The Fresh Loaf

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Well, I finally did it!

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Susan's picture
Susan

Well, I finally did it!

Today I baked the sourdough bread I've been looking for ever since starting this odyssey. It has a crispy crust and a stretchy, holey crumb. And it's easy. As I told a couple of friends earlier, "...it's reproducible, if the weather stays exactly how it is today."

I'm not suggesting that this could be anyone else's ultimate sourdough, but it sure is mine, at least for right now. Thanks to all who have helped me over the past year or so, even unwittingly. It continues to be great fun. The recipe is below.

My Ultimate Sourdough

Susan's Ultimate Sourdough

Starter is made the way Peter Reinhart suggested to us in class: 1:3:4 (starter:water:flour)

A single small boule, made by hand:

12g starter

175g water

25g whole wheat flour

225g hi-gluten flour (All Trumps, to be exact)

5g salt (I use Kosher)

Mix starter and water, mix in flour. Rest a few minutes, then re-mix. Dump into a greased bowl, let rise until doubled, about 8 hours. Turn the very soft dough onto your counter and pat it out, then sprinkle salt over the top. Roll it up, then gently knead a few times to distribute the salt. Let relax. Do the following until the dough is hard to fold: round up, let the dough relax, stretch and fold. Round up, let relax, shape, and put it in a banneton for proofing 3-4 hours in a warm spot.

The oven was preheated for 30 minutes at 500F, and reduced to 450F after I put the loaf in. It was baked on a tray, covered, for 18 minutes. The cover was then removed and the loaf baked until dark brown, about another 8 minutes.

Comments

Susan's picture
Susan

I'd like to point out that there are several Susans who frequent this site.  And just so you know, Susan at Wild-Yeast is a much more accomplished baker than I.  Her recipes are fabulous.


When you say you folded the dough, did you fold 2, 3 or 4 times, with a rest in between folds?  Have you absorbed MCS's tutorials here?  Or visited with Mike at his site?  Use the search box (above left) liberally and you will find a wealth of information.  Baking bread is more about understanding the dough than following a recipe.


About starter:  Unless you're growing your starter because you need a larger batch, you should always discard most of it.  That doesn't necessarily mean throwing it in the garbage.  You could put it in the fridge and use it later for pancakes or waffles, or add it to dough for flavor (with the inclusion of yeast to ensure a rise).  Remember that you when you discard you are also discarding lots of waste products. Your beasties will not be happy trying to eat waste, they want fresh food.


High gluten flour, as the name states, is higher in gluten than bread flour, so you might not need quite as much water in your recipe.  Lower the amount of water by 10 grams in the above recipe and see how that suits you. 


Congrats on finding that bowl!  Above all, have fun.


Susan from San Diego


P.S.  Here's the same loaf as above but with scalded rye subbed for the WW.  I mixed it early yesterday, and after it doubled put it into the fridge for the night.  Shaped, proofed and baked today.


noyeast's picture
noyeast

Matthew, yes this is a slack (wet) dough alright.  A couple of things I've picked up on here and also from a baker friend:


1) your SD starter needs to be in tip top condition, one good way is to feed 4 hourly during the day for a day or two, and even for up to four days in a row, then leave it over night.  The next day it should be in peak condition, reducing your fermentation and rising times.


2) With slack doughs, after the first rise, fold your dough ( see lessons>folding) then flip it over and rise a secong time and repeat the folding/flipping.  Rise again and bake.  Each successive rise seems to strengthen the dough, allowing it to "sit up" more each time.  The flipping or turning over causes more even gas bubble distribution throughout your dough giving a more even "holey" crumb. But I've been so enjoying the results from these slack dough recipies, just percivere with the process and weigh your ingredients carefully.  They are worked out well by the writer.


Paul ( newbie and getting good results.)

nijap's picture
nijap

Susan/David:


I am trying to repeat Susans results.  I did get a nice loaf but I am not consistant at all.  Too many vartiables.  What are the brand of flours Susan used?  High gluten would mean higher then 14%?  None of the flours I use list the gluten content on the bag.


As Susan said in this thread, it is more important at what stage the starter and dough are, and if they are ready for the next stage.  If it is at all possible and if photos of starter and dough at different stages, are available it will be a great help.  I am determined to nail this down so I get consistant results.  I plan to show off to my two sons, (one of them as an accomplished amature cook) on their visit next month.


nijap

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, jijap.


Susan should answer the question about what flour she uses. I've used Guisto's "Ultimate Performer" flour which is high gluten, but my source no longer carries it. So, I've been using KAF Bread Flour. This has worked well, although the result is less chewy.


The starter should be very active to get the best results with any sourdough bread. If the starter is mature and has been fed within the past 3 days (and kept refrigerated), it works for me. Having fed the starter within 12 hours of starting the bread making is a bit better, probably.


Timing depends on how active your starter is and dough temperature. Room temperature makes a surprising difference in how fast the dough rises. What is important is that you develop the gluten well. Gentle mixing but multiple folds during bulk fermentation works best for me. Let the dough double in bulk during bulk fermentation. That's really important. I ferment the dough in an 8 cup glass measuring pitcher, so I can measure the actual expansion precisely. The "finger poke" technique will help you know when the dough is fully fermented. Poke a finger into the dough. When it's ready, the hole should fill very slowly or not at all.


To get the wonderful oven spring typical of Susan's breads, it is important to under-proof the loaves. Letting them expand 50-75% - no more - seems best.


I hope this helps. As has been said, timing of various stages are estimates. The appearance and behavior of the dough is what really matters.


David

leftypg's picture
leftypg

Hi David,

I have been looking for a SD recipe that looked easy enough for it to be my first attempt. Even though my starter has been going for months, I have been able to come up with multiple 'reasons' for not trying to bake one --- Not having a stand mixer, Not having the correct flour available, Not having a stone or a fancy oven etc.  I needed something 'easy'!  Susan's is the recipe I chose.  As I read through the thread, I read your response to 'jijap's question", and it was helpful in many ways---then I came to this paragraph:

"Timing depends on how active your starter is and dough temperature. Room temperature makes a surprising difference in how fast the dough rises. What is important is that you develop the gluten well. Gentle mixing but multiple folds during bulk fermentation works best for me. Let the dough double in bulk during bulk fermentation. That's really important. I ferment the dough in an 8 cup glass measuring pitcher, so I can measure the actual expansion precisely. The "finger poke" technique will help you know when the dough is fully fermented. Poke a finger into the dough. When it's ready, the hole should fill very slowly or not at all."

It was a 'Moment' for me ----- I said to myself  "If I only knew exactly what he meant in that paragraph, I would begin right now!"  If it's not too tedious, I was hoping you could expand a little for my benefit. 

1. Gentle mixing,fermentation and multiple S&Fs  and doubling---Am I correct in assuming that during  fermentation the dough is allowed to double before each S&F?  If so, how many rising/S&Fs are done? Total ,estimated, time?

2.  The 'finger poke' you mention to evaluate your fermentation sounds like the same 'poke' used for proofing before the bake--Is this how I should determine that my fermentation is complete?

I waited a day before I sent this request, and now that I look back and read my questions---They do seem like 'bone head' questions!  But I must still ask (head down and embarrassed)!!

Thank you,

lefty

 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'll be doing this tomorrow with a starter refreshed the night before. I'm hoping refreshing the starter around 11 and then waking up at 7 to  mix the bread will work, but my starter is...active...so I may have to mix it up when Adam gets up for work. Guess I'll be going to bed early tonight. :)

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

I wanted to thank Susan for this most excellent formula. I made it for the first time today and turned out the lightest, most open crumb sourdough loaf I have ever baked. I followed her instructions but used KA Sir Lancelot and Golden Buffalo flours instead. These are my results:



 


I was amazed at how much rise I got using a 4 qt. pyrex bowl as someone had recommended on another thread. The loaf was 7 inches in diameter and 3 1/2 inches high.


I also wanted to mention how easy and effective using the 1:3:4 starter build was for me. I used 10 grams of my own homegrown starter built with  KA AP flour. It had last been fed 3 days before and I took it straight from the refrigerator and fed the 10 grams with 30 grams water and 40 grams KA Bread flour. After 14 hours sitting out at room temperature, when I thought it had passed its peak, I used a 12 gram piece for the dough. As you can see, there was plenty of activity in the starter.


So again I want to say thanks to Susan and everyone else who chimed in on this thread.


Jessica

Susan's picture
Susan

Thanks for letting me know about your success. I'm glad you're having so much fun.  Next time add some seeds or steel-cut oats.  BTW, I like your choice of flours.


Susan from San Diego


 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'm to the stretch and fold stage, so shaping and proofing are not far away. It's going into my oven for that.  This dough had to have 11 hours on my stove to double because it got cool in our house last night, so I'm letting it proof in a slightly warmer place for time purposes. I want a sandwich for lunch. :D

nijap's picture
nijap

Thanks David.  I started one today. Let us see how it comes out.

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

after baking several years with pre-ferments like a biga, pooolish, etc. I've begun experimenting with the world of sourdough--one question i had about this recipe (which i can't wait to try)  is do you take your 1 part starter straight from the refrigerater and combine it with the water and flour ratios, or is this recipe assuming the one part starter has already been fed and allowed to ferment at room temperature for several hours? 

Susan's picture
Susan

Thanks for your question.  Sorry I was late in answering you.  This recipe assumes that the starter has already been fed and allowed to ferment at room temperature.


In my opinion, there's just no bread as good as sourdough.  Hope you enjoy all the fruits of your experimentation.


Susan from San Diego


 

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

thats ok, susan! i've been keeping  busy with a lot of other bread ventures! :) always something fun (and yummy) to work with! however I did feed my little starter first thing this morning--so the experiment begins! :)  thanks!

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Hi Susan,


I'm making your ultimate sourdough for the first time (quadruple batch, feeling crazy I guess), but for some reason (flour variation? mis-measured?) the dough came out stiff (1st pic) before the bulk ferment, not slack as you described, so I kneaded in an additional 60g water (which would be 15g for a single batch) to make the dough slack (still slightly slightly firmer than a ciabatta dough).



^ Dough too stiff at first so I kneaded more water in.


 



^ Woke up in the morning to find this monster (more than doubled)


 




^ After stretching and folding for 25 minutes; holds shape a few seconds (pic above), but sags a lot after 30 seconds (pic below).


Is this too slack for this recipe? Or does that look about right?


After the first or bulk ferment overnight (it more than doubled), the dough was very slack like a ciabatta dough. I then folded it using an oiled pastry cutter on an oiled counter, and folded, and folded ... for 25 minutes, expecting it to become 'hard to fold' as in your description, but it never became hard to fold-- a little puffy and firmer perhaps, but in 30 seconds (I timed it) it would still spread back out a lot. Was this TOO slack? Should I have kneaded a little flour in to adjust?


I put it back in the oiled bowl and let it do a 2nd bulk ferment (ongoing now) hoping that adding that step would improve the dough.  There's still time to adjust this before it sticks in my brotforms and sags all over my oven stone, so I'd appreciate any advice folks could give!   --Kent in Taiwan


 

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

In my experience with this dough, I'd say that's way too slack. Doing this by hand last night, I mixed everything except the salt, did a frisage, and then autolysed for about an hour. Brought back to the work surface, I could already pull a very decent windowpane. I stretched the dough over the work surface, sprinkled the salt all over, misted with my bottle of water, then folded it up. Put back in bowl for about 20 minutes. Back out, I then performed Bertinet stretching and folding for about 12 minutes. Another windowpane stretched easily and very thin. I rounded and put in a lightly oiled bowl for bulk. This normally takes about 8-10 hours, but due to the temperature changes we finally got in the last two weeks, this only took exactly 6 hours (kitchen temp was 82.5° F). Dough was portioned, shaped into boules, set into bannetons, and retired to the fridge.


This dough is just barely sticky enough to allow the Bertinet folds, which use the stickiness of the dough to perform the stretch. I always use hand kneading last, because I've had so much experience with it, I can rely on my feel there. It does NOT stick to my hands to any great degree, nor do I need to use much bench flour. At all times before bulk, this dough is the consistency of silly putty, which is fairly firm and slightly slimy. After bulk, the final shapes are pillow soft.


I'm wondering if your bulk might have gone too long and destroyed the structure, as well as being over-hydrated from the extra water? You might want to just make one boule next time.. and what kind of flour are you using? Do you know the protein content?


I find this recipe to be 'dead on' when using King Arthur's Bread Flour and King Arthur's Organic Whole Wheat, but I don't know what you have available in Taiwan. This is one just a handful of recipes in my regular rotation that I just mix up and go to work with it...


- Keith

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Thanks, Keith!  For the high-gluten I'm using 駱駝 Luòtuó Camel brand 13.7% protein. We don't have KA flour here AFAIK, and this is the best branded flour I can find at a reasonable price that lists the protein level. It's supposed to be Taiwan's best flour. There are far pricier Japanese imports, as well as Gold Medal Bread here too.


The only yeast is from the small sourdough starter, so I was not expecting it to have a destroyed structure from just an overnight rise, about 10 hours; that's about how long the starter took to double.


I think maybe I just overhydrated it. I'll check the windowpane and work in a little flour to firm it up.


 


EDIT: I worked in a bunch more flour, kneaded it well by hand, and got a nice firm dough that I could shape. Four boules are rising now, in two linen-lined plastic baskets I rigged up, and two spiral willow brotforms.


EDIT: Baked up fine! Woohoo!


Thanks again, Keith!   :)

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Absolutely great job on seeing it through to the end! Hopefully next time around you can be more patient with the initial mix. I would highly suggest you autolyse for 45 mins to 1 hour before you start handling it for gluten development and/or making any adjustments to the hydration.


Here's what I ended up with:



When I finished shaping the boules and got them into bannetons, there was a whole bunch of distractions in the house (bedtime for the kids). I tossed the bannetons into the fridge WITHOUT COVERS! Arrgh!! heheh About 2 hrs later, I realized this, and brought them out to put in the oven bags I use for this purpose. I noticed that they had both already begun to develop thick skins (unfortunately, this phenomenon is exacerbated in the refigerator!). I was pretty bummed, but what can you do... I just went to bed.


The next day, I awoke and took the first one out, thawed for 90 mins and tossed it into the oven. With such a thick skin, it's hard to judge your proof quality... it was underproofed. Two things happened. The crust was unable to expand much to accomodate the bloom, so I got very little spring and good sized blowout. That's the loaf we're currently eating, and is on the left. I took the second loaf out, and decided to try and soften up the skin. I boiled some water in the micro to get it hot and VERY steamy in there, and placed the banneton in there. I left it for 2 hours, and came back to find it was much softer, and definitely not underproofed. I slashed it and tossed it in the oven with much better results. Now the loaf expanded in all directions, so it ended up looking like a normal boule. I can tell the crust is thicker than I would normally want, but anytime you save a disaster is a win! Since it won't be cut into until tomorrow, I expect a ton of flavor from it, and the crumb will look similar but more uniform. Here's another shot of the saved boule:



Bunka Bunka approved, of course! He just loves the sourdoughs, which I thought was more of an adult taste... but he eats this stuff like it's candy. He's never had a slice of Wonder bread, and hopefully he won't ever need to! ; D


- Keith

Susan's picture
Susan

Sorry I missed all the fun, you two, but you did a great job! 


Remember that the dough will change dramatically between mixing and the end of resting.  What seemed dry at mixing will be pliable and soft after resting. 


Your flour sounds perfect, Kent. Congrats on finding it.


And Keith, I'm happy to be a regular part of your baking rotation!


Susan from San Diego

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Thanks Susan -


This recipe saved me from dispair on many levels. First, all my previous sourdough adventures were not rewarding in the taste department. Secondly, they were all tedious. I don't have much time to fuss with artsy fartsy stuff... would love to, but it just isn't practical, and I just need to get the best bread possible to the table each week.


This recipe finally produced as good of results as you could expect from a bakery, taste-wise, if not even better. Then you have the fact that it is so simple... I'm allowed to mix in the morning, ferment until evening, shape and toss it in the fridge, then bake the next morning. For a busy dad, this recipe was just such a gift... I can't thank you enough for sharing it with us!


I wondered at one point if sourdough might just end up a luxury item for us, but thanks to this recipe, it's a staple item.


- Keith

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Susan wrote:



"Remember that the dough will change dramatically between mixing and the end of resting. What seemed dry at mixing will be pliable and soft after resting. "



Thanks, that's good advice! I'm one of those novice bakers who needs to be told things like "at this point the dough will seem dry; don't adjust, as it will change after resting". In other words, recipes need to be idiot-proofed, LOL. BTW, how long does your initial mixing go on, about 1-2 minutes? And how long does it usually take for your folding ("Do the following until the dough is hard to fold: round up, let the dough relax, stretch and fold.") to finish? 


Now I just need to try it again, without all the adjustments, to see what it was *supposed* to turn out like, ha ha!


 

mariana's picture
mariana

Dear Susan, I baked this loaf (shaped like your very first loaf) and baked it exactly as you explained in your first recipe: on enameled baking pan, covered with oven-proof glass bowl. I even used a  b l u e  enameled pan, lol.


Wow. What a bread! Extraordinary, indeed. Thank you, Susan. I will now try every recipe from your blog. It's good food. Really good for eating, smelling, seeing, touching, everything. And it has a distinct sourdough character, because, in a sense, it is made from sourdough starter, instead of with sourdough starter.  This method of introducing salt into ripe refreshed starter and making it into a loaf of bread, combined with no-need-to-knead technique is very, very clever. Congratulations!






 


THANK YOU, SUSAN


mariana


 

rolls's picture
rolls

wow mariana that looks gorgeous, i would like to attempt this bread. will post back with results. i am very new to sourdough :) thanks mini for directing me to this link :)

rolls's picture
rolls

earlier in the day, i took ten grams of my fridge starter and fed it 30g of water adn 40g of flour,  after reading all posts here. also, put it in the microwave. although not with the cup of boiling water. maybe that would've speeded up the process a little.

jus had a peek and its grown!!

not sure though, what to do now. how do i know if its ready to turn into the dough? thanks, hope i have success like everybody elses gorgeous looking boules :)

rolls's picture
rolls

oh no! i've jus re read some posts and after refreshing my usual starter in the 1:3:4 ratio, i didn't put in the fridge immediately! i guess the purpose is to make it easier to fit in with ur timing? i don't know. still learning :)

i'm thinking though, that maybe i should mix up my dough now. i wonder is it too late to throw it in the fridge?

rolls's picture
rolls

jus to update, i ended up mixing the first dough last night before i slept. and i did four times the recipe. what the?! i was thinking how is that little blob going to raise all that dough, but wow, i am always amazed when the next morning its a lovely risen dough, all airy inside :)

so now, i guess i add the salt and do the stretch and folds. i sure started this at the wrong time though, lol, or maybe its the one thing that will keep me sane? lmao

jus to assure everyone, im not crazy, lol, i just have a big day today. happy baking :)

rolls's picture
rolls

back again, lol. sorry for rambling, but jus had to say this is a gorgeous dough :) been doing stretch and folds throughout the day on and off, had to regrigerate. and the dough has firmed up lovely. hope the end product turns out great. susan are u still out there? thanks for sharing :)

 

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