The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A simple sourdough book or website?

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

A simple sourdough book or website?

I have given away a couple of my most recently purchased books for sourdough. They were just too complicated. I want something that starts with the assumption that I have ONE sourdough starter. ONE. 

I have found that the Perfect Loaf website is pretty good, but even that assumes that I have specific flour and malted flour, etc. How do I know if this is important or not?

I have ONE type of bread flour (right now it's All Trumps unbleached and unbromated). I have ONE type of All-purpose flour (right now it's Sarasota unbleached) and then I mill my own White Wheat berries (and when that runs out, it will be red) and I mill my own rye and soon durum and spelt.

I'm going to assume most home bakers don't have 5-6 different starters or tons of specialty ingredients. I highly doubt most people have as much as I have. Bread baking books used to be pretty straight forward, but now? The last two books I've gotten - upon recommendation here are just COMPLICATED beyond reason. 

I'm sorry if I'm sounding grouchy (lack of sleep), but I want a go-to book or website that I can just find a recipe at my fingertips so I can just make a bread starting NOW.

With that rant - suggestions?

cfraenkel's picture
cfraenkel

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish will cover everything you ever needed to know to bake an easy loaf.  He has a section on sourdough, and if you take the time to read through the book (seriously - read it - like you would a textbook) you will be armed with enough information to bake the loaves he has in the book, and also to start adding in your freshly milled grains. 

There are also MANY recipes here, but the honest answer is that you have to get a feel for it, and you do that by making bread, taking notes and being a little bit scientific about it.  There are so many variables (room temperature, time, water chlorination, oven temperature etc.) that you need to get to the point where you can tell by feel when a loaf is proofed, how the dough should look and smell etc. Good luck, it's not hard - and it is rare that you can't eat your mistakes! 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I've looked that one, but haven't pulled the trigger on it. I'm not new to baking, just newish to sourdough. I've been baking for over a decade - gee... longer and I'm a pretty good baker. My FAVORITE whole grain book fro baking is The Bread Book by Laurel's Kitchen. I've made several things from there and never had an issue.

I have several good books for baking with regular yeast - that just seems easier to write or something, but my sourdough books are just crazy difficult to follow and are soooo complicated.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

what were the books you did not like?   (So we know not to recommend those again. ;-)

But I see a bigger "challenge" ...

None of the good, or most-recommended, sourdough bread cookbooks teach the special things to do with home-milled flour!

Home-milled flour just-plain-not a straight replacement for store-bought whole grain.

Home-milled ferments much faster, (so requires less levain/yeast/starter), has more oil, and has more widely varying moisture levels, needs autolysed (without levain, ie, soaked) longer than store-bought whole grain, and needs to turn/transform from "wet sand" to "dough" during the bulk ferment -before- you knead or stretch-and-fold it much.  So, you can't reduce the bulk ferment time too much, you have to slow it down by using less levain.

SeasideJess had a good blog post on the special handling for home-milled grain.  It's not all that complicated, and you don't need to spend $30 on one of the two commercial cookbooks centered on home-milled flour.  But, there are things that are just not "intuitive" and most people new to home-milling have to have them pointed out.  DanAyo mentored me very patiently, so hat-tip to him.

For 90% or so home-milled flour formulas, check out my blog.  Not all are good, but maybe 3 of my blogged  bakes were.  I use home-milled red, home-milled white, home-milled kamut, and a little store-bought AP or Bread flour. Look for the blog posts that have "good" or "best so far" in the title.  Warning, my bake times and temps are based on 1200 to 1300 g (raw dough weight) boules, baked in 3.2 qt Lodge combo cooker, so they usually go 71 minutes.

Just like going from dry yeast to sourdough, you have to unlearn some things and learn new things, you also have to unlearn and new-learn for whole grains, and then unlearn and new-learn for home-milled whole grain.

--

Home-millers to follow are: SheGar, SeasideJess, ifs201, danni3ll3, barryvabeach, MTloaf, pmmcool, DanAyo, deblacksmith, dabrownman, UpsideDan, and some others I can't think of at the moment.

Welcome to the home-milling club!

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Thanks a bunch. I will look some more, but I went quickly to your blog and already you commented on a couple of things I've noticed and discovered myself. Like, kneading. I couldn't get my breads to be "right" with using a mixer and I have two very nice mixers. So, I decided to do it by hand as I've seen several people do in videos and guess what? it makes a difference! And I looked at some of your recs and these are some people I find I can "get" too... it's simpler. Making bread is about feeling it and understanding it - following some precise formula just doesn't work for me.

And I find that it takes me several bakes to get it right with sourdough (at least so far). There are so many things that can go slightly awry or things need to be tweaked here and there depending on so many variables.

Anyway. I'll look more.

Oh, and the books I got recs for were: Living Bread and Local Breads both buy Leader and Reinhardts Whole Grain book - whatever it was called.

 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

While some like FWSY, it didn't click for me.   Vanessa Kimbell has a book on sourdough using home milled flour.  I got it on Kindle, thanks to one of Dave's posts on specials, and it is pretty straight forward.   I don't pick up info from Kindle books as well as I do paper, so I can't really rave about it like I do Bread by Hammelman ( though he barely addresses sourdough, so that would not be a good one for you  )  Vanessa takes you through a pretty straight forward process, and IIRC, it is not overly complex.  

Reinharts Whole Grain book is interesting, though I think it would be a poor fit for you.   Most of the recipes are designed around epoxy methods - in essence , making two half batches, one with yeast, one with salt, then letting the go for a period then mixing on baking day and adding more yeast.  IIRC, there is a little discussion of sourdough, but most of the recipes call for yeast.  Other recipes are even more complex.  

 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I don't know what it is... maybe laziness. or maybe that I have lots of things I like to do and I just can't dedicate all my mental space to baking bread. I love baking bread. I love making all kinds of bread, but it's also utilitarian. I bake for our family of 4 for meals. I NEED to have bread that can be good for breakfast or for lunch - not for just one, so a straight-up simple sourdough or country bread is best for me and I have found a couple of great recipes that I make over and over and over again, but I want to mix it up a bit - like making some with semolina or Kamut, or spelt. I have a couple of go-to's for commercial yeast bread, but I haven't found one for sourdough yet that fills the niche.

I'll get the Kimbell book. I've had it in my queue for a long time - thanks for the reminder.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I finally bought the kindle version of Vanessa's book - YES!  this is what I'm talking about! I have my standard loaves going right now, but NEXT time I'm playing with some of these recipes. Thanks!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Glad you like it, again, thanks to Dave for putting it on his list of discounted Kindle books, that is what got me to buy it.  BTW,  I have read it on a Kindle, but much prefer using the Kindle app on a tablet or computer so you can see the photos in color.  Don't know if it makes much of a difference in understanding the book, but it looks much nicer. 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Yes, I always use it on my laptop and can see all the pictures, and her pictures are always wonderful!