tonight I need to try start up a loaf of each and take pictures of my process.


In general, I am a fairly new baker, and am not really sure how to tell if a loaf is over or under proofed.

marieJ's picture
marieJ

Try gently pressing your finger onto the top of the loaf at about 5 - 6 hours into proofing. Firm resistance where the dough springs back instantly will tell you your loaf is still young. If an indentation is made and it does not return to normal shape, or even causes the dough to collapse slightly, this can mean the loaf is overproofed. Try for somewhere in between, as a general guide only. This will give an indication as to the progress of your dough.  This is passive advice, but has proven to be helpful to me until I learned the more specific and detailed intricacies of bread baking.


Don't forget that baking is a joy and a warm, deep pleasure.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Avaserfi,


You mention that your bulk ferment is at 12-18 hours, followed by a 2-hour second ferment and a 1-hour final ferment.  That amount of time, plus the pale color of the crust, plus the flattened final bread, suggests that:


- The dough is seriously over-proofed.  The pale color, especially, suggests that the yeast and bacteria chewed through all of the available sugars in the dough and had nothing left to work with.


- Giving that amount of starter that long a time to work has probably seriously weakened the gluten in the dough through acid attack.  That by itself would lead to a flatter bread.  Put it together with over-proofing and just about any dough would collapse.


Here are some suggestions:


- Do 2-3 folds at 45-minute intervals, then let the dough rise until nearly doubled in volume.  Watch the dough, not the clock, to determine when it has doubled.


- Shape the dough, then let it rise one more time until it is not quite doubled in volume.  If you can give it support during the final rise, as with a banneton or couche, so much the better.  Whether or not you use support, try to achieve good surface tension in the skin of the dough while shaping it to improve its ability to stand erect without spreading.  Then bake per your usual practice.


The above approach should give you a good shot at achieiving the bread you want.


Your yeasted version behaves differently because you are starting with a much smaller quantity of yeast, none of the dough has been prefermented in an acidic environment (i.e., your starter), and the dough itself is the product of the yeast activity that produces little or no acid to attack the gluten.


Let us know how this works out.


Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've been doing some starter experiments here and a 1-2-3 feeding (100% hydrration) is just not enough food at 24°c (75°F), the starters at room temp. are maturing at a rapid rate that implies 3 feeding a day.  I have switched to 1-3-5 and although the starter requires kneading to mix it, takes longer to eat it's flour food.   So far I've got 17 hours and still rising on them.   Therefore:


I think you should use shorter times if your room temp are middle to upper 70°'s F.  The folding Paul mentions is the easiest way to control it.  I've been thinking of my sourdoughs lately as if they had commercial yeast in them and my loaves are not overproofing.  The first rise seems smaller, yes, than instant yeast but the total rise times can almost compete.  The first fold comes at one hour.  If I don't retard my loaves, I add a little bit more flour into the recipe.   This has been working for me.  (Rye will also speed up the rising times in warm weather.) 


Mini

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Figuring out what happened to a sad looking loaf of bread is, in a way, a type of forensic investigation.  You start with the results of what occurred, and then work your way back through human observations (ideally captured with photos), written information (recipes and procedures), or physical evidence (the aforementioned sad loaf, the flour -- whatever).


And just like some cliched detective portrayed in a police procedural, I have to say now that, as of now, I have very little information to go on.  I could hazard a few guesses, but we want credible theories based on observable facts, right?  So I need more observable facts before I can make meaningful deductions.


I'll try to point out some control points that you should observe and record, and if you wish, you can try the process over again.  If you record the information I'd need and post it here, I can probably help.  But you will have to sally forth and bake again with the realization that this effort, too, may end with ugly, unpalatable bread.  You will have to "waste" some more flour and water on your way to understanding how fermentation works, in much the same way we waste tuition money for college or waste gasoline to learn how to drive.  There's just no way around it.


One caveat -- you do need some sort of published reference if you want to shorten your learning curve and make future sense of the observations that you record now.  Jeffrey Hamelman and Michel Suas have published outstanding books on the subject, and there are some others I've heard about.  Can't remember this one guy's name, though . . .


When you do a written analysis of your formula, break down the ingredient quantities in any pre-ferment and add them to the remaining quantities in your recipe to get actual totals on flour, water, salt, etc. in the formula.  For instance, instead of expressing the sourdough recipe as 6.75oz of flour, 4.5oz water, 5/8 tsp of salt and 5.5oz of starter @ 67% hyd, think of it initially as approximately 10oz flour, 6.7oz water, and whatever 5/8 tsp of salt weighs (one good reason to convert to metrics -- tiny fractions of an ounce are hard to weigh with any accuracy on most digital scales for home use.  Grams aren't so much of a challenge, and you don't usually need to fractionalize them for purposes of formula analysis).  Record the desired weight of flour and the weight of water in the pre-ferment separately so we can use that information later.


Then physically weigh everything, preferably in grams.  Be sure to record exactly what brand and type of flour you use, as flour varies a lot in its characteristics and absorption, and this matters a great deal.


Record these weights and, if you are able, figure out what ingredient percentages should be applied to them.  Write the percentages in a column next to your weights.


Record all ambient temperatures and time intervals when you're feeding and maintaining starters or mixing doughs.  The final temperature of the starter right after it is fed, and the temperature of the starter just before feeding or its use in a dough are also useful to know.  The next day, when you mix a final dough, use the common temperature calculation to figure out what water temperature to use for your water before scaling it.  After the dough has been mixed, record its internal temperature just before it begins its bulk fermentation, and its temperature just before you divide the dough.


Take pictures of your starter just before you feed it, and then another photo of how it looks after feeding.  Avoid shaking or stirring it before taking photos -- we want to see how it's doing when it's left alone.


When you mix the dough the next day, take photos of the following:



  • Dough immediately after mixing

  • Dough at the mid-point of the bulk fermentation

  • Dough at the end of bulk fermentation, BEFORE you dump it out of the container and commence the division.

  • Divided, unshaped portions

  • Any pre-shapes

  • Finished raw shapes, just after shaping has been completed.

  • Shaped, raw loaves at the mid-point of the final proof.

  • Raw loaves at the end of the proof, BEFORE you score and/or load them into the oven.

  • Raw loaves right after scoring and just before loading.

  • If you have an oven light and a glass window in the oven door, a shot of the loaves right after you've loaded them, steamed the oven and closed the door.

  • A shot after 15 minutes of baking, when you should probably vent the steam by opening the oven door anyway.

  • The final product after baking is finished.


The less guessing or assuming I do, the more likely we are to be analyzing the same thing even though we're many miles apart.  Very detailed procedures about how and when you feed the starter, whether you ever refrigerate it, how you resuscitate it, etc. are all important.  All those pain-in-the-rear photos allow me to virtually stand next to you as you make the bread.


Detailed mixing and fermentation procedures (and temperatures!) for the final dough are also necessary.


That may seem like a lot to do, but if you want to analyze accurately what's happening with your bread, these detailed observations and recordings are the only way to go.  There is no guarantee that you'll completely succeed right away after we analyze things -- learning is usually a gradual process.  But we won't be wasting time throwing darts at targets we can't even see.  If you're up for it, I'll take a look at what you find.


--Dan DiMuzio

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

I was just going to ask whether or not his/her scale allowed for weighing in grams, because I'm having a difficult time figuring out if the amount of starter is the problem in relation to the proofing times.


I'm wondering if the starter is eating all the available food during bulk fermentation, and the gluten structured is left way too weak to hold its shape during final proof (as PMcCool has suggested). Based on this, should it be the case, either fermentation times need adjusting downwards (especially bulk), or the amount of starter needs to be reduced (preferable, since keeping a longer fermentation time adds significantly to the flavor profile).


- Keith

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I agree with the probabability of that diagnosis, but I always like to know where I'm standing before I change direction, if possible.


--Dan

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

PMCool and dghdctr,


Thanks for the in depth ideas. I currently own Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice and plan on increasing my baking libraries size when funds and space allow. Ohh, I got the hint, your book has been added to the list :).


I think the over acidified comments are dead on with my initial hunch of too much starter (or as it seems too much fermentation time). I will try again asap and "waste" some flour in this experiment making a loaf of sourdough and commercial yeast each.


I will attempt to record everything to the standards dghdctr set forth, pictures included. Sadly, it will have to wait until Sunday/Monday, but I will get it all done.


You say I should use the "common temperature calculation" to calculate water temperature before scaling. What should my goal temperature be?


As far as recipes go, I will use the commercial yeast recipe posted originally. For the sourdough I will use the following recipe which lowers the amount of starter considerably such that fermentation can occur along side the commercial yeast version. If it seems as if I am using too little starter, please let me know.


229 grams of King Arthur's AP flour - (100%)


4.5 grams sea salt - (1.9%)


177 grams water - (77.29%)


Calculations above are given considering use of 8 grams 67% hydration starter starter. Thus there has been about 5 grams of flour and 2.5 grams of water added in each respective catagory for inclusion of the starters.


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

If we're trying to figure out what happened to the sourdough the first time around, we should probably use the same overall dough formula you did before.  Making the dough wetter won't make it more controllable.


I agree with Keith that your bulk ferment time with the final dough was unusually long, and could likely (not definitely) be shortened to 3 to 5 hours with no ill effects.  And I agree with Paul when he says you should make decisions about feeding intervals for the culture or bulk ferment times for the dough mostly by what you see happening before you, not by what a recipe says should happen.  Pay particular attention to temperatures, and check on the dough at least every 30-45 minutes so nothing gets by you.


If you take the starter when it just barely shows signs of imminent collapse, it will be in its peak state and in the most optimal condition for immediate use.  If that happens after 2 hours or 12 hours, this is the starter's way of telling you it is ready for use or for refreshment.  So you may think it will take 12 hours, but if it shows signs of collapse at anything less than that, mix your dough then and refresh what's left of your starter then.  We can look at managing the starter more effectively and conveniently after we see whether the formula for the dough is sound (and I think it probably is, with some adjustments in fermentation times).


Why don't you try the same formulas again with just the adjustment in bulk ferment time (and the caveat about using starters and dividing dough when it is ready)?  There may be other things you want to change later, but it could be useful in the long run for you to see how these manipulations affect things one change at a time.


And, again, if you go to the trouble (and I know it's a pain) to record and observe what we've already discussed, we'll be in a better position to see what's actually going on.


Good luck!


--Dan

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Sounds good, I will use the original recipe since this is the case. The primary reason I like this no knead recipe is because I can mix up the dough the night before, let it sit, proof in the morning and get going (busy life keeps me from making fresh bread all the time). For the sake of consistency and experimentation, I can work with it until I get the technique down and go from there.


Thank you so much for your help. I hope to have pictures of the process as well as notes to provide for tomorrow.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

This usually works, but as you gain more experience you may look at other factors before you determine the loaf has proofed enough:


When you need to see if a shaped loaf has proofed long enough and has accumulated just enough gas, take a finger and lightly poke the surface of the loaf near the crown, toward the middle of the loaf. 



  • If the indentation from your finger bounces back completely and almost disappears, then the loaf probably needs more time (it is under-proofed).

  • If the indentation remains completely and does not spring back at all, the loaf may be over-proofed (we waited too long to check it).  Load and bake carefully, and in this case you might not want to score the loaf at all -- use your own judgement.

  • If the indentation springs back but stops about halfway and then remains, you may well be at an optimal proofing state. 


Other things (like overall loaf tension) can trump the results of this test sometimes, and I usually take very rich doughs a while before this point, but I still use this method frequently with reasonable success.


One thing I'm still not clear on -- are you bulk fermenting the dough at room temperature, or retarding it in the refrigerator?  "Proofing" is a term technically reserved for fermenting shaped loaves.  If you are bulk fermenting in the 'fridge, then I'm not sure how to advise you, as I only retard doughs that I've already fermented successfully at room temperature in previous tries.  Then you know better what state of being you're aiming for when you complicate things further by refrigerating the dough mass.


If this is one of the 5-minutes-a-day formulas, I really can't give you much advice, since I've never seen those formulas or procedures, and I've never baked their breads.  I think they do have a web page where they solicit feedback and/or questions.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Thanks for the tips.


I bulk ferment at room temperature with this specific recipe. 


I think this initially fell into the 5-minutes a day formulas catagory. I wanted a simple recipe to test my starter out and it turned into this issue. I could have probably gotten away using a "normal" recipe to see how that goes. Whatever the case, I am going to follow your suggestions for tomorrow which would result in a fair deviation from said catagory especially because I will work the dough more due to changes in the technique.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Avaserti, I have this book on my wishlist at Amazon.com:


http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Bread-Baking/Daniel-T-DiMuzio/e/9780470138823\


and I'd like to suggest you consider adding it to your library.  It is one of the more comprehensive books on the subject of Artisan bread making and you'll be surprised how much it will relieve the stress on your bread making experience.


What I appreciate about this book is the fact that its author is an accomplished baker and a qualified instructor.  It's one thing to be capable of performing certain tasks in any specialty, it's quite another to also be able to teach those skills to others


 


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

That's the book user dghdctr mentioned when he said he "Can't remember this one guy's name, though . . ." as he is the author :). I have added it to my wishlist as well.


Does anyone have any comments on the sourdough recipe I posted earlier, I found time tonight and am going to start the process within the hour.


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I'd like to confirm that flournwater is not a relative of mine, nor was he influenced by the stack of proofing baskets or the 20 meters of couche I sent him last week.


Ya know, I think the least expensive option is to order it through Jessica's Biscuit, where it's 27 bucks and the shipping is free.  Amazon is one or two bucks more.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

That is actually where I buy the bulk of my culinary books. Great prices and service. I just use amazon as a place holder to remind me of everything I want to purchase.


Since you mentioned it, do you have any recommendations on where to buy proofing baskets, couche and other baking equipment? I had to write myself a baking grocery list last time I left town so I could get course ground cornmeal, rye flour and semolina. The town I live in is hopeless.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

They have a web page:


http://www.tmbbaking.com/


Make sure you're sitting down when you see the prices.  There may be other less expensive sources that other members have found.  Just search for "baskets" over there near the top left of this page and you will likely find a discussion.


I'm goin' to bed.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Thanks so  much for the link.  I've had a wish list at "the other place" for a long time and Jessica's Biscuit is, indeed, less expensive.  I now have a wish list there.


I'm sorry I failed to note the fact that I have no familial connection with the author of "Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective" or its publishers/sales outlets, nor do I receive remuneration for any recommendation I might make for that book; or any other for that matter.  But when I find a good thing I'm pretty adamant in expressing my views about it. 


I taught for a very long time as an extension of my profession and I came into contact with a great many professional people who, while experts in their field, couldn't teach a dog to roll over.  So, as you can see, I'm adamant about that issue too.


 

Davo's picture
Davo

Wow, if I bulk ferment longer than about 3 hours and then prove for say 3 hours that' usually the limit. You can mix and match times between BF and prove, but the total will be the total. If you are going 12-18 hours before even shaping, I'm amazed it's not too sloppy to shape. It'd be ooze with my starter, by then. And sure to bake as a brick/pancake. Also, even if it were in good shape after say 3-5 hours bulk ferment, the shaping will degas it a bit and a very short prove won't give it much time to bounce back.


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Here are pictures and information. A recent heat wave hit, so it is a little hotter than normal. Starter temperature before and after feeding was 80 degrees F as was dough temp both times I measured it.


Recipe I used:


191 grams flour (King Arthur's AP)
4.5 grams salt


127 grams water
100 grams starter (67% hydration)


Bulk fermentation was 2 hours
Proofed for 1 hour


Oven at 450 degrees F 20 minutes steamed - 10 minutes not.


Starter pictures:


Feeding: 1 2
After growth, right before feeding/use: 1 2


Dough pictures:


Bulk fermenting: Start End
Before being proofed
End of Proofing - Scored
Just put in the oven
20 minutes in (steam taken out at this point)
Out of the Oven: Top Bottom


The loaf is cooling now. When it is cool, I will cut it in half and get a picture of the crumb. If I used the lame wrong, I am still learning, I just got it. Please let me know if anything else needs to be known, I took pretty good notes and tried to take many pictures.


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

It has cooled. The picture of the crumb is below.


From what I can tell, it seems as if the dough was over proofed, hence the tight crumb? Also, the crust is to chewy for my taste, not crisp enough. More time in the oven, next time? Lastly, there is not enough sour flavor. I am guessing this means I should use less starter and ferment longer?


Thanks for the help.


hc's picture
hc

Though a different recipe. I'm using Susan's 63% sourdough recipe (except I'm doing 60% hydration) and I keep getting the dense crumb and gaping holes, which I don't think should be happening, especially since Susan's pics of her results show a gorgeous fluffy crumb, even at 60% hydration. I'll be curious if the steaming adjustments solve the density problem for you. I'm baking mine under an overturned bowl already, rinsed out with water just before going in the oven, but I'm still getting that dense, pockmarked crumb and getting very tired of eating it.


Susan's recipe at this link:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12006/63-hydration-sourdough

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

There's just way too many possibilities for why your bread isn't expanding to cover it all in a single posted reply.  It could be a lack of gas production from your starter (that is, a starter that is out of balance and possibly too sour for the wild yeast to do their thing).  Maybe the bulk fermentation is too short to allow for sufficient CO2 development. 


It could be a lack of gluten development (but I'm not saying that it is).  The ironic thing about high-gluten flour (if that's what you're using) is that it sometimes prevents adequate expansion if the gluten isn't developed adequately.  Since HG flour is higher in gluten than conventional bread flour, you need to mix it longer to get the same degree of development you'd get with typical bread flour.  The same super-high strength that allows for dramatic expansion in a developed dough will keep the dough from expanding adequately in an underdeveloped dough.


Have you read any good books about bread basics?  There's lots of them out there now, but Hamelman's is especially well written, I think.  You can probably get it at the library.  Following his advice about sourdoughs and trying his formulas will give you a solid understanding of what works and what doesn't.  Then, after you have solid experience with the process, it becomes easier to go and try other perspectives.


--Dan DiMuzio

hc's picture
hc

Thanks for your reply! I've been trading e-mails with Susan to troubleshoot and she's been kind enough to try and help me out. Underdeveloped gluten and too short a bulk fermentation are at the top of the list of possile culprits, yes.


I did read Hamelman's BREAD and am thinking about getting some more books ... I hear there's a good one by some guy called Don or Dino or something :D

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

See how the crown of the loaf has a large fissure that is broken open?  That's known as a "blow-out", and it can be caused a number of ways.  In this case, you seem to have scored the loaf correctly, but since the loaf blew open even though the cuts looked fine, I think your loaf formed a hard skin before it was finished growing from the oven spring -- that last rush of fermentation and CO2 production before the wild yeast die.  The gas pressure had to be relieved somewhere, so the area of hard skin where the cuts (now sealed) had been was the weakest point, and the crumb erupted through there sort of haphazardly.



  • the good news: we have significant yeast activity!

  • the less-good news: the skin of the loaf is hardening in the oven before the wild yeast have finished producing CO2


The pale skin color together with the blow-out indicates to me that there was insufficient steam in the oven after the loaf was inserted and the door was closed.  The skin hardened too soon in the presence of little moisture, which restricted the loaf's ability to grow further and inhibited the ability of amylase to convert starches into sugar where the skin had formed.  With little sugar comes little caramelization.  With little or no ability to grow comes the tight crumb and the blow-out at the crown.


There are different ways to generate sufficient steam in a home oven, but if you have about 50 bucks you can purchase something called a "cloche" from a company called Sassafrass(sp?) which will hold your loaf in an enclosed crockery dome for the first period of baking.  You pre-heat the base as if it were a baking stone, load the loaf on it, and then clamp shut with the lid.  That holds in most of the steam as the loaf grows, and then 15-20 minutes later you can remove the dome and finish the bake in a dry oven.  Works great.


Alternatively, if you clean that mixing bowl after the dough has been removed you can use it as a substitute for the domed lid of the cloche.  Just spray the inside of the bowl heavily with water from a spritzer and lay it (inverted) over the loaf just as you lay the loaf on the pre-heated stone.  Leave it there for the first 15 minutes or so, and then (carefully!!!) take a metal spatula and lift the bowl away to uncover the loaf.  There may be copious amounts of steam, so wear long oven mits and be careful!  Let the loaf continue to bake as long as necessary with no lid after that.


Just doing that the next time will give you more expansion and final volume in the loaf and a lighter, less dense crumb.  The crust would be much more caramelized and appealing in appearance.  Your cuts would open more evenly, and the loaf probably would not rupture.


Your photos didn't give me any reason to worry (yet).  It looks as if you used the starter when it was ready for use, and you divided and/or shaped the dough when the time was probably right.  The proof looked fine too.  You almost certainly did not over-proof, as an over-proofed loaf does what your first attempt did before (the sourdough frisbee).


I have some ideas about adjusting the feeding quantities and/or feeding intervals for your starter, as well as possible changes to the bulk fermentation of the final dough.   Those changes might help create the higher level of acidity you seek.   But why don't you try adjusting the baking/steaming technique we just covered before we make any more changes?  It might be best if we assure ourselves that the structure and gassification of the dough are sound before we make more changes.


I think you're on the right track, even if it doesn't seem like it now.  A successful bake using the same formula and procedures you used here (with the changes in steam creation) would tell us that we're headed the right way.  Also, even if these added attempts seem tedious, you will learn a lot about how to manipulate future attempts successfully.


 


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I will attempt this recipe again on Sunday using the steel bowl as a steam lock. I won't take as many pictures, but will get pictures of the final product and the crumb, unless you suggest otherwise.


Once again, I greatly appreciate the expertise you have offered here and look forward to your future comments.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Could you also take photos of the loaf just before scoring, as well as just before loading?  It could be interesting to see how well the cuts open.


--Dan DiMuzio

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Wow, you really made significant advancements with that last loaf... congrats!!!


Some suggestions, and I see Dan has already responded, but I had similar first time things happen awhile back...


100 g of starter seems a bit much for 191 g of flour. That's why you got a ready-for-oven product in 3 hours, and most likely why you aren't finding much sour flavor. I agree that the good news is, there's good yeast activity! If you can afford an overnight bulk, I'd cut that starter down to about 10 g or so. Doing so, for me at least, allowed my bread to get a very nice sour profile (and even more so once I started retarding the shaped loaves). If you change the amount of starter, you will need to increase the flour and water by that much. Let's see here...


100 g of 67% starter = (roughly and rounding) 60 g of flour and 40 g of water


10 g of 67% starter = (roughly and rounding) 6 g and 4 g respectively


Therefore we are missing 54 g of flour and 36 g of water from the recipe, so we'd change the recipe to:


10 g 67% hydration starter


245 g Flour


163 g water


You're going to want to let that bulk ferment overnight on the counter (around 8-10 hours total). The next day, shape and final proof for 1-3 hours, and while I know that's a wide margin, you have to check on them and know when they are between 80 and 90 percent fully proofed, which gets us up out of the cellar (underproofed) and keeps us from crawling into the attic (overproofed). The more we are trending towards underproofed, the more oven spring we get, to a point where it will cause a blowout. So, that 'sweet spot' in the final proof is trying to maximize oven spring without causing a flat out blowout condition. You cannot time this reliably, so only your educated guess counts here, and it is something you will eventually become very good at. If you successfully incorporate this into your recipe, I assure you that if your starter is fully matured, you will get a sour taste in this loaf. If you want even more, then you can learn to retard the final proof in the fridge, which will lend even more sour... but one step at a time here : )


The amount of starter you're using causes a few things... your fermenting times are drastically short, and something that short has little room for error because things dynamically change in just a few minutes. As well, there's going to be too little time for a flavor profile to develop. If you want to combine flavor with short fermentations, you will need to learn to 'build' preferments in stages. Until then, it's best to use small amounts of starter and let the work be done during the bulk fermentation, and preferably while you sleep or work.


- Keith

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Not a problem at all. I will take the pictures.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

This is test number 2 using the same exact recipe as last time. Only difference was that I used a stainless steel bowl that had a coat of water on it as a steam trap for the first 15 minutes. After that the loaf was cooked for another 15 minutes.


Still needs more sourness and it is far less dense than last time, but still too dense overall.


Prior to Proofing
After Scoring
After Bowl Removal
Complete: Top Bottom Crumb

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I'm a little disappointed in the absence of images for each step of the process.  I'd be especially interested in the fingertip proof test and a view of the crumb within the sliced loaf.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I provided images of each step the first test. Before attempting the second I made me intentions clear and asked for suggestions - I followed all picture suggestions requested. No changes were made between the two attempts except those listed.


The proof pictures turned out blurry, unfourtunatly. The crumb picture is visible under the "Complete: Top Bottom Crumb" link found in the post you replied to.


 


One thing I just noticed - I mislabled one of the pictures. It should not be "Prior to Proofing," rather it should be "Post Proofing"

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

My suggestion would be to try for some flavoring. In the least, while honing your techniques for texture and eye appeal, you should be able to eat and enjoy the full flavor of your breads. Look at it this way, every time you set out to try something that will have more flavor, you will also get the additional benefit of more time handling the dough.


Getting something that tasted good was my first goal, and that didn't take long. I was then able to eat the 'mistakes' and at least feel a little better. I also looked forward more to trying again.


- Keith

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

The flavor is good - in fact, the loaf was finished the day it was made. It just is not the flavor I look for in a sourdough. What bothers me right now is not the flavor, but the dense texture.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Sorry, I read twice where you said the sour wasn't what you would like, HERE and HERE.



Lastly, there is not enough sour flavor. I am guessing this means I should use less starter and ferment longer?




Still needs more sourness and it is far less dense than last time



So I guess I'll try again to answer one direct question and one thought: Yes, using less starter will likely help you get more sour flavor, but that's only one technique, there are others.


I was suggesting you embark on the road to finding the flavor that you have now stated twice is not currently desired. I wasn't suggesting your posted failures were inedible, but it is much better eating the failures if they taste very close to what you want. I also suggested chasing taste because you are getting better results visually each time, and each time you make a batch to experiment with flavor, you will also get the time with the dough that uses the other techniques you are wanting right now. I apologise if you just want to obsess on one aspect at a time, but again, if you actually post that you want more sour, someone will likely post a response on how to do it.


All good. Best of luck.


- Keith

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Apologies. Nuance is not the best aspect of the internet. I would like more sour flavor and have some understanding of possible methods to get that, but right now I would like to focus on each individual aspect systematically so I gain a further understanding of the processes involved with baking sourdough.


Thanks for the thought.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Okay ... the loaf in your most recent pictures shows signs of wanting to expand even more, although I must say that this is more good news in disguise.  The crumb was acceptable, but it will be even a bit more open if scored in a manner that will allow for greater expansion.  Except for that, I think we have the structural and gassification concerns covered.  My tastes in crust color run a little darker than yours, but you should do what you like there.


So I'm posting 3 photos of scoring patterns as examples of what might allow for greater expansion.  Make sure the metal bowl you use to cover in the oven is large enough to accomodate and then some.  If you score one of these three ways, your loaf should get more volume and a more open crumb.


The first photo below is of some pain au levain that has already been baked.  Look at the round loaf on the lower left -- it has a box cut pattern, which is just a large square with all four cuts intersecting at the square's corners.  This style of cut (again, on the lower left loaf) usually gives a nice balance of height and open crumb structure:


 


If you use the next one with the cross cut, make your cuts a bit longer from end to end (that is, go a little further toward the edge of the loaf).  It will give you more of a high dome as it encourages the crumb to erupt right at the center, but the crumb might not be quite so open as the pain au levain you see above: 



This last one is used a lot for SF style sourdough, and it ensures good expansion and an open crumb, but you only want to use it with a dough that has good strength.  A slack dough will spread out too much with this diamond cut, since it doesn't really restrict where the gas pressure will go: 



From here on out, we can start to focus more on how to achieve the flavor you want.  Use the results you recently achieved (with some minor adjustment in scoring technique) as a sort of control to use for comparison purposes.  I realize that you want a less dense crumb, and the more wide-open scoring will help you there.


Now, the thing is, you'll have to decide what balance of sourness and lighter crumb structure is acceptable to you.  The sour culture, when used as the sole leavening agent, can produce aspects of both characteristics, but (unscientifically speaking) they are almost inversely related.  The Italians use a wild culture to make Pan d'Oro and Pannetone, which have an almost feather-light wispiness to their crumb structure, but they are not at all sour because the culture is kept at around 85 degrees F and fed every 4 hours.  Both yeast and bacteria quantities can reproduce more rapidly at the higher temperature, but the acidity produced by the bacteria is much less (that is, has a higher pH).  The more often that you feed the culture, the warmer it is kept (up to that 85 degree range), and the wetter it is hydrated, the more you will be promoting the noticeable effects of yeast fermentation (more gas, lighter texture) and the less you will be promoting the acidic effects of bacterial fermentation.  Also, the smaller the size of the ripe nugget used in the feeding, the less acidic will the results be.


If you want to accentuate the acidic flavor profile of the starter, you can feed it less often, you can keep it cooler (maybe 60-65 degrees, or even less), and/or you can firm it up (maybe 55-60% hydration instead of the 67% you're using now).  And using a larger sized ripe nugget when you do the feeding will also add to the acidity of the flavor profile.  Keep in mind, though, that the greater the level of acidity (lower pH) of the culture, the less favorable is the environment for yeast fermentation.  The wild yeasts in your culture are more ideally adapted to acidic environments than manufactured yeast would be, but even they can be seriously slowed down by a too-acidic environment.


So it's hard to give you a pre-determined framework for getting the flavor AND the lightness you seek.  Increase the tendency toward one and you may negatively affect the creation of the other.  A white 100% sourdough that has significant sourness will never have the same texture or volume as a same-weight, similarly hydrated white dough leavened only with manufactured yeast.  You could add manufactured yeast to the final dough to lighten the product, but anything more than around 0.06% instant yeast (a very tiny amount) will change the nature of the bread entirely, so I don't recommend it.  Then again, if you like the results from that, it's your party.


Extending the length of fermentation of the final dough or retarding it under refrigeration can also help create a more sour profile.  The only big concern there is that the enzyme protease, while slowed by cooler temperatures, will continue to degrade the structure of the dough over time.  People retard sourdough in bulk quite successfully, but you have to keep an eye on the destabilizing effects of protease.  A firm levain is less enzyme active than a liquid levain, so using a firm levain in a dough that will be retarded is the safer bet IF protease levels are a concern.  They might not be.


If you want to isolate the effects of individual changes you make, then you can make them one at a time as you find out more about the process, retreating or proceeding with new options as you decide which ones you like.  Keep in mind as you go that the intended change you're promoting (like cooling down the culture's maintenance temperature to increase acidity) will also have secondary (possibly unintended) effects such as less apparent yeast activity, possibly less volume, or longer bulk fermentation and proofing times.  You don't get to pick and choose among the effects that a change will deliver -- it's a package deal.


Continued good luck with your baking.  If you want to keep posting photos or questions here I'll try to keep an eye out and answer them, if you like.


--Dan DiMuzio

hc's picture
hc

I didn't know that the scoring pattern could affect crumb/height as much as it does! Thanks for the information.


I am boggling at the bubbles showing through the cuts in your starburst-scored loaf. So far, the only time I've had bubbles that evident in my dough while scoring was with a loaf that turned out depressingly flat when baked. I suspect it was overproofed, as another loaf from the same batch of dough baked earlier turned out OK - but didn't have as visible a bubble structure when scored.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Again, thank you very much for the detailed response. I will continue to document this quest as it seems others are benefiting from the results as well.


My next step will be to scale down the amount of starter and increase fermentation time. Along side this I will move toward scoring the dough as illustrated above. This will probably take place later this week. I will be sure to update the thread.


To anyone following this could not have been done without the detailed help from Dan DiMuzio his expert insight has been invaluable to the growth of this project and increased quality of my product.

Glass-Weaver's picture
Glass-Weaver

Thanks for all the time and energy that's being put into this thread.  You are addressing some of the issues I'm also having, as a new baker. 


Terri

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I am glad this thread is helping others out. I have learned and am still learning a tremendous amount from this experience. The systematic approach to baking loaves really lets you see how each step can affect the overall outcome.

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

Thanks. I'm also new to SD baking. I find all the info on TFL a little mind boggling, but I'm not complaining. Dave

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Trying out a new variation intended to increase sour flavor.



245 g Flour
4.5g salt


163 g water
10 g 67% hydration starter


I mixed this up and kneaded like normal. So far it has been sitting about 6 hours and has become more runny* (filling all the crevices within the container), and has risen slightly (not even by half). Hopefully it doesn't turn into a frisby.


*The room is fairly warm a 75-78* F could this be enzyme protease occuring? It doesn't seem as if there has been enough time for proper fermentation, but, perhaps, there was enough time for other issues to occur?

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Be patient with it... using a low percentage of starter to flour can sit for a long time before major changes take place. I've found that it's about the last 90 minutes or so when things go from "is this even working?" to "wow, ok, that's definitely doubled!". But I'd say for 6 hours at 78°, you don't want to go a whole lot longer. Did you give it a small poke test?


- Keith

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Just poked it, the indentation does not really bounce back.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

10g of sour starter at 67% hydration gives you about 6 grams of pre-fermented flour, from a total of 251 grams of flour in the total formula (6g + 245g = 251g).  That's a pre-fermented flour percentage of about 2% (6g/251g = .0239 = 2%)


It'll leaven eventually, but I'm not sure how long that will take.  A long time.  Half a day?  Maybe longer?  25-30% pre-ferm flour is typical if you want a bulk ferment of maybe 3 to 4 hours at about 77-78 degrees.


If you want to have the dough mature in 6 hours or so, I'm just guessing, but maybe 12-15% pre-fermented flour might do it.  At a 67% hydration, that would be maybe 38g flour(.15 X 251g) plus about 25 grams of water (.67 X 251g of flour).  38g + 25g = 63g of 67% hydration starter.


Instead of "borrowing" 6 grams of flour from 251g total flour, you borrowed 38g for the preferment.  And you borrowed 25 grams of water instead of 4 grams to complete the pre-ferment.  So:


251g - 38g = 213g flour for final dough


167g - 25g = 142g water for final dough


And the final dough formula:



  • 213g flour

  • 142g water

  • 4.5g salt

  • 63g of sour starter


Your formula and the above formula are both 422.5g in size, total.


I'm not telling you to change your formula -- it will work eventually.  But it will be a very long bulk ferment.  That's cool if that's what you want.


--Dan DiMuzio

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

I bake a few boules weekly of Susan from San Diego's Ultimate Sourdough, which calls for 4.8% starter @75% hydration. It used to take about 9-10 hrs for bulk all spring long, but once the weather ramped up, I started overproofing real quick. The batch I have on the counter right now I'm figuring somewhere between 6-8 hrs, it's at 5 right now and looking good.


- Keith

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

10 g of starter was the actual weight, it has been about 12 hours and is about 1.5 times its original size. Obviously, I am trying to figure out what to do, keep it out all night or put it in the fridge? Probably just leave it out.


Next time I will try to use 12-15% preferment flour.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Do another poke test... if it's reasonable, I'd shape, cover well, and refrigerate to bake tomorrow. My dough was ready at exactly 6 hours. Room temp was 82.5° and internal dough temp was 83.5°. I have shaped them, added to bannetons, and retired them to the fridge.


However yours ends up, I might highly suggest you try Susan's Ultimate Sourdough. Tons of TFL'ers have found it a great recipe, and I know everyone's sour palette is different, but a majority agree this one's a winner. I'm sure glad I don't owe her a royalty fee every time my family polishes off a boule of it... hehe but I do owe her many thanks for such an easy recipe with great results.


- Keith

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Wow, I learned a lot from reading this thread -- thanks all! Only one thing left this newbie baker confused:  I thought the acidity in the sourdough starter was what makes sourdough sour, so then adding more starter should make the bread more sour, no? But JustLoafin said ", using less starter will likely help you get more sour flavor". I trust you -- I just don't understand the mechanism involved here.


BTW, I've but Dough Doctor Dan's book on my shopping list. Anyone who gives excellent advice so freely to strangers on the internet deserves more book sales!


--Kent in Taiwan

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Reducing the amount of starter is one way to get more sour, there are others. If you want the scientific reason, someone else will need to provide it.. I just bake! The common person reasoning is, the flavor is produced by the length of the fermentation. The longer this is, the more flavor you get. If you put enough starter in your recipe to raise the Titanic, then your fermentation time will be done very quickly and you will end up with very little sour, or very mild at best. Back that amount of starter off, and you increase the fermentation time. It's a balancing act, and needs to be adjusted for your taste and convenience of baking schedule.


Most new bakers to sourdough believe the flavor comes from the starter. It doesn't. The flavor comes from the process, and if you draw that process out, there is more time for that flavor to develop. Once your bread hits the oven, that's it... you get out what you had going in. : )


The other side of the coin is, if you have a recipe where you want to leaven with sourdough but don't want the sour, load it up with high hydration starter!


I'll refer you over to Mike Avery's site to read up and absorb a whole bunch of ideas on flavoring sourdoughs:


http://sourdoughhome.com/sour.html


- Keith

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Beautiful, thanks Keith!  Looks like I have some reading to do!   Sorry for the dumb newbie question, ha ha!

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Just woke up, it doubled in size overnight, going to shape and proof it now. Pictures will come when it is ready.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I'll be interested in seeing how it turns out.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Me too, just got it in the oven, actually. It was really hard to work with - not soupy like my flat attempts, but more runny than the shorter ferment version. Because of that I had some trouble shaping it and scoring it.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Over time -- especially if it's a long time -- the enzyme protease will weaken the gluten structure of the dough.  This is slowed by refrigeration, but it will still happen even there.  Also, the enzyme amylase will continue breaking down starch into sugar, which tends to make the dough gradually more sticky.  And the dough will,overall, begin to slacken.


That accumulated starch conversion might also accelerate the crust color on your loaf, but we'll have to wait and see.  I think you'll be OK.


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Recipe used:
245 g Flour
4.5g salt


163 g water
10 g 67% hydration starter

Bulk fermentation was about 24hours at 75 degrees F. Proofing was about 30 minutes at which point the dough "passed" the poke test.


15 minutes in the oven with a steam trap and 25 without. Crumb pictures will come when the loaf has cooled.


Looking at the loaf it also seems as if I need to rotate halfway through the bake.




It certainly seems as if the gluten structure was weakened to the point of not being able to rise.


 


 


 

photojess's picture
photojess

did you still eat it?  Did you make croutons out of it? 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi


The taste is too sour, actually. Also, the crumb is fairly chewy, not crisp.

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

 Believe it or not, I had exactly the same problem -- Every loaf was more like a pancake until I did a few things.



  • First, I learned to recognize what  "active" v. "so-so" starter is supposed to look like.  I thought I was using active starter but I wasn't.  I broke down and bought a starter and followed the instructions to the letter.  It was only then that I realized that the starter that I thought was active was virtually dead.

  • Now after every feeding (weekly) I make sure my starter is plenty active before I store it in the refrigerator for the next time I need it.



  • I invested in a scale to measure flour in grams.



  • I changed my recipe


[1 measuring cup active starter; 330 grams bread flour; 110 grams whole wheat flour; 8oz plus 2 tablespoons of water; tablespoon of kosher salt]


Even after all this, I was still making mostly pancakes but better texture and slightly more puffy, UNTIL....



  • I adapted methodology from Almost No-Knead Bread from America's Test Kitchen.  After letting the dough rise for 12 to 14 hours, I knead it 15 times on a floured board; shape into round; place on round skillet lined with greased parchment. Let rise again anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

  • Preheat dutch oven for 30 min at 500F.  Reduce temperature to 425F and grabbing hold of parchment drop loaf into covered dutch oven.  Bake for 30 min covered....20 to 30 min uncovered.  Internal temperature 200-212 degress F.


Kneading those few times had made  ALL the difference!


dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

You probably don't want to be spending more time learning things the hard way, and neither would I.  Even if you can convince yourself that this was a great learning experience (and it is), it's a drag to put effort, ingredients, and hope into your product and see that it doesn't work.


Instead of going from one extreme (bread that works and is mildly sour) to another (bread that doesn't work and is way too sour), why not try to start increasing the sourness in degrees?  The bread is at least likely to work every time, and as it gets more sour you may not have to look at total failure.  That isn't as thrilling as smashing the formula and procedure with radical changes, but you can isolate how changes in formula change the bread gradually, having better insights into the process as you get closer to your goal.


With that in mind, do you have any suggestions about what to try next?  I can tell you what I'd do (and maybe I will, if you need me to do that), but the process of you at least trying to decide -- even if I wouldn't agree -- will help you start organizing and relating all this stuff in your mind.  You'll become a baker who can think for himself faster that way.


So, again, you already have a formula and procedure that makes decent bread.  Where do you go next to get at least a bit closer to what you want?

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I think you are right, taking small steps might not be as fun, but it will work more often than not (hopefully). I think I will make a much smaller change to the dough, perhaps use 50g total of starter versus the 100g or 10 grams. This would allow me to see how much starter amounts affect sourness and rise time.


If I go with 50 grams of starter the recipe would be as follows:


218g flour
4.5g salt


151g water
50g starter


Let me know what you think of this plan. If time permits I will try tomorrow.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

OK.


Keep in mind that the one you just did was fermented something like 24 hours, so the enzyme action that will accumulate over time should be a major factor in deciding how long to bulk ferment.


Also -- temperature affects enzymatic action (warmer temps accelerate it).  Keep your dough temperature and ambient temperature arounf 76-78 degrees, if possible.


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Just mixed up the dough. It is sitting at abour 77 degrees right now. I will be watching it carefully. I am expecting something like a 5 hour ferment time if not shorter (100 grams of starter was about 3 hours at the same temp).

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

Have you tried adding more flour?

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

What would that do?

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

After 5 hours the dough was slightly more than double its size, I just shaped it into a round and am proofing now. It was far easier to work with and much more supple. Additionally, the fragrance was far more sour than the 100 gram starter method. So far so good. I will post back with pictures later tonight.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Sounds promising so far.  I'm getting confused, though, about the formula you're using.  In one of the messages above you say you intended to use 50g of 67% hyd. starter, but in these last two mesages you start talking about 100g.  Can you re-post the actual formula weights used for this batch when you post the next photos?  A short summary of your most recent starter maintenance intervals & proportions, mixing method & times, fermentation time, and proofing times would also be helpful.


Good luck!


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Recipe used:
218g flour
4.5g salt


151g water
50g starter (67% hydration)


When I was previously discussing a recipe that had 100 grams of starter I was refering to the original recipe I was using, comparing the one offered within this post and the other.


I have not changed any starter maintenance since the beginning of this experiment. At 9AM I take 1oz of starter mix with 2oz of tap water and then incorporate 3oz of KA AP flour. The same happens at about 9PM which is typically the point where the starter changes from a convex bubble to a flat top from the weight of itself rising (this is also when I harvest for use in baking). If I am not going to bake for 3-4 days I refrigerate the starter after it has doubled in size (2-4 hours) and pull out of the fridge and try to feed twice before use (I have used it after feeding once). I will not let the starter sit refrigerated for more than 5 days without a feeding regardless of use. At some point I am sure that last part will change, due to travel.


Pictures:





It seems as if I cut too deeply with my lame and perhaps under proofed slightly? So far, looks wise, this is my best sourdough loaf. It smells wonderful and slightly sour as well.


The crust is light and very crisp with tons of flavor. It smells just like a good sourdough and has a nice sour flavor. I think I would like to up the flavor just a little more as the crumb has opened up more compared to my last non-frisbee attempt. I am thinking my next variation will use 35 grams of starter. If that is successful, I will be extremely happy. Perhaps I will also start researching refrigerated retardation.


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I think that looks great.  I doubt if there's one reader of this blog who wouldn't want to eat that, just based on looks.


I think the loaf was just a little underproofed, as the large cut openings indicate it could have gone -- I dunno -- a while longer.  Maybe 20-30 minutes.  But I'm comparing your result to "perfection", which, we almost never achieve.  Also -- that hole in the bottom -- this is just a tweak -- can usually be eliminated by making sure the seam is sealed.


Still -- this happens all the time even to very experienced bakers and pros.  You did the right thing by scoring deeply enough to allow this sort of "excess" growth potential and gas pressure to move out evenly in all directions.  There were no blow-outs, and the loaf's crown domed properly, right?  That means the cut was appropriate to the condition of the loaf.


If you're happy with the length of your bulk ferment now -- if it is convenient enough for you -- let's leave the amount of pre-ferment alone.  If you'd like to shorten it to 3 or 4 hours, we can increase the percentage of pre-ferment somewhat.  You should decide that before we make more changes.


BTW, even though we're trying to isolate these changes as much as we can, any change in dough formula or procedure usually has secondary effects -- things you weren't trying for -- as well.  When we start increasing the acidity significantly, we'll see somewhat less yeast activity, which will affect bulk ferment time and proofing time later.  That's nature's way of telling you you're not completely in charge


So while you might decide that 6 hours is convenient for a ferment time, if we change things to be more acidic, it might actually take longer before the dough is mature.  And as we agreed much earlier in this thread, to optimize results you need to act when the starter or the dough is actually ready.  Specific fermentation times are just goals.  It's the condition of the real-time fermentation that drives when you mix, when you shape, and when you bake.


Once you decide what you want to do (if anything) about your bulk ferment time, we can think about what changes to your starter feeding proportions might make things more sour but still very yeast active.


You should be really happy right now.  I would be.


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I am very happy with this loaf, half is already gone, it went great with dinner. As I said I would like slightly more sourness. From my currently limited understanding, the few ways to do this are: lengthen fermentation (i.e., less starter or refridgeration) or increase acidity of the starter itself?


6-8 hour or 10-12 hour fermentation times are both fine by me. The former I will start in the morning and bake in the evening. The latter would ferment overnight. Based on such ideas it seems as if increasing acidity within the starter might be a better bet? Perhaps dropping down to 60% hydration? My real worry about extended fermentations with such an acidic environment is making more frisbees.


As I work with this more, I will become more attuned to how the starter/dough can be treated for optimal results which, I am sure, will aid in a quality product as well.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

You might find the flavor changes slightly over time. For my sourdoughs, day 1 tastes one way, day 2 it really opens up, and day 3 is pretty much sour glory. Your recipe is very close to what I use, so I think you'll find the same thing (assuming a loaf can last longer than a day to try!).


Also, there is no doubt in my mind that retarding the dough adds some kick to it, as well as convenience for me. I retard the shapes overnight, and for me, it took a bread that tasted great to the level of terrific.


You did really well, and you learned an awful lot. Congrats!


- Keith

photojess's picture
photojess

a thanks to DAn and all of the sourdough experts.  This has been a very educational thread to follow!

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

You're telling me! I went from making frisbees to lovely sourdough bread - this is great!

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Nice job.


OK, your guesses seem about right.


Just reducing the hydration to 60% will slow the enzyme activity (which contributed maybe to eating up your 2nd last loaf) and will tend to increase acidity somewhat.  If you're just looking for a smidge more acidity, that might do it right there.


Why don't you try that, and if things are structurally stable but still not sour enough, we'll think about changing the feeding proportions.  I don't recommend doing both changes at once.  I think you mentioned that you want to learn why what's happened has happened for future use, so we still want to stick with singular changes where possible.


Of course, whatever water you're removing from the starter needs to be added to the final dough to keep the same hydration and nice open crumb.  If there's anything you don't understand about the baker's math there, let me know.


--Dan DiMuzio

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I wouldn't change anything yet.  I would try letting it rise (after shaping) upside down in a floured cloth lined sieve.  I think you will find the shape will improve. 


Mini

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I realize the shape is not that great - I am still working on shaping skills. I have been wanting to get a proofing basket, but am moving now and holding off on it. Right now, I don't think I have a suitable tool for the job of proofing in. My sieve is too small for this relatively small loaf and my bowls are all too large for this size loaf.


I will certainly keep this idea in mind though, thanks.


The only change I am really looking for is more acidity in the bread, not much, just a touch more. After I get the taste I am in search of aesthetics are next.


 

Glass-Weaver's picture
Glass-Weaver

Did you check out the pizza shaping video that was mentioned here two days ago?


http://how2heroes.com/videos/entrees/crispy-chewy-pizza-dough


The baker is shaping pizza dough for bench proofing, but he does a little twist at the end which helps the dough ball round up higher.  I used that trick with my final shaping on a boule' today, and was very surprised how much it helps.  My loaf was noticably higher and rounder, and that was the only change I made as the dough proofed on the work board.  (I would describe the shaping technique, but it's really better to just watch the video.)



Terri


 


 

hc's picture
hc

Terri


How did you do that hold-in-one-hand, twist-with-the-other move on a boule if it was bigger than a ball of pizza dough? Did you have to put the boule upside down on the countertop, or did you manage to hold it in one hand while twisting the seam?

Glass-Weaver's picture
Glass-Weaver

I had "cloaked" the dough ball (I think that's what it's called when I tighten up the skin by tucking the edges around to the middle-bottom) so it was behaving itself, then just held it upsidedown in one hand and pinched and gathered the "lips" into a little column, gave 'em a quick twist and inverted the ball onto a semolina-sprinkled parchment.  I try to get the twist to lie in the center of the bottom, as it's given it's final placement.  I've done technique three times now, so I know it works to get a higher loaf, and wasn't just a happy accident.


Also, it may help you to know how large and how wet my recipe is: 11 oz iced water, 5 oz white whole wheat bread flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 11 oz white bread flour and a generous 1/4 c. 100% hydration starter, so it's not quite as loose a dough as you may be using.  (Little shamefaced here, I should be able to tell you the baker's percentage on that recipe...I'll work it out one of these days...)  This is the recipe from Breadtopia's No-Knead Video, but I've cut the water by one ounce, and I knead 20 times with the initial mixing, rest 30 minutes and do 4 stretch/folds in midair before bulk fermentation.  Those changes took me from kinda rubbery bread to lovely bread.  Amazing how the details matter so much with such a simple recipe.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

But that last one is pretty acceptable. 


After you have moved and got your bannetons, you might also consider some oven mitts. That burn is healing nicely, but it must have smarted. Next time, put an ice cube on your burn immediately for half a minute. It will cold retard your skin and keep it from cooking.


David

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

dghdctr:


Thanks for all the tips. I plan on dropping hydration to 60% for the next loaf - I will be fine with the math. I will be sure to update the thread as soon as the next loaf is made.


I do want to learn why, so one change at a time is perfect.


Glass-Weaver:


I tried that shaping trick this last time, I just need more practice it seems.


dmsnyder:


The burn in the picture is actually weeks old, the scar is pictured. I use silicon pads in the kitchen, I have never felt comfortable with oven mitts on - too little dexterity. I do not burn myself too often, but when I do I attribute it to living in the kitchen and actually rarely notice until I see the burn.


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

You have actually done a very acceptable job on the shaping.  I don't think you have any issues there right now.


I use both mitts and silcone pads, but what I miss are these well-insulated pads, kind of square shaped, that have elastic bands sewn in near one edge.  You can run your hands through the elastic bands and just keep the heavy square cloths dangling from your wrists and at the ready for unloading the oven.  Most pros I've known use these because they are very convenient and effective.


Avaserfi is right about mitts reducing dexterity considerably, but I don't know if that should be a big consideration in a home kitchen.  You only have to unload a couple of loaves -- not a couple hundred -- so the fact that they slow you down a bit is trumped, I think, by their safer use.  Silicone pads and towels don't usually protect your wrists.

Mitch550's picture
Mitch550

This is my first time posting at this site and I'm really happy to have found it.


This thread is fabulous and Dan DiMuzio is terrific for his time and patience!!!  I jumped in because I too have found bulky oven mitts to be very difficult, if not impossible, to work with. Then I discoverd these Kevlar gloves here:


http://www.breadtopia.com/store/kevlar-oven-mitt.html


They are not inexpensive at $12.00 each plus shipping but they are excellent and give you total control because they are a glove, not a mitt.  And, no, I'm not connected with that site and derive no profit from this.  The fellow who runs the site is very friendly, informative, and will personally resond to your emails.


I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Dan's book. It looks like this one's a winner.


Mitch

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

This is a common type of industrial glove used today and they work very well for higher temperatures.  We use them in "blacksmithing" not to handle red hot metal but to reduce the chance of a burn.  They are also sold to reduce cutting.


Breadtopia price is a bit high, but if you only need one and are buying other things it makes sense.  I purchase mine from an industrial supply house for $ 5.55 a PAIR, not $ 12 for a single glove.  Use-Enco.com is my source and the glove is Sperian # 505-4134.  I buy these for my students in Blacksmithing at John C. Campbell Folk School in bulk.  They also make great work gloves and last for almost ever.  They can be washed.  Blacksmiths like the black ones as they don't show the dirt.


I keep a pair in the kitchen for my bread baking.


Dave

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

The Sperian gloves you suggest are not listed under "hot and cold protection" on the Use-Enco website, instead they are stated to be for cut resistance and "extrication".  Will they really work as oven gloves?


I've been wanting some heat protection gloves like that but i'm too cheap to purchase the ones advertised for oven use at $12 apiece.  I love the idea of paying only $5.50 per pair!


J

Mitch550's picture
Mitch550

Dave,


I was just on their site and they are showing the price as $5.55 each, not $5.55 a pair, unless when they say each they mean each pair is $5.55.


 


Mitch

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

woodburning stove dept. of a nearby hardware store. Thought I had a pair (it was in a box) and was frustrated but liked it so much, I went back and bought a second.  They also protects against hatchet cuts while chopping wood. 


Outer layer is made of 72%Nomex & 28% Kevlar (or 86%Nomex & 14%Kevlar ). This layer won't melt and catch fire when exposed to open fire. It can resist heat up to 480F.  Inner lining is made of 60% cotton and 40% polyester  Suited for household, kitchen and barbeque.


Mini

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Thank you for the kind words, for the input, and welcome to the group.


--Dan DiMuzio

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I'd never heard of Kevlar being a heat retardant so I went to both websites--Use-enco.com and Breadtopia,com--and looked at the two gloves. The Breadtopia is a mix of Kevlar and Nomex; the Use-enco gloves contain Kevlar only. Kevlar is known for its strength--for equal weight it is approximately five times stronger than steel. I've used it, in cable form, towing heavy arrays from ships. Nomex is known for its heat insulation capability. Firefighter's outerwear is made from it, and it is also used in some high-fire risk military wear.


I'm not disputing the Use-enco gloves can second as oven gloves, but I don't think they can do as well as the Kevlar-Nomex mix.


I've placed my hand on one side of a piece of Nomex, and its salesman attacked the opposite side with a roaring blowtorch. My hand got a little warm. While seemingly pricey, the Breadtopia glove is probably worth the 12 bucks.


David G


 

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I looked at another Use-enco glove, #505-4135 which says that it is "flame resistant to 800 degrees" even though it's made of 100% Kevlar.  I don't know if "flame resistant" is different from "heat resistant"--perhaps they won't burn but are not good insulators?


The picture makes the gloves look quite flexible and this particular model is yellow which would hopefully show less flour and be easy to find around the kitchen. 


I decided to try them, for $4.95 a pair for medium weight  (Yes, it is for a PAIR).  With tax and shipping (that's the expensive part)  it still comes to about $12, but better than $24 plus shipping.  Unless they don't work for heat resistance--in which case I've wasted money unless I decide to take up welding. 

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

LOL.. not sure the use of something only being flame resistant.. because if it's in flames, it's also going to be heated! Keep us posted when you get them, because I'm kinda in that market if something proves to be a good deal and actually does the job!


- Keith

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

I have been using these kevlar gloves for more than 10 years around the open flames of a coal blacksmithing forge.  They do not burn and don't "melt".  With a lot of wear they will get holes in the ends of the fingers etc. and you know it right away because you feel it!  So they go in the scrap at that point.


Many times in blacksmithing you work with metal without using tongs.  It can get rather hot.  As some point even these gloves are not enough and you have to cool the "back end" of the piece you are working with water.  Or you switch to the heavy kevlar gloves call "hot mill gloves" that are about $ 20 a pair.  (I have one pair of these and they are now 13 years old.)


I also use the "light" kevlar gloves for TIG welding.  They are industrial grade, they work well.  For TIG welding I like them much better than leather because the Kevlar is a good insulator and leather is not.


Dave 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

My starter is now 60% hydration and I got another loaf going today. My plan was to keep everything the same as last time, adjusting for the different hydration of the starter.


221g flour
4.5g salt


147g water
50g starter (60% hydration)


When I mixed all the ingredients together the dough was entirely too wet - same brand of flour, new bag (King Arthur AP). I don't know if I mis-measured or my math is wrong (checked it again and it seems right). To alleviate the problem I added another 35 grams of flour. I will try the exact recipe above again later to have a more accurate representation and try to figure out what went wrong. Any idea besides measurement error?


The recipe I ended up using:


256g flour
4.5g salt


147g water
50g starter (60% hydration)


Pictures, as usual, will come later.


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Bulk ferment for 2.5 hours and proofed for another 45 minutes. Seems like I could have gone maybe 15-30 minutes longer proofing?


Cooked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes steaming about about 20-25 minutes no steam. I will go longer next time, but the power went out... Also, I did not cut quite as deep with the lame this time.


Overall, I am very happy with the crumb, it is far more open than my earlier attempts. I would still like a little more acidity, it is getting there, but does not have the nice bite I love from sourdough. The starter has had three feedings at 60% hydration - I am not sure if more time will cure this. I think my next step is either to drop the starter amount to about 35 grams or retard the shaped loaf overnight. Not sure which would be better, I think the latter due to increased flavor from lengthened proofing.


To the pictures:






I think my shaping has improved some, but there is still much more room for improvement - I have been reading Hamelman. I did try to pinch off the bottom to prevent the hole, but I must have not done it well enough, next time.


Any suggestions on my next step or ways to improve quality would be greatly appreciated!


 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

That's looking pretty good, and WHAT an improvement! Knowing how long to proof is difficult. I've baked a lot of SD loaves and I still find if challenging. When I don't proof enough my crumb is uneven--a little denser near the bottom crust. It looks like you could have let it go just a little more before baking, but nice job.


--Pamela

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

SD is a bit more complicated than regular bread, but so much fun (and tasty). I am glad I am learning, next time I will give it a little more time to proof.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Basically, that's a great loaf of bread.


So most of what you're doing now probably shouldn't be radically changed.


If you want more acidity, we can do that, but, as I said previously, this may affect the yeast activity a bit, making things slow down some.


You have two choices to increase the acidity of the final dough:



  1. Increase the acidity of the sourdough starter, or

  2. Increase the proportion of starter used in the final dough



  • Option #1 might slow down the bulk fermentation a bit compared to where you are now.

  • Option #2 will probably shorten the time for bulk fermentation.


As always, I don't recommend making more than one significant change at a time.


If you want to increase the acidity of the starter, go back to the original 2-times-a-day feeding interval, OR increase the proportion of ripe starter in each of your present 3-times-a-day feeding schedule, OR go to 55% hydration on the starter instead of 60% (but that can be hard to mix together by hand when you feed it).


Any questions?  Let me know.  That bread pictured above looks very good.


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I thought decreasing the amount of starter resulted in more acidic flavors in the bread because of the lengthened femerntation time (hence the drop from 50g to 35g of starter)? Is this not the case? Also, would retardating the shaped loaf overnight in the fridge help with flavor development (specifically acidity)? I was considering this as my next change.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I'm on the way out the door right now, but my recommendation would be to look at Jeffrey Hamelman's formulas for sourdough and use that as a model.  You've learned a lot by going through this extended exercise, but I think it's time you look at established routines promoted by very experienced bakers and try things the way they do them.


I think you'll see that Jeffrey pre-ferments at least 25% of the total flour in any sourdough formula.  This is normal among professional artisans.  That doesn't mean you can't vary from these numbers, but they are very good starting points for further exploration.


Try one of those simple sourdough formulas, or just adapt his amount of starter to your formula, and see how that affects things.  Also, read his appendix and/or chapter text on sourdough techniques (look in the index) to gain a better understanding of the process.


--Dan DiMuzio

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

(emphasis added):



Dghdctr wrote: You have two choices to increase the acidity of the final dough:


1. Increase the acidity of the sourdough starter, or
2. Increase the proportion of starter used in the final dough


* Option #1 might slow down the bulk fermentation a bit compared to where you are now.
* Option #2 will probably shorten the time for bulk fermentation.



 



Avaserfi answered: I thought decreasing the amount of starter resulted in more acidic flavors in the bread because of the lengthened femerntation time (hence the drop from 50g to 35g of starter)? Is this not the case?



Like Avaserfi, I was confused by this. Then a little light bulb went on in my head. Mind you, it's only a four-watt, but let's see if this makes sense:


Is this a miscommunication, based on two different meanings of the word 'starter', one being the sourdough starter which one feeds regularly, and the other being starter in the sense of biga or poolish? In this case, is the good Dough Doctor referring to the second sense in line #2, that is, the proportion of the final dough which gets a preferment (and not an abbreviated reference to the sourdough starter)?


IF this is the case (and I'm not quite sure yet), then might it not be best to avoid using the word 'starter' in the second sense, and instead use a word like 'sponge',  'preferment' or 'poolish or biga'?


If I'm totally off base, please let me know! (BTW, I've also ordered your book already, so perhaps after I read it I'll stop asking stupid questions, ha ha!)  Thanks in advance for your clarification! :)

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I think you are right. Perhaps that is why I have not been getting as much sour flavor as I like. I have gone straight from mother starter to final build, not enough time for flavor to grow.


I think my next experiement will be using Hamleman's Pain au Levain. I will be sure to post results, but it will be a couple weeks, I am moving and everything is getting packed up.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Go back over the entire thread you've built here so far, from the frisbee you started with to the excellent bread you've had recently.  Some things you might glean:



  • Very long fermentation at warm temperature = risk of dough degradation due to enzymes (protease breaks gluten bonds, amylase breaks down too much starch into sugar & dough gets sticky or even gooey).

  • Very small amount of sour starter (assuming no added yeast) = very long bulk fermentation at warm/room temperature (DANGER!!! See above.)

  • Sizeable amount of firm sour starter (possibly 25-35% of total flour in a dough formula represented by the sour starter qty) has lots of lactic bacteria to flavor and strengthen your dough AND lots of wild yeast to shorten overall bulk ferment of final dough at room temperature.  Sounds like a marriage made in . . . well, you get it, right?


If you're opting to go to twice-a-day feeding, stay down to the lower end of my suggested range of weight of starter used in the final dough (25% pre-fermented flour), because twice-a-day may emphasize the acidic qualities of the starter and increase enzymatic action a bit.


If you were maintaining a three-times-a-day feeding schedule, the acidity and enzymatic action would be somewhat less (and the yeast activity somewhat greater), so you could safely push the pre-fermented flour qty up to 30 or maybe even 35% (with caution).


These thresholds I'm specifying are NOT written in stone.  I don't really know how acidic your starter will be.  I'm just giving you some factors to consider.  If you use one of Jeffrey's formulas, try to compare what you've learned from your experiences the past few weeks to what he suggests that you do.  And don't skip his explanation of the overall sourdough process, feeding techniques, etc.


--Dan DiMuzio


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

When I used the term "starter" there I should have clarified by saying "sour starter" in each instance.  We are discussing how avaserfi might make a self-designed sourdough bread, tweaked to avaserfi's flavor preferences but still possessing an open crumb and good dough structure & volume.


There are no pre-ferments with manufactured yeast used in this case.  Nuthin' against 'em.  We just aren't applying sponge or poolish here, because sourdough is the goal.


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

Yesterday I made Reinhart's basic sourdough from Bread Baker's Apprentice, it is not really sour. I was going to use Hamelman's basic SD, but had to return the book to the library before I had a chance.


Basic idea of what I did:


4.1oz flour
2oz starter (60% hydration)
1.4oz water


Mix together, let double and refrigerate overnight (mine ended up going for about 16-20 hours in the fridge).


Next morning let warm up and then mix with


20.25oz flour
.5oz salt
12oz water


Bulk ferment until doubled (about 3.5 hours). Shape into a loaf and bake at 500 for 10 minutes then 450 until done.


The loaf turned out looking good and it tastes pretty good. It doesn't taste like I used commercial yeast, but it doesn't taste sour like a sourdough either...


He mentions bulk fermenting in the fridge overnight for the second stage, I figure that is my next best attempt at getting more sourness and flavor, any other tips? I am at a loss. The breads turn out wonderfully in all other aspects.


 


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Did you try renewing the book? Or have you reached your limit?


You can get Jeffrey's book for about 25 bucks at Amazon with free shipping.  I think you can justify the expense to yourself by now, and you'll use it the rest of your life.  If you literally just don't have any money now, of course you can't get it -- you'll have to stick with the library.


If you want to take detours here and there to see what happens to the bread, that's OK, of course, but if you want to take what was already good bread to the next level, you need Jeffrey's book.

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

The book was recalled - someone else wanted it too. We just moved and are trying to avoid spending right now, but it looks like I will have to break down and get it...

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

You're not wasting or misdirecting your money there.  You bake bread frequently, and this will help you make even better bread than you've made already.  It's not like this is just a luxury -- it's a wise, minor investment that pays off for you in good food every week.


I predict that in two or three years Jeffrey's book will have been used so often by you that it'll be all dog-eared and have dried levain stuck to the pages. 


--Dan DiMuzio

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I don't doubt this in the least. I got to read a bit of his book before returning it and was very impressed. Is there a specific recipe that will have the sour characteristics you would recommend? I do realize not all sourdough breads are supposed to have an overt acidic characteristic, perhaps this in part is my problem.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Try this:


Use the same starter hydration you used the last time you posted -- a couple of weeks ago.  That bread was fine.  60% hydration for the starter.  Feed it the following way: 1 part ripe starter, 1.67 parts flour, and 1 part water.  Ferment for about 12 hrs at 70 degrees, or proportionately less time if it is warmer than that.  Feed it at least 4 times at room temperature over the course of two days before use in the dough.  Let the appearance of the starter be your guide as to when to feed or use it.  It may be 8 hrs instead of 12. So be it.  Use or feed it when it barely starts to show signs of collapse.


Then mix this dough and bulk ferment 2-3 hrs, using appearance as your guide to when cutting and shaping should begin:


700g bread flour


500g water


20g salt


480g of firm sour starter, hydrated at 60%


After you shape the rounds, proofing (cover with a floured towel and then a plastic bag) should take 2 to 3 hours at room temp.  Use plenty of steam at the beginning of the bake.  You can start at 500 degrees, but after you load the loaf onto the stone cut back to 450 or even 440.  Bake at least 30 minutes -- longer if the color will allow.  If the loaf looks too brown too early, cut the temp by 10-20 degrees.


Let's see if you like that.


--Dan DiMuzio


 


 


 

avaserfi's picture
avaserfi

I will report back not this weekend, but the next with pictures, of course.


 


I guess Hamelman's book can wait two weeks now, it will be ordered along with yours. I can tell both are a worthy investment.