The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Still Learning

keat63's picture
keat63

Still Learning

Hi Guys.

I have a sourdough starter growing, started from Rye flour, and has been active about a week, so still very young. It's quite vigarous, and will double it's size inside a few hours.

Smells very potent, almost having a whisky/spirit smell. Is this normal.

Yesterday, I decided to try a small batch following a recipe on this site. http://www.sourdoughhome.com/sfsd1.html

I let it sit at room temerature over night for a good 12 hours before I had to bake it (had to go to work)

I'd covered it over night with a plastic sheet and could see that it had risen slightly over night, but by no means a full plump loaf. The plastic sheet stuck to the dough, resulting in it losing some of it's plumpness after I managed to remove it.

What I was surprised with, was how it had grown outwards rather than upwards.

So my first sourdough loaf, was no doubt a massive failure, and I havn't taisted it yet, as I had to go to work.

As a sourdough beginner, does anyone have any fool proof tips. Maybe a no fail recipe, or maybe I should have used a loaf tin ??

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

never heard of letting bread sit a room temperature for 12 hours.  A normal recipe might call for mixing by hand a few minutes,   1 1/2 house of S & F's every 20 minutes, then letting in rest for 1 1/2 hours on the counter, then into the fridge overninght for 12 hours and then letting it warm up in the morning on the counter for and hour before shaping and final proof of 1 1/2 to 2 hours before baking.

12 hours on the counter the yeast would have gone wild, made the dough expand, stick to the plastic and then collapse into goo like you describe.

 

Grenage's picture
Grenage

Smells very potent, almost having a whisky/spirit smell. Is this normal.

Yes, if the starter has run out of food, it will quickly start smelling alcoholic.  This isn't necessarily a problem, unless you're planning on using it in a loaf right then and there.

I let it sit at room temerature over night for a good 12 hours before I had to bake it (had to go to work)

It's pretty common to preferment a good chunk of the flour (given a small amount of starter), which takes around 12 hours to be ready.  It's also common to add a large amount (up to around a third total) of starter to a loaf, and begin working on it right away - that wouldn't sit at room temp for 12 hours.

I'd covered it over night with a plastic sheet and could see that it had risen slightly over night, but by no means a full plump loaf. The plastic sheet stuck to the dough, resulting in it losing some of it's plumpness after I managed to remove it.

If you grease any bag/film with oil or spread, it will help.

What I was surprised with, was how it had grown outwards rather than upwards.

Free-form loaves with a high hydration will spread out.  That's only a problem if you want a taller loaf, and not an indicator of a bad loaf.  With lower hydrations, tighter shaping can help, but a banneton really helps!

So my first sourdough loaf, was no doubt a massive failure, and I havn't taisted it yet, as I had to go to work.

It'll probably taste better than you think. ;)

As a sourdough beginner, does anyone have any fool proof tips. Maybe a no fail recipe, or maybe I should have used a loaf tin ??

As I am also a beginner, I'd say that what helps the most is limiting your variables.  If you go from recipe to recipe, and technique to technique, it will be hard for you to put your finger on what makes the difference.  Stick to a really basic recipe and get that right, then change something, and see what effect it has.  Where possible, use grams rather than volume measurements - they're much more accurate.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... if I were you. There are so many on this site to choose from and with far better chances of success. dabrownman is absolutely right - 12 hours at room temperature can easily lead to severe overproofing. It all depends on the ambient temperatures in your house.  I was surprised to find the recipe giving these instructions:

Once the bread is kneaded, let it rest for 30 minutes. Then form the bread into baguettes, boules, or pan loaves. Cover the loaves and let them rise at room temperature until doubled in size, probably about 12 to 15 hours.

If I tried that, here in Grenada, with the quantities given,  I'd have a full proofed dough in about 4-6 hours top whack.  If I tried it at home in the UK, especially in winter, it might take perhaps 2-3 times as long.  So much depends on how cool or warm your climate is. And that's a very long final proof, and a very short bulk fermentation at room temperature,  in any case.

The author also says:

Once the loaves have doubled in size, it's time to preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

But again, if I left it so late to put the oven on, I would have to wait another hour before the oven was up to speed. By then, my loaves would be overproofed a whole load more. 

If you are new to baking - especially with sourdough -  you need a recipe that gives a little more detail and with more explanation about the effects of temperatures etc. I'd also shoot for a recipe that deals in exact measurements by weight, not volume. To avoid disappointment and reliance on luck,  you need a recipe that has a far smaller margin for interpretation and error until you get a better idea of how the dough should feel and behave at various stages of development.

All at Sea

 

 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

suggest letting your starter go another week with feedings twice a day, discarding half each time.  It takes more than a week to get a stable starter, two should be plenty with weekly feedings thereafter.  use the search box for many posts on how to maintain.

I use a 100% hydration rye flour starter - it is very vigorous and peaks in 4-5 hours.  12 is way too long.

Build the starter to about 30% of the total, and let that go the full 5 hours.  Then add rest of ingredients as you would including a 3- miute rest period/autolyze before kneading.  After kneading and shaping, you loaves will almost double in 90-120 minutes and be ready to go into the oven.  This fast fermentation has consistently been my experience with rye flour..  Make sure your flour is fresh!

Find a recipe on this site and follow several times until you have it nailed, then go onto other bread adventures. 

Use the search box and tutorials posts - there is not a subject that you could raise that has not been covered by someone somewhere and its fun reading/learning...

Good luck!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

original recipe was for over 7,000 ft in elevation - the author lmust ive in the mountains and might have been writing the recipe in the winter time when his house was 40 F  inside.  You might need 12-15 hours on the counter to get shaped loaves to double at that temperature.    It takes about that long for mine to double in my 38 F fridge.  Sure helps the SD flavor to do it that way  and retard the dough in the fridge.

The recipe sounds OK otherwise.  In the summer with 75-78 F kitchen temps it might take 1 1/2 to 2 hours for your shaped loaves to double and be ready to bake.  I would suggest to fire up the oven with steam at the 1 hour proofing mark and bake the loaves when they pass the poke test.

Others are correct, a rye starter will proof loaves faster.

Before long you will be baking up a bread storm and loving the results!

keat63's picture
keat63

I'm growing my starter in a glass coffeee jar. Every morning, I take out 2/3rds, and top it up with fresh up to the half way mark.

Within 30 minutes, its started to grow, peaking after about 4 hours, right to the top of the jar.

I repeat this process again in the evening.

I'm discarding about 1.5 cups of starter per day.

My usual hand made (yeasted) bread, comes out nice. This was my 1st attempt at sourdough.

Grenage's picture
Grenage

You can knock that down to a much lower level, if you fancy saving some flour;  5-10g of the starter is all you need, it just takes longer to mature.  That can be seen as a good thing, if you're not combining a loaf for at least 9 hours .

 

keat63's picture
keat63

If i reduce the size of my starter to a smaller jar to save wasted flour, would I then start to increase it's size again earlier in the week for weekend baking ??

Grenage's picture
Grenage

You've got two main choices for handling a starter:

1) Keeping it small, and taking a small amount for a loaf as you need it.
2) Building up the starter with a big feed before the bake.

Both are effectively doing the same the thing, so the difference is really in mentality.

If you are keeping your starter small, and want to do a bake the next day, you might (at the time of feed/discard) take 5-15g and add it to a bowl with pre-ferment flour and water.  That will probably take 12 hours or so (so overnight), which you then add your main flour and other ingredients to.  txfarmer's recipes are a good example of this.

If you are building up your starter, then you basically do the same thing, but give the starter a large feed around 12 hours before you need to use it; I tend to do this, but it has one gotcha.  If you build up your starter with several smaller feedings over a day or two, a lot of the starter content will be fully devoured flour, which can cause some problems.  I find it best to do one big feed, resulting in slightly more starter than the recipe calls for.  You've then got a little left over to keep the starter going.  Just make sure you don't forget to keep some aside. ;)

keat63's picture
keat63

Initially my plan was to start off with a large amount of starter to use most of in a bake, leaving enough to start growing again.

But this is proving to produce a lot of daily wastage, so I think after this weekends attempted bake, I'm going to drop it into a smaller jar.