The Fresh Loaf

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The Lemmon Loafs

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gravityarcher's picture
gravityarcher

The Lemmon Loafs

Hi there everyone! I'm new to the forum and have looked around and decided to post my own little topic searching for some advice.

 

I spend my summers on a Moutain in Arizona called Mount Lemmon. It's at 9,157ft. This summer a friend suggested that I capture some wild yeast and make sourdough bread. I did so and have since been making loafs of sourdough with varying degrees of success (or rather, results). They all have been quite tasty!

I'm off the mountain now, back in Tucson, and I took my starter with me. It didn't like the pressure change of 6000ft so it took a few days to revive. It's interesting how different the baking characteristics are at the different elevations!

This morning's loafs came out very tasty! Incredible flavor, nice crunchy crust. But, as has been a recent trend (both on the mountain and off), the loafs have a hard time rising... only ~20% overnight. 

I had one particular loaf on the mountain that rose fantatsically well and ended up being the ultimate french toast for breakfast for several mornings. But that loaf seemed to be out of the ordinary!

 

I have come to conclude that it's not rising nearly as well as it should for the following possible reasons:

a.) I'm proofing it too long

b.) I'm letting the starter sour too much, creating a very acidic environment so proofing just zips through and then there is hardly any activity anymore.

 

That's all I can think of. Suggestions much appreaciated :D

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Not knowing your recipe and build technique I am guessing that you're not infusing enough starter into the flour resulting in an inadequate rise. The fact that your starter seems to be ailling somewhat does complicate the picture. It might not be a bad idea to focus on rejuvenating your starter prior to making more sourdough. Feeding it with organic high protein flour with diastatic malt will help to reestablish the colonies vitality. Another concern is that the water you're using changed when moving from the mountain back to Tuscon. I suggest you try using bottled water till the patient is feeling a bit better...,

Wild-Yeast

holds99's picture
holds99

FWIW.  Here's a refresh/build I took, and condensed a bit, from one of Mike Avery's postings on TFL.  It works great for me.  I use it each time I want to get my starter ready to bake.  That's assuming your starter is fairly healty to begin with.

Refreshing Sourdough Starter – Mike Avery  

STEP 1

1 tablespoon starter, add ¼ cup water stir vigorously with wire whip, thoroughly mixing the starter with the water. Add ¾ cup white flour to water/starter mixture and mix thoroughly, cover and let stand at room temp. for 8-12 hours.

NOTE: This feeding starts things out and really dilutes the acidity. 

STEP 2

8-12 hours later, add ½ cup water and ¾ cup flour.  Mix thoroughly, cover and let stand at room temp. for 8-12 hours.

STEP 3 and onward

From this point onward, every 8-12 hours discard 2/3 of the starter and add another ½ cup of water and ¾ cup white flour.  Repeat Step 3 every 8-12 hours until starter doubles and become foamy. 

AT THIS POINT THE STARTER IS READY FOR USE.  IF THE STARTER HASN’T REVIVED WITHIN 2-3 DAYS, IT ISN’T GOING TO REVIVE.  TOSS IT OUT AND START OVER.

Hope this helps.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Gee... Howard added a typo to my process.  Usually I do that pretty well on my own.  <grin>

 

At the first step, I use 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour, not 3/4.

 

Hope that helps,

Mike 

holds99's picture
holds99

Didn't mean to invade your turf.  It won't happen again.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

(I thought I'd posted this before but did didn't show up.  If it appears twice, please accept my apologies.)

 

No sweat about stepping on my toes.  I don't mind when people talk about me, use my suggestions, point people to my web site, praise me, suggest I'm full of it or whatever.  It's all good, it's all part of being in an online community.

 

The only part of my turf you invaded was the whole typo thing!  I can typo just fine on my own!  So, we'd all be very happy if you stopped invading that part of my turf!  Leave the typoing to the pris!

 

Mike

 

holds99's picture
holds99

Thanks.  Glad you caught my error before I heard back from the person to whom I sent the erroneous information.  This is an example (on my part) of not getting it right and then making matters worse by attributing it to you.  Mea Culpa.  We're fine.  Many times I have said you are an expert on sourdough and I stick by that statement.  I'm going to confine myself to brownies and cup cakes for the next 30 days, as penance, along with wearing a Cable Mills burlap flour sack shirt.  :-)

Hang in there and hope all is going well on your end,

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

So, your post is angelic!

It's hard to know what is happening since you didn't mention how you feed your starter, or how often, or any details about your recipe.

 

I recently moved from the mountains of Colorado (7,703 feet above sea level) to the Dallas/Ft Worth area (essentially sea level).  And my starters were about the only thing that still worked the same.

 

It is worth mentioning that many starter handling techniques work only for a fairly short period of time, but are leading to a slow decline in the vitality and taste of the starter.  I'd start looking there.

 

Also, at lower altitutudes, it is necessary to use more riser and a slightly wetter dough to get the same results.

 

Hope this helps, for more help you might let us know how you maintain your starter and your recipe and process for your bread.

Mike

 

gravityarcher's picture
gravityarcher

Thanks for the suggestions eveyone!

 

Some of you suggested I explain how I feed my starter. I'll be honest, I rarely measure water or flour exactly. 

If I leave my starter out, I feed around 1/2cup of flour and a little less water every day, making sure its bubbly and active. To proof it the day of use, I usually just add between one and one-half cups of flour and a little less water (to a sticky paste so it fluffs up). Once it doubles or so, I mix maybe half of that with flour till i get the consistancy of a elastic dough and kneed it. But generally speaking, there is quite a bit of the proof compared to added flour since my proof is like pancake batter at this point. I'll add salt and some olive oil too. 

When keeping it refrigerated, I feed it about a half cup of flour and a little less water (sticky pancake batter consistancy) every 4-5 days.

 

Maybe that will help shed some light on what I am doing wrong!

 

(As a side note, I took my starter out of the fridge this morning, and right now, 6 hours later, it's bubbling quite nicely and looks and smells happy. It seems that maybe what I brought down from the mountain could have been really acidic and ailing from the pressure change. Maybe this next loaf will come out nicely.)