The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

OK, I flunked bread making 101!

jhegg's picture
jhegg

OK, I flunked bread making 101!

Norwegian here so bear with me.

I started my own starter about a week and a half ago -  1/2 flour, 1/2 water fed x2 per day. No activity for 2 days, so I added some yeast. Boom! off she went! Great, now to make some bread. I used 1 cup of starter, 4 cups flour and 4 cups of water. Mixed it up and let it rise over night. Got a good rise, added some salt, beat it down and let it rise again. I noticed that it was very difficult to knead the dough this time. It's not like I"m a wimp, but it seemed that the dough was a lot stronger than me. Anyway, after about 2 hours, I put the boule in the oven at 450 with an aluminum tent for 40 minutes and then baked at 425 fo anouther 1/2 hour until the top was browned. (Hint: Grease the damn bowl before you put the dough in it to cook).

The cooked boule didn't look great, but was acceptable (after I hacked it up getting it out of the cooking bowl). Now for the taste test - yuk! Very high density loaf with no sourdough taste. OK - shuold I just get my bread at the grocery store, or can I receive some hints here?

Jim (the baker - NOT)

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

Hey Jim,

Honestly i can't stop laughing at the way you described your experience. Anyway sorry to hear about this failure.

But honestly i have the impression that this recipe was improvised by you without learning it from some where!!

Adding 4 cups of water to 4 cups of flour!! We are talking about 100% hydration dough, which is absolutely unworkable "at least for me",

i'm thinking maybe you should have aimed at a lower rate of hydration say like 68% of flour weight, this would make the dough workable.

As for your starter, i think there is something wrong in it. You may want to test it to see if it's active and can get ripe before baking.

Cheers & better luck next time.

Grenage's picture
Grenage

It's not surprising that you had no sourdough taste, as you had no sourdough culture. :)  Adding yeast will of course make your starter rise, but not due to any natural leaven - lactobacillus or its ilk will also be absent.  Two days is no time at all when creating a starter.

I work in weights, but I'm assuming that it was very.. runny?  Either way, that's a very long bake!

G-man's picture
G-man

Welcome to TFL.

Grenage has already identified the problem with your flavor: You aren't making sourdough, if you add commercial yeast.

The bacteria involved in the sourdough process don't work very quickly, and commercial yeast are designed (one might say engineered) to raise dough as fast as they possibly can. The reason is simple...time is money, a concept most people understand instinctually, enough at least to realize they don't want to wait around while their bread dough takes its sweet time rising.

The problem is, of course, that flavor takes time to develop, even with non-sourdough breads. So you get the plastic-wrapped bread-shaped air you find in stores. If there is flavor, it's generally listed in the ingredients as citric acid, vinegar, natural or artificial flavoring, spices, whatever. Commercial sourdough is rarely naturally leavened bread.

This trend is slowly reversing, at least where I am if not everywhere else. Around here you can find bread with ingredients limited to flour, salt, water, and yeast, though it takes some looking.

Anyway, all this is dragging out the point. It will take a few weeks for your starter to mature into a culture capable of raising dough and producing a nice sour flavor. Even if you tend it carefully you might need to play with it a bit before you get the flavor profile you want. It takes time, it's an involved process, and rushing it won't get you the results you're looking for.

Head on over to the Sourdough section of the forums. You'll likely find some great info there.

 

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi Jim, welcome! :)

Are you sure about the amount of water and flour?  4 cups of flour is around 500g (depending upon how tightly it's packed in a cup) and 4 cups of water is about 1000g (if Norwegian cup is similar to British one which is 250cc), which makes the hydration of your bread almost 200%!   But you said the dough was  stronger than you thought, so I suspect the amount in the post weren't what they really were. 

Anyway.... Hydration level bakers talk about is based on weight, not volume, and measuring flour in a cup is quite inaccurate way of doing so.  I thoroughly recommend using a scale to weigh up ingredients for bread making. It really makes a huge difference.  Good luck! :)

jhegg's picture
jhegg

OOPS! Norwegian showing through again! I think it was more like 2-3 cups of water. At any rate, I am tossing my "home made" started and will get one from somebody who knows what they are doing. I will report back on my next fiasco!

Jim

 

lumos's picture
lumos

Still doesn't sound right I'm afraid, dear Jim.  Even it was 2 cups of water to 4 cups of flour, that'd make about 100% hydration which would be like crepe batter, not bread dough.

....and no need to toss 'homemade' starter nor get starter from someone else.   Virtually everyone on this forum has been using their own 'homemade' starter.  What you need is a scale and, as someone has already adviced, a good bread book.  Without them you may be wasting a lot of time, energy and flour.

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Use the search box on this page to search for "sourdough starter." There are a lot of threads on the topic on TFL. If you're interested in bread baking, take the time to read them all. Then you will learn for yourself what you did wrong in creating your starter and baking that first loaf.

As others have mentioned, be prepared to take 7-10 days to create a nice starter. But it's not hard at all. If you can weigh, do so. If you measure, understand that water weighs more than flour in the same measure, so that affects everything. If you keep adding equal amounts by measure, your starter will become too thin to sustain bubbles. So even though it might be active, you will see no evidence of activity.

Here's one particularly helpful thread. Please note that it's quite long, but there is lots to learn. Read the entire conversation and absorb it all before you start your starter. Oh, and buy a small can of pineapple juice the next time you shop -- the pineapple juice method works really well. 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233

jaywillie

jhegg's picture
jhegg

My Mom told me that Norwegian anything is never similar to British. Not sure what that means though ;)

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

that she was displaying.  Makes British understatement look like garrulity.

Paul

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

I'm amazed at your spirit.  You'll go far. But...

Don't try to reinvent the wheel.  Buy a text book.  (Don't buy a bread cook book to start with.)  Read it.  All that you want or need to know will be there in your hands.  Here are two such texts:  The Fresh Loaf by Floyd Mann and Bread Baking by DiMuzio.  Both are in English, unfortunately, but both will teach you from the ground up and will tell you everything you need to begin with.  I don't recommend that you buy such more lengthy texts as that written by Hamelman until you've read through either or both of the other two.

I also recommend quite strongly that you watch every single video you can find on this website to get a sense of what's there.  Videos do a good job of teaching the choreography of dough making.  Once you've seen them all, you can then go back to them knowing what you're looking for.

Finally, and again on the subject of not reinventing the wheel, use The Fresh Loaf to help you find a local baker who might invite you to work with him or her so as to learn vocabulary, textures and choreography.  If you cannot find a local mentor, take a class, if you can find one, at a local school.

 

 

jhegg's picture
jhegg

richkaimd,

Thanks for the advise (or is that vice?). At any rate, I will read (short stories only!) and view movies (have you heard of "Debbie Does Dough")! My wife doesn't want me to look at any more dinner recipes on the internet. Something about tenderizing beef does not include "beating your meat". She may change her mind when my dough finally "rises".

btw: If I am "out of bounds", just say so. I can re-phrase any comment.

Jim

 

btw: What's a wheel and how does it help you make bread? (Remember - Norwegian here ;)

Salilah's picture
Salilah

Hey Jim - given your sense of humour, how about showing your wife this link on breadmaking?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHK0uFb6Vzw

<grin>

Welcome to TFL!

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

I'm taking it seriously that you do not understand "reinventing the wheel."  The phrase refers to the act of doing something as if you were the first person to try to do it when, in fact, it was first done a long time ago.  With regards to you, I am suggesting that there is so much that is already known about bread baking that you can just read about it instead of trying to invent it for yourself.

As a bilingual Norwegian/English speaker, you certainly have  knowledge of some of our baser references. 

Olof's picture
Olof

Hi Jim

I'm a novice at sourdough but got a rye starter going from scratch using instructions from weekendbakery[dot]com (sorry, have to write it like this because a spam filter on this forum blocks my post otherwise). Then click "Categories", then click "Bread Baking Tips" and select "Rye Sourdough Starter in Easy Steps". (*sigh*, wondering how she can work around the spam filter).

Mine needed more than the 5 days indicated to be effective in baking, I'd say another 3-5 days and then is was thriving.

Cheers,
Olof in Iceland 

jhegg's picture
jhegg

Olaf,

Thank you for the "English" translation on how to make a starter. My grandfather (from Norway of course) was called Olaf. So...we almost know each other! I might try the "rye" (no pun intended), whiskey is great! But for bread, I still think wheat is the meat to beat.

Olof's picture
Olof

Sweet!
Only, my name is not Olaf, it's Olof which is the same as the Norwegian Olaug. Olaf is a male Norwegian which I am neither.

Cheers,
Olof in Iceland 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ouch!  You sure you didn't want this post posted yesterday?

jhegg's picture
jhegg

Olaug,

Sweet it is (or perhaps we are in "Sweed it is"!

Only, my name is not Olaf, it's Olof which is the same as the Norwegian Olaug. Olaf is a male Norwegian which I am neither.

Are you not male or not Norwegian or not both? If female, send me your e-mail address!

jhegg's picture
jhegg

OOPS, it seems I scared Olaug away. Sorry - I was only trying to be Norwegian!

embth's picture
embth

It seems  from your original post that you are not just inexperienced in sourdough bread making, but in bread making in general.  When I started baking, I found a straight dough recipe, (a simple oatmeal bread recipe that dates back to pre-WWI) and I made that again and again until I had it perfect and could do it "in my sleep".     At the same time, I started reading.....Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" was rather intimidating at first.    I shopped the cookbook sections of book stores (and "used book" stores...much cheaper) and have a good collection of bread baking books.    Now  I can comfortably work with natural starter, rye breads, and a variety of others....and I am now baking in my new wood fired oven.  It feels like learning anew.....and it is fun.

Take small steps and you will develop a "feel" for the process.  You will be amazed at the beautiful bread you can make.   Best of luck, Embth

jhegg's picture
jhegg

embth (gender?)

Now  I can comfortably work with natural starter, rye breads, and a variety of others....and I am now baking in my new wood fired oven.  It feels like learning anew.....and it is fun. Take small steps and you will develop a "feel" for the process.  You will be amazed at the beautiful bread you can make.

Now I am jelouse (OK, spelling was never my 4tay). A wood fired oven... man, I thought we were upscale when we got gas (somehow, that doesen't sound right).

 

Jim

 

 

 

aytab's picture
aytab

Patience that is the one ingredient I couldn't go buy when I started baking but, it is the one ingredient you really can't bake without. Patience in creating a starter, patience in waiting for the dough to rise, patience in dealing with my failures, patience, patience, patience. Trust me this was very hard for me because I am about the most impatient person on the planet. 

jhegg's picture
jhegg

Thanks aytab!

I have a lot of patience. Unfortunately, I usually can't find it!

Broc's picture
Broc

Dear God -- Please!  I need patience, and I need it right now!