The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Slowing Down

gingersnapped's picture

Slowing Down

I've been trying to do too much at once.  It occurs to me today that although my sourdough has been going for over a month now, I've yet to really bake anything successful with it (except for the buttermilk cluster, which was an exercise in accidental genius and a lot of time, I think).  The problem is, I'm usually going after recipes that are so wacko or are so much my own creation (throw some spelt in here, whole wheat here, lower hydration, etc) that there are too many variables to tell what the issue is.

Tonight for a fried I was working on making a sweet Amish friendship white bread recipe, with a tangzhong (which, as it turns out, there are no good internet resources for figuring out how to do a conversion for), and also a sourdough starter.  This...was not a good idea.  Too much going on!  So I bit the bullet, continued winging it, and added the imprecise tangzhong and sourdough anyway as well as some regular proofed yeast.

I'm hoping this will come together.  The tangzhong loaf a few weeks ago was the most brilliant brilliant bread I've baked in a long time and disappeared at a party.  But I'm eminently frustrated by the sourdough ciabatta rolls which are struggling to come together in their proof box.  The yeast just never seem to come back from the deep sleep.

I'm going to spend the next few weeks focusing on strengthening my sourdough (I noticed that after feeding it bubbled, but stopped bubbling UP.  This is no good.  I need to go back to basics), baking with instant yeast, and working on a spelt tangzhong (is it possible?) and my stretch and fold and technique with super hydrated doughs. 

I'm super frustrated that I don't have enough time during the day to do things like feed my yeast x3, pull dough out of the fridge to warm up, etc.  Toting dough to work isn't the brilliant or convenient idea I'd hoped for now that the boss is back...


pmccool's picture

and a prescription, too.  Now it's time to listen to Dr. Gingersnapped and follow the excellent advice you have received.

Although there are so many breads to be baked, there are times that we need to heed the "do one thing and do it well" dictum.  At least until we can do that one thing well consistently.  Then we can start on the next "one thing". 

As you mention, one of those basics is to get your starter on a regular feeding cycle.  If you are a home baker, just park it on the counter and feed it once at the start of your day and a second time about 12 hours later.  After a few days of that, it should settle into a rythm and produce consistent results for you.  It's more or less the same thing that you are wanting to do for yourself.

Best wishes for a strong starter and a serene life.


Doc.Dough's picture

I did a tangzhong sourdough ciabatta today that came out just fine.  In fact I found your blog post when I was searching for how-to tips. If you are still interested, the formulation is in the photo captions at:

The rule for tangzhong is 5:1 water to flour (wheat flour is all I have tried so far, though since the essence seems to be pregelatinized starch it might work with other starchy flours as well - you can try), cooked to 65°C (149°F) and no more, cooled, then up to 10% of the total flour in the recipe can be in the tangzhong.