The Fresh Loaf

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want to improve the texture of my sourdough.

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zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

want to improve the texture of my sourdough.

So, I've made several loaves of sourdough from my starter, and the flavor is all there.  Sometimes a little less sour than I would like, but usually all there.  So far, I have just been making a very basic bread (KAF White Wheat, starter, water, salt), and have sometimes branched out to adding some rye flour into the final loaf, but nothing more exciting than that.


I let my sponge sit overnight in the over with the light on, and it rises up nicely.  The next day, I build up the final dough, let that rise until it is doubled (an hour or two) while I go to the gym.  When I get back, I punch the dough down, knead it some more, shape into a ball, and let it rest half an hour.  Then I punch it down, shape again, and let it sit another half hour.  Then I divide in two loaves, shape and stick in the respective proofing containers and let rise about an our.


I proof my boules in a banneton, and my loaves, I proof in a clay baking dish.


About half an hour before baking, I soak my baking stone for 15 minutes, stick the stone in the oven, and start the preheating to 450.


I then turn the boule onto the stone, give it a slash, and stick the clay pan beside that, after giving that a couple slashes.


The end result of this longwinded yammering is that I have a very dense loaf, with a very stiff crust, that has a nice tang to it.  I'd like to lighten this a bit, and get more of those nice air pockets.  I'd also like to get the crust more crisp than hard.  Thinking if I knead longer, and maybe add some more water for a wetter dough, I'll get those air pockets, and, if I add some fat, I'll get that crispy crust.  Can anybody confirm/refute that, or offer other advice?  More important to me is getting that nicer crumb than what I have, at present.


Thanks!

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

White whole wheat do you mean? This is whole wheat is I am correct, so this is a 100% whole wheat bread?

zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

but I do have some rye in there as well.  About 1/3 rye flour and 2/3 white whole wheat...  But even when I do use just the white whole wheat, the bread is still very dense.

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

 I usually go for some combination of whole wheat and regular flour in my sourdough breads, so I wouldn't be much help. I would read through the posts on 100% whole wheat breads.


Russ

zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

Thanks, Russ; I appreciate it.  I'll see what I can dig up.  I'm trying to keep my breads whole grain, for health reasons, and not add any more ingredients than I have to.  If I can make the crumb nice and light with changing some of my proportions, I'll definitely go that route.

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

In my experience the less you handle whole-wheat/rye breads...the better.  you may just be dagasing it to much?


 


we all know whole-grain is healthier, but if you really dig in and do some research youd be suprised how little nutrition you get from whole grains in thr form of whole-wheat.

zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

Thanks, Sean


I'll try a single de-gass and see if that improves things...  Less concerned about the vitamin content of the bread than I am about making sure I'm getting all the fiber in it that I can...  I shouldn't eat a whole lot of bread, but, if I'm going to eat bread, my doctors advise that it be the whole grain stuff (and that I not sit down and eat half the loaf at one sitting)...

JPotter's picture
JPotter

I was having the same problems with my SD loaves, but finally I made one yesterday that had an open crumb. I changed two thing both involving water. First, I combined starter and dough and autolyzed for 20 mins with no salt, just 1 cup of 100% hydration starter 1 1/2 cups water and 3 cups of flour then kneaded (stretch and folds) for 10 mins and let set another 30 mins. Then kneaded in the salt and a tablespoon or so more water. The dough was very slack. After a couple more stretch and folds I proofed in a banneton wrapped in linen for about 4 hours. Carefully transferred proofed dough to an inverted cookie sheet covered with parchment. Here I wished I would have retarded the dough in the refridgerator because the dough was extremely slack and relaxed and it degassed quite a bit during the transfer. I feel like if I would have proofed in the fridge for longer the dough would have held together better. Anyway, I preheated the oven to 450 and slide the dough and parchment right onto the stone. 30-35 mins later I had my first SD with a good SD flavor and a nicely open crumb.

zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

I'll give that a go and, as below, I'll have to make it a point to be gentle...


Didn't think I was going to be trying to seduce my dough, but, well, I loves me some good bread...

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia


"I punch the dough down, knead it some more, shape into a ball, and let it rest half an hour.  Then I punch it down, shape again, and let it sit another half hour. "


You may also think about doing a stretch and fold technique and be gentle with the dough.   After the first kneading  try to stretch out a side without degassing and fold over ,then grab from the other direction stretch and fold over then let rest all the while trying to keep the dough fluffy like a  soft pillow.


 

Janwa's picture
Janwa

The secret to having those air pockets is not to punch down or degass after you've shaped them into balls.  Try to retain as much of the air volume as possible while shaping the dough into loaves.

zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

I started off just doing the following, this weekend...


Thursday night, pull the starter out of the fridge, let it warm to room temp and pulled out the amount needed for the recipe I was following.  Fed the rest, stuck it back in the fridge, and built up the sponge for the bread.


Friday night, made final dough, let rise for about 3 hours (it overflowed the bowl...  oops).  Cleaned the oven from the overflow.  Gently kneaded/punched down once and shaped a boule and a loaf.  Let that rise for about an hour.  Pre-heated the oven/baking stone.  Baked bread.


Nice chewy texture, not the huge artisanal holes but, a much looser crumb than the bricks I have made before.  More sour loaf, too...  Sourdough flavor is ALL there!  Maybe next time, I'll just do one big loaf in the loaf pan, for sandwiches, as that loaf still just doesn't rise above the top of the loaf pan...

zoniguana's picture
zoniguana

First off, thanks to everybody for the comments and suggestions!  I am happy to report good progress!  I made a loaf tonight that has the flavor, the crust and the crumb that I want.  Not a boule (too wet a dough for that), but loaf pan bread came out spot on!


I followed the recipe found on Friends of Carl's pamphlet for San Francisco Sourdough, but increased it by 50% AND made it a little wetter.  Just wet enough that it would stick to the countertop, but dry enough that I could easily scrape it off the counter and keep the dough working. I also added some flax seed and pumpkin seed for a little variety...


I skipped the second knead/divide/shape step, and was particularly gentle with this dough.


I then plopped the dough into two different loaf pans - one clay, one silicon.  Both gave a nice crust, but the silicon one deforms quite a bit compared to the clay.  Looking forward to slicing the loaf that came out of the clay pan, and getting on the outside of that!  Will post pictures soon...

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Glad to hear your getting good results.



I've started something else that I'm getting good results with. I've been saving all my discards from my sourdough feedings. I am not storing in fridge yet I wanted to give this culture a good chance to get stable. So I feed twice a day and my dogs were getting all the discards. Now they are getting fat and pushy at the counter when they see me working sourdough.



What I've started and getting nice results. I take my first batch of discards and feed it 1:1:1 then pop it in the fridge. Then every feeding instead of discarding I throw it in the bowl that went in the fridge. I don't feed it any more just mix in the new with the cold stuff and pop it back in the fridge. After a day or two the bowl starts to fill up and the starter is very nice and happy.



When the bowl is full I weigh the starter and know it's 50-50 water to flour then I adjust my additions to based on the amount of water. I also limit the starter so that I add least the same amount of flour that is present in the starter.
This has also saved me time when it comes time to bake I'm not building up my starter. I make dough in the morning and can have a nice bread by dinner.



Any way that is what I've been playing with.