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Sourdough finally a success but...

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AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Sourdough finally a success but...

I have finally had success in making a sourdough starter and baked with it too. I'm making progress but have a long way to go.

First of all the recipes I have, when converting to sourdough, do not give the same dough consistency. I'm still working on adjusting the hydration.

Secondly, the sourness has been overpowering.

Thirdly, the sourdough starter is 50/50 in weight - flour and water. It bubbles alot! but does not rise too much. Same with the bread.

I think my sourdough starter is maturing though as my most recent attempt has produced a quite nice tasting Spelt loaf. My method was...

Instead of putting a fed starter into the recipe and making the dough I put 40 grams of sourdough starter with half the flour and all the water plus agave syrup and allowed that to bubble up. After 12 hours I added the rest of the flour, salt and oil to create the dough. This is where I always run into trouble... the process slows down to way longer than normal. I left the dough to rise overnight but nothing happened by the morning. To speed things up I put it in a closed plastic bag and placed next to radiator. It rose by about 25% thats all and couldn't get it to rise anymore. By now it was 36 hours so I baked it. Actually turned out tastier than my previous attempts - seems like its maturing. Slightly better crumb but still a long way off.

Any ideas?

P.s. It's coming up to passover and while i'm not religious at all this is one thing I do keep in a fashion. I will not eat bread nor can I keep the sourdough starter. Will have to start again once it's over. Any ideas will be incorporated into a whole new starter.

 

 

 

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

then you won't have to start over after your religious observance.

Now, as for the bread, could you give some details on the maintenance of your starter, as well as how old is it, what method did you use to create it and so on. If you keep it at 100% hydration (1:1 ratio flour:water), then it should rise significantly between feedings. My initial thought was that your starter isn't yet ready to bake with, but we'll be able to tell for sure when you give the details I've mentioned.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

MisterTT,

My understanding of Passover is that there isn't to be any leaven in the household. It is to be thoroughly purged out of the entire home. In that case, putting the starter in the fridge wouldn't help. I don't know if asking a friend to babysit it is permissible or not, but that would be the easiest way to get it out of the house without destroying it.

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

forgive my ignorance. I've a natural urge to start quibbling about semantics, but I guess the spirit of the whole thing is clear.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

You'd make a good Jew!  Check out this article, where you will see that the levain is kept in the house, but the legal right to it is sold to a non-jew, under a formal bill of sale.

Fun stuff.  I think you'd be fine selling your starter to the neighbor and buying it back after passover. In the interim, your neighbor can feed it and keep some for himself.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

There are many things which I do not keep but have retained some traditions. I've had a look at the article and yes one may sell then buy back Chametz and the Levain. Should I be successful in making a good starter after Pesach and keep it going for the year then i'll be reluctant to throw it away and will indeed sell it. Since my starter wasn't great and only 1 month old I didn't feel the need at the moment. I just see it as a good time to start afresh. It's funny but in the past 2 months while I've been learning about sourdough bread it's the first time I'm actually understanding the actual meanings behind Pesach. Afterall this is the true bread they were talking about. And while in previous years I was more religious, but today I'm less so, this is the first year I'm understanding more about it and appreciating it and in some ways keeping Pesach more so.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

I'm afraid it'll have to go. Of all the additional things this festival has grown into, with traditions and customs etc, if one studies the actual meanings the hebrew is actually talking about sourdough. Like all religions it takes on a life of it's own and the festivals essence are swallowed up but the true meaning is "the festival of unleavened bread". One has to get rid of "Chametz" the "bread" and the "Sheur". Many mistranslate this as "yeast" but if one studies linguistics the word "Sour" comes from "Sheur" and it becomes clear they are talking about the starter.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

My starter has been "viable" for one month now. Everytime I feed it it bubbles without fail. It has been kept at 50/50 and has been fed several different kinds of flour. When fed the whole consistency changes but doesn't rise above 25%. I keep it in the fridge till I need it but doesn't go longer than a week before it's fed.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

After the starter has been fed instead of rising it takes on a chocolate mouse texture with bubbles on top.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

:)

ericreed's picture
ericreed

When you restart, I'm a big proponent of Debra Wink's method for developing your culture. I would also recommend starting with an established, well regarded recipe and getting that down first, then you can adjust the method/ingredients as you desire. Recipes by the likes of Jeff Hamelman, Ken Forkish, Rose Levy Beranbaum, or Peter Reinhart among others are a good place to start.

If you are able to give some culture to another person to hold, you might consider drying some mature culture for long term storage.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

If my sourdough starter was a raging success then I certainly would dry it out and pass it on to a friend. One can sell it and buy it back. But as it is I don't think the trouble is worth it. I think this is a good time to start afresh and i'm certainly going to look into this method and those recipes. Thank you Eric.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

I think maybe part of your problem is that you added the syrup right at the beginning. If you wait to incorporate it with the final ingredients it will all still be there to feed the yeast once the dough needs to rise. Also if your SD is not rising well, it could be that you still have not got the hydration high enough. Spelt flour is difficult enough to work with as it is, so as the previous posters mentioned, Abe, you might want to investigate recipes specifically tailored to using it in a sourdough. Also agree, the pineapple juice SD starter works like a charm. Begin mixing up a very small amount, like say an equal tablespoon organic rye flour and juice, and you will never have to discard any before it blooms, within one week.

Happy Pesach!

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Think I'm trying to run before I can walk. Here I am adapting recipes when I'm new to sourdough. After Pesach, when I've started again from scratch, I'm going to follow instructions and recipes. I'm kind of warming to the idea of the pineapple method. And instead of discarding, halving, adding etc I like your idea of starting with little and adding a little each day. One week should be fine.

Happy Pesach and Easter

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Abe.

As I understand it, you have a liquid starter, that is 100% hydration, that is equal weights of water and flour. You are concerned that it bubbles (meaning fermentation is taking place, meaning there is lots of yeast in it), but it's not expanding and doesn't raise bread. If it is making bubbles, and it smells good, it is most likely healthy.

You haven't provided enough information to determine that there is anything amiss with your starter. Liquid starters may not expand much but still be very active and healthy. It depends on the shape of the container. You should let us know how you are feeding your starter - ration of starter to new water to new flour. What flour are you using? What are you fermenting your starter in? How often are you feeding it?

Assuming you have a kitchen scale and given that the first night of Passover is only a week away, here's what I would do:

1. Feed your starter every 12 hours and ferment it at room temperature. Feed it with a mix of white and whole grain flours. The mix I use is 70% AP: 20% WW: 10% Rye. A mix of 75% AP: 25% WW would also be fine, if you don't have rye. Use this flour mix to feed your starter at a ratio of 40 ripe starter: 100 water: 100 flour mix.

2. After 3 days, use the same flour mix but at a different ratio. 50 ripe starter: 100 water: 200 flour mix. This makes a stiff levain which also has a much higher proportion of fresh flour to serve as food for your starter. Mix this stiff starter until all the flour is moistened. Roll it into a ball, and put it in a container three times the volume of the starter. Cover the container. Put this in the refrigerator. (This starter will keep in the fridge without feeding for a month or more, if necessary.)

3. Arrange for a non-observant friend to keep the starter for you in his/her fridge (or refrigerator at your work?) until after Pesach. 

4. Reactive the starter with a couple feedings as described in 1., above.

5. Use the starter to make bread using a reliable recipe.

I hope this helps!

Happy baking (until next Monday evening, anyway.)!

David

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Well I've discarded my starter in time for Pesach. Got a couple of weeks now to prepare my plan of action for after the festival. I started this sourdough too close to Pesach. Now i'll be able to keep it for a year and next year i'll sell it (then buy it back) or give it to a friend to keep. Thanks for the recipe. Planning on how I'm going to make more bread should keep me occupied over the festival. My matzos this year are going to be homemade. Flour, water and quickly baked in a dry frying pan a minute on each side. Will resemble an Indian flatbread rather than crispy matzot.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Abe,

How bout divulging the secrets of the perfect Matzo? What is your ratio flour/water for this, and what temp to heat the frying pan?

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

for the perfect matzo but I do have an idea which you can give me any tips you'll think I need. Instead of the "crisp bread" that everyone has (the more Ashkenazy version), I was thinking of trying something like an Indian Chapati recipe. A basic flour and water dough rolled out thin then baked 1 minute each side in the frying pan. I imagine that matzo from Biblical times was more like this, a wrap instead crisp bread. But I am open to ideas.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Pretty sure you can add seasoning to matzo...

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Coriander. But you are correct as long as it isn't leavened bread one can add seasoning. Or indeed many people use matzo as part of dishes such as matzo brei which is matzo soaked in egg and fried. Typically French bread made with crispy matzo.

With the wraps I'm going to make I have many ideas of meat dishes inside the chapatti. This pesach I'm going to eat well :) I'm keeping it traditionally not religiously. Many people are very strict and limit themselves but I'm taking it back to basics. Festival of unleavened bread. That's it!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

dry fryin in a pan ill have to try that sometime.  Here is the post fromlast uear

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32810/50-whole-wheat-matzoh

Have a great Passover everyone,

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Hope mine turn out as good.

Happy Passover.