The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi from Toronto

pfat's picture
pfat

Hi from Toronto

Hi all, 

I've been reading through quite a bit and you all have been a great help so far. I've got a million questions but here I'll start with one having to do with using the starter and how much to use... 

So I've made a starter (pineapple solution = #1, came together nicely and I've got some activity that smells great and is steadily getting stronger here on day 5 - can't wait to use).

My question is about proofing time (/fermenting, yes?). I've seen all sorts of different starter:flour/water ratios and proofing times and I would like to confirm something that I think I am understanding:

Less starter means longer proofing, more starter means shorter proofing, and proofing times affect flavour. 

If this is true, then I can use the starter:total dough ratio to dial in a schedule and flavour of the bread. 

Okay... two questions...

What qualities am I looking for in the dough to know it has finished proofing? With commercial yeasts its become pretty clear based on the size and feel of the dough (using a finger poke to see how it bounces back), but I've been reading that sourdough wont rise as big... I imagine it will also feel a bit differently...

I've got many more questions but I'll leave those in the oven for now. 

...trying to stay calm...

Patrick

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Patrick,  first, remember that for every question about sourdough, you can get many different answers.  Second,  I don't know enough about Canadian flour, but for US flour, we look for similar signs to see when bulk fermentation and final proofing are done as we would with commercial yeast.  So if you currently bulk ferment till doubled,  I would do the same when using your sourdough starter.  As to your quote, it is true for commercial yeast and sourdough - in general, the lower the percentage of yeast  ( whether sourdough or commercial ) the longer the time in fermentation, and the greater the flavor.    We can slow down  fermentation by holding the dough at a lower temperature, or starting with less yeast, or both.  If we did not slow down the fermentation process, it is more likely that the dough would overproof, which adversely effects appearance and texture. 

pfat's picture
pfat

Thank you, Barry, this was helpful. I imagine no matter how many questions I ask and answers I get it will come down to some trial and error. 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Patrick,  I like to think of it as trial, error, trial, error, trial , error, trial - small success -    You are right though that the best advice is to keep lots of notes, and change one variable at a time.  The good news is that for most of the errors, they still taste great.