The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A yeasted bread and a sourdough bread: hedging my bets

Teegstar's picture

A yeasted bread and a sourdough bread: hedging my bets

This is my first blog post on TFL, although I've been lurking around for nearly a year now. I started getting in to sourdough baking in Spring (southern hemisphere) last year but my poor little starter went on hiatus when we took a couple of months overseas holiday at the beginning of this year. Now it's June and I'm only just reawakening Owen, my starter. Luckily, our housesitter indulged my detailed instructions on feeding Owen while we were away. (Although she said something along the lines of "if I had a baby whose nappy smelled as bad as that bread thingy, I wouldn't change it"...)

I decided I wanted to make some bread with a cold retardation -- this tends to fit with my schedule a bit better than trying to go through the whole process in one day. Because my baking results have been inconsistent, I am also hedging my bets by making a yeasted bread that fits almost the same schedule as the sourdough.

For my yeasted bread, I'm using the Baguettes a l'Ancienne posted by DonD a few weeks ago:

For my sourdough, I'm using the Pierre Nury Rustic Light Rye posted by zolablue:’s-rustic-light-rye-leader 

So I mixed up my flour mixture and levain last night. Hiccup one: when I got up this morning, my sourdough levain looked virtually unchanged. I'm not used to using a stiff starter, so maybe it's meant to look like a floury lump, but I wasn't convinced there was enough life in the levain to rise the bread. So I have divided that recipe in half, using half the stiff levain and half my usual wet starter, which I fed last night. 

Here's hoping that I get some success out of one of the three doughs currently fermenting on my counter!



EDIT: the next day

Gahhh! My sourdough has COMPLETELY flopped -- didn't rise at all except for a little half-hearted attempt during baking. I should have known the starter and levain weren't going to do the job, but gosh I wanted them to! Plus I think I got the gluten development thing right this time. 

I haven't baked the yeasted bread yet but I'm reallyreallyreally hoping I get at least one good loaf out of this three-day effort!


hanseata's picture

If your starter seems lifeless, but doesn't smell bad, try being more patient (and less anxious) and don't expect it to "work like a clock". Feed it, let it sit at room temperature and just wait, until it starts showing little bubbles and growing a bit again. Depending on the activity of your wild yeast cells it might take more than 12 hrs., up to 18 hrs or even longer.

The other option is always to add just a tiny amount of commercial yeast to your starter to give it a kick start. Of course the taste will be a bit different at first, milder, and it will take a while to get it back to the original sourness.

I have my starter since 2001, keep it in the refrigerator and feed it (starter 33%, whole wheat flour 100%, water 75%) about once every two weeks (when I bake the next sourdough breads).