The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough baking as an OCD

redivyfarm's picture

Sourdough baking as an OCD

I spent all day on a long fermentation trying to duplicate bwraith's beautiful sourdough ciabatta. What I produced was the best tasting thing I've baked. On the down side the crumb is unremarkable again, proving I'm starting pretty low on the learning curve. My sourdough starter which has been dormant for months is now hyperactive as evidenced by this proof-

Sourdough ProofSourdough Proof

I think I overproofed. The dough was very soft, very puffy, very sticky!  I had to fold it some more to get it workable for shaping. Onto a cloche for final proof went the dough until I lost my nerve and moved the four ciabattas to oiled paper on a baking sheet. Envision a sticky mess of dough and cloth instead of tasty bread! To get a crunchy crust, I spritzed the loaves with water and steamed with a cup of water in a skillet. This recipe baked 18 minutes at 450 and still came out only a golden brown. Bwraith, how do you do it?

Sourdough Ciabatta #1Sourdough Ciabatta #1

Even if unremarkable in appearance, this bread won't last long. Its delicious!

It is day three for my rye and grapefruit juice starter and as Grandma Gracie would say, it is really going to town!


bwraith's picture


Your recent pictures all look great. I also occasionally like to use "old starter" as a flavor ingredient in yeasted breads.

You ask up there how do I do it? If it's the baking darkness you're asking about, I have a fairly small oven (16 inches wide) and only three racks. I think that may mean that my times for baking are a little short compared to a normal sized oven. Also, small differences in dough texture and hydration probably can change the needed baking time by quite a bit. So, I wouldn't stick to my times. I find that the crumb can take a lot of baking w/most breads, so you can really just let the bread bake until it's darker. I block the upper vent holes in my oven with a wet towel and place an iron skillet underneath a stone. I have a tunafish tin can with a tiny pin hole in it. I place that full of water on the skillet when I put the bread in the oven. I then let it go for 5-10 minutes after which I remove the towel. The steam clears after that. It looks to me like those breads could bake a few more minutes, though it's hard to tell these things from just a photo. As far as getting the big holes, the main thing that does that as far as I can tell is higher hydration.


redivyfarm's picture

-regarding baking conditions.  My oven is very different in that it is large and I suspect, not too hot. I have used extra slate from building projects as a baking stone (I thought it was an original idea until I read another contributor's description of her slate that works very well for her. Mine split into wafer thin layers after a few uses).

I think your tuna can idea is very clever and will give it a try with my next baking. I'm being conservative with the steaming because I used to have a self-cleaning feature and now I don't.  The oven is a Wolf that came out of a display kitchen and has an internal temperature probe option. I think that it would be interesting to give that a try.

I baked everything longer and darker this weekend and it is much more photogenic! Your advice is appreciated and I'm sure having fun.