The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA Basic Sourdough ... with Higher Hydration

dosco's picture

BBA Basic Sourdough ... with Higher Hydration

So the first loaf was pretty stiff. Upon reviewing the recipe I noticed that the water called for can range between 12 and 14 ozs, therefore the hydration of the main dough can vary between 59% and 70% ... of course the starter can affect the overall hydration and my starter is hydrated at 50% while Reinhart calls for 100% hydration in this recipe.


Nonetheless the first batch was good. As I mentioned I gave a loaf to a friend who enjoyed it, and my kids housed the other loaf. A neighbor came over on Saturday afternoon and I gave him a piece and he also enjoyed it.

So I thought it would be interesting to make the next batch with everything the same except a higher hydration. On this loaf I did so by adding 14.5 ozs of water to the main dough, although the starter was still at 50%. (I used 1/8th ww flour, 1/8th rye flour, and the remainder was KAF bread flour).

As you can see the crumb is more open. I attribute this not only to the hydration, but I figured the first loaves could use a bit more proofing so I let these loaves go for 2.5 hours at 80F (first batch in the other blog post proofed for 2 hours at 80F).

I also changed my steaming approach. This time I added a plate of stainless steel on the floor of the oven (1/4" thick ... I made the plate as a heat "spreader" for stewing food). Resting on the plate is a roasting pan. During this bake I used ice cubes, tossing cubes in on 3 different occasions over the first 10 minutes of baking.

Prior to using ice cubes I would dump about a cup of water into the roasting pan (the pan sat on the oven floor).

Compared to the first loaves, these feel light and springy, and the crust on these loaves is thinner than the previous loaves (both cases the bread was baked on a baking stone at 515F for 15 min, then 475F for ~20 min). Not sure if that is an artifact of the dough hydration or steaming method, or both.

I was very focused on the scoring technique on these, trying to achieve an "ear," but was not really successful. (don't let the low-res pics fool you ... the one on the left has a teeny-tiny ear, the one on the right I scored again after ~10 minutes of baking). I re-reviewed the scoring tutorial, and this morning I re-reviewed the KAF instructional videos. I am fairly certain I need to change my technique in this way:

1. Add in preshape and proof, and develop surface tension (Reinhart doesn't call for this step).

2. Develop more surface tension in final shaping.

3. After final shaping, let proof seam-side up on a flipping board.

4. Correct my batard forming technique (I thought I was doing it per the KAF video but I was wrong). I need to get a proper baking couche since I'm jury-rigging using kitchen towels and my assymetric loaves are not of the proper "quality" according to our friends at KAF. Until I can get an order in to KAF or amazon, I saw a linen towel at Crate and Barrel and think that might do the trick for now ...

5. Scoring ... I need to fix this but am not sure how the KAF guys do it ... my dough is too sticky an the blade just drags through the dough. The KAF guys just zoom through the dough like it's not there - amazing!

I gave one loaf to my neighbor.





dabrownman's picture

is better than the last batch and upping the hydration helped.  For a pretty much all white bread i think you would like 72% hydration.  Just add enough flour and water as you build the levain to get your levain to 100% hydration and the correct amount per the recipe.  You are very close and a little more practice in shaping and slashing will  get you the rest of the way there.

Well done and happy baking.

dosco's picture

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

In the hopper is a stab a gluten-free bread for my wife (she is getting a bit salty that she cannot enjoy the various "regular" breads I've been making). Her father was diagnosed when he was 50 years old as "allergic to bread" (I'm not entirely sure what sort of symptoms he suffered from, and he passed away well over 10 years ago - so who knows) but my wife seems to get headaches after eating 'too much' bread. She bought some GF english muffins which she enjoyed (they looked pretty darned good but I didn't want to eat any of her stuff).

I've found an interesting recipe here so I'll be assembling the ingredients to give it a try!