The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to Sourdough

frogg's picture
frogg

New to Sourdough

Hi

 I'm new to baking and new to sourdough, and perhaps overadventurous...have had a few disasters  already !

I've just started a sourdough a few days ago but can't figure out if it's "right" and would really appreciate some tips/ideas so I can properly gauge whether it's all ok. I mixed either a  cup ( or 2 -can't remember now whether I did 1:1 or 2:2) mixed wholemeal, spelt, white, and rye flour and left it to sit 4 days with a stir each day...smells sour, and I think it did bubble a bit by day 2 but by days 3 and 4 ( today is day4) no bubbles, just a thin batter type mix with water on top which I have got rid of. I have today transferred it to the fridge. Will it work? I guess the answer is to try it but I'm loathe to risk another disaster and want to be sure it's "right" and also how to use it and whether I need to feed it now...not sure when the first feed shoud  be!  My basic bread rceipe so far is the Sullivan no knead bread. The disasters I'm referring to have been  the result of using (first time) 100% spelt flour...reuslted ina  very dense flat loaf due to the pan I baked it in, and then the fact that I doubled the quantities to get a bigger loaf but didn't bake long enough and ended up with a soggy inside which didn't bake up when I put it back in the oven......and that leads to my next question ( sorry if it's in the wrong place) ... how long to bake a 3lb rounded (ball shape ) loaf ? Yesterday I baked it 45 - 50 mins, it was beautiful on the outside and outermost edges but in the middle it was a little soggy ( though it had sounded hollow whne I tapped it upside down) - cut off the outer parts as we couldn't resist tucking in, and put the rest in the oven to continue baking but the sogginess didn't go.......would I roughly double the baking time for a 3 lb loaf?

Would appreciate help, thanks so much.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

You will want to take that starter through a number of feeding cycles over a period of a week or so before you try baking with it. Most starter-starting guides call for leaving the original mix for 2 days, then refreshing once per day by removing half by weight and replacing it with the proportional flour/water mix. You need the first two days to give the yeasts and bacteria a chance to start growing, but then you have to refresh to remove excess waste products and give the yeast/bacteria fresh food.

It is also possible for just bacteria and no yeast to get established, which can fool you for a while with a lot of activity but aren't actually capable of raising bread. So that is another reason to feed for a week and verify that the starter can double or triple when you feed it.

It sounds as if you may have gotten a good start, but then your yeast went into overdrive as its food supply was exhausted. Try feeding once per day until it can double, then twice per day for a couple of days to be sure it can raise the dough.

sPh

LindyD's picture
LindyD

With regular feedings, it will still take your starter some time to develop a sour tang. The one I'm using now took close to three weeks before it produced the tartness I was looking for.

If you're looking for a good no-knead sourdough, try this one for a start. I added about ten minutes to the bake time (using a cold start) and it was quite fabulous.

As to your baking time, you should check the internal temp of the bread with an instant read thermometer. Am guessing you would aim for at least 200F using all spelt.

 

frogg's picture
frogg

Thanks for your replies...very much appreciated.

 Just want to clarify a couple of points, ( sorry for being so slow!).... as far as feeding the starter is concerned, do I now leave it in the fridge for feeding or remove it for feeding and leave it out till it's frothed up?

 and regarding temp of the bread, I am baking bread on middle shelf at about 425 - 450f, so should I be aiming for a lower temp with a wholemeal or spelt bread? I'm now mixing the flours anyway as we found 100% wholemeal and 100% spelt just way too heavy for our digestive systems! If I'm using 6 cups flour for a 3lb loaf, for example, I would be aiming for 4 - 5 cups of white and just a cup - 2 cups max of the mixed healthier flours.

 Thanks again

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== Just want to clarify a couple of points, ( sorry for being so slow!).... as far as feeding the starter is concerned, do I now leave it in the fridge for feeding or remove it for feeding and leave it out till it's frothed up? ===

Storage in the refrigerator is something you do after you have your starter up and running if you are not baking every day. I usually can only bake on Sunday, so I take my starter out of the fridge Friday night or Saturday morning and refresh it once or twice before building a levain for the Sunday baking.

While you are getting your starter started you should be feeding it once or twice per day without refrigerating it. You are beginning with a very small percentage of yeast and bacteria on the flour and you are trying to nurture that to life. Once the yeast/bacteria are established they can handle being refrigerated, but not at first.

sPh

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I don't know where you found your initial starter instructions, but since I personally prefer a simple approach, I'm listing another starter formula from Wild Yeast.

There are so many recipes around for SD starters, it gets mindboggling. As Mike Avery (sourdoughhome.com) suggested, it's best to find one formual that works for you and stick with it.

I tried Peter Reinhart's pineapple juice method out of curiosity and failed miserably with it. No idea why, either. So I went back to my simple routine of mixing water with bread and rye flours because it never fails (I give all the credit to my well water after reading of some of the problems others have had).

As to your oven temperature, if you are baking a three-pound loaf, I don't think you want to lower the temp. Jim Lahey's instructions for his no knead bread call for 450-500F and a one hour bake for a much smaller loaf. If I misunderstood your question and you meant a lower internal temperature of the bread, I'd still aim for 200F or 205F with a primary mix of bread or AP flour, with wholewheat and/or spelt the lesser percentage, and would stick with instant yeast until you know your starter can actually raise bread.

By the way, don't consider yourself "slow" because you're not. Bread baking is a wonderful and creative learning experience because we're working with something that's alive (yeast) and even if we goof, most of the times it's edible (or can be fed to the wildlife, as my mistakes have). I just wish I had the time to expand my own learning by baking all the breads on my wish-list, but my job keeps getting in the way.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Marie Wolf of http://breadbasketcase.blogspot.com/ took a year and blogged her experiance of baking ALL of RLBs bread from "The Bread Bible". It is  fun and well written with all her + and - experiences..now, if I could just make the commitment to baking all of BBA or BAA...

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

You may want to read this starter thread:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233

It's a good idea to start, at the beginning, using organic stone ground rye or whole wheat (WW) flour - they have the most natural yeast on the grain - to get you going. Once you see some regular activity, you can then switch to unbleached AP (All Purpose). Some people keep it to rye ow WW if that's the kinds of breads they make regularly.

Also, you don't need to be keeping a full cup or two of starter, you'll do fine keeping it to about a half to 3/4 cup, some people go even smaller. But it's best to go by weight anyway so your regular "mother" starter could be 30g starter, add 60g water and 60g flour, let sit 8 - 12 hrs, take 30g starter from that (discard or put aside the rest for pancakes or whatever) and add 60g water, 60g flour, repeat for each feed. Keeping the starter at a cup or two is not any faster or better and you just end up throwing away more 'used' starter each time you feed it; increase only when you need more to make bread.

Now I'm no starter guru by any stretch of the imagination, in fact just got mine going (using the technique in the link above) but I have read a whole lot about it recently. What I've garnered so far:

- Feed it, at the start at least, every 8 hours
- Keeping it warm (75 - 85ºF) while it's developing, helps it grow faster
- Give it two or maybe three weeks (once it's started showing regular growth) of daily feeds to help it mature before it goes into the fridge
- When refrigerated, you can take it out to warm up then feed it about once a week (usually people do this on Friday as they build up their starter for Sunday baking anyway).

Hope this helps and doesn't add to the confusion.

--------
Paul

frogg's picture
frogg

I had the most awful weekend and was feeling very glum when I decided to check this thread this morning in between work and green tea ( I work from home) .....and what a pleasant surprise it was to be greeted with so many helpful replies and words of encouragement....it really is very kind of you all to take so much trouble, and so inspriring !  Thank you so very much.

Ok, I've been feeding the sourdough since Saturday - I figured from the quantity  that I must have done an original mix of 1:1 cup flour/water as there wasn't much left when I took half a cup out. So I'm removing half a cup of my mix ( daily) and replenishing with a quarter cup organic flour and a quarter cup London (UK) tap water....total: half a cup. I'm covering my jar with a tea towel (secured by an elastic band)  and leaving in a draft free place. I'm getting water on top which I pour off before each feed. I know some folks have said to feed daily, and also to weigh the mix - but I'd almost given up on it and was just looking for the quickest and easiest way to hang on for bare survival .....I'm not too worried about how long it takes and don't expect super cook results ( I'm certainly no super cook!). I find this the easiest/least fuss  way to handle it ...and from what I understand ( hope I've got this right) it should still  kick start at some point, but will probably take longer. Will let you know how it goes.

I'm really anxious about getting the correct baking time figured out for my 3lb loaf.....the benefits of the 3 lb loaf are quite simply that it last longer ! Enough for a family to tuck into while it's warm and fresh, and enough to toast over the next couple of days as well ! (absolutely can't wait to try the no knead oven rise sourdough recipe someone very kindly linked to.)

You know I didn't even know there was a difference between internal temperature and oven temperature! The temps I've been referring to are oven temps. I do have a cooking thermometer ( purchased last year because it really did seem like a good idea to be able to measure temperature, but never used) and this brings me to my next question- presumably I stick the thermometer right into the middle of the loaf after an hour or so to check the internal temp? If I'm going to be aiming for the spring rise (hope I've remembered that right) - ie where you start with a cold oven - how long will I bake my 3 lb no knead loaf for on my middle shelf ? I'll set the temp to my gas mark 7 which seems a good hot temp and about right for baking in the cast iron pot (with lid, as suggested by Jim Lahey in his method) I'm using - otherwise on a hotter temp  it seems to brown too quickly.

Well thank you again to everybody for words of encouragement and for all your help.  

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I have a friend that did a sourdough starter in London and it took her a few tries. It would just die on her. Which made us ponder on pollution, water, air, etc. I even have a friend in my village (S of France) that used a glass bowl, same brand of flour, same water and she couldn't get her starter off the ground while I always do. She is in a modern house and I'm in an old one. All very strange.

But anyway, I do hope yours works and if it doesn't just try again! 

Jane 

frogg's picture
frogg

PS - I've never actually tasted sourdough!!! Is it actually "sour"? I'm having visions of producing my first sourdough loaf in a few weeks time ( God willing) only to be greeted with "yuck!" by my troops. 

Marni's picture
Marni

Frogg,

Just want to encourage you to stick with it. It took me four tries, but my starter now has produced many loaves. Good luck!

Marni

frogg's picture
frogg

Thanks....yes, I will persevere and report back with results ( hopefully) in due course...interesting about London water....we'll see ! 

Last question for now - am I right to be stirring the new flour + water into the old stuff  when feeding? or should it all be tossed in without stirring?   also I've noticed the ratio of new stuff to old is higher - I'm adding more new stuff each feed than there is old stuff....is that ok?  I'm still removing a half cup , and adding  a quarter cup flour + quarter cup water/perhaps slightly more than a quarter water sometimes.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi frogg.

I just wanted to address a couple of issues that you had asked about in previous posts.

1. Oven temperature. When I bake bread that has whole wheat flour in it, here are my temperatures. I preheat the oven for 15 minutes to no more than 425 degress F. I use my cast iron griddle from my BBQ grill as a pizza stone/baking surface. :) I also place a stainless steel pale with enough hot water in it to last in the oven for 25 minutes, 15 of which will be spent in the oven warm up phase and the other 10 will go towards the first ten minutes of my bread baking. Five minutes after I place my bread into the oven I turn the temperature down to about 325 and bake my bread at that temperature. Optionally, you can raise the temperature back up to 425 for the last 5 minutes of baking time. Anything higher than that burns the delicate whole wheat flour that still has the germ in it.

2. The second issue I wanted to address was baking the entire 3lb loaf as one. If I may, I'd like to advise you against doing that and braking the dough up into smaller more manageable loaves. Here are my reasons for this advice. First reason is that once I cut the crust of a loaf it dries out and goes stale much faster. Second, a dough with very heavy mass has a lot of difficulty rising, takes much longer to do so, and can be prone to overproofing/collapsing. Last reason is, on a somewhat lighter side :). But smaller loaves will yield more crust.

HTH.

Rudy 

frogg's picture
frogg

Hi Rudy

Thank you very much for addressing the 3lb baking time....I was contemplating moving that question to the main forum area actually as it's something I want to resolve if possible before baking my next loaf.

I am no baker...so stumbling across the Sullivan Street no knead recipe on the net -  whilst I was looking for I can't remember what else - was just atonishing for me ! Of course the first attempt was not exactly satisfactory as  I rushed headlong into spelt flour - having spotted it in Holland & Barrett on a shopping spree and not really knowing what on earth it was to be honest - and it came out flat and very very hard ( and no one in our house touched it except for me; I toasted it for breakfast....it sounded like I was munching stones) . I think my last attempt at this was a fourth one and came out reasonably well apart from some sogginess in the middle. But , interestingly - it was  a 3lb loaf -  it rose magnificently and there were even gasps when it came out of the oven ( my family are used to my disasters in the ktichen, so this was quite a shock). The crust was just superb, and it was only when I sliced it close to centre that the soggy bits hit home and then it went back in the oven........but soggy bits remained ( I sliced and toasted for breakfast none the less 3 days on the trot).

I had mixed about 4cups organic white flour with 1.5 cups wholemeal and a little rye + wheatgerm. I had pre heated the oven and cast iron cooking pot with lid to 7 ( I think that's about 450 degreesF) and placed my soggy dough which had stuck to my teatowels ( never again will use teatowels - better off in the bowl)  into the pan, overed with lid, and baked about 30 - 35 mins with lid on and about 10 mins or so with lid off. No problems with rising at all interestingly and I'd picked the rounded cast iron pot this time to assist with getting the ball shape. Previously I'd used an even bigger (flatter) iron pot and the loaves were coming out risen but too flat for my liking.

 As I managed to get well risen bread ( and in a ball shape) on the last attempt, I'm quite keen to try one last time to see if I can get well risen + ball shape + cooked bread ! If it's just not technically possible I'll admit defeat on this one and settle for smaller loaves  ( my husband kept saying go for smaller loaf pans next time). I'm not too  worried about keeping perfect freshness after breaking into the 3lb loaf as I love toast the next morning ....and I think others in my house would go for that too if it looked appetising enough.

Now that I'm just getting into this slow rise dutch oven bake bread, I'm truly apprehensive about baking bread the conventional way in little loaf tins, and without a lid, in case it's another disaster for me ( I've had oh so many .... a lifetime) ....I am honestly worried that it won't turn out right.

Well thank you everybody for comments and suggestions...I'm going to review it all very carefully before deciding how to embark on the next loaf and I'll let you know how I get on.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi frogg.

In the ten years or so of my bread baking I have never attempted to bake a three pound loaf. :) So unfortunately I cannot recommend an exact amount of time for you. The largest loaf I ever baked was just over a pound. And it took 1 hour and 25 minutes to bake through. It looks like you baked your first attempt for about 45 minutes which, of course, is woefully short. So that probably explains the outcome you got. If you were to twist my arm and force me to give you a guesstimate, I would say that a three pound loaf of bread will require from about 2 hours and 15 minutes to about 2 hours and 30 minutes to bake through. The temperature has to be no higher than 350, for something that enormous, with possible exceptions noted in my previous post above.

While we are on the size of loaf, I discovered a most interesting concept a while back. If I were to make a dough that was 3 pounds for example and then split it into three equal parts. The first part I would bake whole in like an oval shape, the second part I would split in half and bake in round shapes, and the third part I would split into four equal parts and bake as baguettes. I would get different tasting bread as a result. This took me forever to wrap my head around. If someone were to tell me this in the beginning I would have been quite sceptical. Funny huh?

Last note I noticed from your previous post that you don't have an oven thermometer. I would say that it is one piece of equipment that you absolutely must have. For bread baking or any other baking for that matter.

Disasters are awesome as I happen to have learned quite a bit from mine. :) So enjoy the experiements. Because, within reasonable boundaries, bread is quite forgiving, so you will do just fine.

Rudy

P.S. OK I did some calculating as it seems like your oven uses a scale of 1 to 10 to indicate temperature instead of showing the actual temperature. This is only until you get your oven thermometer. Most home ovens, although not all, have a temperature range of about 150F to 550F. That's a range of 400F degrees. So if your knob goes from 1 to 10, each single digit increase raises the oven temperature by 40F from the base of 150. For example setting the knob to one will give you a 150F oven, setting it to 2 will give you a 190F oven, at three 230F and so on. If you baked your bread at 7 that translates to roughly 380F, which is still too high in my humble opinion. If you set the knob to 6 you should get around 340F which will be perfect, and should bake your 3 pound loaf in about 2.5 hours or so. Another thing is, due to the size, your bread will have to rest on the wire rack for at least an hour after it comes out of the oven before you cut into it. If you cut a loaf just out of the oven then the inside will be mushy and wet.

frogg's picture
frogg

Hi Rudy/everyone

Quick update, and a few questions if I may.

First of all, the starter seems very much alive and kicking ! I've been feeding once a day, also had it in a cooler temperature room for about 4 days before moving it recently to a warmer area in another room....that seems to have made a real difference ( or perhaps it's just the passage of time). I'm not very technical about the feeding. Generally remove about half of what there is and put back in a quarter   water first, then a qaurter flour. I've occasionally mixed flours - a bit of rye, a bit of wholemeal, mixed with organic white bread flour ( It seems to me that the rye flour really helps as well by the way as a lot of activity started after a little rye flour went in...coincidence maybe). I once doubled what I put back in compared to what I took out as there was hardly anything left in there. I always give it all a very good stir each time and mix the feed in as well as I can - roughly anyway  -  and I ignore lumps. It's now frothing away and there are lots of bubbles on top ( also any stirring seems to produce bubbles) - looks very much like Allison's instant yeast does once it kick starts with warm water and sugar ( perhaps even more so actually). So I assume I now need to wait for it to start doubling  in size before I refrigerate it and then feed it once a week...would that be the right approach?  Also, I'm quite keen to switch jars now or to get the stuff out so i can wash the one it's in which is all dried out at the top and around the middle. Well at this stage I must say a) I'm so glad I found you all becuase i had previously refigerated what I thought was a starter but was obviously nowhere near and I was way off track, thinking I'd done it because I'd once seen some bubbles and b) I'm very grateful for the encouragement because if I hadn't stumbled across you all I would probably have given up on this and just not bothered. 

Ok, coming to the 3lb loaf....Rudy, thanks. What I need to clarify with you is if you are saying to bake about 2.5 hours at 6 with the lid on my pot, and starting off with a cold or hot oven? I'm used to putting the dough into a cast iron cooking pot with a lid.....I keep the lid on for part of the baking time and then take it off, and so far I've always started with a hot oven. Can you just clarify that point for me, and then I'm going to give this 3lb loaf a last shot and see. It'd be amazing if my starter's ready in time to try it actually....but maybe I better not risk that as if it doesn't rise, then the starter might be blamed when in fact it's my method or something that's the problem.

My last question....and I know I'll sound like such a dunce for asking this one ( !!!) but I have to ask...how do I measure oven temp with a cooking thermometer? Do you just stick it in the oven for a mnute or so and then take it out?

Best wishes all.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I must say I don't understand why you'd need to make one three pound loaf and not three one pound loaves or even two 1.5lb.

Quote:
the benefits of the 3 lb loaf are quite simply that it last longer ! Enough for a family to tuck into while it's warm and fresh, and enough to toast over the next couple of days as well !

I don't get it; why would three pounds of bread in one loaf last longer than three pounds of bread in three loaves? Seems these points would be just as well addressed by three loaves as one massive one which may be very difficult to make and hence more chances to fail. Since you're just starting out with sourdough, I'd suggest nix the extra potential problems and try to follow standard process untill you have all your kinks ironed out of the normal stuff. THEN you can look at making larger loaves once you know everything is working wel under "normall conditions" - and I'd still suggest going with three 1 lb loaves, then graduating to two 1.5 lbs and getting that under control before heading to the massive 3-pounder and the issues a loaf of that large mass will introduce.

--------
Paul

kanin's picture
kanin

Since there's less surface area exposed to the air with one big loaf, it will get stale less quickly. I'm just guessing, but that's probably the reasoning behind it.

 

http://www.applepiepatispate.com

tamraclove's picture
tamraclove

Hi Frogg,

 

I think you're confusing "oven thermometer" with "instant read" thermometer - both are essential.  I think you already own an instant read thermometer.  It's either digital or a dial, and you stick the pointed end into your food and in about 10 seconds, it tells you the temp.  An oven thermometer will be a flat dial in a metal body with a hook at the top to hang on your oven rack in front of the glass door.  You pretty much never remove it from the oven!  Just have a peek inside once the oven has heated up and you'll know what temp your oven is.  These are really cheap, and since you almost never find an oven that is accurate (even new ones) I think it's very essential - to all cooking, not just bread  baking!

Hope this helps!

 

Carrie 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi frogg, great to hear that you are not givig up. Baking is a learning process and we as people tend to learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. As far as the starter, I'll chime in a little. I began my starter with all rye for the first three days. That produced bubbles only and a very strong sour smell. On the fourth day I introduced other flours. I split my starter into three. One white, one whole wheat and one rye. On the fourth day I saw a 50% rise. And from fith day on the rise is 100% or more, and the smell has changed to a sweeter and more bread like aroma. This was all out of the fridge. My starter is in the fridge now as I want the slower longer fermentation at this point, so I can age it a little more controlled and develop the aspects of flavor that colder temperatures yield.

As far as the oven, yes, I meant hot oven. Most definitely. I know some people start their baking in the cold oven. However, I am not familiar with that technique and therefore cannot recommend it. Incidentally are preheating your cast iron pot as well or not?

As for the thermometer, I was thinking of an Oven Thermometer. It just goes into your oven and stays there. You can either hang it or place it on a rack. Here is alink to a picture: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41NFPu1cKBL._SS500_.jpg

Good Luck.

Rudy

frogg's picture
frogg

Gosh...nice to learn something everyday. I shall buy an oven thermometer. I really didn't appreciate the importance/let alone the significance of one before. I have one which is a deep frier one - used once - and wasn't sure about how to use it anyway  ( almost stuck it in the oven this afternoon whilst frozen pizzas were baking in there to see what the temp really was).

Yes, I am pre heating the cast iron pot, and will  stick with hot oven as you suggest.  

Why a 3lb loaf? Why not?! I'm a glutton for punishment I guess. For me, it's largely just one of those things - you try it once, it doesn't work, and there's no way on earth you want to let it go till you get it right ! I do appreciate the common sense of starting with smaller loaves, honestly I do, especially for someone with my no baking ( no kitchen ) background. The trigger for me was the Sullivan Street no knead recipe which called for a cast iron pot. My first cast iron pot was massive and took up the whole oven ...I didn't think about using a normal size iron cooking pot... for some reason that escaped me then, but now I've got my standard size cast iron cooking pot with lid for baking bread and I'm very used to it. And I'm unsure about using loaf tins - tried one once and my dough stuck to the inside of the tin, but never sticks to my cast iron pot. I've just got used to the method of one pot one loaf. Make it go further, make a bigger loaf ! I know it's not  perfect logic, and I could probably afford to be a little more adaptable now I've picked up some very necessary first hand experience, but I feel I really want to stick to the one pot method for now which is all I'm used to, and I'm determined to bake that perfect 3 lb loaf no matter how long it takes !  

frogg's picture
frogg

ps - regarding the oven thermometer....... presumaby an oven is always hotter at the top, so do you place the thermometer on the shelf you want to bake on? In other words, is it going to show a diff temp depending on where it's placed?

tamraclove's picture
tamraclove

Initially, I would say yes - put the thermometer on the correct shelf.  Upon further consideration, however, unless you have an oven with air-leakage problems, it's a small enough space that it should heat consistantly throughout.  Of yourse, you know your oven - it might have hot/cool spots and the like.  In a perfect oven, it shouldn't matter.  But who has a perfect oven, anyway? :-p  And of course none of this applies to a convection oven, which I haven't quite learned to like for bread yet... that's probably a post for another forum...

frogg's picture
frogg

Thanks Tamraclove for all your help on this... got the oven thermometer today !  I've just been reading your advice again to be sure I know where to place it etc.

frogg's picture
frogg

thanks for the help on the oven thermometer issue....very helpful indeed. I'll be buying one shortly. 

Skipping back to sourdough, a question I forgot to ask - once it goes in the fridge, is it ok to close the lid? I have one of those jars with a wire clasp fastener type thing, and want to know if it's ok to close that, or if air should be allowed to get through. ...probably won't need to  do this for a while yet, but just wanted to be prepared.

 

tamraclove's picture
tamraclove

gonna let a 'real' sourdough expert answer that one.  I've just begun sourdough, and what I've said so far has been based on my readings - mostly from this forum.  I have no opinion on this, most recent question...

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

 I've seen insructions for both sealing tight and just loose seal so I'm not sure if there's an "official" way. For you clip-style jar, I believe I've seen it suggested to  remove the rubber ring so the lid is closed but not air tight. I've seen arguments for loose lids saying you need to let the gasses escape so it doesn'ty get too noxious in there, I've seen arguments for tight lids saying you need to keep it from drying up.

Probably the best way to decide for yourself is to take the cast-off from a feed and use it to start a clone starter when you're ready to refrigerate after a couple of weeks or three when your starter's had some time to develop character and strength. Lid one up loose and lid the other tight and see what difference it makes, if any (and it may not). So jar #2 can just be any old jar with a lid that can scew on snugly.

--------
Paul

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

When the starter is in the fridge it is okay to put the lid on tight. When it is at room temperature it needs to be loose so the gases produced from the fermentation can escape. I often use a plastic margarine tub with a snap-on plastic lid and I have had the starter blow the lid right off the container and shoot it 4 feet away.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I have tried both ways because of a discussion with bwaith (where are you Bill?) and had no problem reviving a starter with a tight top in the fridge and left for weeks with no feeding. I was just experimenting, I do not recommend doing that! But as sourdough lady says be careful about the size of the container!

I like the idea of a tight top because the fridge is a bacterial playground. But maybe that doesn't matter. 

Jane 

frogg's picture
frogg

I can't believe myself at times. Walking disaster. 

I was planning to do my no knead 3 lb loaf and decided I was confident enough to mix it up from memory as I've done it so often. Was looking forward to taking photos of the end product tomorrow and showing it off . Planning to bake at gas mark 6 ( bought oven thermometer on e bay last night but don't know when it will arrive), middle shelf, cast iron pot (with lid) pre heated, pre heated oven, going to bake with lid on for 1 hour ten mins, and about 10 - 15  mins with lid off.......just figured that might do it, partly  based on helpful suggestions so far ( although all suggestions have been for conventional loaf tin baking without lid), and partly based on my last experience which was about a 45 - 50 minute bake, 35-40 mins with lid on, and 10 - 15 mins lid off.....came out looking beautiful ( and all puffed up in a ball) but was undercooked/slightly soggy inside.

Anyway, I 've mixed up my 3lb dough as follows ( disaster) -  6 cups flour ( 5 white flour, and then a cup + made up of wholemeal, rye, and wheatgerm) ,half tsp yeast, followed by about 9.5 cups water. Then added a teaspoon salt after mixing it all. It's very lumpy, and couldn't figure why it was all much soggier and lumpier than previously till I went back and checked the original recipe/instructions - which says add 1 and just over a half cup water per 3 cups flour. So I've used about 200% + more water than I should have, thinking it was 1 and a half cups or thereabouts water per cup of flour.  What do I do with this one? What's likely to happen? Does anyone know? I daren't add more flour to it. Can't believe I've done this...some people never learn.

Is there anything at all I can do with this mix or will I have to throw it all away? If there's no hope, I might just experiment anyway - I'll  give it a good stir at the 18 hour stage or 18 hours + (won't be able to knead it), and then I'll bake it in my pot a couple of hours later anyway as planned and see what happens. I'll take photos and let you see what's it turned out like.

PS - interestingly, the mix showed instant signs of yeast activity as I mixed ! It's bubbling away right now which I don't recall happening with my previous mixes. It was just less than half a teaspoon yeast I used.....could it be all the water that gets the yeast going? It's a moderately warm afternoon here as well.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Basically what you have now is one great big wet poolish. So let's just make it smaller and save the rest for later, a few days in the fridge won't hurt it one bit. Next time be suspicious when you add more water than flour, that combo works well for wall paper. But let us refrigerate it after it has been sitting out now for about 3 hours so it will cooly, slowly perk away.

Now how big was that loaf to be? 3 lb.? Ok that's a 1.36 kg loaf. (I'm thinking out loud) OK, now take out about 3 cups of this mixture and add 1/2 teaspoon yeast and another 2 cups of flour to it and let that sit the rest of 18 hours. When that time is up (I hope you take notes on what your're doing because there's lots of poolish to play with) follow your recipe. It should work out. Stay flexible and good luck!  You might have to add just a little bit more salt.

Mini O

frogg's picture
frogg

Thank you Mini Oven for coming to my rescue - so much appreciated.  I'm going to do that right now, and I'll let you know what happens.

By the way, I searched Sullivan Street Bakery on the net and found their contact details - they have a website and forum as well. Anyway, I've e mailed them with my query about how long to bake the 3 lb loaf according to their method, and if I get a reply I'll let you know what they say.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hey frogg. Great to see you stay with this. The "mistakes" you are making are not all that unusual, and I most definitely speak from personal experience. ;) :) But this is the learning process. I wanted to share a comment and a suggestion with you since all of your questions have been answered so well and so completely.

Breads that are larger than a pound, are generally considered celebratory, or special occasion breads. Hence, they are ususally only done by professional bakers or bakers with a lot of experience. So when you get this to work. You'll no longer be a beginner. Definitely something to look forward to.

As far as the tins here is my trick that I have used for many years that helps me "unstick" my bread from any metal form that I bake them in. I increase my oven temperature for the last 5 - 7 minutes of baking time. What this does is form a crust on the surface of the bread which helps the release of it from the form. Additionally because of the higher temperature the crust will contract after you take the bread out of the oven. This is when you'll hear your bread sing to you, for taking the efort and spending the time to bake it. :) Perhaps something to try when and if you feel up to it.

I guess I'll make one more note on thermometers. You can stick your deep fry thermometer in the oven. It may or may not work as well as an oven thermometer. Also it may not go as high as an oven thermometer. I would also advise you to check your deep fry thermometer by submerging its tip in the boiling water. Make sure it does not touch the body of the pan that contains the boiling water. If the temperature reads 212F then it is working perfectly. I wish I knew of a way to test oven thermometers.

Best of luck, and I for one am looking forward to those pictures. :)

Rudy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

can be ordered from my local bakery,  They normally sell 8lb loaves and cut them into quarters.  It is standard wisdom that the larger loaves have the better flavour, and it is true. 

When you test by knocking, it should sound hollow, like a door or a boat.  With a 3lb loaf, I would give it at least an hour at 390°F if I did nothing to the loaf while it baked.   You could start out warmer Reducing the temp to 390°F after 15 minutes.  Leave the lid on until the last 15 minutes.   If at anytime you smell burning, reduce the temp or check on the loaf.  If you start out with a cold iron pot, put your loaf in a bit underproofed (on parchment paper) and add 15 minutes to the baking time.  I have baked 3lb loaves (standard for me before my mini oven) free style in oven.  And if the loaves had heavier ingredients, nuts & seeds and whole grains, lots of rye, they took longer.  Anywhere from 1hour to 1 1/2 hours.  I never had a thermometer, that would have helped.  I did not bake with the highest gas mark, more 3/4 up the scale or 200°c.

If you have a scale, weigh your finished dough to see how close you come to 3 lbs, if not heavy enough, mix in another cup of poolish with flour and add it to your dough.  You will have to taste your loaf for salt and add accordingly, don't swallow it unless you're into burping non-stop for a few hours. 

Mini O

frogg's picture
frogg

ok, here's what happened - I have documented it all with photos but having trouble uploading I'm afraid.

Following Mini Oven's advice I had taken out 3 cups "poolish" , to which I added 2 cups flour and a half teasp yeast.

I weighed it a few hours prior to baking  -  it weighed slightly over 3lb! However, I then seperately weighed another (empty) plastic bowl, exactly the same as the one I had the dough in - it weighed about 6oz. So, I added just less than a cup of poolish to the dough, and just under three quarter cup of flour and mixed together. I then got a total weight of 3lb 10oz.

When it came to baking I pre heated the oven to 7....will continue later

 

 

 

 

frogg's picture
frogg

pre heated the oven to 7 - about 425.

Didn't bother shaping the dough as I find it absolutely impossible to work with - it's so soggy. I did add more flour once or twice on previous occasions and that enabled me to work with it a little and to get a reasonably good ball shape. But this time I just chucked it all into the pot as it was.  Forget about cutting any lines or patterns into it - absolutely impossible with this dough !

Baked at 7 for 15 m ( with lid on and pot was pre heated) , then reduced to 6 - about 400 and continued to bake another 50m total time : 1 hr 10m.

Then took the lid off and baked 15 - 20 m. It was paler than usual when I took the lid off, but looked nicely baked nonetheless.

Dropped it out of the pot onto a wire rack. Tapped underneath and it sounded hollow. Cut a slice off the end and there was a soggy "band" at the bottom end. It weighed just under 2lb 12oz.

 Put it back in  with lid on - gas 6 - 35 mis.

 Still  soggy.

Back in with lid on 15 m at 7. This time it looked better but when sliced it was still soggy. Could it be it was just too much water in my mix?

The crust was absolutely gorgeous - nicest tasting bread yet, but can't be eaten ! Will try to toast it tomorrow.

Also it didn't rise as well as usual - came out risen but rather flat ...could be just the way I threw the mix in to the pot.

 Was disappointing, but never mind...will try again! I think it's got an awful lot to do with temp and time and next time I'm thinking to aim for  gas 7 all the way , 1 hr 15 - 20mins lid on, and 15 - 20 m lid off.

I'm thinking about using the remaining poolish during the week - 3 cups a time as mini oven suggested for a 3 lb loaf, plus I'll then add 3 cups flour, a little salt and a bit of yeast - leave 18 hours, stir it/fold it if possible, leave another 2 -3 hours ,then bake.

Regarding sourdough, it's nice and bubbly ( and even has a vaguely fruity smell) but not doubling in size...is that something to be worried about? It's week 2 now, but if you count the one week of no feeding, it's week 3.

 Finally, I tested the deep fry thermometer in boiling water and it  reached 212f/100c, so it works! But it's got plastic bits on it, so I assume it won't be oven safe. In any case, the oven thermometer should arrive soon.

 Thanks for all the help and tips.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Let me comment a little bit at a time. Frogg wrote:

"I weighed it a few hours prior to baking - it weighed slightly over 3lb!"

Perfect! all you had to do was work in a little flour until you could fold properly. It is allowed since there seems to be no recipe here. I thought you had one. I thought you would be adding more flour and yeast after the 18 hours were up. Sorry.

"However, I then seperately weighed another (empty) plastic bowl, exactly the same as the one I had the dough in - it weighed about 6oz. So, I added just less than a cup of poolish to the dough, and just under three quarter cup of flour and mixed together. I then got a total weight of 3lb 10oz."

Which means your baking time will be much longer. Why did you add more when you were close to 3 lbs? (16 oz is a lb) Good to know you have a scales, seems your're having fun with this guessing game. I prefer a scales to cups. I could have been more accurate. Also the more information you can provide, the easier it is for us to help you.

"Didn't bother shaping the dough as I find it absolutely impossible to work with - it's so soggy."

This is when you add more flour. Easy to do. Next time.... add more flour.

"Dropped it out of the pot onto a wire rack. Tapped underneath and it sounded hollow."

What temperature was it? I know you can stick your loaf and see. If it didn't reach temp? You can put it "open" (no pan or pot) back into the oven on the rack, it will heat up to temp faster and brown the bottom nicely.

"Cut a slice off the end and there was a soggy "band" at the bottom end. It weighed just under 2lb 12oz"

Did you add extra time for the 10 extra oz.? This is where an extra 20 min might have been needed, before removing the lid.

Hope the next loaf works better.

Mini O

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 Can you tell us more?  What is it made of?  what does it look like? 

"Finally, I tested the deep fry thermometer in boiling water and it  reached 212f/100c, so it works! But it's got plastic bits on it, so I assume it won't be oven safe."

Mini O
frogg's picture
frogg

Hi Mini Oven

You shouldn't be apologising here...not at all ! Without your encouragement I wouldn't have tried that last loaf and a whole lot of flour would have gone to waste. I remain in your debt, and am very grateful to you for coming to my rescue....it was another experience, and the flour was saved at least ! I'm used to learning from my mistakes....eventually ! And I've been a bit all over the place with this thread, so it hasn't been easy to figure out what on earth I'm up to ( sometimes I can barely figure that one out myself). I'm affectionately known in our house as"clumsy" by kids and adults alike.....the latest take on that is "clumster" !

Ok, the recipe I'm trying here is Jim Lahey's no knead bread, and his recipe is for a 1.5 lb loaf, so I'm aiming to double everything to get a 3lb loaf.

The recipe is:

Mix 3 cups flour, quarter tsp yeast, 1 & quarter tsp salt, and 1 + 5/8 cup water.... you get a very shaggy dough. Leave 12 - 18 hours , and when surface is dotted with bubbles, he says lightly flour a work surface, sprinkle little flour,, fold dough over once or twice, cover loosely, let rest about 15 mins.Then with a little flour shape into a ball and leave 2 hours. Then pre heat oven + cast iron pot to 450 f, turn dough over to get it into  pot , cover with lid, bake 30 mis, then remove lid and bake another 15 - 30 mins.

My problems with the dough are that it's so wet I can barely work it, and I've once or twice added quite a lot of flour at the 12/18 hour stage to help with that, but thought I wasn't supposed to, so stopped doing that. Would it be ok do you think to add up to another cup of flour at the 18 hour stage if necessary, just 2 hours before baking?

I think the last loaf was just too wet ...too much water I now realise. It won't even toast up nicely ( too soggy) , and I think the local wildlife will just about be able to enjoy this one. I've made one or 2 before that even the birds would have turned thier beaks up at.

Ok, I've mixed up another lot for tomorrow.... approx 3 cups poolish, and about 2 cups flour...it was too dry this time, so I then added more water - about a cup....just enough to get a shaggy but not soggy dough.  I was careful this time to assess the structure of the dough as I knew, roughly, how I wanted it/how it should be. It weighs 3lb including weight of the  dish which I know from yesterday is about 6oz, so actual weight of dough is just 6oz less than 3 lb right now. It's still a shaggy dough, so at the 18/24 hour stage I may want to add another half cup - 1 cup flour...would that be ok? This time I want it workable and I want to be able to shape it.

Any suggestions for baking time - the dutch oven way with lid on/lid off....would be appreciated.

The thermometer ( tried again to upload photo but won't work for me)  is sort of like a fat pen shape with a "pen clip" thing on the side ( imagine the lid of a Parker pen) ...you know the metal bit that you can use to clip /hang over the side of your pocket. But on top of the clip and also at it's base is a yellow plastic ball...decorative I suppose. And it's those bits I'm concerned about...why on earth they would put plastic on a cooking thermometer I don't know. I was even unsure about clipping it on to the side of a chip pan in case it all melts. ...but maybe it's heat proof or something...maybe it's not plastic.

Thanks Mini Oven , thanks Rudy, thanks everybody....we (I)  live and learn ! Can't say it's not disheartening to have so many poor results, but there's always hope ! And there's no teacher like hands on experience. Without the encouragement from places like this one though, it'd be a whole lot more disheartening, and a whole lot more difficult.  

 PS...yes I did add extra time for baking...it was in and out of the oven for considerable periods of time, with lid on and with lid off....I felt I allowed more than enough time for baking , but I think the problem was due to the sogginess of the dough...water content was just too much. 

tamraclove's picture
tamraclove

I bet you've got a candy thermometer!! Does it have a mercury reading? (ok - i know its not really mercury, but you know - that red stuff) Look at this link. That's definately not designed to go inside the oven, or to pierce bread. If you had one that looked like this, you could use it for your internal temp, but not to go inside the oven (unless you were sure the face was glass not plastic) Of course, you've got an oven thermometer coming from ebay already, so you don' t need to worry about one of those. A thermometer labeled "instant read" will give you the most accurite results without having to leave it in the bread for too long. I think I got mine at Wal-mart for about $5.

frogg's picture
frogg

hi Tamraclove

 yes,that's the exact same one i've got - the one in your first link! so I need a pyrex candy thermometer it seems...and would you just stick that right into the middle of your loaf to check it's internal temp? Would it have to hit the bottom of the loaf or just to its middle? And how long do you need to leave it in there for?

Thanks!

 

ps - would be grateful for any comments on the sourdough - it's bubbling but not doubling ! Does it have to start doubling daily before it's classed a "starter"? 

frogg's picture
frogg

Mini oven had asked why I added more dough when I was close to 3 lb - I just added it because I thought I needed it to be an exact 3lb or just over rather than under. I might have mistakenly thought also that the 6oz less in dough ( which was the weight of the bowl) would make it more a 2lb than 3 lb loaf and I wanted to be baking a 3lb loaf ! I need to get used to measurments and weights a lot more and to know when a little bit doens't really matter too much and be able to adjust accordingly.

Regarding baking times for the 3lb dutch oven loaf no knead style/method , in case anyone can chip in with suggestions, I wanted to mention that for the next loaf I have about 50:50 white flour to wholemeal flour in my mix, or perhaps just less of the wholemeal ( say 55:45).

tamraclove's picture
tamraclove

"so I need a pyrex candy thermometer it seems...and would you just stick that right into the middle of your loaf to check it's internal temp?"
To clarify my part - the candy thermometer you have cannot be used for bread. It's designed to register a change in temperature slowly... like to watch water begin to boil. It will take far too long to register a temp on bread, besides, it will leave a 1" hole in your loaf!

***Sorry about that line... don't know where it came from!*** 

LIKEWISE - the pyrex candy thermometer, while it IS metal and won't make a huge hole, it is still designed to register a slow change. Look at my third link. Get a thermometer labeled "instant read" it doesn't matter what brand - a walmart cheapie will last you years. It will give you a reading in around 10 seconds or less.

A good rule of thumb is never let a thermometer touch the sides or bottom of a pan (no matter what you're cooking). When I temp my breads, I stick the thermometer into the thickest part of my bread until it touches the bottom, then pull it back about 1/2". When the display stops changing I've got my temp! (of course, if you temp your bread from the bottom of the loaf, just be careful not to let the tip come out the top - it's cold out there! :-)

BTW - the instant-read thermometer is the same one you'll use to temp meats - baked, fried or grilled. I use mine all the time to make sure meat is done without having to cut it open to check the color. Saves lots of time, errors in judgement, and keeps all those good juices inside!

frogg's picture
frogg

I've just bought a digital stick type thing thermometer on e bay !

tamraclove's picture
tamraclove

Is this the one you bought the other day, or have you found another one?

cordel's picture
cordel

There are some thermometers with probes that are stuck in the food, while the thermometer's read out sits on the counter.  You will often find them in stores that sell barbecues.  We even have one with a remote readout, not connected by any wire or cable, which is really handy if you are smoking a brisket in the winter, or want to leave something in the oven while you are busy elsewhere.  You can just take the readout. 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi frogg.

I think I have finally figured out the source of your problems. It is not you who is messing up these breads, it is the recipes. I'm absolutely convinced of this. Reading your posts lately leads me to believe that if you were to find a working/correct recipe you would produce an absolutely perfect loaf of bread. The first recipe didn't even specify the amount of baking time. And the moment I read your directions for Jim Lahey's no knead bread I said to myself this recipe calls for too much water and not enough salt. And sure enough that was the problem you were having with the dough. In my humble opinion Jim Lahey's recipe needs 1.5 to 2 cups more of flour and another 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of salt. You also said:

   <blockquote>I need to get used to measurments and weights a lot more and to           know when a little bit doens't really matter too much and be able to adjust                 accordingly. </blockquote>

Let me see if I can get that process started. Now I have been baking bread for about ten years, so clearly there are people on this board with more experience and knowledge than me, so I hope they'll pitch in their parts into this or correct me if I'm wrong. In the time that I have been baking bread I've come to rely on some basic equivalents that have served me well so far. Here are some of them. A pound of flour is approximately 3.5 cups. In order to hydrate that amount of flour you need approximately 1.25 cups of water. Notice I repeated approximately twice. This is not meant to replace the need for weighing. It is meant to give you a base or a starting point. Now in Los Angeles where I live it is bone dry. So very often I have to compensate for that by increasing the amount of water sometimes by as much as 15%, however a person that lives in England or on the east coast of United States where it is very humid, would likely have to reduce the amount of water. Now taking this basic knowledge and looking back at Jim Lahey's recipe it becomes clear that something is amiss. Because he calls for less flour (3 cups) and more water 1.625

Now with your permission I'd like to reiterate that the main reason your dough comes out soggy out of the oven is because it is not in there long enough. And in my experience once you take the dough out and either cool it off or cut it. It is pretty much impossible to get rid of the sogginess. I think your baking times should be closer to 2 hours than to 1 hour, for a single 3 pound loaf. In fact several posts above in this very thread PMcCool posted a pair of links for you. If you follow the links you'll see a user named alaskawill baking a 3 pound loaf. She states that she bakes hers for 2.5 hours. Here is a quote:

    <blockquote>I bring over the cast iron pots, all buttered and coated with pumpkin     seed, place dough into them and let rise until double in sinze - then into the hot         oven - 450° - for 2.5 hr [bringing heat down to 375 after one hr].</blockquote>

Good Luck. You are doing absolutely awesome.

Rudy

frogg's picture
frogg

The thermometer is a new one....additional to the one I bought the other day  ! It's the probe type that Cordel has described above...hopefulyl I'll put these thermometers to good use !

have to go- cont later

 

frogg's picture
frogg

Rudy, that's really interesting....I also felt the water ratio just wasn't quite right. And regarding those big rye loaves PMcool linked to, I did look at the links, but hadn't realised they were 3lb loaves ....I noted the baking time, but mistakenly thought those loaves might be 4 - 5lb as they look so massive ( and beautiful).

I also concur regarding the sogginess....it seems to me that once you have the loaf out for a few minutes, especially once you cut into it, and then put it back in, it's impossible to get past the sogginess to a decent bake no matter how long you leave it in. 

 I think what I'm going to do tomorrow is add as much more flour as I thnk I need  at the 18/24 hours stage, then bake later 1 hr 30m with lid on at 6 ( or7), then 20 - 25  with lid off. Will let you know how it goes !

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

That sounds perfect. Really. I think if you do what you said above you will have your first great loaf. One thing to keep in mind. If you use whole wheat flour that has the germ in it, it tends to burn at lower temperatures than if you use white flour only. Since the germ is fairly fatty, like a tree nut. So if you decide on 7 instead of 6 and start to smell something burning, you'll have to turn the oven down and hope for the best. If you start at 6 though and nothing smells like it is burning you can raise the temperature to 7 when you take the lid off.

Rudy 

frogg's picture
frogg

Can't believe this...don't know whether to laugh or cry! !!!

I had it all planned. The headline was going to be "SWEET SUCCESS !" and I was going to tell how I did it. I've been dreaming bread, dreaming poodles, and polish....literally....for a few nights on the trot. This morning I woke up thinking "today's the day"...couldn't wait to get stuck in and get that dough back into the oven.

Well here's what happened. First of all,  approx. 24 hours later, the dought wasn't as speckled with bubble dots as it normally is ...probably because I used less water this time. It was still sticky and shaggy though. I very liberally sprinkled flour onto a glass board, got the dough onto it, threw some flour on top of it, and on to my hands, and folded it over it itself a few times, then shaped it into a ball. Left it to rise on the board, covered with large plastic bowl. About 2 hours later it was stuck to the edges of the bowl and creeping out from under the rim. So I again threw flour all over the place and folded the dough over itself a few times, and again shaped into a ball....I was determined to get shape this time, not just soggy mass.

Pre heated the oven to 7 about 15 - 20 mins before, then placed the dough into my pre heated pot; attempted slashes but they just seemed to close up on me ...coudln't get them to stay! Got it into the oven with lid on, turned temp to 6.5 and the plan was to leave it to 2pm ( 20 mins ago) , then take lid off and leave 15 - 20 mins and call it a day. I had a really good feeling about it this time.  

Well I got back to the oven at 2pm to take the lid off, and can you believe it, the oven was off and the gas wasn't working ! I was just dumb struck...didn't know what to think. It's never - ever - happened before. Husband to the rescue. Took him 10 - 15 mins to figure out what the problem was and to resolve it - fuse had gone on the mains plug ...it took 5 or 6 years to blow at this precise juncture in time when I was crucially counting down to what was supposed to be the loaf.

So I have absolutely no means of knowing how long this loaf has baked for - I don't know whether the fuse blew 10 mins into baking or 50 minutes into baking, or when it was. It looks beautifully browned and looks like a real smasher of a loaf. I think I might be heartbroken if it's soggy inside.  I've left it with the lid on , will give it another 10 mins , then take lid off for 10 - 15 mins  - it's all guess work now. I'll let you know anyway.

 *second thoughts - I'm going to leave it the exra 15 mins with lid on, ie not remove lid at all this time because it was already gorgeously browned when I lifted the lid off at 2pm. I pressed it on top and it felt "soft" , that's all I can say...I just couldn't tell how far baked it was. And not sure if having the thermometers would have helped or not. 

frogg's picture
frogg

I thought I'd just share this piece of nonsence with you all. I served up bits of crust the other night from the last loaf and my dad was sympathising with me over its soggy interior and commented that perhaps I should start cutting holes in the bread (with scissors) when it's part baked to enable it to bake through evenly ! I think he honestly believed he'd just hit upon the secret to the real rustic bread baking technique. (My mum said I should be sticking a knife through it and if it comes out wet it's not fully baked. ...I might try that one in a minute.)

frogg's picture
frogg

SWEET SUCCESS ?! I THINK SO !

Just took it out of the oven. It's 2.50pm. Stuck a knife through the middle and it came out clean. Beautifully browned all over. Darker underneath. Perhaps - not sure - I left it in just a little too long as it may in fact be just a little harder than it should be...but that's ok. Leaving it to cool on a wire rack. Will slice into it later. Don't want to risk it immediately ( as  I've done before) .  Oh, and there are faint signs of the slash marks ...it's looking good ! This might just be the one. Will report back tonight or tomorrow.

Ps - starter is still bubllin but not dublin.

 1 hour later : I've just sliced the edge  / outer crust and it's awesome ! Got real rustic looking holes inside (that look like they've been carefully scissor cut) , and practically perfectly baked....99% perfect....there's about a 1 - 2mm  sogginess towards the base which is surprising because it's very dark on the base and I always thought bread would have baked  from base upwards for some reason. But this is MINOR ! I can tell for sure it can be eaten as is ( I've just bitten into a complete slice - crust and inside , and it's fantastic - as good as any in Waitrose ( better in fact !), and it can be toasted. Yes...this one IS a success ! I'm feeling very confident now about repeating this loaf as often as necessary for breakfast toast......I was after a loaf that would last  2 -3  days for toast and I wanted it at least half wholemeal for health benefits. My oven playing up was a let down but I think I've got how it all works in principle now and I'm confident enough to play around a bit and adjust timings as necessary. I will aim next time -again - for 1.25 hours with lid on approx, and about 15 - 20 mins lid off; this time I didn't manage to do it that way, but it's still come out great.  Thank you to everybody for your kindness, for the time, trouble, and patience, it has taken to guide me along, and for your encouragement. Rudy and Mini Oven in particular, you've practically held my hand through this thread !  I just can't thank you enough. Without you, I may never have got there. You have been very generous, and I'm deeply grateful.

My last issue in this thread is my starter - it's clearly active , but not at all doubling in size or anything like that. I'm feeding daily every morning - take half a cup out, put back in half cup of water and then half cup flour. Give it a stir. And it's all bubbly.   Would be grateful for anyy comments.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

How much old starter is left after you take out the 1/2 cup? If it is more than 1/4 cup, then you aren't feeding enough when you give it 1/2 cup. At a very minimum you should always feed at least double the amount of flour to the amount of old starter. I would also suggest that you try thickening it up a bit by using maybe 2/3 or 3/4 cup flour with 1/2 cup water. It will grow higher if it is thicker. You should be feeding twice every 24 hours if you are leaving it at room temperature.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

things are working out now!  I added a comment to clarify "open" in baking an unfinished loaf so don't be confused by previous posting dates and order.  Hey, still have any poolish left?

Looks like SourdoLady is helping you with your starter (and she helped me too when I started)  so pay attention!  :)   She's great! 

Mini O

frogg's picture
frogg

yes, I do have poolish left ! it's amazing how it stretches. Possibly another 2 loaves out of it ! I'm thinking of trying one loaf the conventional way to compare with the dutch oven method.....any suggestions for baking time ( again, a 2.5 - 3 lb loaf ) ?  

frogg's picture
frogg

Thanks Mini O.

Hi SourdoLady

Thank you for stopping by to help with this. After I take out the half cup I have what I would estimate at about a quarter cup or less left. I'll try thickening it up the way you suggest and feeding twice in 24 hours as it's at room temp. Thanks.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Congratulations on your first of many successful loaves. There was never any doubt. Never any doubt. I also used SourdoLady's starter methodology, however, instead of OJ or Pinapple juice I used sprint water. SO I didn't have to throw anything away.

All the best.

Rudy 

frogg's picture
frogg

Thank you so much Rudy ...I know if at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again, but sometimes people can be trying a lot longer than others (!), and words of encouragement really spur the will ! Definitely a problem shared is a problem halved. The face to face computer interaction here has just taken a big edge off that feeling of "I'm all alone in the world on this". I now have some real confidence. I've just mixed up a batch of pizza dough this morning after looking at the pizza section last night....the beginning of many hot oven days !

Quick question - any advice on storing the bread? I left it out a good few hours on the rack yesterday, covered with a cloth, and let everyone help themselves as and when they wanted. It remained super crunchy on the crust. But last night I put a couple of paper towels over it and then into a couple of light plastic bags and tied them, and the crunch is all gone. It's also more difficult to slice into the next morning. I like the crunch on it when it's out of the oven, but am wondering if there's anything I can do  to get it easier to handle by the next day. Sorry for asking so many all over the place questions in this one thread - I've gone way off topic I know and everyone has been very patient.  

ps - oven thermometer arrived this morning...what a great looking gadget !

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi frogg.

Mmmmmm pizza. :)

As far as storing bread I pretty much follow the practice you described above. However, I'm the only person in my house, so a pound of dough turned into bread will last me about six days. :O So the first day I leave them all on the cooling rack covered with a kitchen towel. Simply to let them cool off. At the end of the first day I tie a daily portion  into an individual plastic bag. So if I bake off a large loaf I cut it up into daily portions and store each one in its own plastic bag. I then leave one portion on the kitchen counter, and put the rest in the freezer, not the refrigerator but the freezer. Before consumption I toss my bread into the oven, or a toaster oven. The frozen will need around 20 minutes and the one from the counter 7 - 10 minutes at 350F. This will restore the crust without any problems.

Rudy 

frogg's picture
frogg

Kosherbaker Rudy, you're a gem.....I shall try that !

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Welcome to the club..you're hooked now! Sourdolady also started me on the road to success. As for storage, I believe Susanfnp suggest leaving the loaf cut side down on a plate/cutting board au natural to maintain a crisp crust.