The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from East Tennessee!

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Hello from East Tennessee!

Hi all!

I've been cooking/baking since college but only recently really got into the bread making thing. I've had some early success with yeast breads:

But, having grown up in Northern California, I crave that San Francisco Sourdough tang. After a few misfires, I got a starter that seemed to be behaving:

The hair band is the pre-rise marker. So yesterday I gave the Tartine recipe up at the New York Times a shot:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016277-tartines-country-bread

And had my first major flop of my baking career. Literally. It flopped into a hockey puck. A puck with a decent sour flavor, but absolutely no rise and a texture quite like old shoe leather:

I'm trying again today with a little simpler recipe from here:

http://www.homecookingadventure.com/recipes/easy-sourdough-bread-vermont-bread

Being an engineer by trade I'm determined to troubleshoot and fix my process. So any post-mortem comments on my failures are definitely welcome!

I look forward to trying out your guys recipes and actually making some decent naturally leavened bread!

Cheers!
Nathan  

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Hi Nate. First off, let me be the first of many to welcome you. We’re here to help!

You just blew my mind when you said, “And had my first major flop of my baking career.“ That floors me. I can’t begin to remember all of the times I’ve failed. My successes were born of tenacity. Good for you {;-). 

Your starter looks very healthy to me. How long have you been feeding it? Tells about your starter. Details will help.

The more information and images you provide, the better we can exp.

One other thought comes to mind. Naturally Levain bread will rise at a much slower rate than commercially yeasted breads.

If you would like to try a basic sourdough bread with 70% hydration you might be interested in this recent link. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/55230/anyone-interested-champlain-sd-bake We may plan another “community bake” soon. I am learning quite well from these bakes.

BTW - your second image of the sliced loaf is beautiful.

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

 Thanks for the compliment! I took that loaf to a potluck and it was pretty much inhaled. I call that a success. :)

I've only been baking with any seriousness for a month or two, so I have plenty of time for more failures haha.

The starter I used a modified pineapple solution using king Arthur whole wheat flour. Mine didn't shoo much activity after day 3, so I kept to the daily feedings without discards until it got some good expansion. That literally happened overnight. Nothing, then poof, it rose like mad. That happened probably around day 7?

It's been about a week and a half since then and I've been doing 1:2:2 with the same wheat flour twice daily for the last four days or so, once daily before that. It's been faithfully about doubling by bedtime. So far I've been doing 60g starter to 120g each of water and flour.

I tried to split off some to make a white starter but it seemed not to like the white flour as much. I got maybe 1/2 again in volume expansion instead of the more than doubling I'm getting with the whole wheat. I'm wondering if that may be part of the issue I'm having primarily making white breads. Should I try doing a 50/50 starter or start feeding one with white whole wheat? Add some rye? I'd like not to maintain too many, I've gone through one 5 lb bag of whole wheat flour already.

For this loaf, I did my standard 1:2:2 and the fed the required amount for the tartine recipe to the dough when I thought it had just peaked. It may have been past? How critical is doing the levain exactly like the recipe says?

I used KA bread flour and KA Whole Wheat for the dough.

Thanks!

Nathan

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Nate, check out this link. https://www.theperfectloaf.com/sourdough-starter-maintenance-routine/

 

It's been about a week and a half since then and I've been doing 1:2:2 with the same wheat flour twice daily for the last four days or so, once daily before that. It's been faithfully about doubling by bedtime. So far I've been doing 60g starter to 120g each of water and flour.

- - - If you want to conserve flour, you can mix something like 5g starter + 10g water + 10 flour. I base my mix on 5 grams of starter no matter which ratio I use. I do put it in a small juice glass, though. It makes your growth evaluations much more easy to see. Narrow is good. 

I tried to split off some to make a white starter but it seemed not to like the white flour as much. I got maybe 1/2 again in volume expansion instead of the more than doubling I'm getting with the whole wheat. I'm wondering if that may be part of the issue I'm having primarily making white breads. Should I try doing a 50/50 starter or start feeding one with white whole wheat? Add some rye? I'd like not to maintain too many, I've gone through one 5 lb bag of whole wheat flour already.

- - - white bread flour will not cause a starter to grow at the same rate as whole wheat. Rye, especially whole rye is like steroids for the starter. I find that KA All Purpose flour works well for me. Oddly enough, better than bread flour for some unknown reason. I t rye to keep only one starter and when I want a rye or whole wheat Levain, I make that day. My starter has no problems accepting different flours. But beware different flours will cause different rises.

For this loaf, I did my standard 1:2:2 and the fed the required amount for the tartine recipe to the dough when I thought it had just peaked. It may have been past? How critical is doing the levain exactly like the recipe says?

- - - As you gain experience with your starter and baking procedures, you lean more and more on your knowledge rather than the recipe. You’ll see this constantly mentioned on the site, “watch the dough, not the clock”. Ambient temperature is an often over looked aspect of baking. A small difference in temperature will have a definitive affect on the dough. That goes for starters also. A starter @ 72F will grow drastically different from one @ 78F.

I used KA bread flour and KA Whole Wheat for the dough.

- - - I like KA products and it seems others on this site also agree.

I went long, HTH,

Danny 

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Thanks for the long post! I tried 30g flour + 60 and 60 and it faithfully doubled the same as the larger batch. I've been doing larger batches because I figured if I messed something up in the refreshing stage I'd have more left over for a mulligan.

Do you think I should move to a higher food:starter ratio? I've read that link before and have been trying to watch for the signs of the beginning of the sink to time my feedings. I could do two jars tonight, one 1:2:2 and one 1:5:5 as in the link and see how they perform side by side. Using 10g as the base that wouldn't use too much flour.

Thanks!

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

 A second test sounds good. What I do when I mix my starter is to keep the throw away portion on a paper towel In case things go wrong. Also once you get your starter up and running on a stable basis you can dehydrate some of it for a backup. I’ve kept some for years.

I started a new spreadsheet tonight for a great bread to learn sourdough. It’s called Champlain Sourdough and the recipe belongs to Trevor Wilson, a very competent baker. I’ll post it with the instructions tomorrow so you can d/l if you want. I know that as an engineer, spreadsheets should be your thing.

To check out the bread follow this link. http://www.breadwerx.com/champlain-sourdough-recipe-video/

Just a few days ago we had a “community bake” working with this fry same bread. It’s a long one but you might find some nuggets in it. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/55230/anyone-interested-champlain-sd-bake

Don’t hesitate to post questions to the site. There are plenty of extremely skilled balers that are ready to help. We welcome you!

Dan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Nathan, you and anyone else that would like to use my Champlain Sourdough Spreadsheet, and formula/recipe instructions are welcomed to download it. Just make sure that all 3 files are stored in the same folder so that all of the links will work.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0xihkw9wl8pqzmt/AAA-81WLVmDrGQngPJhsA4Maa?dl=0

If you try it, let me know what you think. If you need help or have questions, get back with me.

This bread is a great formula for learning. It is a 70% hydrated loaf and Trevor's instructions (included in the d/l) is thorough and well written.

HTH,

Dan

 

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Interesting. Do you need a dehydrator to do that?

I generally start in a fresh jar for each refresh and just cycle through 2-3 jars. It makes it easier to keep the sides of the jar clean because I don't have to pour or otherwise remove the excess from the jar, I just pour exactly the amount I need in.

My refresh procedure is like so:

0. Stir down starter.

1. Add measured amount of starter to jar.

2. Add water, give water and starter a quick mix to incorporate and make sure that the starter gets evenly distributed in the new flour.

3. Add flour and mix thoroughly, trying to incorporate a bit of air.

4. Use a spatula to scrape sides of jar, cover, place in oven with light on.

When changing to different flours with a young starter, is it a good idea to make it gradual? Feed 50% what it's been eating 50% new and then 25:75 then 100? I'm wondering if the poor performance I had with switching to white flour was just shock to the system so to speak.

Thanks!
Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I really think the change to the white flour had more to do with the flour’s contents rather than the change. Whole grain contains the berrie’s bran and other nutrients not found in white flours. And those extra bits, the yeast in the starters love. But I’m sure others will disagree. It is a common thought that the flours should be changed gradually. But that is not my experience. But, I don’t think you’ll find many bakers that will find problems with a gradual change to a new flour. After all, the yeast a living things, and some (maybe most) think they they get used to certain foods. But, for example. Today I wanted a rye starter for the Champlain SD I plan to bake tomorrow. I simply took my All Purpose white starter and mixed in fresh ground whole rye and nothing else. The Levain is growing so fast that I had to put it outside where it is cooler to slow it down. I don’t want it to over ferment by morning. BUT again, other bakers more experienced than I may have a different experience. Absolutes in bread baking are often found to be a misnomer. At least that is what it seems to me...

One skilled baker believes this and another that. But both turn out masterpieces

no doubt there is much science involved in baking bread, but to ignore the artist possibilities would be an utter shame

Danny

Oh, to dry your starter, simply smear it on a piece of wax paper and let it dry overnight. Then crumple the paper to remove the dried starter. I vacuum seal mine and freeze. But it also keeps well at room temp. It’s a great way to share with friends. If you want you can put it in an envelope and mail it.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I did another go today with the other half of the dough from yesterday. Let it sit all day hoping it would rise some more. It was hard to tell visually, my proofing bowls are on their way to me now. I thought it rose some during the bulk ferment and I was getting some gas bubbles on the surface.

Same as the one in the pic. A hockey puck. Pulled it out as soon as I opened the oven to lift the lid on the crock pot.

I'm wondering if my starter just needs more time to grow into itself before I bake? It's doubling but it's taking a good 12+ hours to do so fully.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I thought I was doing better with this second batch, but I guess I just had a few big bubbles fooling me.

The crust and flavor profile were pretty decent, and less rubbery than last night. Still a long way to go.

Is it possible I'm overworking the dough at the beginning? Even the parts that look pretty aerated are quite rubbery. I'm not doing it any more aggressively than I would with a yeast dough, just enough time in the Kitchenaid before autolyse to get a gloppy mess with no dry flour, and then ~5 minutes on low speed.

I have the following starters going at the moment:

- 1:5:5 50% white 50% whole wheat

- 1:5:5 100% Whole Wheat

- Control: 1:2:2 100% whole wheat.

We will see how they're progressing in the morning.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I know you are anxious to bake bread, but I think you'll need to focus on your starter for now. 

Let us know how your starters cycled. The information should be very helpful. Don't forget to record the temps.

Most people choose a 12 hour cycle for their starters. It requires 2 feeding per day. I'd work towards that goal. Keep notes such as the feed ration, flour used (I find KA AP flour works best for me), time duration from feed to recede, and as important as anything else the TEMPERATURE.

Example - your starter starts to recede at 8 hours. You want it to cycle at 12. You could use warmer temp, a higher ratio of flour, slightly warmer water in your mix, etc..

My starter is very active, so I mix 1:3:5 @ 76F using King Arthur AP flour. It cycles 12 hours.

Now, I wanted to use a Rye Levain to today's bake. So I used a three stage build using 1/2 AP + 1/2 Rye. I noticed around 10PM that it was rising too fast. So I put it outside in order to get a cooler temp. At the appointed mix time it was ready.

Here is that same rye starter that is running like wild. Remember Rye is like steroids to starters. After mixing the starter that I needed for today's bake I decided to refresh the left over starter and refrigerate for a later bake. So I fed 2:1:1 with whole rye. This is what happened in 2 hours.


I immediately placed it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

So, maybe you are a thinking, “I need to get some rye”. Through much observation and help from so many others on this site, I recommend All Purpose flour for 100% of your flour at this stage. I know that fast growing starters sound great to you. But in the beginning of your learning stage the important thing is to be able to control your starter. Once you learn to control the feed to recede cycle, all things are possible. Try to get a 12 hr cycle on a consistent basis.

disclaimer - I am not an authority. What I’ve communicated was learned from help rec’d on this forum not many months ago. I’ve successfully used starters for years but I really had no fundamental knowledge as to the how and the why. I guess I was lucky.

Hopefully others will chime in and correct any errors or omissions that I may have made. Anything you read from our resident “starter guru“, Debra Wink, you can take to the bank. Her college degrees specifically qualify her in this area. Not to mention many years of hands on observation and experience.

Dan

 

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Awesome! I've got the spelt and I'll order some rye tonight. The local stores have been out for days. Not sure what's up with that.

 

I think I'll make the Champlain my benchmark loaf from here on out. I like the medium hydration level and detailed instructions.  Once I'm able to make it successfully I'll retry the tartine etc.

 

I also have some pictures of my starter to upload. Stay tuned.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Try to document your bake with images if you can. That will allow us to better help. Three of us have been baking the Champlain consecutively. I think Kat is on her seventh bake. It is a great loaf for learning.

I’m sure you’ll get plenty of help with this.

Danny

A thought; if you think your starter is weak, you could supplement your starter with a small amount of Instant Dry Yeast. Not too much though, say 0.5% of the Total Flour Weight. So 2.23 grams, rounded to 2 grams. It’s not much but it should suffice if your starter has any lifting power. When following the instructions keep in mind that the timing is not set in stone. There is no way the author can know how strong the baker’s starter is. He has no idea what the temperature in your kitchen will be at mix and ferment time. There’s just too many variables. There’s a saying on the forum, “watch the dough, not the clock”.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Alright, here's today's results.

I went a little over 12 hours to both see the effects and to reset my feeding time. 2AM isn't sustainable. I've been working late nights but need to get back to a more normal sleep schedule.

 

Starter variations:

1:2:2 all whole wheat (control)

1:5:5 all whole wheat

1:5:5 50% whole 50% AP

12 hours:

Control:

1:5:5 WW:

 

1:5:5 50:50 WW/AP:

 

And at ~19 hours when I fed it (I've been doing 12, but as mentioned above I wanted to monitor it past that for behavior as well as shift the feeding schedule)

Control:

1:5:5 all WW:

1:5:5 50:50 WW/AP:

Thoughts? I continued the same there feedings except I moved the 50:50 to 75:25 white:wheat. Unfortunately I had to use KA bread flour for the white this time, I exhausted my AP supply with Valentine's dinner.

Temp for the first 12 was ~65-70F as the oven was too hot to put them in when I went to bed last night. The rest of the time was in the oven at ~80F. I need a better ambient thermometer.

Cheers

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Nathan, in order to determine the amount of rise it would be best to mark the starting level of the starter. I use a marks-a-lot. You can remove it will a Stainless Steel scrubber or you could put a rubber band instead. I like the marker because I write a lot of info on the jar. You could marks levels at different time and on the side of the mark record the time.

It appears, from the bubbles that you have some really nice activity. But it would be a great help to know the amount of rise in a given time.

The pictures are helpful.

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I'll do that for future updates. I know it's hard to judge without some progressive marks every so often but I had some car troubles today on top of Valentine's preparations so life has been a bit busy!

For the record, by eye the all were about doubled at 12 hours but at different stages of the fermentation. You can see in the pictures at 19 hours that the 1:2:2 had collapsed a good bit by that point, it was probably due at 12. The others looked less collated like collapsed.

I have to go out of town for four days starting tomorrow. Should I feed them a bit in the morning and straight into the fridge or do they need some time to get into the new food?

Thanks!

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I think, feed them, let them grow some at room temp, then refrigerate.

It’s best not over ferment them for a long time in the beginning. All starters have 2 basics microbes that coexist in a symbiotic relationship. The yeast provide the lifting power and the bacteria, the flavors. If the yeast population is high, the bacteria will be lower (relatively) and vice versa. When a starter grossly overferments the bacteria begin to dominate. At this stage of your starter, you want to cater to the yeast. Note - some (like me) prefer a sour (tangy) bread, they manipulate their culture for the bacteria (LAB). But that’s down the road. I hope I worded this paragraph correctly. Corrections are welcomed by others.

Not to worry, starters are resilient, no real damage done. Just get them back on your 12 cycle when you can.

You observed the 1:2:2 starter receded the fastest. Good observation. Since the ratio of flour was less, the starter was unable to feed as long. Take 2 starters, one is 2 parts flour to 1 part water and the other is 5 parts flour to water. If both cycle feed to recede in 12 hours, then the 5 to 1 is much more active. It consume all of it’s food in the 12 hr period.

There is good news, that I know you’ll enjoy. This constant routine of feeding starters does not have to go on forever. See this link. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/40918/no-muss-no-fuss-starter

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

That would be 5 parts flour to 1 part starter, not water correct? 5:1 flour to water would be like putty I'd think.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Yes, that is correct.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Well, after a week in the fridge, my white starter didn't do a thing in ~16 hours after being fed so I tossed it. The other two are doing well. I got some rye flour in so I did up a batch using 50/50 rye to see what would happen. Here's the first feeding after coming out of the fridge:

You can see that by 10AM the next morning (Going on 18 hours or so) that all of them had reached their peak and gone a bit past. The rye one looked especially good. I'm not sure what to make of the 1:5:5 results, as it seems to have not risen quite as high as the others and not gone as long past them time wise as I would have expected. I'm curious if coming straight out of the fridge, if it's not better to do a feeding or two at a lower ratio to get things going again.

It looks as if the rye retarded the rise/fall a bit and gave a better overall performance vs the pure whole wheat at 1:2:2, which looked like it had collapsed the most of the three by 10AM.

Because my starter isn't ready to cook with yet, I went back to yeast breads. I took the workhorse loaf from serious eats that I've been making successfully and merged it with the Champlain loaf. I did 10% spelt 5% rye 85% bread flour at ~75% hydration. Otherwise I followed the workhorse loaf recipe (https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/08/simple-crusty-white-bread-recipe.html)

Results:

This is easily the best tasting bread I have ever made. The spelt/rye combo is really something special.

This was my first time using the banneton, so I overdid the flour a bit I think. I need to get some rice flour to use for this purpose so I can use a bit less. This time I used 50/50 AP/Whole wheat in the banneton. I made my own lame and it made doing the cuts much easier, and I also ordered a bench scraper and dough scraper from amazon and having the banneton + scrapers and lame made life so much easier. Shaping and moving the dough with the bench scraper was a huge benefit and let me use a lot less flour on the work surface.

Cheers!

Nathan 

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

I need to offer you a belated welcome wrapped in an abject apology. I'm in East Tennessee, too - NE of the Smokies. It looks like you're making rapid progress and sorting out the starter mysteries. I've grown to love my rye starter. It was a replacement for a KA bread flour starter that age and neglect killed - yeast will lure into complacency by just being so darn accommodating. The new rye starter is remarkably vigorous but I haven't gone wholeheartedly sourdough with it yet. I'm basically using it as a flavoring adjunct in a primarily yeast-risen sandwich loaf. Right now I'm working with home-milled flours and that's challenge enough. Finding rye flour is tough I'm sure and finding rye berries to mill tougher. Your variation on the Champlain loaf looks delicious. I'll be following your progress eagerly.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Your progress is amazing. The latest bread looks outstanding.

I have a “toy” that might interest you. It is a temperature control system for you starter.

Here are the links if you are interested. 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073PTZCJ4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NZZG3S/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Get a mason jar that is a little larger that your starter jar/glass. Suspend the starter glass inside the larger jar and fill the larger jar with enough water to ALMOST fill the jar with water (with the starter jar inside). Wrap the heat mat around the containing jar and secure with rubber bands. I insulate that with a towel for good measure. Put the temperature probe inside the containing jar and you are set.  The mason jar uses a 2 part cover that makes the hole in the cap for the temp probe easy to screw on and off. I tested this setup for a couple of weeks now and it passes with flying colors.

Tip - You don’t need to maintain a large amount of seed starter. For example, mine is 1:3:5. 5g starter + 15g water + 25g flour totaling only 45g. It fits perfectly in a 6oz juice glass.

Tip - Once you determine you starter’s refresh feed. Fill you starter glass 1/4 full, mark the glass, then put your refreshed starter in the glass. You’ll sacrifice this starter to calculate the starter’s volume in water weight. Mark the new water level on your starter glass. Take the starter out and measure the water weight when the glass is filled from the lower mark to the top mark. (In my case it is 41g). 

Fill the glass with 41g then scribe a mark. Fill glass with another 41g and scribe glass. Continue until glass is unable to take more water. The scribe marks are light, so some times I mark the scribe marks with a marks-a-lot.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004T7S1/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The instructions went long. I hope I communicated the concept clearly. I thought that maybe you or possibly others might be interested in the idea.

Dan

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

when they retire.  It seems to be the retirement place of choice for so many.  Great weather, wonderful landscape and no state taxes n=make it a winner.  If it was warmer I would be there in a flash.  I was looking at your beginning photos and saying yep, that starter is young and not really into raising a loaf just yet especially for new baker.  No worries.  You stuck it out and now you will have fresh SD whenever you like. 

Welcome, well done and happy baking EN

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

double post

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

 Thanks for the kind comments all!

Here's tonight's update.

I forgot to take a pic at 6PM when I marked it the second time.

Notes:

At 6PM, the two 1:2:2 batches had hit their peak. Oddly, at 11:30PM when I returned from our evening outing and went to feed them, the Rye mix had not fallen nearly as much! Any thoughts on this? This tells me the rye mix is hitting much closer to the 12 hour magic number we're looking for for the starter to cycle. The 1:2:2 all whole wheat has almost entirely collapsed at this time, which is only a couple of hours past the 12 hour mark.

It's hard to see in the pic, but it looks as if the 1:5:5 had *just* started to fall at the ~13:30 mark when I fed them. There was a ring that looked like it marked the peak about .25" above where it was currently sitting and the top surface of the starter was flat.

For tonight, I'm keeping with the 1:5:5 to see if it picks up a bit to hit the 12 hour window (Since this was only feeding 2 out of being in the fridge for the week) and I'm keeping the rye mix one at 1:2:2 to see if it still cycles more slowly than the 1:2:2 whole wheat did. Since the 1:2:2 all whole wheat was obviously cycling too fast, I replenished that batch at 1:3:3 to see where that got me time wise. So for tonight:

1:2:2 WW/Rye blend

1:3:3 WW

1:5:5 WW

Long term I'd like to have a white starter but I think for now giving the starter the boost from the whole grains is helpful to get it nice and strong. The white and white mix starters have continually underperformed, so I think I will give the starter another week or two before I try converting it again.

I tried an experiment tonight and mixed the starter with the water using a milk frother and really aerated the heck out of it. We'll see if that changes the performance at all. :)

Cheers

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Nathan, you don’t want to purposely allow the starters to completely collapse. I say this because not long after the initial recede the LAB bacteria start to overwhelm the yeast. Proportionally the yeast decrease as the LAB increase. It’s not a big deal, but it is something you want to try to avoid.

The very best time to feed your starter (if you are catering to the yeast) is after the level of the rise sits stationary for a while and then starts to recede.

 I’m  not sure why one grain collapsed more than the other in a given time frame, but I suspect the gluten content of each plays a part.

Dan

Oh, you said, I tried an experiment tonight and mixed the starter with the water using a milk frother and really aerated the heck out of it.” I’ve been using a 3/8” wooden dowel about a foot long to mix the starter. On the bottom of the stick, I flatten the 2 opposing sides (up about an inch) to stir and scrape down the hardened flour that gets on the sides of the glass. I am able to agitate the starter/water mix very well with it. After that I use the stick to mix in the flour. It’s the best thing I’ve tried so far.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

So, interesting results from last night. Forgot to take a pic.

All three starters had cycled by the 12 hour mark. It seemed like the 1:5:5 simply didn't rise quite as much as the lower ratio ones, but the lower ratio ones were clearly cycling much faster than 12 hours, they had fallen significantly from the "high water mark" so to speak. Strong vinegar smell as well.

For the feeding I upped the other two to 1:4:4 and kept the 1:5:5 as a reference.

Will update in a few hours when they've had some time to start doing their thing.

Cheers

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Upping to 1:4:4 sounds reasonable. The whole grains make the starter’s rise more aggressively. But the large bits in whole grain can weigh down the gluten matrix, causing it to fall down faster. At least that’s my thought. I agree, the whole grains are good to energize the starter. A lot of the yeast derived from the flour in in the bran. Have you thought about a mixer of whole grain and AP? Also, I’d try 1:3:5. Your hydration will be lowered to about 60%. You will need to remove from glass and knead by hand for a short time. The drier mix will rise slower and the gluten will be much stronger.

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I can try that next time.

I didn't intentionally let them go past, I wasn't sure at 6 pm that they had peaked but when I checked them again after coming home from our night out it was obvious that they hasn't gone much higher than the mark I made at six.

I think part of the problem I've been having with the non-whole wheat versions is that I've been using the same water to flour ratio and without the bran etc from the whole grains it turns out too soupy. 1:3:5 with 50/50 AP might do the trick.

Question-does yeast from the feed flour have time to activate when fed to an already active starter? For example, if I add a different flour will there yeast on that flour eventually take up residence in the starter or will the existing active yeasts dominate it? I ask because I was thinking of getting another one started with 50/50 rye from the get go and I wasn't sure if it would behave significantly different from the one I have converted to 50/50 from pure WW.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

You are doing well with your various experiments. It’s a trial and error thing until to dial in your particular starter. Each starter is somewhat unique.

The idea of the flour is to give more strength to the gluten network. With the increased gluten (and a smaller amount of heavy bits) the rise is visually more noticeable. At least, that is my thought. Others may differ.

In my experience I was unable to get the feed to recede cycle to go longer than 8 or 9 hours using any combination of fresh miles whole grains. When I went to KA AP, and adjusting the mix ratio I was able to control the growth with predictability. But when initially building up the yeast in a new starter whole grains are great. If you think your yeast needs more boost, a combination of AP and whole grain might be best. 

I think the answer to your last paragraph is yes, but could you rephrase the question? I may not understand correctly.

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

By volume the AP has more available starch so I'm sure that has an effect.

BTW-I forgot to comment on your heater. Great idea! I actually have a sous vide circulator, I could easily setup a water bath to do something very similar.

Cheers

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have a Sous Vide and love cooking with it. That’s a great idea...

QUESTION, will our Sous Vide go down to 76 degrees?  I checked mine out and it should work well. 

  • Temp Range: 77°F to 210°F ± 0.01°F / 25°C to 99°C ± 0.01°C

We we could even ferment doughs in it... Good thought.

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Yeah mine let's me turn it down quite far.

Update on the starters

~5 hours in and the 1:4:4 50/50 mox has nearly doubled. The other two are lagging. I'm not sure if the 1:4:4 all whole wheat is slow because of the food mixture difference or if it has simply become super LAB'd in the previous night and will need a feeding or two to balance back out. I'll keep a better eye on them the rest of the night.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

WOW! Why not take that starter and try 1:3:5 using AP. 

BTW - what temperature are the starters?

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I don't have a good thermometer yet. I'd n guess around 80f in there.

I'll try the 1:3:5 when it looks like the best one has peaked and slightly receded. As of now it still looks to be on the upward swing.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

This is at ~7:45, so a little over 5 hours.

I think last night did compromise the far left one. It's lagging behind the 1:5:5. Marked lines are when it was first mixed.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

80F is hot, IMO. No wonder they are growing so fast. If possible with the test I proposed shoot for 76 - 77F. I’m interested to hear your results. I think you are close to nailing it down.

Once you dial your starter in, you have precise control over both your starter and your levains. 

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I'll try that tonight. Should be easy enough to setup.

Another hour and the rye mix is even higher. The 1:4:4 is catching the 1:5:5.

To reduce the number of starters, I'll probably just use the 1:5:5 whole wheat and the rye mix for the next batch. I'll water bath the jars at 75f and see how it does overnight.

Cheers!

Nathan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Results from last night:

Juuust over 12 hours:

and at ~14 hours:

All of them performed well. :)

I was unable to try the water bath as I didn't have sufficient means to keep the jars submerged without tipping over since they're mostly full of air and somewhat buoyant.

The 1:3:5 is so doughy that it's difficult to tell if it's starting to fall. I think the 1:4:5 has a great consistency though.

I placed a thermometer inside the oven, and with the light on it got up to ~80F and then I turned it off before I went to bed. It was at 69F when I checked it in the morning. So for now I think I'll leave the light on for a bit to get the temp up then turn it off and check the temp periodically (When I'm able to) and manually cycle it back on to keep the temp in the 70-80f range.

-Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

As I read this post, you gave me an idea. I wonder how the temperature controller and a light bulb controlled by it in the oven would work? That could make a great bulk fermenter and proofer also.

Hey, I could tap into the actual oven light, a much neater setup.

Always thinking...

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Fed the 1:4:5 and the 1:5:5 50/50 and culled the other two for now. I'm going through too much flour feeding four at a time. Will adjust feed ratios gradually on these two as I hone in on the right amounts to get a 12h window.

I have to say, dealing with the whole grain starters is much easier. With the bran breaking up the gluten networks they are much easier to stir during the refresh.

Planning to add the 1:3:5 to a batch of bread I'm making today, if it doesn't do much in the first couple of hours I"ll yeast it to get a rise.

Cheers

Nathan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

 

I'm flummoxed with this result after last night's great results on the 1:4:5 AP.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

It raised! It even has little ears! I'm ecstatic about how this loaf looks. It's 3 AM and I can't taste it until morning but if the flavor is half as good as it's looks I can't imagine it being bad.

I'll post details in the Champlain bake-along.

You can see from the spiral that I've been having some difficulty plopping the dough into the Dutch oven evenly. It hasn't ruined a loaf yet but I'd like to get a combo cooker to solve the issue.

My starter is going well, the white finally took off this evening. Fed it a half portion tonight in hopes it'll be ready for a feeding at a more normal hour tomorrow.

I'm currently on a "vacation" until my new job starts in March so I had the luxury tonight to stay up until this was ready to bake.

Cheers!

Nathan

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Just a tip for putting dough into a hot Dutch oven - turn the dough out of the banneton onto a piece of parchment paper. Score the dough then pick up the parchment and lower it carefully into the DO. Don't worry about wrinkles; the dough will expand and end up nice and round. :)

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I've done it that way before but I always ended up with divots in the round where the parchment folds are. It is very handy for putting it in and taking it out though!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Try a narrower strip of parchment, so it is only a bit wider than the dough in one dimension with longer 'tails'  or handles in the other direction. That results in only a few wrinkles, if any, and still provides a good sling for lowering.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

That's a great idea! Uses less parchment as well.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

If you crumple the parchment paper before putting the bread on, it will conform much better to the shape of your pot.

Give it a try and see.

Dan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Your loaf looks great! The stripes are very nice. Also like the dark color...

looking forward to the crumb.

Dan

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Crumb is excellent! I got a few bigger-than-desired pockets (Probably my folding technique?) but overall it's got a great chew and lovely taste. The crust is perfect. (I say perfect in that, I really enjoyed eating it and it's as good as I've ever made, not in the "I'm the next Tartine" sense haha)

I need a better bread knife. I've been having trouble getting through the last little bit of crust.

It's got that great sourdough chew that I've been missing since leaving California. Even the "sourdough" at the store here never seems to get near what the store bought stuff back in the Bay Area was like. This challenges what I remember for sure!

Is it normal for sourdoughs to spring in the oven a lot more than a typical yeast bread? I was a little bit concerned when I put it in as it came out of the banneton and fell a bit flatter than I expected, but when I opened it up and saw this I was both surprised and ecstatic about it's spring.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

the crumb is just about perfect!  I use the sling system as Lazy Loafer suggests and it works really well. 

well done

Leslie

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Have you seen this thread? http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/400830#comment-400830

The main goal of that thread is to produce a crumb much like your. And you did it without trying...

Dan

Oh, I’m investigating the possibilities of wiring my temp controller into the oven’s light. If interested I’ll let you know the procedure once it’s done. I just got the schematics for the wiring.

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

That'd be cool! Thanks!

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

Welp. My in-laws came to visit this last weekend and truly enjoyed the Champlain bread I made Friday night. Unfortunately, the weekend resulted in an inauspicious end to my starter.

Saturday night I fed the starter at ~12AM and went to bed. I woke up the next morning to my wife sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at me as if someone had died. Apparently, my mother-in-law had gotten up early to make me a cheesecake as a parting gift for my birthday. Not realizing the starter was in-residence, she turned the oven on to preheat it. I think you can figure out the rest.

The cheesecake was delicious at least.

I'm getting a new starter going as we speak. If I can do it once, I can do it again!

Cheers

Nathan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I may have lost mine this morning also. No idea what happened but I didn't get near the expected rise.

BUT, I always keep a backup of dehydrated starter for mishaps like this.

You might consider doing the same. It stores for years that way.

Danny

EngineerNate's picture
EngineerNate

I think from now on, at the very least, when I feed the leftover starter will go into the fridge until the next feeding.