The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

General beginner's questions

Grenage's picture

General beginner's questions

Hello again!

I suppose I should start with what I do, and move on to questions from there.  I almost always use:

1:2:3 ratio (normally 200/400/600g).
100% white bread flour starter.
10% rye
90% UK white bread flour (11% protein).
1% salt

My starter never gets refridgerated, and I feed it once a day 1:2:2 - so it's very active.  I'll normally feed it once, stir after 2 hours, then take what I need after 4.

1) Combine starter and water, mix to dissolve, then add flour.  Mix then autolyze for 1-2 hours.
2) Hand-knead with salt for ~5 minutes, or until it feels right.
3) Oil a bowl, add dough, cover, and leave in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours.
4) Remove from fridge for an hour or two, then knead for a couple of minutes.
5) Fold the dough at 30-40 minute intervals, until it feels right (normally 3-4 times).
6) Shape and leave to prove on a tray, which normally takes around 1.5-2 hours.
7) Tray and all into a 250C oven, which is then reduced to 200C; ice-cubes go into a pan.
8) After 20 minutes, the pan is removed and the tray is turned.
9) After 25-30 minutes (when it's about to blacken), out onto the cooling rack.

Now, I've never heard much of a song coming from my bread, although I can hear light crackling if my ear is held close; how loud should a good loaf be?  I'm very happy with my bread, this is just a curiosity.

I don't have a banneton, so when I 'shape' the dough, it tends to just slouch and spread.  It tastes great, and I don't mind a shallower loaf - but I'm guessing that a banneton is a must?

The dough is refrigerated early because it fits in with my schedule (home, feed, mix flour, bed).  By my (oft flawed) logic, there should be no negative effect, other than slower flavour development; less time before the fridge would mean less yeast/bacteria when it is in the fridge.  Should I alter my schedule?

Any feedback, ranging from "that should work ok" to "Jesus Christ you're doing it all wrong" would be much appreciated.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds very much in order of things.  You might even want to add an extra fold (#5) and thus shorten the time after shaping (#6) still keeping within schedule.  Might help to keep a tighter shape on the loaf.  Worth trying...

Noisy loaves.  Yup, I've heard crackling, a few pops and on occasion a light whistle.  I would judge "a good loaf" more by the taste and aroma than by the music, but a noisy loaf sure draws attention to itself and gets the saliva going.   It's apt to loose an end or an ear while hot.

Grenage's picture

Hi Mini, thanks for your reply!

I'll crack on with it and try adding in some more folds; it never gets to the point where it won't really fold, so there's clearly some room left to work with.

mattmmille's picture

Hi Folks!

                I'm new to the forum and trying salt rising bread for the first time in several years. I made it before, a couple of times, with decent results, but haven't in a long time. It IS labor intensive and I resorted to mail order a few times, but shipping is expensive and products aren't always "stinky" enough. Invariably, people say they have made their bread more bland to appeal to a broader clientele. I say, if you don't like it strong, then pick a different bread! Anyway, I'm using the recipe I found on this site and, so far, so good. I have a batch of 3 loaves in the pans doing their final rise before baking...keeping the fingers crossed! Following a recommendation from another recipe, I saved about a cup from my sponge to use for the next batch. I hope this will work! What I am wondering, though, is how to use it to start the next sponge. The volume will not be the same as the original starter, since I have a cup of sponge, but the original starter had 1 quart of water, 1/3 c. cornmeal, 1 tablspoon sugar and 2 Tbsp. flour (plus the potato slices, which were removed to make the sponge). Should I just add a quart of warm water and wait for it to foam? Any input would be appreciated!!!

lumos's picture

One thing to contribute....

1% salt is too low.  1.8 - 2% (of total flour)  is a standard amount of salt you usually need for any bread dough. Salt is very important ingredient in bread making, not only for taste, but it control the rate of fermentaion by slowing it (slower fermentation = better flavour, in general) and also its 'firming up' effect makes the dough less sticky and strengthen (?) gluten.   So, unless you have a serious health problem like kidney disease and need to cut back salt intake drastically, you really need to add correct amount of salt.

One of the reasons your dough tends to spread could well be because the amount of salt is not sufficient.

This is what happened when I only added half amount of salt (which was, incidentally,  1%) by mistake.


Also (OK, two things to contribute...:p),  11% protein sounds a little too low, too.  I live in UK, too, and most of bread flour I use have over 12.5% protein, often over 13.5%.   11% protein is actually lower than Waitrose's Leckford Estate plain flour (11.8%) or their Organic plain flour  (11.3%) I use.  I have attempted to make French style bread with those plain flour in the past because the protein level was about same as French T55 or US AP flour, but it was too weak and the dough was completely unmanageable.    Which brand of flour do you use?  




Grenage's picture

Thanks for your reply.

Fermentation and rise has always been very rapid, so you could well be on to something here; I'll try upping the count to 2% and see how it goes.  Maybe I should cut down on the amount of bread I eat. ;)

I actually use Asda's 'strong white bread flour', which is listed with others about 1/3 of the way down this page:

I haven't changed flour for two reasons; one - I don't want to increase the variables while learning. Two - I was planning on getting a huge bag from the local(ish) watermill, but as we're moving in a month or two, it seemed wise to wait. ;)

lumos's picture

Very sensible idea sticking to one flour until you get a hang of it. :)  But I'd suggest using flour with highter protein level than  11%, probably more than 13% if possible, to start with.  It really does makes a big difference.  

Also, one advice. When you're using flour from small scale independent mill,  please bear in mind the quality can vary from year to year, depending upon the quality of wheat of a particular year.  Many smaller mills can be quite relaxed about the specification of flour they produce, so one year it can be strong and another much weaker.

Good luck! :)

Grenage's picture

I'll give one of the higher protein flours a go; I suppose I was worried about it being too chewy, but I'll never know unless I give it a whirl!

Good tip on the mill.  Perhaps when the time comes, I'll give a small batch a whirl, then buy in bulk if it's ok. ;)

placebo's picture

It's not a must if you don't mind the spreading, but providing some sort of support will probably help you get a better looking loaves. For a boule, you can use a bowl lined with a smooth, floured towel as a makeshift banneton. When I make a batard, I  place it on a linen cloth and bring the linen up on both sides to keep the loaf from spreading excessively.

Grenage's picture

Thanks for your input.  I figure that at this rate, I'm going to want a few bannetons anyhow, so I might as well get them now!  Boules normally hold their shape a little better, possibly because I find it easier to shape them tightly (pull and tuck with both hands).