The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mad baking skillz

Floydm's picture

Mad baking skillz

I baked my butt off today.


Starting at the top, going clockwise:

  • Sourdough rustic bread - I haven't tasted this one yet. They turned out a little pale and spotty. I think I was too gentle while shaping them, so they didn't have enough surface tension and were a bit "over the hill," developmentally. They look edible though.

  • Hybrid sourdough - I can't bear how much flour I have to throw out to keep my starter going. Today I took the starter I was going to dump and added it to a basic French bread dough with 1 teaspoon of instant yeast in it. It was interesting: it rose like a yeasted bread, but it baked like a naturally yeasted bread, with it springing in the oven for a good 10 minutes. The taste is mildly sourdough like, though not as good as a pure sourdough.

  • In front, pain sur poolish. Dstroy's favorite.
  • Banana bread with chocolate chips.

  • Finally, in the back, chocolate chip cookies. I have to admit I cheated on this one though: these were from a tube of dough that was premade that we picked up on sale at the grocery store.

On top of that I made 2 quiches and a goulash, so dinner for the week is prepared. It was a rainy day today, so we were around the house anyway. Why not bake?


SourdoLady's picture

Your breads look awesome! That's a lot of bread to consume.

Regarding the throwing out of starter, I rarely throw much out. You are saving too much. I only save a couple of spoonfuls. That is all you really need because then when you want to bake you just feed it however much is necessary to build it to the volume needed for your recipe.

You can start out your build with very little old culture. Using less causes the dough to take longer to rise, but that is actually what makes the best bread. Slow, cool rises build flavor.

Here is how I convert a non-sourdough recipe to sourdough:

The easiest way I have found to adapt a recipe without altering the ingredients too much is to take all of the liquid from the recipe, stir in 2 Tbsp. starter, add the same amount of flour as the liquid. Let this sit, covered, overnight (room temp.) Next day, continue by adding the rest of the ingredients, remembering that you already used the liquid and part of the flour. If your recipe calls for milk rather than water, use water but then stir in some dry milk powder after the overnight proofing is complete and then mix your dough.

smiddlet's picture

I recently baked up a batch of French bread and the crumb was gorgeous, but the crust suffered from the same thing you mention above: thin and spotty. There was also very little oven spring, though it looks like this wasn't an issue for you...


Any ideas to why this happens? Not enough kneading? I cook with steam, hot oven, baking stone.

Floydm's picture

My current theory is underfermented dough. When I have an active started and I give my sourdough loaves loooong fermentations, like 4 hours primary and a 3-4 hour final rise, I don't have this problem. But when I try to hurry things or have a sluggish starter, I do.

Of course, that flies in the face of my diagnosis 10 months ago, when I said I thought it was over-fermented. So... I guess I can't say for sure.

smiddlet's picture

There was some oddness in my fermentation (ie. forgot to add the salt after the autolyse and kneaded it in during the first folding) so that might have something to do with it.  I haven't baked a batch since then - funny how something like that can set you off for a while.