The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My 4th Sourdough trial...

MissyErin's picture

My 4th Sourdough trial...

Hello all...

New to this fabulous site, and instead of just sitting on the sidelines watching (while drooling) at everyone's gorgeous creations, I decided I would post all of my breads up too. I'll start by saying that I have been baking bread for a year now... focusing almost exclusively on whole grains (the full gamut) and my oh my were those first 20 serious house building bricks. Home depot actually contacted me... just kidding... Its been a fantastic learning process. It is so frustrating, though, to work for hours on something that turns out to be a total flop! But I'm thinking positive, right? So... I try to learn from these flops and keep refining and refining..

I have started to really get into sourdoughs, though, and created a starter from PR's crust and crumb (with the organic raisins) and its been great. Its just been mighty chilly in our house in Atlanta, and there has been lots of bubbles after feeding, but not more than a 40-50% rise, which is low for Betty the Barm, and I'd prefer not to think of her as developmentally delayed. Just more of a nuzzler, and she likes it warm! I have to say that the first set of loaves I made were beginners luck. They were perfection. My hubby thought he had woken up to a new wife, one with bakin' skillz. The next set I made were "eh.." and then I made a set of SD rolls to bring to a new years lunch. again... "eh..."

So I was on this site last night until 2am (where did the time go???) and I was so inspired... I started another batch early this morning and they came out of the oven about an hour ago. About a 6 hour cold ferment... after the two room temps at 2.5 hours. Today's SD was based on Susan's posting on her blog and I have to say that they came out super tasty! They don't look nearly as pretty as hers (these are not pretty at all, in fact)... but I would love some criticism (constructive, please!) I used a steam pan and sprayed water every minute for the first 3 min, then at min 10 and 15.

bread 1bread 1

bread 2bread 2


bread 3bread 3


bread 4bread 4


My basic notes are -

1. I slashed all of the loaves, and I tried to make them deep, but they didn't come out with that "easy grip" ledge that I LOVE. Why? Did I need to go a lot deeper with the slash? I used a serrated wusthof knife.

2. Do I need to bake them a little longer to get that warm dark crust that I feel is lacking? I think that the bread would've been much tougher if I had kept the loaves in much longer.

3. I'm going to try to describe this.. the crumb texture seems "squeaky" or plasticy. I don't mean hard plastic, but I mean not like sandwich bread, not a silky smooth crumb. Does that make sense? Its even shiny... why is that. All the SD's I've had in the past have been softer and less "squeaky" or "shiny". This almost seemed more like ciabatta...

4. I need a canvas or couche of some sort.. because the loaves were definitely wider than I wanted and not as tall.

I'd love ANY tips you have!!

Thank you very much :)




ehanner's picture

Melissa those are nice and I bet tasty loaves. It would be helpful if you could tell us what your recipe was and how you baked them.

I see a couple things that you might want to think about. I hardly ever use a cloche anymore. If you get the gluten developed well and the hydration is anywhere near 62% your dough will not pancake and you should get good spring. Extra flour helps with a rustic look but masks the golden carmel color. Try spritzing a little water on the dough as you put it in the oven, pour a 1/2 cup of water in the steam pan and leave the door closed until it's time to rotate the bread for even color. If you still don't get the color you want you may be over proofing and you could add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the dough mix.

Try adding 1 Tablespoon of white rye to the mix for flavor. That's my magic ingredient. I have to mail order it from King Arthur but it's well worth the trouble.

Don't be hard on yourself Milissa, Those are nice looking loaves, and with a little practice you will have them just right!

Hope this helps,


sphealey's picture

This looks great to me (the blog entry that is; the bread looks great too). There is no set format or rules for the Bakers Blogs, but most I have read are a mix of technical information, pictures, and informed commentary (or stream-of-consciousness commentary if you prefer!). Yours fits right in with the genre.


KipperCat's picture

Your bread looks good to me - not the perfection we all want, but still very good! I'm not an expert by any means, but I'll offer a few thoughts.

Are you checking the bread's internal temp? I would be baking that loaf to about 205F. If you brush off all excess flour before baking, bake it long enough, and have a hot enough oven temperataure, you should get a nice caramel crust.

I know what you mean about the crumb texture, and I'm not sure why that sometimes happens. As long as the flavor is good, I'm happy with it - I think I've read that others here try for it.

I don't know what contributes to that type of edge on the slash - I put that in the subject line so maybe someone who does know sees this.

JERSK's picture

    To get that rising edge look you need to slash at an angle instead of straight down. I don't think a serrated knife is a good idea as it would have a tendency to drag. A very sharp knife, an exacto knife or a single or double edged razor blade would work better. There's a tool called a lame for slashing bread. They're not very expensive, but might be hard to find. The curved blade ones are specifically designed for that kind of slash. The breads look good though, you're on the right track. Also, when slashing, just go for it. a nice smooth slash not a saw. it takes practice.