The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


newbiebaker's picture




I made a sourdough over the weekend, and i thought it came out really well...  for my first loaf of sourdough, it was lacking a couple things... it lacked that sourdough twangy sourness, but i read the post on how to get sourer sourdough, so ill give that a try sometime, but my other question is, the crumb was rather tight and very very soft.  how do i make it more very open and chewy?  and is there a better way of steaming my loaves than a spray bottle in the oven every like 30 seconds or so? i know it would be best to pick up a baking stone, but funds are tight as of now, and i dont know where to keep the thing... but, over the summer, i will definitely buy one  (ill ask for what i need to look for in a stone later) also, should i slash the loaves just before they go in the oven, or as they begin the second rise?


thanks for the advice, ill send post a picture if i get a chance... oh! could a dough thats to wet create a tight crumb??? 

JIP's picture

As far as a stone goes I don't know where you are from but I just went in to my local Home Depot and bought unglazed tiles.  I think they set me back about $5 or less for about a dozen wich left me with a few to spare after I lined my oven I already had a cheap tile cutter from a previous project so that part was easy but if you do the measuring I'm sure wherever you buy them can do any cutting you need.  Just make sure you buy unglazed tiles.  These tiles have served me well over the last few years I would like to buy a stone but I can totally relate to the financial restrictions Hell I can't even affodrd a scale right now.  As far as slashing your loaves you need to slash them immediately proor to putting them in the oven.  All manner  of steam generating devices are available at different stores but home that is pretty much one thing home bakers just cant replicate totally from commercial bakeries but I think spritzing your oven is a perfectly acceptable substitute. 

leemid's picture

I have found that the open crumb is a combination of higher hydration and longer fermentation cycles.

I agree on the stone. I don't have a good way to get the bread to rise tall instead of wide (banneton) yet so I rise in cheap pie plates which gives me some lift, and bake in them, which screws up the bottom of the loaf. So I remove the pie plate half way through the alotted time and the bottom bakes better. I do have a 'stone' which is a left over slab of marble obtained from a local countertop manufacturer for cheap. But I don't like loaves that are an inch and a half tall and eight inches wide, which is what my bread does in the circumstances I have. I am going to make my own bannetons from wire mesh soon that should solve that problem, since I can't imagine spending $29 each for the wicker ones.

My solution for good 'steamed' crust is not to spritz, which to me is useless. I throw in 1/4 cup of water and close the door. I get tons of steam and great crust. Spray bottles don't introduce enough water for good steam, in my opinion.

newbiebaker's picture

you mention a wetter dough... but how wet should it be?  and should i knead it longer to get a more open crumb?  slightly sticky, or almost batter like? (i realize these are two extremes and would appreciate a repsonse slightly more descriptive than "somewhere in the middle") thanks alot you guys, ill give these things a try next batch i make

ShirleyT's picture

I have been baking sourdough breads for over 10 years using various recipes. Last November the No Knead Bread recipe took off like a house of fire. If you are not familiar with this recipe, simply google No Knead Bread and you will be entertained for hours. After making this recipe according to the basic instructions which called for instant yeast, I started experimenting with the recipe using sourdough. The result is a perfect loaf, chewy, lots of holes, wonderful crust, awesome taste . . . need I say more?

The recipe is as follows - measure 440 grams (15.5 ounces) of unbleached bread flour in a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Stir with a whisk. Add 284 grams of water (10 ounces) and 1 cup of sourdough starter. Stir until the flour is completely moistened.

Cover bowl with plastic (or a shower cap!). Let sit for 12 to 18 hours. Yes. Just let it sit there and your starter will do the work. After this time, scoop out your wet dough onto a plastic cutting board covered with rice flour (known as the Teflon flour) or lots of bread flour. Fold the dough like a letter (yes it is wet and doesn't look at all like a loaf of bread but bear with me), then fold over once more. Let rest for 15 minutes. With floured hands, shape wet dough into a ball. Don't fret if it doesn't come out perfect. Let this blob sit for two hours. An hour before the two hours are up, place a 3 to 5 quart dutch oven with lid into oven. Do not oil or butter the dutch oven. Set the oven to 450 degrees. Let dutch oven preheat for about an hour. Then flop your dough into the extremely hot dutch oven, cover, and bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Take the lid off and bake until internal temperature reaches 203 degrees or about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove bread from oven, turn upside down on cooling rack (yes - your bread will magically come out without any problems), turn right side up and wait for 2 hours for it to cool before you cut into it.

This bread is so easy to make despite the long time frame. But heck, anyone willing to nurture a sourdough starter probably has lots of patience to start with. The amount of time you let your dough proof may vary depending on how warm your room is. In the winter we kept our house at 62 degrees so 18 hours was a good time. Now that it is warming up to about 70 degrees, I find that 12 hours is long enough and the second rise is only about an hour so the dutch oven goes in the oven shortly after I remove the dough from the bowl. Enjoy.


newbiebaker's picture

will less starter mean a less sour loaf in the end? and i think my last loaf came out rather wet... kneading was very difficult and sticky