The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Diary of a Starter

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Diary of a Starter

Hello.

This is my first post on this amazing forum so I should probably say a few words about myself before I ask my questions. I haven't purchased a loaf of bread from a store for almost ten years now. It seemed to me that even an average loaf of bread baked at home tasted better than most of the stuff in the store. A couple years after starting to bake I discoved the magic of the starter/sponge through Julia Childs magnificent "Baking with Master Chefs", which to this day is the best cooking show to ever air on TV, and I haven't looked back ever since. However, my starter, up until now has been with dry commercial yeast. I've tried many brands and for my taste settled on SAF, which to me has the best smell and flavor, although Bob's Big Red yeast as well as Rapunzel organic yeast are a close second. I found the Star brand and Fleshmanns not to be to my liking.

Anyway, I have been itching to try yeastless starter for some time now, and having discovered this incredible site now finally have to tools and the inspiration to do so. Thankfully I am blessed with owning my own grain mill, I happen to have the Whisper Mill. So I purchased some Organic Rye Berries and three days ago started my starter. :) ( See pictures below) Generally I like my starter to be farely wet about the consistency of pancake batter or so. So I started with 2 tablespoons of freshly milled rye flour and 2 tablespoons of Crystal Geyser bottled water. On day two I fed my starter with double the day one amounts. And on day three I fed it with double the amount of day 2, all organic rye flour up until this point. Here is the picture of it now:

Starter from topStarter from top

Starter from the sideStarter from the side

So here are finally my questions. Clearly there are bubbles on the top and there is that distinct sour smell. However, there has been no sign of levening. Is this OK? Is my starter too wet or is it simply not time yet? Today I fed the dough for its 24 hour feeding interval. I split what you see in the picture into three equal parts. One part was fed with a third of a cup of organic white flour and water. Another was fed a third of a cup of organic whole wheat flour and water. And the last was fed with a third of a cup of freshly milled organic barley flour and a third of a cup of water. When do you guys think it is reasonable for me to expect to see levening?

Thank you so much in advance.

Rudy

Janedo's picture
Janedo

That is exactly the way I make a liquid starter. In the first few days it has those tiny bubbles you see in your picture. When I make a new starter I leave it to this point without feeding and then start feeding once a day like you. If it is very liquid, then after about five days you start strengthening it. You make it thicker by adding more flour to water, but it is still very stirrable, just not thin. The little tiny bubbles will become bigger 'bloppy' bubbles. I never bother worring about height. It's the activity level that is important. About 5-8 hrs after a feeding it should be very bubbly. Don't use it before it's about 10 days old to make sure it is strong. Then you can do what you want with it, make a firm, put it in the fridge, etc.

And always smell it. It should have that nice sour smell.

That's how I do it at least! Hope it helps. 

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Thank you Jane. A couple of follow up questions for you. I keep the container covered with a farely tight fitting lid, as I know yeast does not like oxygen. I aslo know that yeast does not like light so I place a kitchen towel over my container between feedings. Any comments on that are welcome.

Second question is. If I don't reduce the hydration of the starter, and make it stronger, as you say. Will my bubbles remain small even after 10 days?

Rudy 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I always do it in a glass bowl with a pan lid on top so air does get it a little tiny bit. I think air has a lot to do with success actually because you have your local beasties as well as what comes from the flour. I don'thide it from the light and never noticed a problem. When the starter is strong it becomes very hardy.

Here's a link to what mine looks like when it's ready and fairly thin.

http://aulevain.canalblog.com/archives/2008/02/12/7923148.html 

Sorry, it's in french but you can see the picture. 

I keep mine sometimes a bit thicker and the bubbles are therefore a bit bigger.

I use semi-whole wheat for an every day starter but I have white ones too.

Jane 

Brian D's picture
Brian D

In French and English?

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Do you mean the whole blog or just the page?

For about five seconds when I started the blog I thought about doing it in both languages, but the reality is that as a mother of five kids, three under four yrs old, it's already an amazing that I manage to do the blog. And the sourdough one is the second one. My other blog is my personal cook book

http://www.saveursdefamille.canalblog.com

But it's my hobby, so I find the time. Compared to many "semi-professional" blogs/sites it is a very simple format and I have no great aspirations.

I did add a link for a direct translation (down on the left hand column), even though it isn't a great one. 

Jane 

Brian D's picture
Brian D

Five kids... Old Mother Hubbard? LOL J/K... q(^_^)p You sure have been busy. I knew I should have paid more attention to the French teacher. I mean, she was cute and all... LOL

holds99's picture
holds99

Why don't you translate it.  That would be a good project for you.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

It's already AMAZING that I put the link for the translation. I'll do it for both soon.

I don't live in a shoe...

but I'm definitely stopping at 5. They're cute and all, but 5 is enough! :-)

One of them managed to lock the keys in the car with three other children inside while we were in town today. I had to call the firemen and after 45 min and firemen everywhere and the door rim ruined, my three yr old son managed to undo his seatbelt and unlock the door. He was proud but had peed his pants. And I was STRESSED! But I'll be laughing about it soon.

Jane 

Brian D's picture
Brian D

No worries Jane, I thought it would be interesting to read what you've written without the use of a machine translator. LOL at your kids. Love 'em and enjoy them while they are young.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Well...maybe I can make the effort to translate the individual entries, not the past ones. But no, no worrries! I'm very flattered that you even visited my blog! At the store someone recognized me today saying, "You are from the bread blog!!!" She had been looking stuff up about sourdough bread and come upon my blog. Now, honestly fame is NOT my goal. But I admit I was a bit chuffed.

Jane 

Brian D's picture
Brian D

We are all due our 15 minutes, so when yours comes up, enjoy every millisecond of it. I've had people come up to me and say... "I saw you playing your guitar on that local TV show", or "I saw you sailing your boat the other day". Then they go on about their music or sailing. Ah... 15 minutes, such a short time, but such a great time.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I get lots of emails about starters through the sourdoughhome.com web page.   I get a fair number of, "I did it your way and it worked" notes and a lot more, "Here's what I did, what did I do wrong?" emails.

I am concerned that the whispermill may have overheated the flour and/or damaged the critters on the yeast.  I'd suggest buying some organic, stone ground whole wheat or rye flour from a store where there is lots of turnover of stock.

 

Also, I find one feeding a day is not enough to either start or sustain a starter.  I strongly suggest going to no less than two feedings a day.

 

Based on experiments, I find starting with very small quanitites doesn't seem to work very well.  I tried scaling down Professor Calvel's bullet proof approach, and it didn't work.  There seems to be a minimum level beneath which things don't work.

 

My suggestion - you can get the long version at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/startermyway.html or just follow along here..

 

Using store bought, fresh, organic, stone ground whole wheat or rye flour, Start with about 50 grams each of flour and water.  Or about 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup of flour scooped from the bag.

 

12 hours later, add another 50 grams of each, or 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour.  Stir the water in first, this will help mix things better and get more air into the starter.

 

12 hours later, we start the regular cycle.  Every 12 hours, discard about 1/2 the starter, add  1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour, scooped from the bag.

 

A few pertinent comments here.  Some people don't like discarding starter.  At this point, it's not starter.  It's a weed patch filled with a wide array of competing microorganisms.  When it settles down and becomes a starter, THEN start saving instead of discarding.  Also, if you don't discard, in 10 days you'll have a home swimming pool full of starter, and 12 hours later you'll have two swimming pools full of starter - discarding is far less wasteful.

 

Some people don't feed their starter until it performs.  I wonder if they also withold food from their children until their children make the "A" honor roll at school.  Starter is a living mass and needs to be fed.

Somewhere along the line, you'll start seeing bubbles form.   While that is an encouraging sign, it doesn't mean you have a starter any more than when your baby says, "Daddy!" it means you have a Rhodes scholar on your hands.  There is still more work to be done.  The early rises can be from the wrong critters, and continuing to feed the starters helps settle the starters down.

 

When you starter begins to bubble, it is time to switch it over to unbleached and unbromated flour.  I use whatever all-purpose of bread flour is cheapest that week.  White flour has a lower critter count, and this helps us move to the stage where we are encourging the critters we want and discouraging the ones we don't want.

 

Again, every 12 hours, discard 1/2, add 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour.

 

You starter will be ready when it will double in size on it's own between feedings.  A number of things make this possible.  If you dilute your starter too much it won't have enough flour/dough strength to rise no matter what the critters in the starter are doing.  Having the right critters in the starter helps, and this usually is more likely to be the case after the starter is a week to 10 days old.

 

Some people say the starter will improve in taste and strength as long as you own it.  Other people think the starter reaches a peak and stays there.  Date ranges from 30 to 90 days are mentioned.  In general, I don't like to refrigerate a young starter.  Some people act like refrigerating the starter is some sort of goal.  No, the goal is making good bread.  Make sure your starter will make good bread before refrigerating it!  Also, if you can, keep feeding it at room temperature for 30 days or so to get some real development on the starter.

 

A few questions usually pop up at this point.  When can I start saving the starter instead of discarding at each feeding?  When it is reliably doubling itself in size between feedings and it smells good.

 

What can I do with leftover starter?  Make biscuits, cake, cupcake, muffins, pizza shells and more.

 

How do I use the starter - I only have 1/2 cup!  A day or two before baking, stop discarding the starter and keep doubling the amount you feed the starter every 12 hours or so.  You'll accumulate starter faster than you'll believe.  When you have enough starter, make bread.  Remember to hold back some of the starter and keep feeding it.

 

When is the starter ready to use?  The starter should be at least 7 to 10 days old, it should be able to double it's size between feedings, and it should have reached its peak from its previous feeding.  I like to catch a starter somewhere between its peak the point where it just starts to fall down again.

 

How long do I have to keep feeding this starter - isn't there an alternative?  In the days of ore, when mom and pop had a family and miners to feed, mom baked every day.  The starter was fed several times a day, and the starter - and miners - were happy.  However, we don't bake every day.  The best way to not have to feed the starter twice a day is to refrigerate it.  Feed the active starter one more time, put it into a clean jar, cover the jar loosely, and put it into the refrigerator at once.  A freshly fed starter fares better in the refrigerator than a mature one.  To be blunt, refrigerating a starter does not preserve it, it just exends its death.  A fresh starter can take the abuse better.

What do I do to use the refrigerated starter.  I am told that if a starter has only been in the fridge 2 or 3 days, you can just use it.  I'm a bit too cautious, I prefer to feed up a refrigerated starter for 2 or 3 days before using it.

 

Hope all that helps,

Mike

 

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Mike,

You are such a mine of information! Need we say that we are very lucky to have you in our midst?

I always used to feed my starter twice a day and also make the starter feeding it from the beginning. Then I experimented and started a few starters by just leaving them for a couple days until I see signs of activity and then feeding. I tried once a day for the last couple of batches and sincerely didn't see any difference. I baked bread with both batches and there was no difference. BUT, as I read your post, I also wonder if my kitchen does not have some super, unknown to this world strain on crazy yeast and bacteria making the starter so strong. It's probably best to follow you advice and wisdom on the subject! 

I also never put my starter in the fridge for well over a year. I used it so frequently that I fed it once a day and made bread basically every day. I never threw out any of it. I just fed it, used it, fed it, used it. I was so suprised when i read that people actually threw out their starter. If I had extra it went in to muffins, cakes, etc. But now that I understand different types of starters and the builds, keeping it in the fridge at different stages is a very interesting concept. And so interesting that my undersize fridge is literally PACKED with a variety of starters!

Jane 

 

bshuval's picture
bshuval

Jane, your fridge reminds me of mine... At the moment I have four jars of sourdough in the fridge:

(*) A Kaiser-style liquid sourdough (from 100% pain)

(*) My own sourdough that I fed using Debbie Wink's method, but with orange juice instead of pineapple juice. I recently transformed this one into a Monica Spiller type barm, feeding it with a salted mash. 

(*) A firm sourdough that I received from Peter Reinhart. 

(*) A sourdough that I feed without flour. I feed it with ground sprouted wheatberries (part of a series of experiments to produce Sprouted whole wheat bread. I want something that resembles the breads from Alvarado Street bakery. Any suggestions will be appreciated!). This one is surprisingly fast. 

I feed all my sourdoughs with whole wheat. 

I also have a backup of the firm sourdough, just in case. I don't keep a special white flour sourdough or a rye sourdough. If I want to make rye bread, I give the sourdough two of three rye flour feedings. If I want to make a white flour bread, I either use my existing sourdough as is, or feed it once or twice with white flour before using. 

Sometimes I do feeding experiments. For instance, I fed my sourdough with some cooked brown rice along with the flour. It gave pretty good results.

Boaz

My bread blog: http://grainpower.wordpress.com

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

you have more fingers...

 

You are such a mine of information! Need we say that we are very lucky to have you in our midst?

 

You'll make me blush.

 

I always used to feed my starter twice a day and also make the starter feeding it from the beginning. Then I experimented and started a few starters by just leaving them for a couple days until I see signs of activity and then feeding. I tried once a day for the last couple of batches and sincerely didn't see any difference.

 

I have a few things to draw on, my experience, the emails I get from people (some happy stories, some sad stories), and a circle of friends who are professional bakers.

 

So, I won't say "you MUST" feed your starter twice a day! But, I will observe the people who try to feed their starters less often are the ones who seem to have an inordinate amount of knowledge about how to start starters. (Yes, I've killed more than my share of starters.) Starters are happiest when used regularly and fed regularly. In a bakery, there is no real need to refrigerate a starter, except to have an emergency starter in case someone does something foolish.... like throw out the starter.

 

Most of what we do in our messing with starters is to try to get around the fact we really aren't using our starters the way they should be. Much like herding dogs who have become pets. Many have nervous problems because for centuries they were bred to herd sheep or cattle, not to be lap dogs. They want to work, and we're not letting them do so! The starters are similar.

 

Different things work for different people, and I always wish everyone well. But the experience I've had and had shared with me is, two feedings a day is the minimum. After that, starters experience slow declines, develop off tastes, and can develop nasty habits.

 

I also never put my starter in the fridge for well over a year. I used it so frequently that I fed it once a day and made bread basically every day. I never threw out any of it. I just fed it, used it, fed it, used it. I was so suprised when i read that people actually threw out their starter. If I had extra it went in to muffins, cakes, etc.

 

I am sure it was a very happy starter!

 

Best wishes,

Mike

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

Welcome to TFL! From your screen name and your starting your sourdough journey with a rye sour, I'm going to guess you want to eventually be making sour rye. This is one of the breads I make most often. I have generally used the formula from George Greenstein's "Secrets of a Jewish Baker." Norm Berg (nbicomputers), a retired baker, has also posted his formula on this site, and it is also very good. 

A while back, I posted Greenstein's method of feeding his rye sour and building it up for making rye breads. My post included photos. As you will see, the consistancy of the rye sour is thicker than yours. I would describe it as a "paste" rather than a "batter." Here is the link: 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4796/greenstein039s-sourdough-rye-rye-sour-care-and-feeding-illustrated

David

Marni's picture
Marni

Rudy,

I've only had a starter going for about 8-10 weeks, but one thing I have noticed is that it seems very durable.  Once you get  yours going and strong, you'll be set.  It's just getting it started that can be difficult.  It sounds like you have a good start, and good advice here.  Keep us posted please on how it all turns out!

Marni

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Wow what an awesome site this is. My readings seem to indicate that Floyd started this forum so huge thanks to all of you for the replies and encouragement, and a huge thanks to Floyd for starting this site. All of these things I greatly needed. Now to reply to some of the replies. :)

Jane even though my high school French was of no help to me on your blog, :) a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. It is remarkable how similar our starters look, even at day 4. See picture below. Can you please tell me what is that honey (or tea) looking liquid in your first picture. It is between the water bottle and the measuring cup. And how and whether you used it in your starter.

Mike, huge thanks to all of your invaluable comments. I have been reading this forum every chance that I have for the past week, more like inhaling rather, and all of your posts that I have read so far have been very educational. So I look forward to reading more of them in this thread and others. Some replies to the concerns that you raised. Excellent point on the Whisper Mill and the temperature. However, I made sure that when I milled my Rye flour, and later Barley I only milled enough to feed my starter that day. Which was a very small quantity. My organic white flour was purchased milled, from a store called Pavillions here in Los Angeles, and I believe it is a chain owned by Safeway. Also my white flour has Barley listed in its ingredients. My Organic Whole Wheat is also purchased, but from Whole Foods. I believe whole foods procures their flour from Giusto's which is a great miller in my humble opinion. As far as feeding more often that once every 24 hours. I opened my starter today at about a 12 hour interval and smelled it, and it did not have that strong, or almost overwhelming sour smell as it does at 24 hour periods. This tells me that the food I supplied yesterday has not yet been processed/digested, so I think I should stick to the 24 hour schedule for now. Although I'm open to suggestions since I'm doing this for the first time and this is such a "by feel" process. BTW I took a photo of the starters at the 12 hour interval, which appears below.

Boaz Mah Shlomcha?! I look forward to reading your blog, as soon I have a chance. I'm a programmer by trade and baking is one of my hobbies. So this is a situation where work really gets in the way. :) At least I'm working from home today. I'm typing this reply during lunch

David huge thanks for the link, I will most definitely be studying that shortly. I was born in Russia and spent the first 16 years of my life there. In Moscow around the corner from where we lived was a shop that sold the most amazing bread that I have ever tasted. And the Rye bread was the best of them all. It was pitch black, baked in a loaf pan and had a shiny sticky top. Last time I tasted that bread was 28 years ago, but its flavor is still on my tounge as if I had it yesterday. I've been able to recreate many of the formulas from that shop over the past ten years, but the black rye one remains somewhat elusive. I'm close but not quite there. I think this starter is what's going to do the trick. We'll see. I sincerely hope so.

Marni thanks for the encouraging words.

Here is the picture of the three starters today, at the 12 hour interval. Remember I split my three day old rye starter yesterday into three parts. Going from left to right are Rye starter fed with white flour, in the middle is the rye starter fed with whole wheat flour, and on the right is the rye starter fed with barley flour. Note how much bigger the bubbles have gotten on the 2 left starters. Does that look about right for day 4?

The 3 amigos on day 4The 3 amigos on day 4

Thanks.

Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy.  

At least from the aerial view, those starters all look healthy. I don't know anything about barley flour, except that many American flours meant for bread making have some malted barley added to boost enzyme activity. 

Your background is interesting. I remember years ago, there were breads sold in this country called "Russian Rye." They were indeed black. To me, they seemed indistinguishable from what was sold as "pumpernickel" in Jewish bakeries. Traditional Jewish rye and pumpernickel are both based on a rye sour, the former made with finely ground white rye and the latter with more coarsely ground whole rye flour. This pumpernickel is very different from the German style pumpernickel breads. I wonder how close the Jewish pumpernickel I know is to the black bread of your childhood in Russia. 

Here's a photo of the pumpernickel I make: 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5781/greenstein039s-pumpernickel    

David

Marni's picture
Marni

There are some bagel stores in the Los Angeles area called The Bagel Factory that sell a bagel they call Russian Rye. I know nothing about russian ryes and this one may be completely off base, but it is delicious. It is a very dark, shiny pumpernickel with bits of onion and raisin in it. Rudy, is this the type of rye you remember?

Marni 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi David. Thanks for the reassuring words on the starter's appearance. Malted Barley is what the ingredient list has specified. Sorry if I caused any confusion.

The problem with "Russian Rye" classification outside of Russia is that there are several Rye breads in Russia. The one I'm talking about is by far the darkest. There are many many speculations on what made it that dark. Some people, insist that coffee and chocolate powder was added to the dough. :O Another problem with Russian Rye is that the recipe varied depending on how far from authorities you lived. :) If it was possible to substitute cheaper ingredients for the more expensive ones it was done unscrupulously. And the plant manager put the difference into his/her pocket. In the center of Moscow where I lived, the bakeries that supplied the shops with bread, had to be on their best behavior, since the center of town was the place of residence for all the elite, police, the famous secret service, the tourists and the like. My experiments so far have led me to the conclusion that there had to be some molases in the dough. Additionally I believe the shiny sticky substance on the top of the loaf was probably molases as well. I sure wish organic Rye flour wasn't so expensive and hard to find. It makes experimentation a bit more difficult. David those loaves look spectacular. Wow. It also looks like you egg washed them. Great Job.

Marni I'm going to give a Bagel Factory a call and ask them if they are Kosher. If so I would love to check out their offering. However, bagels are first boiled and then baked, so that will make it slightly different, especially on the crust side. Additionally I believe bagels have shortening and barley malt in them as well. But in any event I'd love to check them out. I live in the Santa Monica area so it looks like the one on Sepulveda and National is the closest to me. Thanks for the suggestion.

Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

The very dark color can be achieved with carmel coloring, instant espresso powder or cocoa. I use carmel coloring - 1 to 2 tablespoons for a 6 cups of flour recipe. This also gives the bread a very slight bitter undertone which I definitely associate with this kind of bread. Maybe molases gives a similar result when it caramelizes.  

The shiney crust is achieved wiith a cornstarch solution applied before baking and afterwards. (Disolve 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold water. Pour this solution into 1 cup of boiling water, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the desired thickness is reached, then remove from the fire and apply to the loaves with a brush.)

David

suave's picture
suave

Rudy, in Russia the recipes for most rye breads are well known and typically include only flour, water, salt, and often, but not always, yeast and sweetener (sugar or molasses), so there isn't really anything to steal.  The notion that they are darkened using some sort of coloring is insane and caused by the attempts to replicate these breads using straight doughs with small percentage of rye flour. 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

David thank you for the answer on the bread color. It looks like I'm going to have to pick up the Greenstein's book along with many others on my list. :)

suave thank you for the reply. I'm always always on the lookout for more Russian Rye recipes, so if you have any links, books or other resources that you don't mind posting, I would gladly accept them. They can be in Russian or English. :) Incidentally, if any of you need anything translated from Russian let me know, it's the least I can do, seeing how helpful everyone has been to me.

Now then. Onto the day 5 of my Diary. :) This has been the most amazing day of all. At the end of day 4 the starter began to alter its behavior a little. After I fed it, its usual daily grub it gave me a beautiful 50% lift. And I also noticed that the strong sour smell that I was experiencing the first three days was now transforming to a more well rounded bouque. Seeing the starter become so much more active Mike's words began to ring in my head, and I decided that day 5 would probably require 2 feedings. So to test the theory I fed it 50% of its weight at the 12 hour mark. It seemed to have jumped from joy and gave me an amazing 100% rise within 2 - 3 hours of being fed. So I understood that it was ready for more. The aroma of the starter is now completely different from what it was during the first three days. It has an almost floral or apple sauce smell. :) I absolutely love it, albeit I have no idea if that is desirable. Any thoughts?

Here are a couple more pictures of the starter on day 5, right before the feeding. As before the leftmost is white, middle is whole wheat and rightmost is rye. The bubbles of the white and whole wheat have definitely become much larger, just like Jane predicted. However, my Rye starter is not very active. Has anyone produced a 100% Rye starter?

Day 5 - Before Feeding, the hungry tripletsDay 5 - Before Feeding, the hungry triplets

They also seem to retain 10% - 20% of the list at the top, even all the way up until feeding.

Day 5 - Picture showing the remaining riseDay 5 - Picture showing the remaining rise

Rudy

P.S. As I sat down and typed this all in. I decided to go and check on my starter. Only to see it spill way over and start to drip on the counter. :O This is within an hour of being fed. Kinda like your boys huh Jane? Well I scraped up the stuff that spilled over and will make some bread tomorrow with it. I had almost a quarter cup spill from each of the white and whole wheat. So I made a batter with 2 cups of flour each. We'll see what happens with it tomorrow. :) 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

Wow! I'd say those starters are extremely active.  

I do keep a rye starter. Sometimes I have two rye starters - one fed with white rye and one with whole rye. They don't behave like wheat flour starters, exactly, although I must confess I never keep a rye sour as highly hydrated as yours appears. My rye sours do swell and expand. They do bubble, but they do not ever form the kind of surface covered with foamy bubbles of different sizes like my wetter wheat starters will. I think I posted the link for how I feed a rye starter (after Greenstein).

Daniel Leader's book, "Local Breads" has many recipes for German, Polish and Czech ryes. You might want to look at this book. 

I have not made Russian ryes, but you have stimulated my interest in looking for recipes. Do you have any recommendations of sources for authentic recipes? 

David

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi David. Thank you for confirming my suspisions of my starter being active, and a huge thanks on explaining the rye starter behavior. Yesterday, which was Day 4, I began to lower hydration of my starters by a tiny bit, only because I was planning on a 10 day minimum to get the starter going. I had no idea it would be ready in 5 days. However, while it maybe alive and active I understand that there is no way that the flavor can be fully developed in a mere 5 days so I will continue to feed my boys. Tomorrow I will split them in half before the first feeding. That way I can make one starter to be of a dough consistency and the other my usual pankace consistency. Reading this site I discovered that the starter consistency yields different flavored bread. And it appears as though folks prefer the lower hydrated starter.

Fortunately Leader, Glezer and Reinhart are already on my list :) along with a few others.

Unfortunately the source I tried to use once was in Russian and not terribly reliable, so I ended up foregoing their recommendations. I also have a book on Russian Cuisine in general by Anne Volokh, called The Art of Russian Cuisine. The book is in English and is absolutely superb. The best of its kind compared to all the other Russian Cook books on the market. But its bread chapter is quite small. :( So most Russian bread recipes I had experiment with until I arrived at a flavor that I remembered. And they were of course all straight doughs. I've used a starter, of course, but my starter was with commercial yiest.

Rudy 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

My reading of preferences for firm versus liquid starter is that those who feed their starters daily (or more often) and keep them at room temperature prefer liquid starters. Those who use their starters once a week or less often and keep the starter refrigerated in between activations prefer firmer starters. 

Firmer starters have more flour for the beasties to nosh on, so they keep better without frequent feedings. 

There are flavor differences between liquid and firm starters, but hydration is only one variable that influences the flavor profile. The other important ones are temperature and time.

David

Brian D's picture
Brian D

Quote:
There are flavor differences between liquid and firm starters, but hydration is only one variable that influences the flavor profile. The other important ones are temperature and time.

What do you think are the flavor difference between the liquid and firm starters?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Brian. 

As I tried to express, hydration is just one factor. It interacts with temperature and time of fermentation. I have no personal experience with all possible combinations of these. The bread cookbooks have some information, but it is generally in terms of the particular combination of hydration and temperature that favors a particular variable. For example, yeast growth is optimized by a warm, liquid environment. Acetic acid production is favored by a solid, cooler environment. 

That's what I've read. On the other hand, a warm, liquid starter (after fermentation) sure smells strongly of acetic acid to me.

David

Brian D's picture
Brian D

m(._.)m - Domo Arigato

suave's picture
suave

David, this is what typical Russian rye bread would look like:

Firm starter (73% hydration):

43 g. rye starter
195 g. whole rye flour - must be finely groud
142 g. water

Mix, cover and leave for 6-7 hours at 85-90 F.  The original recipe calls for 1/3 of the mother starter and fermenting for 3-4 hours, but I find that using more traditional proportions and doubling the fermentation time works equally well.

Dough (69% hydration):
97 g. whole rye flour
290 g. high extraction flour
333 g. starter
261 g. water
9 g. salt
17 g. sugar
1 g. instant yeast

Mix all ingredients and knead until you have well developed gluten.  In KA it takes me about 12 minutes at second speed.  Ferment 80 min at 85-90 F.  Flatten the dough and shape a tight boule.  Proof in basket, seam up, 50 minutes at room temperature.  There's no need to slash.  Spray with water before baking and 1 minute before taking out of the oven. Bake with steam 50 minutes at 440-450.  Let the bread cool thorougly, 2 hours at least.  The loaf should have shiny surface without tears and tight uniform crumb.  Using medium rye flour instead of whole rye and/or bread flour instead of high extraction flour also works well.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi suave.

Beautiful shot. Is this one of yours? This bread has many names, and its most popular purpose is as a welcoming bread. In fact it is baked such that there is an indentation at the top of it where a small cup of salt is placed. Then the whole thing is brought out to the dignitary visiting the town/village. You are supposed to break of a piece of bread dip it in the salt and eat it. :) BTW this isn't the bread I was talking about earlier, since the flavor of this bread is a little more straight forward, and still incredibly delicious.

Suave I'm having trouble finding a definition for "high extraction flour" any links? Or is it simply marketed as such and you purchase it like this?

Rudy 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

High Extraction Flour is flour from which some, but not all, the bran has been removed by sifting. Examples would include First Clear Flour (from King Arthur Flour) and Golden Buffalo Flour (from Heartland Mill). 

"High extraction" is a difficult concept in that it refers to the proportion of the entire wheat berry that remains after the milling process. So, whole wheat flour is 100% extraction. I think "white" flour is <75% extraction, which means >25% of the weight of the wheat berries has been removed by sifting. The most highly refined white flours ("Patent flour") may be around 50% extraction and has part of the endosperm milled out. have the impression that "high extraction" flours are around 85-90% extraction. (Without actually looking up the specifications.) 

David

suave's picture
suave

Rudy,

Yes, that's one of mine.  High extraction flour is wheat flour milled to about 85% extraction rate, that is 100 pounds of wheat berries converted into 85 pounds of flour.  It is not readily available, and I approximate it by mixing 50% bread flour, 25% whole wheat flour and 25% white whole wheat flour.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Suave. 

Sorry for the delayed response. I've just returned from a visit to one of my sons and his family in Portland, OR. 

That rye looks great. It's similar to one that I make, except, in mine, all the rye is in the starter, which is about half the total flour in the recipe. 

I'll have to give this a try. Thanks! 

David

suave's picture
suave

Interesting, David.  I wonder, how sour your bread is?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Suave. 

The rye I was comparing yours to is moderately sour. That is, it has a very definite sour flavor but not so sour as to be the dominant flavor. I hope that makes sense. 

I happen to like it that way.  However, I also like ryes that are less sour. The recipe I most often make is from Greenstein's book. It calls for 3 cups of sour, but he says in the recipe you can cut that down to 2 cups if you want a less sour bread.

David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Suave. 

Your Russian rye looked so good, I made it today. I set up the starter this morning, mixed the dough this afternoon and baked it this evening. Rather than making one large boule, I made two 525 gm boules. I baked them 40 minutes - 25 minutes at 450F, then 15 at 440F. 

They look very nice. The crust is shiney, as specified, very dark and staying quite hard. They are almost ready to slice and taste, although I really ought to let them wait until tomorrow. I think this type of bread is generally best the day after it is baked. But, I probably won't be able to wait to try it. 

David

suave's picture
suave

Rudy,

If you can read Russian you should look at mariana-aga.livejournal.com - there's great many authentic Russian breads there.  You're unlikely to find a better resource.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Suave, wow. What a site. I only spent about 30 minutes on it, but what I saw was quite amazing. She really does have almost all Russian breads available and it looks like she has official sources/recipes for them as well. Impressive. Can't wait to dive into it head first. I'll need a good English to Russian dictionary for some of the terms though, like starter, sponge, Barley Malt and even Whole Wheat flour and many many more ... :) Spasibo Ogromnoye :)

Last night around 9pm I used two of the starters to make a sponge/biga. I hope I'm using those terms correctly. :) Basically I made my dough with 75% of flour, 100% of water, salt and lemon juice. And this is what greeted me at 6:45am this morning:

Sponge from the 5 day old starterSponge from the 5 day old starter

Basically my sponge tripled in volume and remained standing just like it is in the picture until I added the remaining flour to it, and kneeded it for about 20 minutes. I then set it to proof for 2 more hours. Within those two hours the dough quadrupled. :O I then took it out and formed demi baguettes from them. The demis proofed in the couche for 30 minutes after which I turned them out onto mypeel ans scored them. After that they sat on the peel for 15 more minutes. So the total proofing of the demis was 45 minutes. I then proceeded to bake them for 30 minutes with a small pale of water on the bottom of my oven. Here is what came out:

Test loaves from 5 day old starterTest loaves from 5 day old starter

The white is in the front and the whole wheat is in the back. As you can see the I have a bit of work to do yet. :) The crumb is still a little denser than is possible to get from a sourdough. And most importantly the flavor told me that the starter needs more time to develop. So I fed it a good dry meal, which required splitting each starter into two parts. And placed all six cans immediately in the refrigerator. Now I have a lot more starter than I'll ever be able to use. :) Say anyone in Los Angeles needs some organic active yongster of a starter? :)

I think I'll let it do some development in the refrigerator, between feedings and test it again later. Thanks to all of you for your replies, amazing insights and encouraging words. I learned a lot from this thread. And hope it will be useful to anyone who might chance upon it later.

Rudy

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Your on the right road! There was a long thread about getting nice crust, steam, etc. The crumb and its "openess" depends a lot on the recipe. 45 min is not long for proofing of a sourdough, did you follow a recipe? Usually it's a lot longer.

Looking forward to seeing your continued road. The diary is very interesting and helpful for those starting out.

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Thank you Jane. Nope no recipe. This was my procedure, for the final proofing of demi baguettes for the straight dough, which clearly is not applicable here. :) My next step is of course to find some sourdough specific recipes and use those in my next test. Several posts I read seemed to have been praising recipes by some user named Janedo, so maybe I'll go searching for those. ;) :)

Rudy 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Oh, that's me! I have a very basic recipe that you can try out that is very similar to Susan's "favorite sourdough" which ironically I'm in the middle of making right now (it's rising) to compare. But really the proportions and method is the same. Go see her site at

www.wildyeastblog.com 

The recipe is on the right under popular posts "My new favorite sourdough" 

Follow her technique for the autolyse and folding because I think it adds some strength and shape making it easier to handle.

The only difference is that she puts rye (which I did today) and less of it and I change the flour according to what I feel like. The base is white, then add a bit of rye, high extraction or spelt (which I'm a fan of)

The advantage of this recipe is that it is a one day affair and it'll give you a feel of the dough, the timing for rises, etc without having to wait two or three days to see how it's going. You'll want to try those long technique breads in the future but it's good to get an easy one down pat.

And in this house, where I bake bread for a large number of people, their favorite is still this bread, shaped into bâtards.

Looking forward to your results!

Jane (aka Janedo) 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Yup that is you. :) I will check out Susan's recipes as well. Now David has made several of your breads and I assume he got the recipes from the Artisinal Baking forum here in TFL unless of course he speaks fluent French and got them from your blog.

Rudy 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Here's the recipe:

The liquid starter is fed in the evening, left on the table, covered. The next morning it'll be nice and bubbly.

In your mixing bowl, put 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water (room temp, cool)

Take about 3/4 cups (150 g) of the starter and put it in the water.

Use 19,05 oz of flour (540g).  For my favorite bread I use 400 g white (T65) with 140 g white spelt. Otherwise try with all white or white with a bit of whole wheat (not much) or rye (which make a nice pain de campagne but then put proportionally less). Just modify the water if you use a whole type flour, it drinks more.

Add the flour, mix a bit, do an autolyse (20-30 min). I didn't used to do that but I do always now. (I'm learning more, too)

Add 10g salt. Knead/mix until dough passes the wondowpane test.

The dough should be nice and smooth, firm but not too firm.

5-6 hours first rise with two folds, but it depends on the weather! It's getting warmer so may go quicker. Mise en couche, 15 min, shape and then the proofing really depends on the temps. Sometimes as little as two hours, but sometimes longer. I sprinkle flour on the bread to rise and cover it with a cotton cloth napkin.

Oven at 410°C (210°C). Throw in a cup of hot water in the tray but don't spritz the bread! 

35 min. in the oven until it's a nice color and sounds hollow.

The main difference between Susan's bread and mine is that hers has a bit more starter from the beginning and a shorter first rise. 

There's a link to the translated (bad but readable) version of my blog on the lower left hand side.

Happy baking,

Jane

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi Jane.

Thank you for taking the time and posting your recipe. I will definitely try this next. I was going to make Peter Reinhart's challah bread next, but now will bake this one instead. Reading your directions made me realize the mistake I made with my demi baguettes. My bulk rise was only 2 hours, whereas your bulk rise is 5 - 6 hours. In fact I'll be shooting for something closer to 6 this time. A couple of questions. Am I to use my white flour starter, or does it not matter? What does the following mean "Mise en couche, 15 min,"? :)

Unfortunately, I do not have spelt flour handy. However, I do have Rye, Whole Wheat, Germ and Barley flour. And for anyone who has not used Barley flour in their breads before, I cannot recommend it enough. Especially if Whole Wheat style loaves. The flavor it imparts is absolutely addictive.

About my oven setup. I have a small stainless steel pale that I use exclusively to generate steam in my oven. I put water in it and place it right on the flame shelf. I also do not use a baking stone. I use a cast iron flat and smooth griddle that is about the size of my oven shelf. It retains heat like crazy, and so I'll have to see how my bread will react to 410F for the full 35 minutes. Since this is mostly white flour bread I think it will be fine. However, when I bake a whole wheat loaf on this guy it burns their bottoms an anything above 425F. :(

Rudy 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

You can do a six hour rise if your kitchen is not too warm! Otherwise it will over ferment because of the high quantity of starter. My kitchen is about 19°C (around 70°C). So, after a few hours keep an eye on it.

The mise en couche is just that you take the dough out of its rising bowl, put it on a floured kneeding board/counter, form a rough ball shape, cover it and let it sit fifteen min. The dough will relax. Then you shape. I make one boule or bâtard but you can make two smaller.

You can use white or ww starter. You just have to watch the texture of your dough according the the change of ingredients.

Jane 

kendow's picture
kendow

This is a great site! I have been lurking here for a couple of weeks and have learned so much already that I hope it's okay to just jump right in.

Rudy's search for different ingredients to try for Russian rye bread is particularly interesting. May I suggest "The Finnish Cookbook" by Beatrice Ojakangas (1964). She has many excellent recipes for rye bread which call for Dark Corn Syrup or light molasses, none of which I have tried yet.

There is a Christmas Rye Loaf that calls for sorghum molasses or dark, unsulphured molasses in combination with boiling water, rye and white flour. (The glaze is 1 tablespoon molasses with 1 tablespoon warm water.) This is not one of her sourdough breads. Evidently she has a book about only bread. Her recipes are the authentic Finnish recipes from the old days. I am searching for that dark tangy pumpernickel with caraway seeds.

Just suggestions here. Thanks,

karen

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Well it is Day 12 of my starter, the last 5 of which they have spent in the fridge ,  unfed, developing more complex and rounded flavors. I needed some bread for today so last night I took out the whole wheat starter to make the recipe Jane posted above. I pretty much followed the recipe to a letter. I even weighed my ingredients. :) Since I've never baked this bread before and don't know what I'm after, I thought I'd post a picture of it and let you all comment on it. I'm learning a lot on this forum. And feel like there yet much to learn. Here is the shot:

Bread a la Jane from starter of Day 12Bread a la Jane from starter of Day 12

Now I ended up using 400g of organic white flour and 140g of freshly milled organic Rye. When it came to baking I ended up baking the whole thing. Admittedly I rarely bake loaves this big I usually split them into 4 loaves, bake them off, and freeze two for later enjoyment. I also don't usually proof my dough for more than an hour before the oven, or the final proofing as it were. I got maybe a 10% dough rise in the oven. And after 35 minutes I determined that it wasn't enough so I kept the dough in for 10 more minutes the last five of which was turned up to 450F.

BTW the flavor is really starting to come into its own. There's now sweetness, nuttiness, floral and savory attributes clearly available on the palate. I'm very happy with the taste, but could use feedback on appearance.


Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

Your bread looks very good. I have made Jane's bread 3 times, but never with a whole wheat-fed starter and never with rye. I would think you would have to add more water to achieve the same degree of effective hydration because of the whole wheat. Also, the rye would result in a denser bread than spelt or wheat flour. That's not bad, just different. In fact, Jane suggesting trying it with a little rye, which I plan on doing. 

Your crust appears less dark than mine turned out or than the photos on Jane's blog. I ended up baking my last attempt at a higher temp. than Jane specified, and I think I liked the crust better. 

I really have never gotten the fantastic oven spring Jane does with this bread, and I'm not sure why. 

You can see my attempts of this bread on my blog on TFL, if curious. I love having a recipe for bread this good that is "only" a single day's project, not counting feeding the starter.

David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Thanks for posting pics!

It looks like there wasn't enough steam in the oven.

It isn't a big holes bread when mixed with other grains, so the crumb looks good. It looks like it may be slightly over proofed but that's hard to tell. It may just be because the crust color is so light. But it should have sprung more even with the rye. Did you let it proof in a banneton?

I have made this bread several times in the last few days doing all the techniques (autolyse, folding, proofing in a banneton, letting it fully proof). It makes the bread "fluffier" but strangely not better than what I was doing before. I took all the steps in pictures and am going to post the complete recipe in the blog this week. It's long to do! 

Oh, also, I now have a dot fr address (someone already has the dot com)!

www.aulevain.fr

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Thank you guys for your comments, David and Jane. David I looked at your blog and your loaf looks spectacular. It definitely got more spring in the oven than mine. How long was your final proofing before you put it into the oven? I do not think I can get my crust to be this dark mostly because instead of a baking stone I use a cast iron flat griddle, that I purchased in a BBQ Grills accessories section. At above 425F it will burn anything that has whole grain in it. I may switch to a more common ceramic stone just to test it, but I'm spoiled by this setup as it holds on to heat, like crazy.

Jane I'm looking forward to your post of the pictures, for sure. I agree with you that the dough did overproof. My experience tells me that 2 hours final proofing for a 1 pound dough is too much. I normally go for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes at the max. Are you sure that 2+ hour final proofing is correct? I don't think the steam was the problem as I placed my stainless steel pale filled with a cup of water right onto the burn element before preheating the oven. And I made it a point to watch it to see if there is water in it after I put the dough in. The water lasted me to the 15th minute of baking. Now I haven't purchased a banneton yet, and they are kinda expensive. So I used my All Clad strainer, lined with a couche for that purpose. :) It worked beautifully.

With all that said, the flavor is absolutely intoxicating. I can't get enough. :) So needless to say, I'll be making this again. I'll simply adjust the final proofing time to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Especially since my starter is very very active. This dough at least tripled with every fold. And I folded every 2 hours.

Rudy 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy. 

It's been about a month since I last made Jane's bread, but my recollection is that it rose more quickly than expected so my bulk fermentation and final proof were both shorter than Jane specified. Even so, I think my boule was over-proofed compared to Jane's, which is the best explanation I have for her greater oven spring. This is all the more remarkable in that Jane does not use a baking stone, and I do. 

If your dough is rising as fast as you say, your starter must be even more active than mine. In any case, I would use the amount of rise as a guideline rather than the time, especially for the final proofing. 

BTW, look at the San Francisco Baking Institute web site for bannetons. Their prices are the most reasonable I've found. 

 http://www.sfbi.com/baking_supplies.html  

David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

All the little details can change a bread so much. Plus your starter that will get better and better. This bread is a good one to master and then go to things more complicated. I do recommend using a regular stone. I don't even have a stone, yet. It is baked on a regular NOT preheated baking pan. Go figure. I think my oven is great! It's electric with the fan thing... convection?

You can try with less whole grain. Do a 400g white to 140g light rye or high extraction.

I'm going to try and finish the article today, if the kids would like to nap! 

Jane 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK, it's posted:

http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aulevain.canalblog.com&hl=fr&ie=UTF8&sl=fr&tl=en

Don't laugh at the translation!

Lots of people said that I should slash deeper. I admit I never do it the same and was in a bit of a rush, but today I'm making bread to do a slashing experiment. Results soon!

Jane 

 

holds99's picture
holds99

Jane,

The link to the post on your site is spectacular.  Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to share your recipes and techniques...they're a really nice gift to all of us.  The photo presentations are terrific and that's a great picture of you and your son. I have saved your link in my "favorites" so that I can bake some of your recipes in the not too distant future.  I have also started using liquid levain, similar to yours, almost exclusively when baking rustic breads and it is really working very well for me.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Thanks Howard! I wish I had more time to do it better. It's also a learning thing for me as I don't proclaim to be an expert. The discussion my posts create help me in my sourdough adventures, as do the discussion here.

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

OK just to restate the obvious. This forum is amazing. The more I read it the more I learn. Jane I have a confession to make. In your instructions in the post above and in the translation link you specifically said to add salt after the autolyse stage and when I was mixing my bread dough I added the salt before. So here is my question to you all. Could that explain why my bread overproofed in 2 hours whereas Jane's dough had not?

Rudy 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mixing to overproofing in just 2 hours?  What kind of alien yeast are you using? 

Mini O

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi Mini O. I'm not sure where my grains and their yeast came from. :) It wasn't from the air since I kept my jars sealed during starter development. But somehow I ended up with a very active starter. When I followed Jane's recipe above and mixed the dough, it tripled in less than 2 hours after each fold. And since the final rise called for 2 hours My dough was overproofed when I put it in the oven. so I'm trying to understand why. Maybe the simplest explanation is that I live in Los Angeles and it was warm that week.

Rudy 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You're holding back in-for-ma-tion.... ;) You now wrote: "...2 hours after each fold." Ah Ha! How many times did you fold? (Gotcha now!) How long did it take from the moment the dough was mixed until the decision was made that it is overproofed? I know, I know, you mean after folding and shaping, 2 hours of final proof was too long. Is that it?  

Mini O

 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

What? ME?! Never. :) :D

Mini O, basically I am continuing the discussion of Jane's basic bread that I baked on Day 12 of my starter. I have a picture of it 12 replies above this one. And the general concensus from Jane, David and myself was that the finished product pictured in that picture was overproofed. No as I mentioned in the posts above I followed the directions which called for 2 hour final proofing. The directions are above, and they specify how many times the dough is to be folded etc.

Its starting to look like the culprit for overproofing may be my location. As I said I live in Los Angeles, where temperatures tend to run a little warmer than in France where Jane is, or even in Northern California where David is. Come summer time, when hotter temperatures arrive in France and up north I would be curious to hear how that affects the final rise times for both Jane and David.

Rudy 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It is much warmer there and I'm sure you've figured things out by now, sorry, I just couldn't resist.   Now comes the time of the year where many of us in the northern latitudes try to find a cool place for the dough to proof.  Cool boxes and ice cube time is coming.  I'll pipe down now.

Mini O

holds99's picture
holds99

Rudy,

Hope you don't mind me weighing in on this one.  If I understand what you're saying, you added salt to your dough prior to, rather than after the autolyse.  If anything, it should have had the opposite effect, retarding/slowing the speed of the fermentation/rise a bit.  Rather than increasing the speed of the process, resulting in faster proofing or overproofing it should have slowed it down.  In my experience, overproofing is something that occurs for various reasons; dough too warm, room too warm, oven light too warm (if you use the oven to proof), too much yeast, not enough salt, etc. or when you just don't catch the dough in time and it more than doubles in volume, the yeast spores run out of food, the dough peaks and the sinking begins. 

Incidentally, it seems that some of the French bakers add salt later in the mixing process, as there are a number of recipes (similar to Jane's), which call for introducing the salt into the recipe late in the mixing process; Bernard Clayton's - Pain de Compagne Madame Doz (as I recall), Maggie Glezer's - Thom Leonards Country French  Bread (for sure).  They do this, presumably, to get the yeast spores really working before introducing the salt, which has the effect of slowing/retarding the fermentation process. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hi Howard.

Are you kidding? :) Do I mind if you interject here? It was actually your post in another thread that led my train of though in the direction to ask the above question. So a big thank you to you and to all who have replied and will reply.

As far as what you said, I concur and agree with all that you have said. It is indeed consistent with my baking experience. However, the longer I bake bread the more I realize how little power I have over yeast. :) And the dough for that matter. It will remain wild as it has ever been. The best I can do is try to understand a little more about it and provide it some boundaries and direction. :) I thought that perhaps some chemical reaction might cause the dough to be more resilient if the salt is added later in the process, as in after the dough has been formed. Granted it may have been a reach, but in my mind it was possible. :)

Thanks, Rudy 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I used to add the salt right from the beginning, but I admit that I like these different stages in the creation of bread. I really like the ones that let the flour and water "react" and then add the starter and salt. I am NO  chemist, I don't know really why different methods give different results. As Howard explains, salt inhibits the yeast/bacteria development but autolyse is only a short time (20-30 min) so really won't let your dough over proof as Oven mini said.

I let sourdough breads rise slowly so I use cold water and normal room temp. (about 70° and sometimes under) In my experience it benefits from a slow procedure and the advantage is that it's hard to over proof because you can really keep an eye on it.

Jane

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

OK gotcha. My proofing was on the kitchen counter, not in the oven and my water was room temperature as well. I'm going to be baking your loaf again this week. So I'll just keep an eye on the final rise and put it in the oven when I think it is ready. We'll see what happens.

Thanks, Rudy 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I read your conversation with Oven mini. If your temperatures are high these days that will DEFINITELY change your timing. When you read a recipe, you can figure it's based on normal temps. If you have warmer weather, everything changes. If you have a basement or cellar, you might want to let it rise there. I live in the South of France (Med Sea side) where summer temps go easily over 100°F. From the moment the temps go up, I start putting the dough in the coolest room of the house. This year we are having a terribly wet spring and so the temps are reasonable, but usually we are already into the hot weather.

 Jane

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Uhhhh ... Rudy? I've not heard about Fresno having such a cool climate before. Can I forward your comments to our tourist bureau? 

On a more serious note, I have never let the bulk fermentation or proofing of Jane's bread go as long as she specifies. It would, indeed, be over-proofed if I had. When my starter is in liquid form and fully activated, it raises dough like a rocket! As far as temperature goes, my kitchen was probably around 70F, plus or minus 2F all three times I made Jane's bread.

David

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Sorry about that Dave. :) I'm blushing from shame. :) I dunno but I guess I thought Fresno climate would be cooler than Los Angeles. Maybe because it's more north or maybe because you are so close to the Mountains. Temperatures inside my aprtment these days range between 76F in the morning to 80ishF during the day. That's in Santa Monica area. Anyway, thanks to you guys I think I'm zeroing in on the overproofing issue.

I have a question unrelated to this thread for you, David. There are lots of agricultural activity in the central California area including the area not too far from Fresno and further up north. From the map showing wheat growing regions, that I found on this site, I noticed that quite a bit is grown in California. Have you ever tried to locate a grower and maybe purchase the wheat from them directly?

Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy.  

The climate in the San Joaquin Valley, also known as  "the great central valley," is pretty similar to that in the San Fernando Valley, with which you may be more familiar. 

Fresno County gererates more income from agriculture than any other County in the USA. Besides, cotton and grapes (the biggest cash crops), we produce significant fractions of the total domestic production of tree fruits such as peaches and nectarines, melons, specialty vegetables such as bok choy and daikon, and essentially all of the domestic production of some crops such as figs.  

However, to my knowledge, the San Joaquin Valley does not produce much if any grains, other than those meant for feeding livestock (Corn and sorghum) . 

I love the idea of buying wheat or rye from a local farmer. I am going to check it out to be sure. We buy almost all our fruits and vegetables at farmer's markets, directly from those who grew them.  

David

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Here is the link to the thread that shows wheat groing regions:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4632/major-wheat-growing-regions-us-reference-maps

And if I'm reading it correctly you have some Hard Red Winter grown somewhere nearby. I also buy as many of my groceries at the farmers market as I can, however, I doubt we will start seeing wheat sold at our markets any time soon. :) 

Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks, Rudy! 

I'll look into this. From the maps, it looks like wheat is a "major crop" in Kings County, which is to the south-west of Fresno (45 minute drive). Fresno County also grows hard winter and durum, apparently. I don't know where or in what quantity, though. This is a fairly big county. I bet the local Farm Bureau or even the USDA or the Cooperative Extension Service could tell me. 

I'm going to investigate further. 

David

brakeforbread's picture
brakeforbread

...any word on you local wheat exploring David? As a fellow Central California baker (Tulare Co.) I would love to hear if you heard anything.


Thanks,


Brake for Bread

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, BforB.


I found that wheat is grown in dozens of areas in the Valley, but I did not explore buying options, etc.


David

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Just a thank you to brakeforbread and dmsnyder for bringing this thread back.


Really captivating, the whole thing. Great posts from Rudy, Janedo, dmsnyder, Howard, let's just say everybody!


I haven't seen Rudy around for a while and I miss him! Rudy? Get back here!


Soundman (David)

invisiblechef's picture
invisiblechef

I stumbled on this site and am exicited by the exchange of advice and experiences.  Levain breads are my passion. I teach yeast breads at the local community college.  Both my colleage and I have had very good success even though we are somewhat abusive to our starters.  I have a white one that I started from the formula for liquid levain in Jeffery Hamelman's book BREAD.  After the twice a day feedings, I dropped it to one and within 10 days was achieving excellent results with simple levain breads of 67% hydration and no additional yeast.  I now only feed once a day and refrigerate, often long periods between uses, up to 8 weeks of complete neglect.  It has always come back for me.


With that said, I will try building my levains with two rather than one feeding and see if that improves the end product.  I look forward to digesting your advice and improving the subtelties for me and my students.


Thanks for the great site!


I.C.

Bixmeister's picture
Bixmeister

Has anyone tried making dry starter?  By dry starter I mean taking a fully activated starter and spreading the starter thinly on a non-stick pan liner i.e. teflon, then letting it dry.  Next you remove the dry starter and pulverize it in a coffee grinder etc.  Take the powder and store it for when you want to initiate a new starter.  I have done this for starters in the past with great success.  I have 2 starters on order from Sourdough International in Idaho.  I plan to create storable powders that I can go to when I want starters.  Sometimes I break away from having a starter in the fridge so this is an economical solution.  I use my fridge for several other hobbies i.e. homebrewing and cheesemaking.


 


Bix

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Take a look on the main page here:
http://www.breadtopia.com/


Scroll down to the menu for: Sourdough Starter Videos
I.E.:



http://www.breadtopia.com/drying-sourdough-starter-for-long-term-storage/


http://www.breadtopia.com/starter_instructions