The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Susan's Simple Small Sourdough Challenge

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Susan's Simple Small Sourdough Challenge

The Simple Sourdough bread posted below is such a beautiful loaf and the perfect size for dinner. Susan has been making this loaf as her daily bread for a long time, has perfected the process and shared it with us. This is a bread any of us who bake with a natural levain (SD) should be able to bake. Or, if you are not currently feeding a sourdough pet, this is a good reason to start.


I think it might be fun to take the challenge and try to duplicate Susan's handiwork. If nothing else it will be a good exercise in the building blocks of basic sourdough. From the looks of her efforts I can stand to pay attention to the details. On occasion I get a loaf that has the qualities of hers but I would really like to be able to make this bread on any day.


In the next few days I plan to give this my best shot and work on the technique until I understand all the subtle check points to arrive at a perfect loaf. Anyone care to join me on this?


Eric

Comments

audra36274's picture
audra36274

    I now have my firm starter going. This cooler weather sure makes good playing in the kitchen desirable. Thanks for the challenge to get us going!


                                                                                  Audra


 


P.S. It's also a good time to get out that to-do list and blow the dust off, lets get in the kitchen!

audra36274's picture
audra36274

go by the activity of the starter?


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2390/firm-starter-glezer-recipe


Isn't it usually recomended, more time allows for better flavor development?


Notice the scientific volume indicator!


Note to self: this was made with well water. Lets see how it goes.


                                                                                  Audra

hydestone's picture
hydestone

I cannot find her recipe...where is it located?

audra36274's picture
audra36274

   one I was going by. If this is not correct someone please advise.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2390/firm-starter-glezer-recipe


                                                                                           Audra

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Eric, what a great idea! I am about to create a firm starter from my very active liquid one and may even be able to dig out an old chopstick to be completely authentic. Let the challenge begin - I hope we have Susan's blessing? A.



Susan's picture
Susan

50g firm starter, 204g water, 275g high gluten flour, 25g white whole wheat flour, 6g salt.  All mixed minimally by hand, rested for 30 minutes, one Stretch & Fold, two more S&Fs at 1-hour intervals, let rise to double.  Kept the dough temperature in mid-70'sF.  Pre-shaped, rested 15 minutes, shaped, then plopped into linen-lined colander.  Put in plastic bag, then into fridge for overnight.  Out of fridge for 2 hours before scoring, then baked at 450F for 20 minutes covered followed by 20 minutes uncovered.



And here's the link: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13771/simple-sourdough-909 


Try it once (it's only a small loaf!).  If you have questions after that, fire away.


Have fun, everyone! 


Susan from San Diego

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Great idea, Eric!


Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate due to pending business travel. If the challenge is still on the weekend after next, I'm in.


And Annie beat me to it, revealing Susan's special mixing equipment. Everyone thinks it's the bowl. Nah. It's the chopstick.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I have some wonderful plastic chopsticks from a local resturant..I have been using them a lot..they work wonders for mixing my starters too!  I turn them upside down!  They are so easy to clean!


Sylvia

chouette22's picture
chouette22

I'll be participating without the high gluten flour, this way we can compare notes on the outcomes using different flours too.


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

 Eric, I'll have to see what happens!  I have Jury Duty!


Sylvia


 

marc's picture
marc

Don't have to ask me twice. I'll give it a shot.


Instead of the white whole wheat though—I will substitute Giusto's Artisan Bread flour and use the KA BF for the high gluten portion.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

That I have on hand, but am out of high-gluten flour.  No white WW on hand, so it will be rye and KA bread flour.


Will mix the first boule after work Friday.  

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Great idea Eric,


I've made Susan's SD many times and some of the time I end up with a loaf that looks like hers and some of the time I don't. It's about time I get the better loaf more often. My starter is being refreshed for tomorrow.


 


weavershouse


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Great response to all of you who want to jump on the band wagon. This will be fun. I'm sure Susan will be helpful and lead us to success.


Being careful about each step of this simple process is the key (I think).


Post your results here and we can all see how we do.


Eric

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

great idea and based on a great recipe and method (thanks Susan, for all your posts to TFL)


I'll try to stick as closely as possible to Susan's method, though I'll have to tweak the ingredients to accommodate my 100% hydration sourdough starter. I can start this exercise in about a week, so I'm hoping your challenge will continue for some time.


I'm only a medium skill baker, so I suspect I'll have more questions than successes.

marc's picture
marc

There was a wonderful smell in the kitchen early this morning.


I used KA BF and instead of white whole wheat, I used Giusto's Artisan Bread Flour. I opted for using a linen lined willow banneton. Probably should find a smaller bowl, or make a larger batch to better fit the banneton. I wonder if Susan uses a small collander for this amount of dough. Regardless, this is a great method that has produced a terrific result—and I didn't have to clean my mixer. I'm looking foward to seeing and reading about the results others had.


Thanks for the challenge Eric & Susan.


 


>Marc


Susan's picture
Susan

You're No. 1!  And what great encouragement you are for everyone else.  I do use a small colander--about 7 inches across at the top.


Love your photo!


Susan

inlovewbread's picture
inlovewbread

Count me in! 


Can't wait to try it. Such a cute little boule.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Nice job Marc. You got right at it and established a high mark.  I hope you will continue to make more loaves and try to make each one a little better.


Eric

candis's picture
candis

from the chilly Cotswolds in England...I'm in. only difficulty will be getting my icy kitchen warm enough.


 

Susan's picture
Susan

The fermentation should be around 26C, proofing can be a little warmer.  Do you  have an ice chest or cooler?  Perhaps you could warm a brick (or something else), wrap it in a towel and put it in a cooler with the dough?  I use a cheap foam cooler to drop the temp of my dough when the kitchen is too hot.  Just put a plate on top of the dough bowl, then put a small bowl of ice on top of the plate.


In the winter, I've wrapped my dough bowl with a heavy towel, put it in a barely-warmed (but turned off) oven, put it in the microwave after boiling a cup of water (leave the cup of water in), or used the cooler with something warm inside (not the cat!).  Whatever it takes!  An instant-read thermometer comes in handy to check the temperature, too.


Have fun.


Susan from San Diego

audra36274's picture
audra36274

   My kitchen is really warm. My starter is not looking like the pictures at all. It is growing by leaps and bounds. It is on day 3 now and is very bubbly and active. I'm assuming that the warm environment is the cause of all this so soon ? Not what I was expecting from a firm starter at all!


                                                                                      Audra

Susan's picture
Susan

Audra, I glanced at the instructions you're following.  They said Day 3 was an active one, so it sounds like you're on target.  Have faith.  You'll be baking in a week or so.  I know it's hard to wait.  Hang in there.


Susan

audra36274's picture
audra36274

   I was kind of alarmed at the growth. Thanks for getting back to me on that.


 Audra

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Hi Candis, - "Stow on the Wold where the wind blows cold". Do hope you found a way to warm the dough enough to join the challenge. I spent many happy childhood days in the Cotswolds and if I ever win the lottery I'll be looking for a cottage there, A.

caseymcm's picture
caseymcm

I have been working on Vermont Sourdough, I think I have it now after ~18 hrs ferment time with the poolish-ish preferment.  After I mixed that up, I decided to mix up a Simple Small SD for the challenge, so far so good.


Susan,


You say retard "overnight" and allow 2 hrs at room temp.  Mine went into the fridge at about 12 last night and won't go into the oven until after pizza is done tonight, probably 19+ hours.  Would you recommend I shorten the room temp time to avoid overproofing?


-Casey

Susan's picture
Susan

I've never retarded that long.  You'll have to assess the dough when you take it from the fridge.  But I'd probably put it right into a hot oven in your circumstances.  Good luck!  Let us hear how it worked out for you.


Mmmmm, pizza.  Have you tried Mark Bittman's pan-fried pizza?  It's scrumptious.  You can see one I made at this thread.


Susan

caseymcm's picture
caseymcm

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly Susan.


That fried pizza sure looks easy and tasty.  I can't help comparing it to pizza hut "pan pizza" which my mom always called deep-fried pizza since they pour a large amount of oil into the pan with the dough.  The difference I think is they bake it longer and all the oil slowly soaks into the dough.  With this recipe I imagine it's more of a surface frying effect.  I'm definitely going to try it some time.  Every Friday is pizza night at our house so I'll get the chance eventually.


On Sunday we're having friends over for my 1 year old's birthday and I'm thinking about trying to replicate Zacharies deep dish from Berkeley (recipe here, scroll down), one of our favorites.


-Casey

dosidough's picture
dosidough

Tonight is feeding time for my starter which is about an 80% hydration. If I pull out the 1 T. and try to get a firm stater going from it will it work right away? Like tomorrow?
I have printed out so many sourdough recipes from TFL but I always chicken out and use the  basic KA recipe. Susan’s magic bowl technique improved my loaves so much that I think I should try this formula as well.  I’m out of both KA bread and white whole wheat flour so the first part of this challenge will be lugging home 2  5 lb. sacks via public transportation after work! I hope my knuckles hold out long enough to get through the feeds.
I don’t have a computer at home and I’m off Monday. Can’t post results till Tues. but that gives me time to backtrack if I mess it up. LOL
I’m very intrigued by the small size of this loaf.  Okay...I’m revved up and committed...

Susan, thanks for the formula (and a lot of info in the past).
Eric, thanks for the challenge (and also a lot of info in the past).

Bake on,
Dosi

Susan's picture
Susan

Just make it with all KA Bread flour or sub in regular whole wheat for the white whole wheat if you have it.  That will save you from carrying all that weight at one time.


Sounds like you have a plan for the starter.  Make it thick enough so that you can knead it into a little ball after mixing and a 10-minute rest.


You're having fun with your bread baking, so keep at it.  Thanks from both Eric and me for your kind words.


Hope I caught you in time!


Susan

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Ok, here's what I did. Yesterday I made a loaf and baked it the same day. Today I baked a loaf I had mixed yesterday. I'm happy with both but want some improvement and I want to try some things a little differently.


 


Yesterday I used my starter that was made with AP flour. I consider my starter firm but it's not kneadable. I started at 7am, followed directions using the high gluten flour but 1/4 cup of oatmeal instead of the whole wheat. I wanted to see if I could make a loaf the same day with no refridgeration. I did the S & F's as instructed. It's cold in the kitchen, the dough was taking forever to rise so I moved it to a warmer spot on the oven. I finally baked it at 5:30pm. I was very surprised to see blisters on the crust because I thought that only came with time in the fridge. (Was my kitchen that cold??) Anyway, the crust was both crisp and chewy. Crisp on the outside with a chewy underside. The crumb was very open with nice shiny air holes and chewy. Holes are almost too big, I think. Taste was excellent fresh and this morning made very good toast with butter dripping on my front. I'm happy with the rise but I want the nice round boule with high shoulders. Try again.


 




The important things for me are:


Use high gluten flour if you like chewy


I did the S & F's in the bowl. Let the dough rise to double, turned it out on a lightly floured board and GENTLY did a S & F, pulling the dough out and folding it over itself, preshaped GENTLY, let rest, shaped GENTLY and it only took an hour to rise enough to bake.


I baked it under cover (in my hot le creuset) as written. Lately I've been turning the oven down from the 450ºF to 400ºF but not this time and I think it helped make the shiny holes and the crisp top crust.


SECOND LOAF


Yesterday when I mixed the first loaf I refreshed my starter with high gluten flour and it was ready for me to mix this second loaf at 4pm. I followed the recipe and was ready to put in fridge at 9pm last night. This morning at 7am I took it out. It was well risen so I turned the oven on at 7 and baked at 8am. I was trying for a nice round boule but used an oblong basket with linen that I folded up around the dough hoping to keep it round. Instead I ended up with a square loaf! The blistered crust is nice, the taste is great with a tiny bit of sour. Very chewy and if you don't like chewy I'd try using regular AP flour.



 


Getting the dough from my basket to the le cresuet and trying to slash was not easy so next time I'm going to turn the dough unto a cookie sheet and use the stainless steel cover. I know it will bake the same as the le creuset because I've done it before. The slashing was impossible once the dough was in the HOT pot so I just used scissors to cut some kind of pattern that didn't come out very pretty. Next time I'm going to do like hans and just turn the dough upside down and let the bread do its own thing.


 


Thanks Susan for all your hints and patience. Do you think your very firm starter makes a difference in the outcome? How do you get your dough to the baking surface from your colander? How do you get your boule to pop up so nice and round??


 


weavershouse

Susan's picture
Susan

Hey Weavershouse,


I like using a firm starter.  This bread is so small and so simple that you can play with the ingredients and method to your heart's content.  So try a wet starter and let us know.


Why don't you try re-thinking your slashing?  I've looked and looked and cannot find Dan DiMuzio's photos of some beautiful slashing.  Maybe someone else can come up with the link.  You might try one of these.  The first one makes the rise more even, and the second I did with scissors, holding the scissors with my hand in the center of the loaf and cutting outward, connecting the cuts as I went.  Hope that makes sense.



You could also try a BIG square on top, or a BIG C  (I usually put one small slash on the inside of the C, like this: C-).



As far as getting the loaf to the oven, maybe this will help:



Unfortunately, you can't see that the parchment is cut fairly small, and it's sitting on top of a retangular piece of cardboard--my peel!  Put the parchment and cardboard on top of the colander and turn over the whole thing.  Lift off the colander and linen, and there you go!  I've gotten pretty adept at sliding the loaf into the oven right where I want it, parchment and all.  After I pull off the cover at 20 minutes into the bake, I slide a big spatula under the loaf, lift it off the parchment and slide the parchment out from under it.  I get several uses out of each piece of parchment by doing that.


You've got a great starter, btw!  The sour taste will increase overnight, and yes, I do love chewy sourdough.


Hope I didn't miss anything, and you did a wonderful job.  Congrats!


Susan

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Thanks for the compliment. You have been a good teacher. Next time I'm going to let the dough rise in a nice medium size bowl and try your suggestion about turning it over and out. Your dough looks firmer than mine. You have lift even before it's gone into the oven. I'm going to try for a less wet dough and maybe do a few more stretch and folds to firm it up. Making this bread I kept think "Tromp as Writ" which maybe you recognize, being a weaver yourself. It's a weaver-of-the-past's  instructions to treadle as written and that's what I tried doing with your recipe. Trouble was I wanted to see you actually doing this so I think a video from you would be great.


 


Thanks for the beautiful slashing examples. If my dough gets to look like yours and it's not sitting in a hot pot I might be able to do it justice.


 


Oh, how did you know I have a great starter? :o)


 


weavershouse

Susan's picture
Susan

Let's see.  Your starter just jumped those loaves right up!


You can do the scissors slashing in a hot pot.  Just be careful.


I'll think about doing that video.  I've often wished I could be the proverbial fly on the wall.


The dough in the photo had 2 T of ground flaxseed folded in.  I used no additional water for the flaxseed, so you're right, the dough was not as  hydrated as it should have been.  Good catch.


My little colander has a handle, which does make it easier to flip over.


No, I don't know that phrase, but now I do.  Thanks!


Later, Susan

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

When I asked how you knew my starter was so good I meant... you know why my starter is so good because I got it from you. I didn't know if I should mention that because you might be swamped with requests. Sorry, but it is so good.


 


I don't think the flaxseed loaf looks dry, I think it looks perfect...and easy to slash.


 


I like the idea of a handle on the rising bowl, colander or basket and that's something I'll do for sure.


 


Thanks,and hope you do that video.


weavershouse

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Using KAF bread flour and KAF medium rye.  I just did the second S&F at the end of the first hour and smiled at the difference in the feel of dough.


Good grief, ignore it and it just gets stronger on its own!


I think my brotform is too big for this little boule, so I'm going to jury rig my collapsible silicone colander with a linen napkin and we'll see what happens tomorrow.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I still need practice on this one but it was fun!  I used KABread Flour and KA Organic White Wheat and baked it in my wfo.  This was a bit of last minute decision and so I didn't overnight proof but it did get a stay in the frig while I was getting the oven ready and making pizza today.  I posted more photos on my blog.  The flavor was wonderful, nutty, creamy, yummy!  I would like to have seen it bloom open more on the top and I like the crumb a tad bit drier..it's a bit challenging in the wfo oven and I still have a lot to learn about my oven but that will come with practice more practice!



Susan's Sourdough Boule Center Stage!





The crumb shot!


Sylvia

audra36274's picture
audra36274

  And on your WFO! YEA! You did a great job. Ya'll make me anxious to start. My starter is still in its young life. It has been converted to firm and is showing much potential. It is very puffy! I can't wait to give this a go!


                                                                              Audra

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I know how you feel waiting on a starter!  I love Susan's firm starter 1-1-3.  Works great for me.  Also, I can't do without my plastic chopsticks for mixing my starter.  So easy to clean..what a great suggestion from Susan.  They are now a must have part of my bread utencils. 


Sylvia 

Susan's picture
Susan

I could eat it right off the screen.  Ditto for the oatmeal bread.  Gotta make that, with the cinnamon and raisin additions on the next page of Bread.  I'll sit up and beg for cinnamon and raisins.


Here's my suggestion on the damp Susan's Bread:  Next time, spike it with just a little yeast and see what happens.  If that fixes the problem, we'll know how to proceed.  On the other hand, could it be overproofed?


What a treat to be baking in a WFO.  Someday I'll be up in your area and contact you for a WFO tour and a cup of tea!


Susan


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

This is so much fun making your boules..I plan on doing them a lot this winter for soups and chili bowls..I have been wanting some good bread bowls and I know this is the  sooo perfect recipe for them... my grandkids love my chili in bread bowls.


It was a day of multitasking...Mike just eats..ha ha...or gets in my way!  We love pizza and it had been such a long time since I have made some indoors or in wfo.  I completely forgot...I could have made a couple of the little oatmeal boules into cinnamon raisin boules...darn!  We love it too!


I always feel like I'am cheating if I use yeast and I know that's silly!  I think I could have let the boule sit up front by the door for about 5 or so minutes.  Sort of like when I crack the door on the indoor oven the last few minutes of baking.  I gave the boule a push to the back of the oven and it wasn't quite ready to move...I think it might have caused a little deflating..but it still puffed up.  I was working at night and it's pitch black inside the oven.  Many times I need three hands. One of these days I'll pick up a hook lamp! 


The teapots always on here! : )


Sylvia

ehanner's picture
ehanner

 


I put off doing this partially because I was slammed at work this last week. Seems like everyone has a computer virus at the same time. But I also wanted to pick up some KA Bread flour and White WW. I don't usually use either of these flours and I wanted my efforts to resemble Susan's recipe.


One thing I did notice is that this combination of flours was much more prone to be lumpy than what I am used to(Gold Medal BFB). I first mixed a batch without about half of the water and added the balance into the bowl after starting. It was so lumpy, even after it set for 30 minutes I tossed it.I suppose I could of beat it into smoothness but that is not what this is about.


The image set I am including are reflective of the steps I thought would be interesting as they are somewhat different from my usual methods. The floured towel for example is not something I would do. I generally use a plastic banneton or free form without a basket. I wondered if the drying effect of the floured towel would make the scoring easier or more effective.


I liked turning the bowl over onto a parchment covered board. That is a good trick that doesn't subject the dough to a lot of degassing handling.


I did alter the method by doing the refrigerated ferment in a plastic container in bulk. This morning I gave it a 1 hour rest at room temp then shaped and placed it in the floured towel for 1-1/2 hours. It is cool in the house today as we enjoy this early Fall weather.


The image of the dough in the oven is after the first 20 minutes of covered baking on a hot stone at 450F°F. As you can see it is just starting to color and the expansion has occurred.


I'm going to do this again now that I have a few new tricks in the drawer.







The crumb isn't as open as I would like it.

Susan's picture
Susan

Eric, don't hit yourself over the head with this bread, it looks marvelous!  And I absolutely LURVE the crust color!


My best guess for the reason you had a problem the first go-round was that you put in only half the water at first.  Add all the water at one time.


Is that a waffle tea towel?  I use plain-weave linen, but it's good to know that the waffle style works as well.  If I had a small banneton, I'd use that.  But I don't.


Susan

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I want to reply to your posting but for some reason only the first photo shows up for me but that photo shows a beautiful loaf. Perfect. I hope the rest of the photos will show up soon, it's driving me crazy.


 


Thanks for starting this challenge, I've made quite a few of these now and everyone gets better. I let them rise in a small bowl or a colander as Susan does and now I get nice round loaves.


 


Great job.


weavershouse

audra36274's picture
audra36274

    You, and everyone so far has done such a good job. Can't wait till my starter is ready. In the first few days it had a terrible smell, but I went on. Now on the third day of firm, it has a nice smell. I have a PH tester for water I thought about trying if that would work here.


Audra

cake diva's picture
cake diva

I'm thinking of making smoked salmon tartines as a first course for dinner Wednesday.  Everyone has been commenting on the small size of the boules, but it's hard to tell from the pictures, and 500g isn't really small.  Does it compare to a Ruby Red grapefruit?  I have my starter being revved up;  just want to know if I should make 2 boules (for 3 people).  Thanks!

Susan's picture
Susan

And it depends on whether they go UP or OUT (we hope some combination of the two).  I'd think one loaf would be fine for three, but make a backup just to be safe.  You can always freeze it.


Have fun, and dinner sounds great!


Susan

marc's picture
marc

I made another attempt at this method and did two variations.


The first using the original formula except for substituting 25 g Giusto's Artisan for the 25 g of white whole wheat.


The second I used 275 g of Guisto's Artisan and then 25 g KA BF. I reduced the water to 65% (195g) to compensate for the bulk of the flour being more all purpose than high gluten bread.


Both loaves came out remarkably similar, except that the one using KA BF did have a bit more rise in the oven.


I really hate to mess with such a good thing—but does anyone have any thoughts on the steaming method—or should I say—alternate approaches. I can only do one loaf at a time when covering the loaf with a pan. Does anyone use lava rocks? Maybe I could get stainless mixing bowls that are just a bit larger than the loaves, yet might still fit onto the stone.


Susan's picture
Susan

Use whatever steaming method works best for you!  Flour, water, salt and starters are all a bit different, and ovens are, too.  I often use a covered roaster, as below.  I'd say you and your family/friends should be happy munching on your bread.  Congratulations on your success.


marc's picture
marc

Thanks for the feedback.


Yes....everyone all of a sudden the bread is very popular. Can't keep it in stock:)


Marc

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