Newbie wanting to improve
Hello everyone! This is my first proper post – yay!
Like a lot of new members, I decided that lockdown was the perfect opportunity to finally get into making sourdough and now I can’t believe I put it off for so long! After my first few attempts proved disastrous (I had to literally chisel my first loaf out of my ceramic casserole dish) I decided that winging it obviously wasn’t working so I started looking for bread baking books. Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast was the first one I could find and the breads that I’ve made using his recipes are so much better than my first few – not only are they actually edible, they taste great too! But, as always, I want to improve! I’ve outlined my latest bake below and would really appreciate any comments. I find the dough to be pretty sticky and difficult to work with, but I don't know if I'm not developing the gluten enough, overproofing it or just haven't gotten the hang of working with wetter doughs yet (or a million other problems that I don't know of yet!). The bread usually springs up a bit in the oven, but it also spreads out quite a bit as well. And although the crust is nice and crackly when it comes out of the oven it very quickly turns leathery and tough. I know this is a lot but I'm really keen to learn and make better breads!
Adapted from the Overnight Country Brown recipe
302g cake flour (which I think is our equivalent of all-purpose flour)
138g whole wheat flour
Mix by hand and then autolyse for 30 minutes. Then mix in 11g salt and 108g of 80% hydration starter by hand. I did stretch and folds every 30 minutes for two hours (so four sets of stretch and folds in total). I then covered the dough and let it bulk ferment at room temperature (about 18 C) for 12 hours overnight. The next morning, I shaped the dough and let it proof at room temperature for 3 hours and then baked it (preheated oven to 220 C; turned down to 200 C and baked covered for 25 minutes; turned down to 180 C and baked uncovered for 20 minutes).
And here are some photos of the finished loaf! My shaping, slashing and photography skills are not great but hopefully they will improve as I learn more!
The colour of the crust didn't come out well in this photo - it was a nice orangey-brown.
I forgot to take a photo of the crumb, but it was very similar to this (even more poorly shaped) loaf from the previous day. I have no idea if this crumb is 'good' or 'bad'. All I know is that it's good to eat!
Any comments would be greatly appreciated! (And sorry about the funky formatting - I guess that's another thing that I need to get the hang of!)