The Fresh Loaf

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Basic Sourdough Tips

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JGull8502's picture
JGull8502

Basic Sourdough Tips

I started baking bread a few months ago and have had good results from Reinhart's BBA forumlas so far (mainly French and Italian breads). A few weeks ago, I decided to venture into sourdough. I tried making the Basic Sourdough from BBA. Everything turned out tastey, but I don't think the dough rose as much as it should have (it also took about 8 or 9 hours). I decided this was because my "barm" (as Reinhart calls it) was new.


This weekend, I decided I would try again. On Thursday night, I fed my "barm" and on Friday I constructed the firm starter. The amount of firm starter seems very small to me (~50% or 4 oz compared to other recipes in the book which have way over 100% biga or pâte fermentée). Both times, with the starter, I have had trouble seeing a rise after 4-6 hours because it also spreads out across the bottom of the bowl. I'm hoping this time the final dough will rise more, but first I just wanted to check that my method is correct and see if anyone can offer me some tips. Sourdough takes so much time compared to other breads so its even more annoying when something doesn't work out!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, JGull.


If I read your message correctly, you misread Reinhart's formula for "Basic Sourdough Bread." The firm starter is about 9 oz.. That would be 44% starter, in "baker's percentage." (Starter/Flour x 100)


As you noted, the fermentation times for sourdough breads are generally quite a bit longer than those for yeasted breads. The time will be increased by low-activity starter, decreased room temperature and a lower percentage of starter in the final dough. So, assuming your room temperature was not really cool, your fermentation time is long. This could be because you added half the starter Reinhart calls for or because your starter is not sufficiently active or both. Given that your starter didn't expand much in 4-6 hours, it probably was not ready to raise the dough.


How old is your "barm," and how have you been feeding it?


David

JGull8502's picture
JGull8502

Thanks for the reply. I made a mistake above, though! I was thinking of the barm amount when I put 4 oz. The firm starter amount was about 10 oz.


The first time I tried, my barm was only a few days old. This time, its about 2 weeks old being fed about 2x per week.


Today my final dough is going on 3 hours but is rising sluggishly with room temp at 75 degrees F. I think it's still too early to tell though.


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, JGull.


I think your issue has been narrowed down to an immature starter (barm). If you made it from scratch, 10-14 days is probably the minimum time it takes to get a starter ready for the big time. (I would defer to those with more experience, but this is my impression.)


Also, when your starter is young, feeding it every 12 hours seems to be recommended by most TFL'ers. You want to give it enough food as well as enough time to develop a stable population of mutually compatible yeast and bacterial strains to provide good flavor as well as the power to raise dough.


I have the impression that you are making progress, so stick with it. Once you have a somewhat more mature starter, we can tweak it for the flavor you want, the feeding schedule it likes best, and so forth.


David

Bob B's picture
Bob B

I dont know if it will help but I feed my starter 2-3 hours befor I use it so as to the yeast very active also I have it  50 to 60% hydrated I have found that if I wait to long it has a weak flavor. Hope it is some help. Keep trying it is not very easy


Bob

JIP's picture
JIP

I agree, young starter.  If you keep going on the path you are going you will find out that over time your starter will get stronger and stronger.  Stick with it and don't be afraid of long fermentation times as all you are doing there is developing more flavor anyway.