The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Sourdough Attempt Post Mortem

minniebaker's picture
minniebaker

First Sourdough Attempt Post Mortem

I finally took the plunge and baked my first loaf yesterday, oh boy were there problems. The crust was lovely and crunchy and wonderful, the inside appears to not have risen at all, and I have a couple of theories as to why, but I would appreciate ideas on how to improve, so if you've got any, please do share. I used thekitchn's basic sourdough recipe. 

1. My leaven did float, but I would say that my starter smells of yoghurt, a bit sweet, not yeasty at all, could it be that it hadn't developed enough? It has been behaving fairly predictably though, and was up to twice a day feedings. I followed SourdoLady's recipe from here with all purpose flour. 

2. I may not have folded it tightly enough when transferring to the proofing basket. Could this have impacted the rise, and does anyone have a preferred video on how to do this? 

3. I only left it to rise for about 3 hours, but it was a particularly hot day, about 35C, so I don't know if this would have been a problem. It also deflated quite a bit when being transferred into the dutch oven because it stuck to the cloth and had to be plucked off. 

4. The cuts I made were not deep enough, they seem to only have made dents in the loaf - could trapped steam have been the problem? 

5. My oven doesn't go all the way up to 260C/500F which is what most recipes seem to call for. It only goes up to 230C. Does this mean I really won't be able to make sourdough? 

Thanks in advance! 

Abe's picture
Abe

My oven too has a maximum temperature of 230°C and that's hot enough to bake bread with. I do have other issues with the oven I have but temperature isn't one of them.

Please can you provide a brief history of your starter, recipe followed and if possible a crumb shot.

This will be very helpful for troubleshooting.

minniebaker's picture
minniebaker

This is the starter recipe I used: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233/wild-yeast-sourdough-starter. I used only all purpose flour and followed it exactly, it worked perfectly. By day seven it needed to be fed twice a day, and I baked this on day ten. It never rose very much but that may have been because it is 100% hydration and quite liquidy. 

This is the bread recipe I used: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-sourdough-bread-224367, and I used high protein flour. 

I don't have a crumb shot, unfortunately! It went straight in the bin, because it also came out slightly underdone. Very small bubbles, very doughy and sticky in the middle. 

Thank you! 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

so I don't have a lot to offer beyond encouragement, my first loaves were pretty dismal! And now, though I still have a ways to go, we can at least enjoy eating most of what I bake while I'm learning, even though I'm still a rank novice.

Like Abe said, I think people here can help (they've helped me a lot!), but need to know your recipe, how things went as you proceeded, and see a crumb shot.

If you used what I think is thekitchn's basic sourdough recipe here https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-sourdough-bread-224367, I think their instructions for making a levain would have resulted in an overripe one at 35C. I'm not sure, because my starters are all whole grain, but a levain made from any of them would have been overripe in my 27C kitchen at 12 hours. Also, the recipe is 77% hydration, which I think is fairly wet dough to handle for a first loaf. Handling wet dough is a lot trickier than handling stiffer dough, I'm struggling with that myself because the whole grain breads I want to make need to be made with wet dough. Just some thoughts. But, if you're following a different recipe, they may not apply.

Don't be discouraged, your crust sure looks a lot prettier than mine! and learning how to bake sourdough bread is challenging, but a lot of fun.

minniebaker's picture
minniebaker

Yes that's exactly the recipe I followed, and it was very wet and difficult to handle! I think I'll have to try a different one, and maybe see about keeping the leaven in the fridge instead. Thank you! 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

recipe to start with. I'm not that person, since I'm a newbie on a 100% whole wheat quest.

But, if you live in a place with a very warm climate, fermentation may move much, much faster than what almost any recipe will lead you to expect. My kitchen is averaging around 26-27C, and fermentation moves more quickly for me than most recipes, they seem to assume an ambient kitchen temp in the low to mid 70s F (around 21-23C). That's all phases of fermentation -- your starter, levain, bulk fermentation, and final proof. Also, the yeast and the LABs grow fastest at different temps from each other, so different temps can yield breads with different flavors, but both yeast and LAB produce CO2 which will raise your bread. Just something to keep in mind! As the experienced bakers here keep reminding me, "watch the dough, not the clock"!

minniebaker's picture
minniebaker

Hmm I suppose that would be why it will take me a while to get it right! I'll have to learn what exactly it is I'm looking for. Hopefully not many failed loaves ahead. Thanks for the input! 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

the most amazing thing ever.  Dump the flour and use rice flour instead,  Nothing sticks to that and you don't have to make it looked like it snowed with it either:-)

If the levain doubled in volume 4 hours after its last feeding it is ready to raise a loaf of bread.  Watch the dough and iot the clock.  Hours donl' mean anything in bread making just a rough rule of thumb that is usually wrong for you in your kitchen, ingredients and temperatures.

When the dough rises 50-75% during bulk ferment it is ready for shaping and when it rises 90%, for white bread,   it is ready for the heat of the oven bake.
it only gets better from here on.  Keep posting and folks will keep helping.  Before you know it, you bread will look grand inside and out.

Welcome to SD baking! 

minniebaker's picture
minniebaker

Lol I decided to err on the side of (extreme) caution, but I will give rice flour a go next time, thank you! I think I definitely need to pay more attention to the dough and not just time. Thank you so much, I'm taking a week off to gather more information then I'll try again! 

emmsf's picture
emmsf

Hello. It sure ia a pretty loaf - but these things are a work in progress for all of us. I wanted to add one comment regarding your suggestion that maybe your scoring wasn’t deep enough. Typically deeper scoring is not better. If you cut too deeply, the score just folds back over on itself, or it opens too wide. You get better ears, surprisingly, if you score only about 1/4 inch deep, and at a 45° angle rather than straight up and down. Typically if the bread does not open up properly, or opens up too much, it’s a problem with proofing times, and not a problem with scoring.    And as another comment said, definitely use rice flour to keep the loaf from sticking after you shape it – much more effective than wheat flour. 

minniebaker's picture
minniebaker

Ah okay, thank you! I thought for sure that would be one of the reasons, because it would've resulted in trapped steam, but what you said makes sense. I'll keep it in mind for next time.