The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First successful Sourdough loaves!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

First successful Sourdough loaves!

I'm so excited! :) I've tried sourdough twice before, and twice I couldn't keep the starter alive. This rye starter has been alive for 2 weeks (his name is Clyde), and is still vigorous.

I didn't have time to rise these guys as long as they really needed, but got a great oven spring out of them. I look forward to cutting them open tomorrow! I'll post pictures of the crumb when I do.

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-Joe

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Those look great! I'm looking forward to the day I have those results!!

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Joe,

Those do indeed look marvelous. I'M looking forward to the day I can eat this stuff again. :-( (Wheat intolerant) This site is really getting me annoyed!!!!

Trying a few loaves of Kamut bread, hopefully today or tomorrow, thanks to a recipe from nschol. Tried this grain a year or so ago, but was not sure of results, either breadcraftingly or medically speaking.

Wish me luck. I need bread!

P.M.

p.s. Me thinks me recognizes your peel by its tip.

Gary

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Thanks for the kind words :) Gary, good eyes! That's my 'fake' Superpeel.

Here's what it looked like when I cut one open this morning. The crumb is a bit dense, but I expected that. My kitchen was very cold last night, and I didn't have time to let it rise long enough. It was still delicious! The crust is awesome; thick and chewy, just like I like it! Just a hint of a sour tang, and a delicious flavor.

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-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

And I've used a dishtowel as a couche before with fine results.

I eventually broke down and bought this one from the Baker's Catalog:

Baker's Couche

It's easy to use: just dust it with flour, put your loaves on it, and make walls by pulling up folds. If you put the loaves on seam side up, you can roll them right onto your peel when they're ready.

Or, if you have a Superpeel, you can just scoop 'em up.

-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Surface craters? That's odd. The outside of your loaf should remain smooth. It could be your shaping method. When you shape your loaves, you want to create surface tension in it. If you're just kind of wadding the dough into shape, that could be your problem.

Do you have a good book on bread? The Bread Baker's Apprentice is a good resource, and one of my favorites. It's got a great section on shaping, with tons of pictures. I also have Bread Alone, but I don't like it's section on shaping: it doesn't have pictures.

You also may want to post your recipe for us so we can take a look at your hydration.

We'll get you good bread, don't fret! If I can do it, anyone can :)

-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Where'd that recipe come from? Sounds like a lot of sugar, but I don't make many breads that use extra sugar, so I could be way off. There should be more water, too, no?

Anyway, back to surface tension. From another site, I found this quote:
"The whole exercise of giving loaves this shape is based on creating a tight surface tension to allow the loaf to rise up and not just out; the tight skin causes the dough to retain its cylindrical shape rather than spreading and flattening. "
If making a torpedo-shaped loaf, here's how I create my surface tension (trying not to degas the loaf to death):
Gently flatten the dough into a rough rectangle.
Fold one long edge in a third of the way, like folding a letter.
Seal the fold with the side of your hand.
Fold the other edge over, again, like a letter.
Seal with the side of your hand.
You'll notice while you're doing this, it's pulling the outside of the loaf tight - developing a "skin".

Hope this helps!

-Joe

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I don't use sugar - or olive oil - when baking bread. Just water, flour and starter. The proportions of these are all-important as is the folding and shaping, to get a good surface tension. When risen, slash the loaf and get it straight into the very hot oven as quickly as possible to stop it collapsing and to get a good 'oven spring'.

An excellent book is "The Hand made Loaf" by Dan Lepard - you might be able to get a 2cnd hand one on Amazon? Or ask your library to get it in for you.

Or look on the Dan Lepard bread site, (www.danlepard.com), go to Baker's Forum, then the dough making section. There are some excellent recipes and methods there - look for Bethesda Baker recipes, for example.
Yous should have good loaves coming out of your ears in no time!

Andrew

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I got a copy of "The Hand Made Loaf" yesterday. I ended up ordering it from a bookseller in Ipswich through Abebooks. That was cheaper than ordering an already imported copy from the US Amazon or having a copy shipped to the states from Amazon.co.ca or Amazon.co.uk. It took 5 weeks to get here, since I selected the cheapest shipping option, but I definitely saved some money.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Help Kneaded, your dough looks really ragged in the pics like it was not kneaded enough to develop the gluten. That in itself would cause it to not rise properly. Your dough should look smooth and satiny on the surface when it is properly kneaded. How are you kneading--by hand or mixer? Have you tried doing a 20 minute autolyse and dough folding? (Floyds tips has instructions on how to do it)

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

No oil, milk or butter - just flour, water and salt. And yes, the sourdough loaf keeps very well for about 5 - 6 days. And no, I don't slash when it is just formed - IMMEDIATELY before popping into a very hot oven. I do use a linen lined basket, dusted with rye flour, to proof the dough in.

I agree with SourdoLady in her comment above - your dough doesn't look like mine does when it is kneaded!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Looks like dough straight from the mixer. Here's what my sourdough loaves looked like after kneading (note that these are stiffer than yours will be, since mine are destined to be bagels):

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-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Try anything new yet? I'd be curious to hear your kneading procedure.

Myself, I usually give it a couple of minutes with the dough hook, then finish by hand. I normally shoot for a dough temperature of 77 ish degrees, and a smooth, resilient dough. If you poke it, it should spring back.
Unless, of course, I'm working with a very wet dough (like ciabatta). Then it's the pull-and-fold method you can find in the lessons here.

-Joe

Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

That bagel dough looks amazing! I'm so impressed, even though I don't eat bagels. You may have inspired me to try some rye or pumpernickel breads in the near future. Mostly I have been making whole wheat and multi-grain breads for the last year or so.

Teresa

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Help Kneaded, your dough looks better than the last batch did but it still doesn't look like it should. It still looks 'dimpley'. It should look quite smooth. Also, you said you added enough flour to make a very stiff dough. That may be part of your problem. You want a soft dough for a good rise. It should feel slightly sticky to the touch. I usually spray my hands lightly with cooking spray and then it doesn't stick to my hands while I work with it. Keep trying and you'll get it right soon!

Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

Excuse me, SourdoLady, but you are referring to the dough pics posted by Help Kneaded.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Sorry, Teresa, you are right--I meant Help Kneaded! Hope I didn't offend you. I edited it to be correct now.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Help Kneaded - I really think you'd find it a great help to find a good recipe (Dan Lepard's White leaven Loaf from "The Hand Made Loaf for example) and stick to that exactly for four or five times.
Then you'd get a good idea of how it responded to more kneading, to less kneading but more folding, to a longer proof etc.
Once you are used to how one recipe performs, you'd be able to try another one with a good idea of whether it was going well or not from the outset.
I've been baking yeasted breads for 25 years, but it was with the sourdough in May that I started following the advice of professional bakers like Dan Lepard and Richard Bertinet (both of whom suggest using with just water, flour and starter to begin with) and my bread has improved out of all recognition.

My two penny worth!

Andrew

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Help Kneaded, I uploaded pictures of today's loaf. It's a sandwich loaf, but the way the kneaded dough looks, and the ideas of surface tension would still apply. Hope they help!

Thread here. Clicky clicky!

-Joe

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Help Kneaded, sometimes it will take several days before you see any activity in a new starter. Give it some more time. Also, you don't need that large of amount of flour/water. Go read my blog where I have instructions on making a starter. Try using the pineapple juice (or you can sub orange juice). It really does help to get things going on the right track. It usually takes a good week to get things growing well. Don't give up! You aren't using too warm of water, are you? It should be just barely warm, not hot. Actually, it can even be room temp and not really warm at all.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Help Kneaded - I can't offer ANY advice better than - get a copy of Dan Lepard's "The HandMade Loaf".

The questions you are asking are dealt with there - in detail. His recipes WORK - he is a professional baker and very highly regarded. he gives lessons on baking sourdough in the UK, Australia - the world!

And if you follow his methods - you'll be making ace sourdough.

If you try to amalgamate tips / ideas / recommendations from loads of sources - you're going to end up with loads of unresolved problems

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

help Kneaded - you don't need yogurt. Or pineapple juice. My sourdough starter is purely organic rye flour and water for the first day, then water and organic white bread flour for the rest of the first two weeks . By then it is ready for action. Dan Lepard's would work perfectly well without the yogurt - the method is excellent. Just use rye and water the first day.

I don't think having a life which excludes mains electricity excludes making good bread! Nor does not eating dairy - I don't touch dairy either (asthma). But it doesn't alter the fact that making bread is a well tried and tested (over about 6,000 years!!) procedure - more of a science than an art, in many ways - and a mix and match approach to recipes / methods will sometimes produce a decent loaf - but more often won't.
It is amazing how many breads from different cultures, dfferent areas, have almost identical hydrations and ingredients. But it is not a coincidence - it is simply that flour and water to a 100% / 65% (up to 70%) hydration work - without oil, sugar or any other ingredients - and produce moist, well flavoured breads which - very importantly - keep well.
What you need is a good, reliable recipe and a good reliable method - stick to that for a few weeks, then you can start to experiment slightly; add flavours or fiddle with rising times etc to suit you - but a good basis is the beginning - in my opinion.