The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First loaf from first sourdough starter, plus questions and advice, please!

SheltonDHW's picture

First loaf from first sourdough starter, plus questions and advice, please!


 First SourdoughFirst Sourdough


I am a new member, Kristy.  I live in Shelton, WA.  I have always loved bread (as my hips will attest to), and have baked the occasional loaf, but I stopped after becoming frustrated with loaves that didn't rise.

I found the NY Times No-Knead recipe and gave it a try.  YUM!  One loaf following the directions, one loaf of sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary.  HEAVEN!

Since then I have made a sourdough starter and baked my first loaf from it yesterday.  I chose a loaf pan for shape alone - I want it to fit my toaster.  I am very happy with the taste - it is not sour enough, but I understand that comes with age?

My question is about the inside texture - I think you call this the crumb.  It lookes like Wonder bread.  This is fine for sandwiches, I guess, but I long for a loaf with holes.  How do I make that happen?

My birthday is in May and my wish list is short this year: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Boof of Breads, and Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb.  Are these good books for a newbie?

I have 2 loaves started today.  One I added rye flour & WW flour to, and the dough came together pretty fast before I added AP flour, so I don't know what to expect from this.  The recipe called for 3 cups AP flour.  I added 1/2c WW, 1/2c rye, 1/2c WW & rye mixed (what was left on my plate from scooping and scraping), 1/2c AP & less than another 1/2c AP while kneading.  Just under 2 1/c cups with the majority NOT being AP.  Should I let this dough rise longer to make it tender?  Do you think it will be tough?

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully my enthusiasm came through!


dmsnyder's picture

Welcome to TFL, Kristy! 

It sounds like you are off to a good start with Sourdough baking. It's not on most ingredient lists, but enthusiasm definitely is a factor around here. 

Look around and do some searches on this site. You should find lots of information about how to get a more open crumb (bigger holes). All other things being equial (which they seldom are), a higher hydration (wetter) dough will produce a more open crumb. But lots of other variables have influence also. 

I haven't read Hertzberg's or Clayton's books myself. If I were to recommend one book for you of the ones I have used it would be "Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. "Crust and Crumb" is very good, too. In fact, it has some of my favorite recipes, but, if you get one only, get BBA.


LindyD's picture

Not only will I second the welcome, but also David's suggestion that you go with Peter Reinhart's BBA first. That book alone will get you off to a very good start in refining your techniques.

My suggestions would be 1) buy it now as an early birthday present; 2) read the first 107 pages; 3) bake the Pain a' l'Ancienne on page 191. It will knock your socks off, plus it's a very easy formula to follow.

Have fun!


dmsnyder's picture

Hi again, Kristy. 

I didn't address the bread you are making. Maybe, by now, you have answered your own question. 

The combination of flours shouldn't make "tough" bread. The issue is not how long the dough rises, but how much. A long, slow rise will develop flavor. Generally, a first rising, before you shape the loaves, should be to about double the initial dough volume. The "proofing," or second rise, after the loaves are formed, should be to 1 1/2 to 2 times the volume of the loaves.  

Anyway, how did your bread turn out?  


SheltonDHW's picture

Gosh, I got excited about the books and took my 18mo to the library while my 4yo had preschool.  ALL the Peter Reinhart books were checked out!  So were the other 2 I was looking for. :(  I did get a chance to look through Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. 

As for today's loaves.  Both had their 1st rise from 10am-ish to 4pm-ish.  Then they were shaped and let rise until 6:30.  I baked them and let them cool.

The regular sourdough looks good, crust seems a little on the hard side.  I brushed it with butter and will cut into it tomorrow. 

The rye came out looking and feeling like a rock.  A bread shaped rock.  I also brushed it with butter and attempted to let it cool overnight.  Couldn't wait!  It cut easy, to my surprise.  It was tender and moist, great light rye smell, just enough tang, maybe not enough caraway seeds and maybe a little dense. 

I think it will be great with some leftover corned beef and some fresh coleslaw!

Thank you all for your replies.  I am sure now that I can not wait until may for a book and am headed to the store tomorrow.

Good night!