The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough bread dense- Any Suggestions?

Joleen's picture
Joleen

Sourdough bread dense- Any Suggestions?

Hi All,


I'm new to sourdough baking, having just ordered a sourdough culture, and attempting sourdough bread twice.  Both times I made a 100% whole wheat loaf, that had wonderful flavor, and a nice crust.  However, the bread was dense.  I'd like to achieve a more open crumb.  Basically I mixed up the dough, using the stretch and fold method and let it rise in the oven over night, about 12 hrs.  It rose very nicely, at least doubling in size.  Then I added enough flour to make a sticky/tacky dough that was just barely kneadable by hand.  After a few minutes of kneading I formed a couple boules on parchment paper then allowed for a second rise for about 1 1/2 hrs.  During this time I preheated the oven to about 485.  I sprayed the top of the loaves with some water and then baked them on pre-heated baking stones. 


What suggestions would you have for increasing the crumb hole size to make a lighter, less dense loaf?  I'm wondering if I should have allowed more time for the second rise.  My sourdough starter is really healthy, but it rises slowly.  Another thought I had is that maybe I need to use a covered baker or somehow increase the steam in my oven.  Maybe I need to try another recipe.  I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have. 


One more question- is there any reason I couldn't add more starter than the recipe calls for (which I've been doing) so I don't have to throw so much starter away and to inrease the flavor of the bread?  I've been trying to compensate to keep the dough hydration the same.  If I add extra starter should I shorten the rise time?


Thanks!

Ford's picture
Ford

In my experience, sourdough requires much more time to rise than does bread made with the comercial yeast.  As Mike Avery says, "Making bread requires patience, and sourdough requires patience squared!"  Also, with flours containing bran, it it helpful to allow the bran to absorb the liquid and to soften.  Uing a soaker technique is therefore helpful.  If you are not set on 100% whole wheat, you might try 50% whole wheat and 50% bread flour as a learning experinece.


I wish you success with sourdough.


Ford

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

Whole wheat flour is much more dense than white so you have to adjust your method to accommodate.  After the first rise overnight, DO NOT add more flour.  Sprinkle your surface with wheat bran or ground flax, and instead of punching the dough down, merely fold it lightly and shape into loaf.  Cover that and let it rise for at least 4 more hours.  Then bake as usual.

cranbo's picture
cranbo


is there any reason I couldn't add more starter than the recipe calls for (which I've been doing) so I don't have to throw so much starter away and to inrease the flavor of the bread?  I've been trying to compensate to keep the dough hydration the same.  If I add extra starter should I shorten the rise time?



Yes, you can add as much starter as you want, easily 25-50% of total flour weight; some have had success with even more!


Yes, you may have to adjust hydration , but how much less depends whether you are using a firm (60-70%) or liquid (100%+ starter). I agree that WW is trickier to work with. 


In addition to the previous comments, if you want to make the crumb more tender and fluffy, and less dense, consider adding some protein or fat to your sourdough, like milk, egg, oil, etc. Won't change the size of the holes in the bread, but will lighten the overall texture. 


 

Joleen's picture
Joleen

Hey y'all,


Thanks for the suggestions you've posted so far, I'm looking forward to trying what you've recommended.  I'm determined to bake the perfect loaf of 100% whole grain sourdough bread.  I'm sure with y'all's help I can make it happen.  I have dough rising right now, what a pleasant thought.  Since I seem incapable of making anything in small quantities, I have a quadruple batch of whole grain rye-whole white wheat dough rising in the oven.  I like letting it rise in the oven with the light on, it provides just enough heat.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!