The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A sourdough newbie...

mmdrsmr's picture

A sourdough newbie...

Hello.  I have just stumbled across your wonderful website and had several questions...

I have been using the following recipe :

350 grams starter, 250 grams filtered water, 25 grams olive oil, 500 grams bread flour (KA AP), 10 grams sea salt

I usually feed my starter a couple of times prior to mixing my dough.  I will mix by hand in a glass or plastic bowl and let rise 12 hours.  When I try to stretch and fold my dough, it always seems too wet so I end up adding a fair amount of flour to try to shape it up.  I have scaled back the water by 50 grams but the same thing happened.  I am unable to form a good, tight ball and when baked either on a cookie sheet (425 degree convection oven preheated) or in a dutch over (425 degrees oven preheated), I get a relatively flat loaf with some small bubbles.  I bake usually for 45 minutes.

I have read The Best Sourdough Recipe by Maurizio Leo but have not tried it yet.  What he does is way more complicated than what I am doing and perhaps that is my problem.

How can I get my dough to hold it's shape better prior to baking?

How can I get my crumb with more air in it?

On another note, do any of you have experience in using a gluten-free sourdough loaf?  My wife has allergy to wheat and yeast.

Forgive me for my ignorance but I am just starting my sourdough quest!  Thanks and Happy New Year!

carlosnyb's picture

I would try it with the full amount of liquid, without adding the extra flour (thinking maybe that extra flour and handling could be weighing the dough bubbles down), and just stretch and fold as best I could, dipping hands in water first.  Let's say it doesn't hold a shape, well the oven-spring may still be fine anyhow in a dutch oven.

I'd also consider, though, what ratio you fed the starter and how long you waited before you mix it with the other ingredients, how it was looking/feeling.

mmdrsmr's picture

Ok...I usually keep about a cup of starter and will feed with 3/4 cup of KA AP flour and 3/4 cup of water...I will feed on day one and let it sit on counter overnight then feed the next morning .  By the afternoon I will then mix my dough and let the dough sit overnight.  The starter is bubbly with a liquid layer and a small amount of foam typically on the top.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

100% hydration is the most common which would be equal amounts of flour and water by weight, not volume. Most keep a starter hovering around the 100% hydration give or take. But yours is closer to 200% hydration. It'll ferment fast and separate. How are you finding it?

mmdrsmr's picture

It actually looks ok as I described above.  It smells a bit yeasty and mildly sour but pleasant.

dabrownman's picture

Are you proofing in a basket to support the dough as it rises?

mmdrsmr's picture

I am not.  I am just putting it in a bowl.

syros's picture

is no joke. If I look at your recipe and Maurizio’s - you are using 350 g of starter for 500 g of flour. His recipe calls for 150g starter to 877g of flour and 750g water. You’re recipe is using less water but I’m thinking you have way too much starter.  From my inadvertent mishap this past weekend,   I can tell you that working with high hydration is difficult and not fun and it requires a slightly different process. I am familiar with Maurizio Leo’s site - and his high hydration recipe is not for newbies. I would follow his beginner sourdough recipe. He clearly states that his Best Sourdough Recipe is not for new bakers because it will be frustrating. 

I proof my sourdough in a bowl as well so that shouldn’t be a problem with it holding it’s shape. 

Just my newbie opinion.