The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ramblings of a sourdough convert

venkitac's picture

Ramblings of a sourdough convert

I'll start by committing blasphemy: I live near San Francisco, and for me, the sourdough here is too sour:) So I thought that's how sourdough is, and decided that well, it must be a matter of taste. And then the bug bit, I baked my own sourdough (but I cheated with a pinch bit of yeast). I made up the recipe, 50% whole wheat, 45% white, 5% rye, 20% walnuts, around 15-20% sourdough starter, 70% hydration, overnight poolish with the pinch of commercial yeast. (There was no recipe I could find, usual sourdough recipes don't allow the safety net with commercial yeast, I winged the whole thing from beginning to end. I really don't think I needed that commercial yeast, but I guess I wanted insurance - I wish I hadn't:)). Photos attached:


I am a complete convert now. This is likely the best bread I've baked in taste. It wasn't too sour like the sourdough I get in stores, it was just to my taste, and flavor was completely different than any other bread I've baked. It's like getting religion.

Obligatory question: I've attached the photo of the whole bread and crumb. After baking this, I went out and bought the similar Acme whole-wheat+rye+walnut sourdough bread to compare the crumb. My crumb (I believe) was not *that* far off from the Acme bread - a bit less open but by no means too bad IMHO. Question is: for a bread like this (whole wheat, rye, walnuts, sourdough), should the crumb become more open or is this about it? Should I fret more on having larger holes, or do I just eat?:)

Pablo's picture

I love that you said "ramblings" - I'm a rambler, too.  I don't believe that 5% is enough rye to affect the crumb noticeably.  It looks good to me, but I think you could get it to be a bit more open if you keep putzing with it and reading here and remaining obcessed.  I haven't baked breads with nuts in them so I can't comment from my own experience.  You could do a search here on "walnut sourdough" and get some pics and descriptions of other people's efforts.  If you're after more open crumb, you're probably looking for some oven spring.    Do you bake on a stone?

Of course it's largely about eating and it sounds like you really nailed the flavour.


venkitac's picture

Usually, yes. But this one was baked in an enamel pot with lid on for 15 mins, lid off for about 30 mins. I don't think it's the rye affecting the crumb, if anything it would be the 50% whole wheat. Maybe I should let the bulk fermentation go longer, increase poolish percentage, or increase the hydration next time? (Those are the three things I know of that can produce more holes, and I'm sure there's three thousand I don't know:)).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Answer to the last question.  

Compliments on the crumb.  If the holes got bigger might the nuts fall out?

venkitac's picture

Done. And that's funny:)

Yerffej's picture

There must be tens of thousands of ways to make any given loaf of bread.  Your way led to a beautiful loaf and by your report one that tastes great.  I would call this a great success.

If YOU want bigger holes in then crumb then by all means pursue that avenue but I would not do it because Acme does.

Very nice bread,


merkri's picture

If you feel that way about it, then it's good the way it is.

It looks delicious.

I myself like a less holey bread.

merkri's picture

To offer another answer: I make similar breads (sourdough ww/rye/even with walnuts too sometimes) and the crumb looks about right. As I said, though, I sort of prefer a moister, denser crumb than some people seem to.

Really, if you're getting the sourdough religion from this bread, I'd say it's probably perfect.

Everyone develops their own style.