The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

This weekend's bake - Sourdough rye rolls, plain sourdough bread

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

This weekend's bake - Sourdough rye rolls, plain sourdough bread

Here's this weekend's work. My first all white flour sourdough bread (from The Bread Baker's Apprentice):

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And a whole pile (40!) of lovely little sourdough rye Craisin rolls. These are from Bread Alone. The recipe calls for currants, but the craisins are wonderful.

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-Joe

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

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Big, beautiful voids, chewy crumb. Delicious! I'm getting better with my dough handling.

Not very sour, though. I may try keeping my starter stiffer. I've read that will make it more sour.

-Joe

luc's picture
luc

Joe,
nice crumb and structure on that loaf. Bravo!

I recently have had some success myself so I know exactly the feeling you got when the outside looked just right and then comes the big moment and you saw into to it with the bread knife and VOILA! the crumb is just as well done as the crust! :)

Satisfaction.

Keep it up!

Best regards,
Luc

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Joe..That is one beautiful loaf!
My loaf looks great on the outside..but the crumb is small and tight.
The flavor is right on. My starter is bubbly and happy when fed.
Should I be using my starter when it is at the peak of its bubbling?
Would you tell me your technique of feeding right before using your
starter after it has sat a week in the fridge?
Thanks

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Let's combine! :)
Here's my procedure for the white starter (Gertie) (from the Bread Baker's Apprentice):

My 'mother' starter is the one that lives in the fridge. It's fairly wet, like a poolish.


  • Day before baking, take the mother starter out of the fridge.
  • Mix a portion of the mother starter with more flour and water to make a 'firm' starter - like French bread dough. I forget the exact proportions, but it's in the recipe.
  • Feed the leftover mother starter, at least doubling it by weight. I keep 8oz of mother starter, and add 4oz flour + 4-5oz water.
  • Leave both starters on the counter for about 4 hours, until they double (the mother starter may fall if it's very wet. This doesn't seem to affect anything).
  • Pop the starters back in the fridge.
  • Use the firm starter in the bread recipe the next day

The procedure for the 100% rye starter (Clyde) is different, and comes from Bread Alone. I was going to try the above procedure with Clyde, but he takes longer to double, and I didn't have the time.

Again, the 'mother' starter is the one that lives in the fridge. It's fairly wet, like a poolish.


  • Day before baking, take the mother starter out of the fridge.
  • Mix 9oz of starter with 5oz of rye flour + 4oz of water.
  • Feed the leftover mother starter; 9oz of starter + 4oz rye flour + 5oz water.
  • Leave both starters on the counter 8-10 hours, until they double. I usually do it overnight so I can form the loaves in the morning.
  • Pop the mother starter back in the fridge.
  • Immediately use the firm starter.

Hope that helps!

-Joe

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Thanks..I will try your method. I have BBA..so I'll take a look
at the proportions. My starter, which I keep in the fridge, is on
the stiff side. I'll try for wetter.
My understanding of a slack dough is that it is very wet. True?
I seem to have a terrible time when the dough is wet. It doesn't
hold its shape after proofing.
I'll report back with results..thanks again!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Yes, a slack dough is fairly wet. Not pancake-batter wet, but it should be sticky and amorphous. A really wet/slack dough is impossible to knead in the way you normally think of kneading. You have to stretch-and-fold it. TBBA has step-by-step directions with pictures under Ciabatta. Floyd also has a nice article on it on this site.

The dough for this sourdough loaf was somewhere in between. Not quite ciabatta-wet, but it was very soft, and on the tacky side. I was able to knead it by hand by dusting my hands with flour every couple of turns.

I also tried not using my Kitchenaid to do any of the mixing or kneading this time. Usually I give my loaves a 5 minute knead with the dough hook, then finish by hand. This time was all hand work, and you can see how nice the results are.

To hold their shape during proofing, I use a couche. I put the loaves on the well-floured cloth and pull up the fabric between them. After they're proofed, I put my peel next to them and roll the loaves gently onto the peel, pulling up the fabric to do it. That seems to be the best way to prevent them from deflating. I roll them onto my SuperPeel so I can slash them, then conveyor belt them right onto the stone.

Would pictures help? I can take some next time I bake.

-Joe

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

So..if you didn't use a couche your loaves wouldn't hold there shape either? Hmm..guess that will be the next investment. I have had slack
dough as you described..so I guess I have that part right.
I also need to write to the Pizza Meister and get a super peel.
I don't think I could get a loaf like this in the oven without one.
Pictures are a great help..but don't go out of your way..
TY

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Well, they wouldn't just puddle out to the sides, but the couche does help keep them rising in the right direction.
You don't need to make an investment. A floured tea towel makes a fine couche.
With some practice, I'm sure you could get these (and any other) loaves in with a regular peel. That said, the SuperPeel does make it an awful lot easier to get 2 at once in there sideways to fit on my stone. It's a well made tool that's worth what he's charging.

-Joe

Sculptress's picture
Sculptress

The holes in your bread are the most beautiful I've seen! Wow! I for one would love to see your photos and get more detailed instructions on how you did it. At this point, my loaves look great on the outside, but the inside is another matter- too fluffy and tight-grained. I'm going to try a wetter dough like you suggested. -Sculptress