The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to sourdough - Crust is too hard

ERAM's picture
ERAM

New to sourdough - Crust is too hard

Hello. I'm using Sally Fallon's recipe to make sourdough for my family--it's probably the only food I've ever made from scratch (I'm not much of a cook/baker and am generally pressed for time!). It's a rye starter with spelt flour. Anyway, I love the flavor but the crust is very hard and crumbles when I slice it (photo attached).  I don't know what the hydration ratio is, but I bake it at 350 for 1 hour.  Any suggestions on how to "fix" the crust? And why is the crust so white?  Thank you!!! 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

advice.  Are you putting flour on top for some reason?  Are you using steam? Is this it?

http://artistta.blogspot.com/2010/02/sourdough-starter-and-bread-nourishing.html

doughooker's picture
doughooker

The first quick fix I would try is a higher oven temperature, say 425 F. Spend $10 and get yourself a good oven thermometer.

http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-3506-Precision-Oven-Thermometer/dp/B000BQWMTK/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1415824081&sr=1-2&keywords=taylor+tru+...

Also, slit the crust before baking and spray it with a mist of water before placing in the oven. The loaf will be wet when you put it in but it will turn out fine.

ERAM's picture
ERAM

Thanks for the ideas!  Below is the recipe I use (I've tripled this though to get three loaves). I do not put flour on top. I knead it 10 minutes then put it in the glass bread pans. However, the dough is REALLY sticky. Not sure if it's supposed to be that way, so when I've tried to put a slice in the dough, it just sticks to the knife and is hard to slice (does that offer any other clues? It's so sticky it takes a long time to wash it off my hands after.) Also, if I do 425 instead of 350, how long does it need to bake? I know this may be a trial & error thing--but I assume it shouldn't bake as long? Thanks again! I hope to get this down as it may make a good Christmas gift if I can get it to look prettier!

2 cups sourdough starter
3 ¼ cups spelt flour (freshly ground is best) or kamut or hard winter wheat
1 ¾ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup filtered water
http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sourdough-spelt-bread.aspx#ixzz3ItGNHsw8 

 

ERAM's picture
ERAM

Sorry, I should've noted this next to the recipe I pasted:

I use a rye starter and spelt flour. 

doughooker's picture
doughooker

As the measurements are given in cups, it's hard to estimate the dough hydration.

The dough could be sticky because there is too much water relative to the amount of flour. Not having much experience with spelt, it's hard to say how the gluten should develop. With wheat flour the dough should be kneaded until it passes the "window pane test". With wheat dough the stickiness could be a sign of underkneading.

One hour at 425 F should work; just watch the crust. At 350 for 1 hour you're clearly not in danger of burning, judging from the pictures.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

the my post and the web site above

What You'll Need - Makes 3 loafs of bread

  • 2 quarts/8 cups of sourdough starter
  • Approximately 13 cups of spelt or whole-wheat flour, preferably spelt and freshly ground
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons regular grind sea salt
  • Butter for greasing loaf pans
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large bowl, 3 quarts or larger
  • 1 mixing spoon
  • 3 loaf pans
  • Parchment paper
  • Sharp knife and/or dough scraper
  • Plastic wrap

Note: The original recipe from Nourishing Tradition calls for 2 1/2 tablespoons of course sea salt and an additional 1 1/2 cups of filtered water. I use a little different method and have had much better results. When I used the extra water, as suggested, I needed way too much flour, much more than the suggested 13 cups and was left with an overly-dense, brick-like, bread.

If you make 1 loaf instead of 3 you would ant to divid everything by 3 and take into account the bakers note at the bottom - no additional water and a change the salt.

You should have 2 2/3 C of starter. 4 1/3 C of flour  no extra water even though the original called for 1/2 C for 1 loaf.

I would bake at 450 F for 10 minutes with Mega steam and then take the steam out and bake at 425 F until the internal temperature hits 205 F with an instant read thermometer - somewhere around 15-25 minutes more or so. 

No flour on top required either.

Happy baking.