The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Couple Sourdoughs

Alnair's picture

First Couple Sourdoughs

I gave my sourdough starter it's first two loaves over the last two days and both sets were plagued with similar issues. My first loaf was incredibly wet. It is possible that I mis-weighed the ingrediants but the dough was more of a puddle, even after letting it rise for about 3 hours (which it did rise) it never became more dense. The second loaf, (this is the same recipe I used), I added more flour until the dough was much more workable. It rose quite well (though I did forget about it and it did rise for about 6 hours). After shaping them, they never seemed to rise again, I let them for about 2 more hours before I put them in the oven. 

Both loaves so far have tasted "alright", however; they both have this moist, sponginess to the bread. I've never made sourdoughs before, and I'm starting to see their is a learning curve between using a sourdough and a commercial yeast. I've been reading around the forums about hints and tips, so I'm sorry if questions like this have been posted. 

In general, the loaves don't seem as full and airy as I feel they should be. Any specific pointers would be wonderful.


Edit: As the bread is cooling down, it seems to becoming less spongy. 




pmccool's picture

Like the recipe, for instance, or temperatures in your kitchen and oven, or how you mixed and kneaded and shaped the dough, or the kind of flour you used, etc.  better information will lead to a better diagnosis and less guessing.


Bruce28's picture

I didn't see the recipe. First thing I will suggest is, be patient with your baking and with yourself. Like PM offered, there are so many variables, time, temp, flour, water.... is your water filtered, is it well, is, is, is.. Other than that, your bread looks great. Slow down with your self. Sourdough is not the easiest undertaking. Congradulations on the start though. Welcome to the learning curve. You're in a good place. Lots of bakers here that have experienced what you are experiencing and able to share their knowledge.

One other thing, have you heard of "stretch and fold," as compared to kneading?

Be well, Bruce

dabrownman's picture

starters are notorious for being weak sisters and not up to the task at hand.  Stick to simple 68-70% hydration in your breads until your starter is mature, know the procedures well and watch the dough closely to make sure you are handling it at the right time and in the right way.  Before long you won't even think about it anymore and your bread will be great.

happy baking.

Alnair's picture

Sorry everyone. I guess I should have figured you would need more information. I am using the recipe from Local Breads by Daniel Leader.

I am using a stiff dough levain which I've been feeding with a 2:1 of flour to water. Using King Arthur flour and tap water. The recipe calls for 350g of water, 350g of KAF, 120g whole wheat flour, 30g rye (which I substituted with 30 more grams of the unbleached all purpose KAF, 125g of the starter and 10g salt.

Knead the dough and then let it rise for 4 hours, folding it after the first hour. After letting it rise, divide and shape the batards, and then let them sit between towels for rise for another 2 hours. Proof them and throw them in the oven.

I don't live in an A/C controlled home so the temperatures in the house, especially once the oven is on are probably in the 80s. I am using a a convection oven at 425° for the first 20 minutes of baking and then lowering it to 375° as the recipe calls for. 

I did not use the "stretch and fold" method per-sé, but something more in comparison to that than kneading. Thanks for your input, guys. I will continue searching the forums and reading up more on this!

dabrownman's picture

if you can for the first 12 minutes and bake at 450 F with as much steam as you can generate using a CI skillet filled lava rocks and 1/2 full of water in the bottom of the oven or a couple of Sylvias' steaming Pyrex pans half full of water and a kitchen towel in each one.  make sure you put them in at the beginning of pre-heat and are really putting out the steam when the bread goes in - I use all 3. 

Bake on a stone and make sure you allow the oven to preheat to 500 F.  When the oven says it is at temperature make sure you wait another 15 minutes as the stone will lag the oven temperature that long,   After 12 minutes of steam then take the steam out  out and turn the oven down to 425 F convection this time and bake until the bread reads 205 F on teh middle with an instant read thermometer.

S&F's with more gentle handling will give you a much more open crumb too.

Happy baking