The Fresh Loaf

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The Sourdough for the Working Parent

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maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

The Sourdough for the Working Parent

OK, so I don't have kids (yet), but at the moment I'm pretty much treating my 3-week old starter like it was my own flesh and blood (I need a dog!).

Can anyone recommend a recipe suited for busy schedules? I'd hate to keep my baking to the weekends only, and I have a lovely starter that I'm itching to use all the time. I'm at work for 8 hours of the day,  so anything I can leave for a long time, and that doesn't require much dough nursing would be great. It would also be a perfect opportunity to ditch the not very successful recipe i'm using at the moment.

NB: I'm using a white 50/50 starter with 100% hydration if that helps.

Thanks for your help

M

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

I think i'm going to try this one next. It's the Norwich Sourdough on the wild Yeast Blog:

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/08/my-new-favorite-sourdough/

Once made, I shall also dedicate it to my birthplace and favourite city of Norwich in Norfolk (England).

theoriginalmelvin's picture
theoriginalmelvin

Find a good no-knead recipe. Or if time is really an issue, and you just are not prepared to expend the effort, get a bread machine. results won't be much to talk about, but there is hardly any demand on your busy schedule.

Ford's picture
Ford

You can stop you bread making at almost any point and put it in the refrigerator.  This is called retardation.   It will rise some during this period, but that is OK.  If you go all the way to shaping and putting the dough in the loaf pans or the banneton and refrigerate at that point, the dough may rise to the point where it is ready for baking.  That too is ok.  Just slash it, pop it into the preheated oven, and and let it bake.  Sourdough may not be as sour when treated this way because the lactobacteria like a higher temperature than do the yeast.

Ford

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

I'm definately prepared to put the effort in, Melv. What I'm more concerned about is not being there to mind it, and to make sure it doesn't overprove. Believe me, if I could give up my job tommorow to bake bread for a living, i would. I despise bread machines, but i'm not sure whether that was a genuine suggestion or some kind of dig.

Thanks for the advice Ford. I think my bread is a bit too sour anyway so i'll definately try retarding in the fridge.

bnom's picture
bnom

SD is not nearly as fussy as you might think.  By controlling the temperature you can control the rise. Retarding, as noted above, not only makes it easier to bake when it suits YOUR schedule, it also improves the loaf.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

The exact timing of a bulk fermentation can be controlled, to a great degree, by the percentage of starter to flour in the recipe. Use more starter, less time is required. Use less starter, more time is required. If you search here for Susan's Ultimate, you'll find her recipe, as well as David Snyder's take on it. If I remember correctly, the percentage of starter to flour is about 4.8%. For me, I find the best bulk fermentation of that recipe to be almost exactly 8 hours, give or take an hour either way depending on season and kitchen temp. I then refrigerate over night and bake the next morning. I'm not sure why Ford has said that retarding reduces sour, as most of us do it to gain more sour. Maybe it depends on recipe, but for Susan's recipe, retarding definitely brings out more sour, and not anywhere near a 'rip off your chest hair' sour - just more character and definition. It's kind of a hassle for me to retard, because I have the time to bake the same day. If it didn't help and/or have a noticeable difference, I wouldn't do it. It does, so I do. : )

Babysitting a starter teaches you how fermentation works at that level, and as you can see, the time it takes to peak becomes very regular. As you use starter in recipes, you will learn how it works as a much lower percentage of baker's percentages. That's how you can dial in a bulk fermentation time that accomodates your schedule.

- Keith

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

Thanks, that was really informative. I've currently got Susan's Norwich Sourdough in my fridge, ready to be baked when I get home tonight. I will definately check out the Ultimate recipe too.

On a second note, is there any reason why a previously active and sweet smelling starter would suddenly not smell so strong anymore? I fed my starter yesterday, and although it was bubbly this morning, the smell was really subtle. I almost had to take two deep breaths to register it (it's usually so strong it catches the back of my throat). I dunno, maybe it's my hayfever or something.

 

Thanks

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

yeah, ya know, that's hard to say... how old is the starter? Did you start it from scratch? What flour(s) do you feed it? Did you change flours or any other portion of the maintenance before it started smelling different?

Most starters -will- mellow a bit after maturing for at least 4 to 6 weeks. That's because some of the other unstable organisms that are still competing early on do add to the pungency. Once they are moved farther to the background, you'll get a less-harsh aroma. If you are a real regular on-the-proper-hour feeder, those starters will also have a milder smell usually. If you are prone to getting around to feeding it whenever (guilty here!), then those extra hours allow for acids to form, giving it a slightly stronger smell than usual.

As long as you have something resembling yeasty/beery, and it's peaking within about 6 hours, then you're probably good. I remember you mentioned your starter was 50/50. Is this a 2:1:1 (starter:water:flour) maintenance? For example, a 2:1:1 would be like 100g old starter, 50g water and 50g flour (where I'm guessing you're referring to it as '50/50'). If your starter is bake-ready, I'd recommend switching to a 1:1:1, which means, cut the old starter retained by another 50% (from ex. above: 50g old starter, 50g water and 50g flour). This is a perfectly acceptable maintenance ratio for a healthy counter-top starter.

- Keith

Davo's picture
Davo

Mix a levain on one morning before you go to work. Put in a not-too huge proportion of ripe starter, so it doesn't over ferment. Should be ready to make bread dough that evening. In the evening, make bread dough, knead, bulk ferment with stretch and folds - takes say 3 hrs from mixing the bread dough (dep on your mix kitchen temp and a heap of other factors). Shape loaves and place in fridge in banettons. Next day, go to work as normal, come home (say 20-22 hrs after putting the loaves in the fridge). Check the loaves - if they are risen enough to bake, warm the oven and leav loaves in fridge until oven hot (say 1 hr). If they look like they need an hour of warming to room temp, take them out for the hour while the oven hates up (or stagger them dep on oven size and number of loaves - I can do 2 at a time). Bake. All before and after work - all you need is two evenings in a row you will be home for about 3 (or 4) hrs.