The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Sourdough Loaf - Comments Please

Jezella's picture
Jezella

First Sourdough Loaf - Comments Please

Here is my first attempt at a sourdough bread. Overall, I'm happy that I got a rise and that the bread is edible, though far from great in general quality, crumb texture and flavour.

The result is from 1:2:3 where the starter was 100% hydration all made with white bread flour. I feed the starter and allowed this to peak at about 2 hours. I mixed 450g flour with 300g water by hand and added the salt into the mix at 1.5%. I then added 150g of sd starter followed by ~20g of olive oil. The whole was mixed well. I allowed this to stand for about 25 minutes at which point it dawned on me I forgot the sugar so added 20g of honey and mixed this in with a few stretch and folds. I allowed this to stand for about 40 minutes and again s&f a couple of times. Trying not to be rough with this new to me type dough. Again at about 40 minutes and few s&f's. Again allowed to stand. I suppose the total time for the bulk ferment was about 2 hours.

Next I did another couple of stretch and folds and achieved a good shape. I then placed it into my floured kitchen towel lined kitchen colander and was going to give it another couple of hours for proofing. The rise was far less than expected after 2 hours and it was getting real late in the day so I placed it into a slightly warmed oven. About 30 minutes later, again little additional rise so I though blow it, I bake it now.

On removing the risen loaf from the towelled colander I damaged to loaf top as it stuck to the towel (generally not a problem). Probably due to moisture being drawn out in the oven trying to rise it more. Anyway, I'm having a disaster now but remain determined to proceed. The top slashing  ended up another disaster as the load top was now fractured. 

The loaf goes into the preheated oven and I did the usual steam bit. Low and behold, I get an oven rise like never before so I'm again pleased with the deformed looking loaf. I baked for my usual time for a ADY loaf and then remove from the oven and tap the base. It sounded hollow but the underside of the load appear undercooked so I put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes and remove follow and allow to cool.

Semi please, this morning I cut the loaf in half and was less than impressed. The crumb feels moist and in particular on the bottom and the crumb is very dense with irregular holes. I don't use a baking stone and this was made on a tray. I'm sure the birds will enjoy a sourdough.

Comments from the experts please. What were my mistakes.  

meirp's picture
meirp

Perhaps it is underbaked? You can expect a bread like this to have an inernal temperature of about 200 degrees F. A simple thermometer is cheap and really useful for telling you when the loaf is ready.

Meir

Jezella's picture
Jezella

Thanks for the comment here. I think you may be right and that's on the shopping list. 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Looks pretty good.  I would say it is underproofed.  2 hours is generally a short proof for a sourdough loaf.  But this is obvoiusly subject to the temperature you proof in.  Next time lightly press your finger in  the loaf and see how the dough springs back.  If it springs back quckly and fills in the indentation you need more time.  You want it to barely spring back and hold ur indentation.  If it doesn't spring back at all and collapses a bit then you have gone too far.  Certainly one of the hardest parts of breadmaking is learning and understanding proofing.  And then it will vary from dough to dough slightly.  With more proof the crumb would open up a bit more where it seems tight.  Otherwise you can see the structure looked good (mixture of sizes in holes).  For future reference the oil and sugar are most certainly optional in this recipe.  

 

Happy Baking

josh

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I am far from expert on the subject of perfect sourdough baking, but my two thoughts would be possibly under proofed and slightly under baked.

Not bad for your first try though!  Bake on.

John

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Feel the dough rising and building between folds.  Let the wild yeast work for you and don't bake too soon.  A beginning mistake with the first sourdough is expecting it to act like commercial yeast.  Play with it more.  Hold it feel it get spongier and expand.  When it seems like it is expanding more sideways than up, fold it again.   The last rise should be the shortest.  2 hrs in the banneton sounds too long to me if your bulk rising only took 2 hrs.  With sourdough and a new starter, I would expect a bulk rise closer to 4 or 6 or 8 hrs full of interruptions.  Banneton rise around half hour to 45 minutes.   Bread flour takes a lot of abuse but with such short rises you  certainly aren't getting your money's worth.  Experiment with longer times.    

What can you do to get more heat under the loaf?   :❅)

Jezella's picture
Jezella

I've been rereading all the posts I submitted and in particular on the starter you helped with. Now after reading again, I see that I misunderstood the times. Stupid me. So, in a few days, I'll try again. What I'm now thinking is that if I leave the bulk fermet for say 4-5 hours, is the starter likely to have enough up and go to do the second rise, I suppose it would. Does the poke test tell you anything on the bulk rise. I would have thought that once it had risen for a considerable time and stopped, that was it - I just don't know. More stupid questions and comments from me but that's learning I suppose. Trouble is, I'm not sure when the bulk should be considered as done. Oh dear. :(

"What can you do to get more heat under the loaf?" Perhaps the heating mat.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I mean to ask, How can you redistribute the heat in the oven so that you can get more heat under the baking loaf?  That will also give the loaf more upward expansion during baking.  

Suggestions:

  • use lower heat coils more 
  • or lower the shelf a notch 
  • or cover the loaf to protect the loaf from heat while the surface under the loaf is radiating heat into the loaf
  • or change from a shiny light colored baking surface to a dull dark one.
Jezella's picture
Jezella

Got your meaning now. At first I thought you were referring to rise time and heat. I need to get the oven manual out and investigate how it all works with various settings. At the moment I use the bread setting at 220 degrees and some fan is on but have little idea which elements are working.

At the moment I'm trying to be consistent in the actual baking as if I have too many variables, I'll not know why the finished loaf varies from one to other. You'll understand what I mean here. In the future I'll purchase a stone and that may improve thing further. That said, I try ideas you mention.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

As mentioned, I am far from being an expert on the subject - Mini is probably right.  Longer bulk ferment time sounds about right.  Good luck!

John

Jezella's picture
Jezella

I would have to agree with all as I probably under baked in this case and as mentioned by Mini, I should not have been trying to compare a sourdough loaf with a commercial yeast with risings and times. I'm trying to understand the times better in relation to what my starter is doing when feeding, though at a slight loss at the moment in interpretation . Obviously, experience in invaluable and shall be gained with time. The loaf was moist in the lower section and this confirms under baking.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how the dough should appear on bulk fermenting even if using the poke test. I do feel that in relation to bulk times and with the stretch and folds, that I'm getting much better at, the final proof will not permit the dough to rise if the time is short, given the stretch and folds and compressing of the dough. Perhaps, all this is made up with oven spring. I'll live and learn. "When it seems like it is expanding more sideways than up". Here I shall pay particular attention next time. Never even thought about it before now. The main thing here is that the starter was and is a success and also that my very first sourdough was not a complete flop. Also, my breading baking ability has improved no end having joined TFL. Thanks to all.

meirp's picture
meirp

Regarding the bulk rise time, sourdough rises slowly and can be a lot more robust than regular (commercial) yeast dough - in other words  you can take your sweet time. I usually start off bulk fermenting fairly wet dough with stretch folds every 1/2 hour for a period of 2 1/2 hours, then store in refrigerator for another 24 hours, after which I lightly degass, then shape and proof for another 90 minutes. Instead of refrigerating, I would still bulk ferment for another 6-8 hours after the S&F's. All this depends on the flour types, the ambient temperature, and taste. Best is if you stick to a recipe you like, repeat serveral times,  and play around with the times till you get a feel for what is best. BTW, once the dough rises after bulk fermentation, it is not the end of fermentation. There is still more fermentation potential in the dough; if you degass and mix a bit, you'll be exposing new sites of food for the yeast, and the fermentation will continue (which is what happens during proofing). Regarding getting heat under the bread, getting a thick baking stone does wonders (I used to use a thin pizza stone, then upgraded to one about 1 1/2 inches thick). Have fun experimenting.

Meir

Jezella's picture
Jezella

Thanks for the input Meir. I think my biggest problem here was inexperience and not knowing what to expect from the dough. The next problem was expecting the dough to perform as if I were using active dried yeast. I now know better. The biggest problem on this particular loaf was understanding times where it was near to midnight before the thing went into the oven - hence, less than idea bulk rise and proofing. Ha, ha, I getting in thought with the correct terminology here. 

I agree totally that I should stick with a single recepe and this I've done so far and find it incredible how near identical ingrediates can produce such varied loaves. Tast, texture, crumb and so on. A baking stone is on the cards now that I appear to be hooked on increasing my weight through bread baking.

I was concern about handling the dough as I truly felt it would be more delicate than when baking with ADY. Trial and error shall teach me more. I look forward to that. On the whole, I was delighted with the outcome as this was my first attempt at a sourdough loaf from a new home made starter.

Ashley