The Fresh Loaf

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how do i get better? (new to TFL and sour dough)

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moma's picture

how do i get better? (new to TFL and sour dough)

Hi Bakers!

Im new to TFL and hope this is the right forum to post (otherwise im sorry) ;)

Im a 28yrs. old Danish (the country not the pastry ;)) MA student/mother, loving various branches of the cooking world, especially fondant cakes and a nice family meal.

I just started using sour dough (after many yrs baking with dry/wet yeast)and think there's room for som critique and pointers.

The sour doug is bubbly and smells like a nice beer. However I can't get the dough to rise as mutch as I'd thought it would.

Here's todays loaf (was slow fermented for 24hrs.) made with organic flour, sour dough, water, pinch of salt and a dash of hunny.

the top looks nice and had a cheewy/crunchy bite to it. The dough was actually wery wet and i had to apply more flor in order to knock the dough down after its first rise. It got stuck to the basket and I had to re-knead it before baking. (high temperature with water in the bottom of the oven for the first 10min)

the inside had a nice taste to it.

how do I prevent this split?

thank you for your help B)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The big difference between sourdoughs and yeasted doughs.  Easy on the knock down.  Try a gentle degassing or shaping instead.   Welcome to TFL!  :)

From the looks of the loaf I'd say not bad for a first loaf!  A little pale, maybe a sign of over-proofing the dough in that the yeasts have devoured all the available sugars in the dough or it could have baked longer in the oven.  And a crack from too much tension on the surface.  Might have helped waiting 10 minutes or more before popping into the oven so the dough surface could relax and expand more in the steam and heat.  

One thing you most likely noticed is that sourdoughs get looser and wetter as they ferment, more so than the yeasted doughs with the same amount of gas.  The trick to handle this loosening is to tighten the surface by stretching and folding (S&F) the dough with little or no flour so the dough sticks to itself.  Folding lightly degasses the dough, distributes the gas pockets, and gives the dough strength to hold itself up.  The long first bulk rise is thus interrupted and seems like one rising process with many shaping intervals than the  basic bulk rise/knock down/rise/bake  of yeasted dough.  So my first suggestion would be to try it again and then when the dough starts to show growth and rising, give it some stretches and folds.  This can also be done in the bowl as illustrated here:

It might also help to mix the sourdough with a little less water so that it is slightly firmer.  Firmer than the yeasted dough that rises in the basket.  Use plenty of flour on the basket and give it a shorter rise there.    Rising baskets are hard to gauge but sourdough should not double inside them, save some rise for the oven.  I'd say about 3/4 risen when you carefully flip it out onto parchment paper.   Like the triangle score.   Heat the oven up to 240°C at first and then after the first 10-15 minutes of steam, back the temperature down to 220°C or 210° to finish the bake.  Releasing the steam out of the oven at about the 20 minute mark will help the crust brown faster.   Ok, enough said... next loaf!  

The cool weather here in Austria is great for baking at the moment.  


jcking's picture


Mini has given great advice. I would add, learn to control dough temperature. Adjust initial dough mix temp, with warm or cold water, to arrive at between 22 to 27°C. Try to maintain these temps through fermentation and proofing. The fermentation and proofing stages should not go longer than four hours each, otherwise the dough structure will begin to break down.

My sourdough consistency has increased ten fold since paying attention to temps at every step of the process.


moma's picture

wow - thank you for you very long answer, Mini! :)

My nex SD loaf is already in the making and I also have a Foccacia dough for tonights dinner.

The ("summer")weather in DK is rain, wind and 18 degrees C - perfect for baking and staying inside. ;)


moma's picture

I tried to bake another loaf today - it was s succes! :) I added a dash of sunflower oil and fermentet it in the mixing bowl for a couple of hours. Then i reshaped it and put it into a basket. The result: a much lighter loaf with some markings of the basket(which is an improvent from the disaster I made on Friday).

Im pretty happy with the taste and the look of it. I still need to work on getting the SD to rise more inside the oven and get comfortable with my oven in order not to burn the crust too much.

... my little helper Alma making Foccacia earlier :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Oh! To be young again...  Her strawberry blong hair and blue eyes last forever, mine have.  

I'm back on my old computer, just for a little while...  I can see the pictures better and I'm looking at the crumb.   Looks to me like the yeast was just getting a move on when the loaf was baked.   I have no idea of the times but I was wondering if we could speed it up a just a little.  Tell me about the starter.  age, routine etc.  The comment on the starter smelling like beer leads me to believe that maybe it should have gone into the dough sooner, just before it peaked maximum height.  What do you think?

moma's picture

I have had my starter for some time. I have regulary used it but not as dedicated as now. I have been feeding it and renewing it when it got too nasty. I have been keeping it in the fridge since the end of febuary/start of march (i do not recall the exact month). I have been feeding it rye and wholemeal flour. it has the consistency of pancake batter with tiny bubbles on top.

would you please explain what you mean by gone into the dough sooner. Please explain how you start up your bakeing :)