The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Best Sourdough So Far

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Best Sourdough So Far

Hello there, flour-heads,

This weekend I made my usual sourdough, but added the extra step of retarding it in the fridge after 4 stretch & fold cycles. It was in there for 19 hours. Then I let it warm up for 2.5 hours, shaped it, rested it for 30 minutes, slashed and baked. It's a two sponge recipe that I began on Friday morning and finished baking about midday Sunday. It has the best tang of any I've made so far -- wouldn't really call it sour, but a nice lingering aftertaste.

The first sponge usually begins with just one tsp. of starter, but for some reason this time, I thought 1/4 cup would be good. So now I have introduced two new variables: more starter, and the refrigeration. Oh well, now it's hard to say which change affected the flavor. Guess I'll have to do it again, playing with more variables. It's hard to limit myself to just one change each time I bake this!

The Blob after 19 hours in the fridge

The Blob after 19 hours in the fridge

 

I only recently figured out how much to slash the dough to avoid blowouts in the oven. I go over the initial cut a time or two to make sure the dough has room to expand. Who cares if it's not traditional? Neither am I!

Slashed just before baking

Slashed just before baking

 

Ta-daaaaaaa

Ta-daaaaaaa

 

This recipe/formula claims to be about 65% hydration, so I guess I won't get the big holes unless I increase that. But it sure tastes good!

I use Bob's Red Mill flour exclusively right now. The sponges contain some whole wheat and some rye, thus the tan color. The rest of the flour is organic unbleached, protein approx. 11.75%.

The un-holey crumb

The un-holey crumb

Now as a last note, I must thank Susan for suggesting that I resize my photos to 640 x 480 in order to post. I was at my wits' end trying to post pictures. They just would not appear. So resize those buggers and start posting! Susan, I owe you a loaf of bread....someday....just not one of these...you understand....!

Sue

Comments

Susan's picture
Susan

You got such wonderful oven spring! They're beautiful. I may have to 'borrow' some of your starter.

Hmmmmm, recipe? Glad the photo resizing worked.

Susan

tigressbakes's picture
tigressbakes

Those loaves look amazing. I can't wait to try my next sourdough loaf!

browndog's picture
browndog

what a glut of ovenspring. they really are gorgeous loaves. I still haven't quite got my head around this 'hole' thing. What's with the holey grail of bread that deposits jelly in your lap? You must be an excellent starter tender.

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Thanks for your kind comments. Susan asked for a recipe, so here are the particulars -- makes about 2100g of dough:

Day 1, a.m.: To about 1 tsp. of your active starter, add 60g water and 60g flour (your choice). Mix well, cover, let rest about 12 hours at room temperature.

Day 1, p.m.: Add 140g water and 140g flour (your choice). Mix well, cover, let rest another 12 hours.

(I used all whole wheat in the first sponge; next addition was 25g whole wheat, 25g rye, remainder unbleached. The original formula specified all unbleached.)

Day 2, a.m.: Mix 30g salt with 580g of water. Mix this with the sponge. Add 1000g unbleached flour in increments (I used 200g per addition, whatever works for you). Mix till all flour is moistened. Cover and autolyse about 45 minutes. Repeat: [S&F, 45 minute rest] 3 or 4 times. At this point, I put it in the fridge for 19 hours, but this step is not required, nor is there anything magic about 19 hours. If you do refigerate the dough, let it warm up for 2-3 hours before shaping.

Turn on the oven (unless you are cold start kind of baker -- I still have to try that) to 425F convection (this is what I do), or 450F regular.

Shape the dough as you wish. It makes 2 nice batards or boules. Last time, I made 1 batard and 2 small boules. Rest shaped loaves, covered, about 30 minutes. Slash just before baking. Bake 35-40 minutes, till internal temperature reaches 210F. I use a cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven, which I almost fill with water and place in there when I turn the oven on. I don't like to dump water into a hot pan like Reinhart, et al., tell you to do. It gives me the willies! I also rotated the loaves halfway through baking -- this may be unnecessary with convection. It's just a habit. I bake on a stone with parchment under the loaves.

NB: I've used this method eight time so far, and for the first seven times, I used only 1 tsp. of starter in the sponge. The dough is very soft. Shaping it is like trying to shape a partially deflated balloon. I often had blowouts on the sides of a loaf until I started slashing deeper. The dough is not so soft if you use 1/4 cup of starter, as I did last weekend. All other measurements remained the same.

Another NB: This is a formula I found on the Yahoo sourdough group, posted by a person who was asked to leave that group, then showed up here, and was also asked to leave (which I thought was the correct thing to do). Too bad, since he knows a lot about baking, but his delivery and attitude were lacking. Just goes to show, you have to sift out some crud to find a gem sometimes.

Let me know if you try this bread!

Sue

mse1152's picture
mse1152

My memory was incorrect, and I didn't go check the Yahoo message history to verify.  Thank you for clarifying.

Sue 

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

You are baking some beautiful loaves. It looks like you are successfully addressing some of the issues I've had with refrigeration, shaping and slashing. I'm eager to use your recipe and notes in my baking. Thanks for the detail.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You have a convection oven and you preheat?  The perfect oven not to preheat.  You should just try it cold and no stone...  cuts 15 minutes off proofing time too for the first bake.  Mini Oven

mse1152's picture
mse1152

I probably won't do sourdough for another 2-3 weeks, then I may try using a cold start.

Sue