The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

With or without added commercial yeast?

Donna St Amant's picture
Donna St Amant

With or without added commercial yeast?

I am new to baking sourdough bread and was excited last week to have my liquid starter (from Jeffrey Hamelman Bread book) ready to go.  I selected the Sourdough Seed Bread (pg 176).  All seemed to be going well .. starter was active .. the dough smelled and tasted great ... but the bulk fermentation step failed.  It just never rose enough.  There was an option to add 1% bakers yeast but I decided not to as I felt it was a more 'pure' approach to just use the starter.  I have since found so many 'sourdough' recipes that use additional commercial yeast that I question whether I was stepping too far for a beginner home baker by deciding to use just the starter.


Would appreciate some feedback!!


 I plan to try the same recipe tomorrow with the added yeast as a learning experience (and because that dough tasted sooooo good!).


Thanks Donna

suave's picture
suave

There's nothing wrong with spiking sourdough with yeast, and if the recipe says it may help - go ahead ant try it.  But, if your starter is brand new I would suggest to try it on something more basic, for example Hamelman's pain au levain.  It uses firm starter, so you get an immediate feel of your starter's leavening ability and the additional ingredients don't weigh the dough down.  Also sourdough doesn't rise as much and as fast as yeasted dough, especially when you fold it along the way, so it could be that your dough was just fine.  Did you actually bake it?

Donna St Amant's picture
Donna St Amant

I did not bake it :(  regretting that now and maybe should have given it longer to rise ... but with great feedback and encouragement like yours, I should be headed in the right direction.  I will try the Vermont Sourdough tomorrow, a more basic recipe as you suggest, with the liquid starter I am reviving now.  Thank you for the response!!!!

 

Ford's picture
Ford

Yes, sourdough does take a longer time to rise.  Depending upon how active the yeast is, it could take four hours for the final rise.  Be patient and let it rise before baking.  Spurdough takes more patience than commercial yeasted bread.


Ford

Donna St Amant's picture
Donna St Amant

Ford,


Thank you for the feedback.  I have been baking bread every weekend this summer with commercial yeast.  With the warm weather it just seemed to rise so quickly.  I most likely did judge it too quicky, as you suggest.  I will give it another try and be more patient.  Thank you for the feedback!


Donna

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The folks at Boudin in San Francisco use a final rise of about 18 hours.


 


How long it takes bread to rise depends on (among other things) how much leaven is used, the activity of the leaven, the hydration of the dough and the temperature of the dough and rising area.  If you don't protect the dough, the surface can dry out during a long rise and the resulting dry skin of dough can act like a girdle preventing much rise.


A recurring issue is some people use their starter out of the fridge, and its activity level is unknown.  I prefer to feed the starter a few times until it will double between feedings.  My mantra is, "It takes a consistent process to make a consistent product."


Also, many bakers using yeast use too much and their bread rises too quickly.  I prefer to use small amounts of yeast and extended rises.  The longer the rise, the more flavor develops.  At least to a point.


Mike


 

Donna St Amant's picture
Donna St Amant

Thank you for the feedback!!  I made the Vermont Sourdough (no heavy seeds) today and it was great!  I did 'spike it' with the recommended commercial yeast as my starter is fairly new and I gave it ample time to rise.  I am quite enthusiastic and looking forward to the next 'experiment'.


 



Andreas's picture
Andreas

I too am new to sourdough baking and I remember being really quite nervous the first time I baked a loaf without commercial yeast - it had risen nowhere near as much as I was expecting. 


What did happen was the most wonderful oven spring and the loaf turned out great. Here's my midweek baking routine:




  • Evening: take starter out of fridge, feed. 

  • Morning: prepare dough, put into oiled bowl and return to fridge.

  • Evening: Take dough out of fridge after coming home from work, at about 5:30, leave to rest for 2 hours, stretch and fold three times. Heat oven, let loaf rise in banneton one last time, bake at around 9:00pm. 


Donna St Amant's picture
Donna St Amant

Thank you .. this looks like a great schedule that fits my work schedule, too!