The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Finally, some measure of sourdough success

KenK's picture

Finally, some measure of sourdough success

I've been trying this off and on.  I'm not sure I will be a convert to the wild yeasts but had decided to make it work at least once.  These look ok, except for the major blow out on one.

 I mixed 3 ounces of starter with 1 ounce whole rye, 1 ounce whole wheat, 3 ounces of bread flour and 3 ounces of water.  Fermented for 12 hours and then added 5 ounces of bread flour and 3 ounces of water.  Kneaded, rested, folded and proofed willy nilly for about 4 hours, shaped the loaves and proofed two hours.

I got a lot of oven spring and not much came out the top.  I wonder if I didn't score deep enough?  Does it matter if the cut is made before or after spraying with water?

KenK's picture

A picture of the crumb.  It is good but not as good as my commercial yeast leavened bread at this point.  I think it needs a touch more salt. 

Nymphaea's picture

Looks good :)

A tip that I learned here from someone else, and have been following, is to make ~2% of your dough´s mass salt. I find this gives just the right amount :)

pmccool's picture

especially considering that the prefermented flour was more than 50% of the total.  Assuming that you keep your starter at 100% hydration, you had 1.5 + 1 + 1 +3 = 6.5 ounces of flour in the levain plus another 5 ounces of flour in the final dough, for a total of 11.5 ounces.  The hydration (again assuming a 100% hydration starter) was 1.5 + 3 + 3 = 7.5, divided by 11.5, = 0.65 = 65%.  If you keep your starter at a lower hydration, then the flour content goes up and the water content goes down, yielding a lower hydration for the final dough than I have calculated here.

With that high a percentage of prefermented flour and that hydration, the bread has a better color and more open crumb than I would have expected.  You might want to try another run, tweaking the ingredients so that the preferemented flour is in the 20% to 30% range and the hydration is in the 65% to 70% range.  I think you will see better crust color (i.e., uniformly darker) and a more open crumb.  That's because the yeast in the starter won't have a chance to burn through all of the food in the flour of the final dough.  They will have plenty of food to produce the CO2 for filling all those bubbles in the crumb and still leave some sugars to caramelize in the crust.

All in all, it's a good attempt.  Whether or not you eventually decide you do or don't like working with naturally yeasted breads, give it a few more tries to get the basic mechanics worked out.  You'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you can make a good sourdough if you want to.


KenK's picture

My starter is approximately 70% hydration.  For the next try I will keep the preferment the same but double the flour added for the final dough.  This should give me what I need for our week's bread.

This dough felt about like my 67% hydration French bread dough.

For now I would like to keep the hydration this low.  I don't have a couche to proof with and part of my past trouble has come from the dough spreading out on the parchment paper. 

Thanks for the help, Nymphae and Paul.

KenK's picture

A little bit better today.  I think I'm still underproofing.  I sure was glad to see it come out of my new Brotform, it was some sticky dough.

Yumarama's picture

The crumb looks great with a good variety of bubble sizes. Only suggestion I'd make is let it bake a bit longer so the crust browns a bit more. That extra bit of caramelization will also add some flavour to the slices. 

If you're concerned with the bottom burning by keeping it in longer, just slip another pan on a lower shelf so it deflects the heat some.

But that's darn nice bread. Congrats!

KenK's picture

This little loaf I baked just now came out pretty well.  It had tremendous oven spring but a little tearing.  I generally followed the order of operations for Norwich Sourdough from Wild Yeast but tweaked the formula a little.  The final dough was 13 ounces of flour (2 of which was whole rye) and 8 ounces of water.  It got a 19 hour retard in the refrigerator and I put it in the oven cold.

It should have a fairly open crumb, or one big hole. : )