The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lexington Sourdough

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varda's picture
varda

Lexington Sourdough

A few weeks ago, I gave up on the starter I'd been tending and using for over a year, and made a new one from scratch.  Instead of trying to nurse my old starter back to health, I reminded myself that despite the considerable mystique attached to it, it's really not that hard to get a starter going - particularly a wheat one - assuming a sufficient degree of attention and patience.   I finally got it going and I've been baking with it for around 2 weeks.   I have not been disappointed, as I think I had just got used to an underperforming starter and had forgotten how a healthy starter behaves.  

At the same time I've been trying to shed same old same old practices and develop a formula that everyone in the family liked, that was repeatable, and relatively easy, so I could use it as daily bread.    I borrowed from this and that and here and there, and thank gods (I've been watching Battlestar Galactica) I think I've got it.  

The formula has a bit of spelt, a bit of rye, and the rest wheat.   I used wheatgerm and malt powder (Thank you Lumos) which seem to have a good effect but I'm not sure which does which.    The resulting bread bridges the difficult gap between light and substantial, has a light crispy crust, keeps for a few days (assuming it doesn't get eaten first) has a mild balanced flavor and isn't too holey for sandwiches.   I've made it a couple times, and it seems to be repeatable. 

But now, my biggest problem - how to keep from fiddling this to death.   I think the best way to do it is to name it but Sourdough with Spelt and Rye just seems boring.    Ergo Lexington Sourdough which is pretty boring as well.   Any tips on how to name breads?  

And now it's time to switch focus to biscuits, cornbread and pie.   Thanksgiving is nigh!

The formula:

Starter

Seed

Feeding

Total

Percent

Seed

168

 

 

 

Bread flour

92

95

187

95%

Whole wheat

2

 

2

1%

Whole rye

4

4

8

4%

Water

69

130

199

101%

 

 

 

397

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

Bread flour

450

135

585

84%

Whole rye

 

6

6

1%

Whole wheat

 

2

2

0%

Medium rye

50

 

50

7%

Spelt

50

 

50

7%

Water

310

143

453

65%

Salt

13

 

13

1.9%

Starter

286

 

 

21%

Malt powder

10

 

 

 

Wheat germ

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

Take ripe sourdough - around 70% hydration - from refrigerator (should be domed and pitted) and feed as above to 100% hydration.   Ferment on counter (around 69degF) for around 7 hours until very active and bubbly.  

Mix flour and water by hand and autolyse for 30 minutes.   Add the rest of the ingredients and mix in stand mixer for 5 minutes starting at low speed and working up to highest speed.   Dough should adhere into a smooth mass during the mix.   Stretch and fold on counter twice during 2.5 hour bulk ferment.    Cut and preshape into two rounds.   Rest for 20  minutes.   Shape into batards and place in couche seam side up.   Refrigerate for 10-15 hours.   Place on counter and proof for 1.5 hours until dough starts to soften.   Bake at 450F for 20 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.  

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

That's a really great new bread Varda.

Your instinct to build an entirely new culture was clearly well-founded.

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

I was just going through your latest post to see what I could see.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

This looks like a lovely daily bread for all the reasons you mentioned.  The crust is a beautiful color!

One question for you - malt powder......did you use diastatic or non - diastatic powder in your formula?

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Hi Janet,  I used diastatic malt powder.   I don't have a good reason for it, and don't know what it's doing, but the bread is coming out so nicely with it that I haven't wanted to leave it out.  I bought it for bagels (Hamelman's recipe calls for it) but just haven't managed to get around to making bagels recently.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks for letting me know....

For bagels I have always used non-diastatic......I will have to try them with diastatic and see what the difference is...always a new twist just when I think I have something 'down' :-)  My daughter will like to know I will be experimenting with one of her favorite bread items....but they will have to get to the end of my list....which is long :-)

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Hi Janet,  I ordered the malt powder from King Arthur.   The write-up for non-diastatic malt powder on their site says "good for bagels."   But in Hamelman Bread he clearly calls for diastatic.   Beats me.   I'm certain that it is contributing to the quality of this bread, but nothing I've read on this site indicates that should be so, since the flour should already be malted.   Yes, my list is long too, and keeps growing.  -Varda

JerryW's picture
JerryW

Raw or toasted wheat germ?  Tnx.
cheers,
jerry

varda's picture
varda

Jerry,   It comes in a jar - Kretschmer.   It doesn't say raw or toasted, but it must be toasted because it's sold in the cereal section.  Hope you're doing well.  -Varda

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Varda,

Love the atmosphere in the photos ... Morning sun? If so, what a lovely way to start the day :)

Happy your new starter is working for you.

Cheers, Phil

varda's picture
varda

Phil,  The sun was pouring in the window late morning, just as the bread came out of the oven.  And with winter coming I was only too happy to try to capture some of it.   But you should recognize the composition of the first photo.   I copied one of yours more or less.   Thank you.   And thank you for your comments.  -Varda

EvaB's picture
EvaB

As for naming methods, its fair game! LOL I think Lexington is as good as Norwich, so go for it. Will have to get some malt powder and try it out myself.

Did you do these in the wood fired oven or a regular one? I don't have a wood fired one yet, but its on the list of to do's.

varda's picture
varda

Hi Eva,   Thanks for your encouragement re naming.   I really like this bread, and if I don't name it, it will be gone with the wind.   I have put my oven to bed for the year.   It was not made to be used in colder weather, and if this winter is like last, after a month or two I won't even be able to get to it short of snow shoes.    I spent the last couple of weeks stacking wood from the October storm behind the oven (my husband cut it - I hauled it - I'm exhausted) and then covered the racks of wood plus the oven with a huge tarp.   I think I have enough for five years of baking.   Can't wait.  -Varda

EvaB's picture
EvaB

a foot of snow, and it makes getting anywhere difficult.

But when I do my oven its going to be a year round usuable one or there is no point. At least for me. I don't have to worry about wood, since we live on 4 acres of mostly trees, all we have to do is get it into some sort of order! LOL My problem is going to be the oven!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Naming a bread gives you a sense of ownership, but don't let that stop you from tweaking. Just keep track of how you like the result of each tweak, until you find which ones really improve the bread to your taste.

Anyway, this bake sure looks delicious.

David

varda's picture
varda

David,   Thanks for your kind words.   I am a habitual fiddler and no doubt will adjust this formula again and again for better or worse.   Hope you are doing well.  -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Varda,

As you say, it's not that difficult to get a new starter going, and seldom do I have second thoughts about starting over from scratch, if that's what it takes. Obviously your strategy worked as your loaves look very strong in terms of oven jump, and the crumb looks wonderful. I've no doubt these loaves vanished quickly. Nice baking Varda!

Franko

varda's picture
varda

I was a little anxious about throwing out the old stuff but in the future I'll know not to worry about it.   Thanks so much for your comments. -Varda

MarieH's picture
MarieH

Varda,
The first photo is so inviting - the sun makes the bread's richness stand out. How about naming your bread Sunshine Sourdough? The bread seems to make you as happy as sunshine! Thanks for sharing.

varda's picture
varda

Marie,  You are very perceptive.   I was having a very difficult morning, and the bread did provide a ray of sunshine so to speak.   The name is charming.   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Varda,

I was thinking about your starter today and one of the things I just did with my really healthy one was to dry some of it out and freeze it.

 Something I have read about here but was afraid to try it until about 3 weeks ago.  Became my experiment of the week :-).

I thinned it out so that it spread easily on a piece of parchment paper and then I let it sit at room temp. until it was all dry.  I broke it up into itty bitty pieces and now have some stored in an air tight jar in my cupboard plus some in my freezer and a 3rd sample in my refrigerator....Wanted to cover all bases :-)

I got curious about it's vitality after being dried out so after about a week I took about a tsp. of the room temp. one and revived it.  What a thrill to see it come to life :-)   A cheap thrill I might add :-)  

I also made a very dense starter ball (Mini Oven's suggestion) at the same time and buried it in some flour and a mason jar and it is stored 'live' in my refrigerator too.....I haven't touched it and won't for some time....I am curious as to how it will behave compared to it's dried counterparts...

Janet

P.S. I am sure none of this is new to you....just thought I would add it to the discussion...

varda's picture
varda

Hi Janet,   I have not tried to dry or freeze starter.  I did read the recent post by Pmccool about two methods of drying starter and transporting it halfway around the world.   I assume you saw this?   Very cool that you did it.   It took me around a week to get a new starter going, and another week before it started getting the job done to my satisfaction, so it seems to me that's quite a reasonable option if a starter gets sick.   Right now, I have rye starter, durum starter, wheat starter, and yeast water in the refrigerator.   Things are getting out of hand.   When I had only one, I was much less likely to space out and kill one by accident.   Thank goodness I don't have a pet.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Varda,

I used to have a bunch of starters too but it was just too much on top of baking and life outside the kitchen so I got rid of everything but my ww starter and only recently have I added a rye starter....it isn't very demanding so it may stick around awhile...

On drying out starter:

I watched this video that Eric posted on Breadtopia and realized it was really pretty easy to do so I just made extra starter one day while building for a loaf so it really wasn't any big deal.  Took less than 5 minutes to spread out on the pp.

http://www.breadtopia.com/drying-sourdough-starter-for-long-term-storage/

 MiniOven was the one who suggested letting it dry at room temp. so that the yeast would spore....she emphasised  not coddling the starter - actually mistreat it! and that in doing that it allows the yeast to react to their environmental change and change from a soft cell to a spore which has a hard outer shell to protect them which helps during long adverse situations (i.e., life in a freezer or locked up in a mason jar :-) and when it is time to re-hydrate.  Her words were 'They need a stressed reproductive cycle to do this.'  So at room temp. they are still active as they slowly dry out - reproduction does take place in the beginning but then the 'red alert' happens which triggers the sporing....very amazing creatures!  

When I rehydrated a bit of mine it took less than 2 days to be up and running again.  Not sure that time frame will stay the same when it has been sitting dried out for 6 months but I will find out come summer.

Before drying I had fed the starter 3 times approx. 4 hours apart so it was very robust....

Janet