The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Breadtopia starter

AndyPanda's picture

Breadtopia starter

I've been fooling around with sourdough (first time in my life) for the past couple of weeks. I was given the Carl's 1847 starter and while it rises well, it just doesn't have any tang to it at all. I tried several things to encourage more tang but still very mild starter.

I've got some wild starter going that is promising ... but in the meantime, I got impatient and ordered some breadtopia starter and I've been waking it up. It may need more time to wake up, it rises slower than the starter I was using (or maybe it's just the weather, it has cooled off here) BUT, "Oh Boy" it's got such a lovely tangy smell and flavor. Really wonderfully sour.

Anyone else here using it?

AndyPanda's picture

I'm still baking in a loaf pan - hopefully I'll eventually get the hang of shaping loaves - but for now, I'm having very good luck with sourdough (100% fresh ground hard white wheat) in a loaf pan with an inverted loaf pan on top. I've started spraying water on top of the loaf just before I put it in the oven and I've been practicing using a lame. Every attempt with the lame has just been mangling the top of my loaf until this morning I finally got it to slash a little bit like what I see everyone else doing in videos.

In the past I was leaving the dough in the fridge overnight and then warming to room temp before baking. This time (because this new starter seemed to be rising so slowly), I shaped the loaf last night and put it in the bread pan (with inverted pan over the top) and set a cold pack on top and left it on the counter all night. The kitchen was cool all night (but not nearly as cold as my fridge) and the cold pack probably stopped being cold halfway through the night. The cold pack was room temp (still pretty cool as the room was maybe 60F) this morning. And the loaf was rising just perfectly - I had plenty of time to heat up the oven, egg wash and sesame seed and the slashing worked so much better on the cool dough. Here's how it came out of the oven ... I gotta wait a bit before I cut into it.

jimbtv's picture

My starter is home-grown and I am pleased with it. All the same I feed it with regularity and keep it in the fridge. It performs reliably and that is what I need.

Like other folks I often like a uniform shape for sliced bread. I make both free-form and pan loaves for me and some of my customers. The flavor is just as good but I might not get an open crumb with a pan loaf. All the same, folks who want a pan loaf usually don't want an open crumb.

I like the inverted pan idea. I might give it a try. As to your scoring, it looks pretty darn good to me. I can squeeze out a bit more oven spring if I run a cold loaf into a hot oven (500 F) but then it becomes hard to control the color of the crust. Even turning down my deck oven after the bread goes in still results in dark loaves. Covering the loaf with foil would probably help but it seems like sacrilege. 



law_and_loaf's picture

I am a pure amateur when it comes to baking, but I have been playing around with sourdough starter for about 8 years now and I think it's possible to make starters with different flavors right from home. I've never purchased a starter so I have no real answer to your initial question, but I do know that you can make pretty sour bread out of home brewed starter with the right amount of time. I am sure you know this, but I have found that if you want sharp, sour bread then the key is a smaller amount of starter and longer fermentation times... if you want milder bread then larger amount of starter plus shorter fermentation time.

I also did a few of Peter Reinhart's tricks when making my most recent starter, which included using raisin water and diastatic malt powder at least the first couple days. 

but really, in my humble opinion, there is no substitute for time. my current SD Starter is about 6 months old and my most recent loaf finally had a nice tangy sour taste, and the previous loaves, while milder, were slowly, but progressively, getting better.

My own process may or may not be good but here it is. I keep about 200-400 grams of 100% hydration starter in my fridge that I call Mom, and when I make bread I take out about 50 grams and build a levain from that, usually keeping it at 100% hydration but sometimes making a lower hydration intermediate starter, eventually making it into bread. my Mom starter is just bread flour and water, but if I want the levain to add other grains then I can do so at that step, or I can keep it white. I take 1-3 days to build the levain and by that time it's usually pretty active (if I miss time things I can discard half and rebuild easily), and I take whatever portion I want for the bread and add the rest back into Mom. about every two weeks or so Mom gets down to 200 grams and I pour off the hooch and feed it at that time, putting it back in the fridge. Been doing that and baking with it pretty regularly (about 2 loaves a week or so) for the last 6 months and now it's developed a really nice flavor.

I guess it just takes time.  I of course only know my own experience so I bet there are pros around here who know a ton that I don't.