The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie with questions

Paddyscake's picture

Newbie with questions

Hi..I'm new to the site and to bread baking. I'm a Connecticut transplant to Oregon. I've learned tons already reading the posts, especially in regards to sourdough..So Thanks!
Question 1 : I've been baking alot with dark rye and whole wheat flour lately. Do these flours
require alot more kneading time? I start my mixing with a food processor and then knead by hand 10 minutes or so. The dough is never really pillowy smooth. The bread is tasty, but dense.
Question 2 : I made a sourdough starter that I really liked. It had grated potato in it. The bread had great a tang. I replenished it with flour & water. My second batch of bread a week later
didn't have the wonderful flavor as the first batch. Was it because I didn't add more grated potato?
Thanks for your time!

Floydm's picture

Regarding question 1: I don't think it is possible to acheive a very light loaf if you bake with a high percentage of whole wheat or rye flour. The bran in whole wheat flour works like a razor blade, slicing the gluten strands. The bran also adds dead weight to the loaf, chemically speaking, and generally works against the rising process.

Rye is lower in protein than wheat and simply cannot support the kind of rising a wheat-based loaf can. Dark rye flour is also whole grain, isn't it? I'm guessing it contains the rye equivalent of bran too, but I could be mistaken there. Either way, rye flour is considerably tougher to create a light loaf with. No amount of kneading will change that.

My solution to this has been to bake with only a small percentage of whole wheat or rye flour. I used to bake loaves around two thirds to one half white flour, but I've found that as much as 80 or 90% of the flour being white with only a small percentage of whole wheat or rye flour results in a loaf that best satisfies my desire for a loaf that is both light and interesting tasting. Your may prefer something containing more whole grains though.

Other folks with more whole grain experience may have some better advice for you. And I have no idea about question 2, but hopefully someone else here will.

Happy baking!

Paddyscake's picture

Thanks for your input. I really like my rye and black breads with some chew to them. Maybe though I am doing a bit
of overkill. I don't use any white flour at all. I have been using whole wheat, dark rye(whole grain)and vital gluten.
I didn't realize the bran was slicing the gluten strands. I'm going to try your suggestion of using some
white flour. I'll report back with results. Thanks!!

SourdoLady's picture

I bake a lot of sourdough breads but I have never used a starter made with raw potato (I have heard of it, though). It seems to be quite a challenge to get the "sour" into sourdough breads. I think a lot of the reason for that lies in the fact that so many of us have eaten commercially baked sourdough breads that have additives to make them more sour tasting, or in the case of San Francisco Sourdough breads, it is something that is native to the Bay Area where they are made and it is not possible to recreate it anywhere else.

One thing that will help is to allow for a long, cool fermentation period to give the flavor time to develop. Also, be sure to proof your starter for 12 to 15 hours before mixing up your dough. Once the dough is made, I refrigerate it for 12 to 24 hours before baking. You can shape the loaves either before or after refrigeration. Make sure your dough is quite soft. Most beginners use too much flour.

How long have you had your starter? Starters continue to develop flavor over time. Keep baking with it and experiment with it. Post your recipe for the starter. I'll bet others would be interested to know how it was made, also.

Paddyscake's picture

I have been reading your posts re long cool fermentation and retarded rise. I can't wait to try it. I already learned my lesson about too much flour!
My potato starter I've had about a month and a half. So I'll plug along and experiment with it. I might try throwing some more potato in it again.
The recipe came from Bob's Red Mill. I live about a 1/2 hour from their store... It's a great place to shop.
Here's the recipe : Bob's Red Mill Sour Dough Starter
1 cup warm water (105-115F)
1 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
1 t sea salt
1 t sugar
1 medium potato, peeled and grated

In a 2 c measure mix together water, flour, salt & sugar. Add potato sufficient enough to make a full 2 cups.

Pour mixture into a 1 quart widemouth jar. Place a cheesecloth over the container and allow to set in a warm place for 24 hours. Stir and cover with plastic wrap. The mixture will become light and foamy in 2-3 days. Stir down each day.

Pour the fermented starter into a glass jar fitted with a tight lid and place in fridge. In 2-3 days when the hooch
collects on top it is ripened enough to use.

It smells like blue cheese..really pungent..but the bread was great!
If you try it let me know what you think and thanks for your input.