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chapstick's picture

Last weekend I conducted an experiment to test the theory that a larger quantity of sourdough starter produces a more sour tasting bread. On the face of it, this seems obvious, but I thought I'd read an alternative theory. The alternative theory is that less starter means a slower-proofing dough, which means more time for the sour flavours to develop.

I used Trevor Wilson's low-hydration dough as my basic recipe, using rye flour instead of whole wheat. I doubled the pre-dough ingredients and then divided the pre-dough in half on baking day.

I made two No Muss No Fuss rye starters, one using 3g seed to make 81g starter; the other using 6g seed to make 160g starter.

My NMNF 'mother' starter has been in the fridge for at least a month now, and definitely has been developing its sour taste. This came through on both loaves. My partner and I agreed that the one with the larger amount of starter did have a stronger and more sour taste. However, the difference wasn't huge. Unfortunately, she was the only "blind" tester I had! I suspect others might have been able to detect a slight difference, without being able to identify it as a difference in sour-ness.

I'm still developing my dough handling and shaping skills, which I think explains why one loaf (the one with 160g starter) came out flatter than the other.

crumb - dough with smaller starter

crumb - loaf with more starter

A third loaf I baked the same weekend was a complete pancake!

Cedar Mountain's picture
Cedar Mountain

I just finished this bake and was going to post today's bread for World Bread Day, which I understand is today? And it was then I noticed Dabrownman's Home Made Bread Day challenge for November 17th.  Oh well, whatever day it is today - World Bread Day; Get Out Of Bed Day; Stay In Bed Day; Walk The Dog Day - and since Home Made Bread Day isn't until November, and since, as has already been posted, "...there ain't no stinkin' rules" for Dab's bread extravaganza, I declare this post as for World Bread Day and not just a preliminary round for Dab's challenge.  I kinda like this no rules thing, here's today's bread....

Toasted Amaranth Porridge Bread  (who knew amaranth tasted so good...not me!)

Same old, same old basic dough as in my previous posts with a 250 g toasted amaranth porridge addition; final hydration about 80 %; cold proofed overnight in the fridge for 16 hours and baked straight out of the fridge in a 500 F oven for 20 minutes; 450 F for 10 minutes all with steam and then 450 F for 18 minutes without steam (I tried the same oven set up aLFanso and others on TFL have used with a lava rock steam tray, another tray with rolled up wet towels and baking straight out of the proofing baskets onto a peel and onto baking stones).  


...could really feel all the little bits of toasted amaranth in the dough


I think next time I will not bother with coating the loaves with amaranth seeds...pretty but messy!


The crumb is nice and soft, very much a porridge bread texture and with a nice, nutty flavour from the toasted amaranth on the crust and in the crumb



Southbay's picture

About a week ago, I made a bread with Carolina Reaper and Fatali peppers that was well received by my heat-loving friends at Roberto's Mexican restaurant in Sunnyvale. It felt like the theme could be explored little further, so I got another few peppers from the garden down the street. My intention was to make a very spicy chili lime sourdough bread with cilantro and a little bit of corn flour mixed in and using my brother's salty spice 'n seasoning mix in place of the salt. Although this turned out good and spicy, voices just kept asking for more cowbel...I mean "more peppers."


I cleaned out the seeds and chopped up four peppers into tiny pieces. If you haven't experienced these peppers, I can tell you that they are as serious as a pepper gets. Then I grated off the zest of four limes. The zest of a lemon eventually went in as well since it was just sitting there and came from the same garden as the peppers. My brother's seasoning mix looks roughly the same as Montreal steak seasoning and even contains some of that, but it also contains lots of other things. I usually describe it as a salty chili lime taste, so it made sense with this bread.  

It was a pretty white dough with a couple of heaping tablespoons of corn flour. I'm starting to think even a little bit of corn flour very much changes the ability of the dough to hold air and spring in the oven. I dunno. Everything got a better/finer chop this time. The pepper oils started to permeate the dough with some handling. Even without touching or tasting them, it felt like the temperature had gone up to about 90F in my kitchen. It was therapeutic and maybe a little habit forming. We'll see. 

The dough came together well and joined its buddy the nutella rye in the banneton lounge. Goldenrod, the bread knife, stood watch. 

Lately I've been giving my breads a little bit of a bench rest and some stretch and folds before retarding them in a well-floured banneton overnight. The next day, I just take them out of the fridge when I wake up and they are proofed and ready to bake some time in the afternoon. Surely I'm missing out on the benefits of degassing or shaping after the overnight rest, but this way works for me. I can even let them rise some or even most of the way and then store them in the fridge overnight. The next day, just pull the banneton out of the fridge and you're ready to rock. Letting the dough come up to room temperature before baking is optional. 

I've distorted my pics a little bit trying to reduce the size. The bread baked in a cast iron Dutch oven combo closed for 20 mins at 460/open for 20 mins at 350. I sprayed the bottom pan with a tiny bit of avocado oil and blessed it with a pinch of kosher salt; even included a pic of the salty bottom. 

This time, I brought the bread to the restaurant still warm. It was Friday, and the free margaritas found their way into my belly along with a slice of the bread. It was very spicy but manageable. The heat would build as you ate more. I was sweating, and the bread seemed to keep my entire body warm throughout the night. My wife said it had a great balance and texture and was more than just a spicy stunt. The lime aroma/flavor came through just enough. 

Again, this bread was well received. They are spice and heat addicts at Roberto's, so the feedback I got all followed the same theme: Make it hotter!! Two waiters and the hostess paid separate visits to deliver identical instructions. More peppers! More heat!! More cowbell!! For next time, i've been instructed to take a handful of the peppers and just run them through the blender, seeds and all, to make the bread insanely hot and maybe give it an orange color. So I have a plan for take number 3 of Lucifer's loaf. I'm always looking for a new bread idea, so it's good to have one in my back pocket. 

Next time, I will probably try a much smaller sample. It was hard to sleep with a little supernova inside of me. They are waiting on a shipment of fancy bourbons at the restaurant, so it was strongly suggested that I bring in the next fiery boule when the new batch of beverages shows up. 

dabrownman's picture

I say we have a challenge bake for this wonderful day which celebrates what we do every week!  Post them here the week of November 17th.  

Happy baking 

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Old Shanghai (老上海- lǎo shàng hǎi), the 1930's Shanghai is one of my favorite eras in history just like old Manila. There's no's other era in my opinion where flair and flamboyance meet sophistication and class! It has this certain charm that's difficult to describe and resist. The fusion of East and West just harmonizes with each other; the buildings, the bridges, the alleys, the vehicles, the qipaos/cheongsams, everything! Shanghai was not called Paris of the East for no reason. If time travel will ever come true, it is sure to be one of the eras I will go back to!

This bread is inspired by my love for the Old Shanghai era and my desire to experience what was life back there. Of course, it was a fusion city so the food there must have influences from the west. First, bread- wheat is not the staple in some parts of China and from research Chinese breads before that time are only steamed breads and baked flat breads. Sourdough known as lǎo miǎn (老麵 )is also used to leaven bread of any kind in China as commercial yeast was not yet available at that time. The breads were very basic too with probably only 4 ingredients just like European breads because they were meant as staple food.

Here is what I came up with, a bread made with Chinese ingredients using western techniques. I thought of Chinese flavors that will complement each other. I love lychees for their special flavor and they're one of the famous Chinese fruits so I decided to use them then a bolder flavor so I thought of Mandarin oranges, their flavor packs a little punch but not overpowering so that's the combination that I thought. Finally, I decided to use Jasmine tea, one of the famous teas in China for the liquid because it has this delicate floral aroma that will go well with lychees and mandarin oranges for a triple layered Chinese flavour profile.

The bread is still made with sourdough for a little bit of European and Chinese tradition and BAKED in a PAN because at that time those ideas were new and most likely to become trendy. A revolutionary and fashionable bread at that period, that's what exactly this bread is!

*Another coincidence October 16 is World Bread Day, I'm sad I wasn't able to join when it was still active. They're on a break now but I will still celebrate it with this bread.

The dough has both bread and AP flour for a balance of chewiness and tenderness. I autolyzed it with the jasmine tea for 2 hours at room temperature. The dough is dark because of the tea. The jasmine tea need to be fairly strong for it to come through in the finished bread. A tip for brewing strong tea: Increase the amount of tea, not the brewing time!

After the autolyze, I added the levain and salt and gave it 30 slap and folds. I gave it 2 more sets of 30 slap and folds each one hour apart. The dough became smooth and silky.

After two hours, I incorporate the lychees and mandarins by a stretch and fold. I gave it 2 more sets of stretch and folds to evenly distribute the fruits and add strength. The bulk fermentation is 6 hours in total then it went into the fridge overnight. Zhou Clementine likes a long warm bulk fermentation for her to raise the dough properly. The dough could have a retarded cold bulk ferment, a short and warm proofing, or another retarded proofing. You could certainly fit the dough to any schedule but you cannot mess with long warm bulk ferment, after that it will be a breeze.

Here is the dough the next morning. I used canned lychees and mandarins because fresh ones are not yet in season. I forgot how much water they contain and made the dough extremely watery, much like a ciabatta!

I tried to shape it into a log on a liberally floured surface but it was futile so I just dumped the whole thing into the greased and floured loaf pan and proofed it at room temperature for 2.5 hours.

Here it is after the final proof. The pan is more than 80% full and the dough is very bubbly. I'm just amazed with my starter's strength. I'm so excited to bake it as I slide the lid onto the pan.

I baked it in a frying pan over a wood fire rotating the pan at regular intervals, that's where the lid comes in handy; it's mainly conduction that cooks the bread. Because of the high water content of the dough I baked it for 1 hour and 20 minutes. An hour with live fire, the rest just embers and here are the results.

The crust is slightly crisp and soft and studded with oranges and lychees everywhere. A perfumey fragrance filled the air when I slid the the lid off to release the bread. This is the most fragrant bread I have ever baked.

The crumb is slightly open but even maybe because I mangled the dough while "shaping". The crumb is soft and moist because of the fruits but it is certainly not underdone. What I'm most amazed with is the colours of the crumb as seen in the close up. I mean, just look at it! The tang was just right, and lychees and mandarin oranges taste wonderful together with the subtle jasmine aroma. A very delicious bread!

Sorry, but I just can't get this scene out of my mind that this bread is served as a snack or as a house special at a hip lounge in Old Shanghai so I tried my best to make it happen. . Coincidentally, The table where the bread lies is made from lychee wood! I also use lychee firewood to cook this bread, I only used 4 "sticks" and they were enough for the entire cooking time because they produce a roaring stable and long fire! Lychee is if my memory serves me right, is the 6th heaviest and densest wood in the world and comes with a vibrant red color without staining. The wood is from our yard, maybe more than a hundred years old because my dad told me that when my great grandfather came here, it was already a huge tree providing shade! It was starting to decay two years ago so we had it cut down and made into furniture.

The name 夜上海 (Ye Shang Hai) means Shanghai nights and reflects the vibrant, decadent, and luxurious culture of Old Shanghai (of course there is a dark side to all of this and that's not the one I find amazing about this era) much like the adventurous nature of this bread. I thought of the name after I listened to the song Ye Shang Hai by arguably the most famous diva of the era, the golden voice of Old Shanghai: Zhou Xuan. Here is the song  周璇- 夜上海 complete with translations and background and a video showing what the era was like.

This is my wild imagination of sitting in a lounge indulging in this bread and a mocktail (I don't drink! :P) while listening to Zhou Xuan and other jazzy music letting the hours pass by. Here are a couple more of classic hits from the era that I like to listen to, maybe you can too if you have time. 周璇-花樣的年華周璇 - 月圓花好 / 周璇 - 何日君再來 / 周璇 - 陋巷之春 / 白光 - 桃李爭春 / 李香蘭 -夜來香. Most of them are by Zhou Xuan because she is my favorite singer of this era, most of the songs here too were covered by Teresa Teng, my favorite singer of Chinese songs. This is my weird side again, I like them because they have an old and lovely feel quite unlike the many songs of today and it also helped me in learning the Chinese language.

With this picture, I remembered the film In the Mood for Love. It is set in 1960's Hong Kong but the feel is like 1930's Shanghai. It is also one of the reasons I learnt to love Cantonese and learn some words. The restaurant and dining scenes there looks like this one; watch it someday, it's a great film.

This one even looks like a sepia photograph!

This is a long post because it is full of my personal aspirations and I'm just so happy about this bread. Someday I will make a bread that is dedicated to Old Manila too. Thank you very much!

STUinlouisa's picture

This loaf was inspired by a post from lechem (Abe) this week. It made me remember that I should get back to Einkorn bakes that had been suspended for other interests. It is made with 100% fresh ground Einkorn ( except for the bit in the starter) with the addition of dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. It is leavened with a combination of sourdough and YW. Very tasty, would make a great turkey sandwich. Have to remember this one come Thanksgiving.


Southbay's picture

My wife went into chocolate crisis the other day and asked me to pick up some Nutella. She said something like wanting me to make a bread "oozing with Nutella." Although I acted on this request and used a good amount of the stuff, I misinterpreted the ask. What she wanted was something more like a giant Nutella-filled sourdough bread doughnut literally oozing with the stuff. What we got instead was delicious and might even become part of the regular rotation around here. 

Started off with a glop from San and a glop from Fran (my starters) along with two very heaping tablespoons of Nutella. My basic recipe is 1 cup water + 2.5 cups flour + 1 tsp salt = bread. This gets adjusted by feel depending on what flours are being used and what sort of end result I'm going for. The first cup of flour to go in was one cup of black rye. It looked sort of like pudding. Whether by design or because my work can be off and on, sometimes I leave the first cup or so of flour in with the water like this for some time. With whole grains or rye flours, I believe the extra time spent in all that water helps get stubborn or delicate glutens into gear. 

At this point, I was wondering whether it was going to end up like a big round brownie with the chocolate smell and color. The salt and the other 1.5 cups of flour went in (Gold Medal bread flour) with some kneading to incorporate the last of the flour. It took some extra flour to account for the oils and extra mass of the Nutella, and then I added a bit more flour just to be safe. It never felt quite like a good white, wet bread dough. The kneading that preceded some stretch and folds ensured a tight crumb later on, and the dough really stood up to gravity while proofing next to its buddy, a very different and spicy bread. 


All of the bold bakes on this site have made me feel self-conscious about my pale-skinned boules, so I turned the oven up a few extra degrees for this one. I preheated the bottom half of the combo dutch oven at 460F, put the top half in for 5 minutes once the oven was preheated, and then baked for 20 mins covered at 460 followed by 20 mins uncovered at 350. As is my preference, the bottom of the pan was sprayed with a tiny bit of avocado oil and blessed with a pinch of kosher salt. 

With two different camera settings, the color looks completely different, so I included both. The hotter temp than usual left the bottom a little blacker than I like, but it tasted good. With the rye and the oils from the Nutella, this had a soft crumb that you could compare to the Beefsteak brand rye breads sold in supermarkets. The taste reminded us both of the pumpernickel breads we had growing up but with a lighter, nutty taste. It's ever so slightly bitter and really tastes good. 


leslieruf's picture

This weekend I decided to start my journey into rye breads with Hamelman's 40% Caraway rye but I chickened out of the 40% reducing it to 30% for this first try(double anything I have made before).

Last night I mixed the rye levain and left overnight on bench.

300g rye meal flour

100g Hi grade (11.5% protein so not quite Hamelman's Hi gluten flour)

332 g water

20 gm starter.

This morning I added 600 g Hi grade flour

348g water

17.5 g caraway seed

18 g salt and 4.2g instant yeast.

I don't use my Kenwood Chef mixer anymore, just making everything by hand, so wondered how this would turn out.  I did a couple of gentle slap & folds followed by quote a few stretch and folds. I kept hands wet and was happy with dough so left it to bulk ferment about 75 minutes as room temperature was cooler than he suggested. I got some rise but not a huge amount, perhaps 30% at most. Hamelman does not say how much to bulk ferment, just 60 minutes for doughs upto 50% rye. Here it is before dividing and shaping. 

Starting point was between the 2 top marks.  Here is a photo of 2 of the shaped loaves before proofing

I proofed loaves the time Hamelman suggested. No idea if proofed enough although finger poke indicated it was ok. (photo below) I made 2 x 500 and 1 x approx 740 gram batards.  I wanted to check baking options again, so one 500 g loaf was baked in my usual DO and the other in an oval stainless steel lidded caserole dish - both preheated with the oven for just over an hour . 

I baked the loaves at 240°C for 15 minutes then removed lids and dropped temperature a little and baked for another 18 minutes. After 5 minutes, the loaf in stainless dish was not browning much so I removed it and the parchment and finished the bake on oven rack just above my stones. At the 18 minute mark, I removed the right hand loaf from the Do , checked internal temperature as as it was 209°F kept it out of the oven.  The other loaf needed about another 3-4 minutes to reach this temperature and to get a good colour. 

Reheated the oven and DO and baked the larger batard in a similar manner.  



This is the crumb shots of both the 500 g batards, the left hand loaf is the one from the stainless "DO" and despite the identical treatment up until baking, the finished loaf is different. There doesn't seem to be as much ovenspring (altho side by side they have similar height) when you look at the crumb and crust on bottom is thinner.

Here is the crumb of larger batard.

Overall an interesting bake. 

Don't quite understand the differences in the crumb.

The flavour is nice, I have never been a fan of caraway seed in a cake so I wondered how I would find it in bread. I possibly should have reduced the caraway a little because I used less rye?  and excuse the funny question, but do you ever use ground caraway or is it normal in rye breads to use it as I have, ie as a seed?

Will definitely make this again though.


Cedar Mountain's picture
Cedar Mountain

In a moment of folly I decided to have a go at making some baguettes, just like the ones in aLfanso's posts, the ones with the many different, lovely, delicious looking pictures of perfectly formed, scored and baked loaves. Yes, that's what I was going to bake...I mean, really, how difficult could it be? It's the same sort of dough, naturally leavened, fermented, proofed - so the shaping is a little different and the scoring but that shouldn't be a problem, right?  aLfanso had very kindly provided advice and information from his broad baguette experience and encouragement to bake baguettes - I wonder now though if it's just some sort of Obi Wan aLfanso thing drawing naive wannabe bakers to the baguette dark side!

In summary,  Alan suggested I try his version of the Hammelman Pain au Levain with WW for a relatively straight forward first time baguette baking experience.  Well, let me just ain't as easy as he makes it seem!  And arrogantly, I thought it would be no problem to tweak things here and there, increasing the fresh milled whole grain component a little (because I have issues with mostly white bread, it's just a thing with me), skipping the 1 hour retard after the bulk ferment because I wanted to get to bed and probably underproofing the loaves because I was pushing to get the bake done with the threat of a possible power failure looming over me with the second of three forecast major Fall wind/rain storms going on! And re-jigging my oven set up with more oven bricks to enlarge the baking surface, adding a lava rock steam tray and another steam tray with rolled up towels, all without a test bake to first determine the idiosyncracies (hot spots; temperature fluctuations) of the new set up.  But enough with the excuses, here's the result...I think I shall lick my baguette wounds and go back to the friendlier and familiar baking of boules and batards in my Le Creuset and Schlemertopf!




dabrownman's picture

Not quite a year ago Lucy took a shot a sprouted SFSD that had a bit of sprouted whole grains here

It had 4 sprouted grains of emmer, wheat, rye and spelt at a bit over 23 % with a 13% pre-fermented bran levain, 73% hydration with KA bread flour and LaFama AP for the bulk of the dough flour.  This one is similar with 4 sprouted grains of red and white wheat, rye and spelt, 10% prefermented sprouted bran levain, 72% hydration with Winco bread f and Lafama AP for the dough flour.

This one we retarded the 100% hydration bran levain for 8 hours rather than 16, the autolyse was the same and the dough was not retarded at all unlike the 16 hour retard last time.  This time we added 1% each of diastatic wheat malt and red rye malt to the autolyse since we had just made some of each not long ago.

Amazing how much darker the bran levain is than the dough flours.

David is working on his old school SFSD quest so Lucy though she would continue her Modern Sprouted SFSD one.  Another small difference was in the way we developed the gluten this time.  We did one set of 40 slap and folds followed by 3 sets of 4 stretch and folds from the compass points - all on 30 minute intervals this time.

We then let the dough rest for a half hour of bulk ferment before pre-shaping into a boule using stretch and folds followed by another set 10 minutes later.  We then placed the bole into the rice floured basket seam side down so we could bale it seam side up in the DO without slashing like last time.

Maybe a bit over proofed?

After 2 hours of sitting on the counter to proof we fired up the oven to 500 F preheat with the DO inside.  When we un-molded the dough onto parchment on a peel it was exactly 8 hours after we removed the levain from the fridge.

After 1 minute of lid on steaming, we turned the temperature down to 450 F for another 17 minutes of lid on baking.  When the lid came off, we saw that the dough had sprung fairly well so we continued to bake at 425 F with the convection fan turned on.  After 5 minutes we removed the bread from the bottom of the combo cooker.

10 minutes later the bread had browned up nicely and tested 2o8 F on the inside when we removed it to the cooling rack.  For some reason it didn’t splat as much as we thought it would and it did not blister at all since it wasn’t retarded and cold when it hit the heat-  but it smelled great as it cooled. The bottom was more brown than the usual retarded loaf as well.

 We will have to wait and see how the crumb came out compared to the previous attempt 10 months ago.  The crust went soft as it cooled.  This one is wonderfully sour with a tang but I didn't taste it until 16 hours after it cam out fo the oven and these breads get  bit more sour as they age.  The crumb is irregularly open, soft, glossy and moist.


Little Miss Floozy herself

With the whole sprouted grains it has a much batter and complex flavor than the SFSD of late or old.  The crust isn;t as dark as I would like but a few more minute in the oven would take care of that.  I'll take the modern version over the old just for the flavr alone!

Remember to have a salad with that AZ sunset



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