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bwraith's picture
bwraith

I thought it would be interesting to compare four different approaches to sourdough fermentation. I've baked four test loaves, each with 500 grams total flour (using a 50/50 blend of Heartland Mill Strong Bread Flour and Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo for a blended ash content around .85%), 72% overall hydration, and 2% salt. All loaves started with 18 grams 80% hydration white flour storage starter.

The difference in the loaves is in the fermentation method. In one loaf a direct inoculation of storage starter in the final dough (one-step method) was used. In the others a sourdough preferment was built and fermented for different amounts of time. The final loaf includes a spike of instant yeast.

Fermentation Methods Used

  1. Build final dough including 18 grams of starter, bulk ferment for 11.75 hours, final proof for 3 hours all at about 70F. (xls and html spreadsheets)
  2. Build a sourdough preferment constituting 35% of total flour and ferment until just doubled, about 8 hours at 70F. Soak remaining final dough ingredients overnight in the refrigerator. Mix preferment and soaker and bulk ferment for 3.75 hours at 70F then final proof for 4 hours at 70F. (xls and html spreadsheets)
  3. Build sourdough preferment same as in step 2 and ferment for 4 additional hours after it has doubled, about 12 hours at 70F. Proceed same as in step 2. (xls and html spreadsheets)
  4. Build sourdough preferment same as in step 3. Add 1/4 tsp yeast to soaker. Proceed same as in step 3. (xls and html spreadsheets)

The idea is to compare a long fermentation from an initial very small amount of starter to using a sourdough preferment that is immature (just doubled) or more mature (peaked). Finally, in the last one, the idea is to add in a spike of yeast to improve the rise in the case where a large, mature (35% of total flour and fermented until peaked) preferment is used.

In all cases, the final dough was shaped into a loaf when it had a little less than doubled during bulk fermentation.

Photos of the crust and the crumb from left to right:

Test Fermentations 1-4 From Left to Right - Crust

Test Fermentations 1-4 From Left to Right - Crumb

Comparison

Crust

I couldn't tell any real difference in the crusts. It's possible the first one was a touch darker than #2 even though both were baked at the same time. Maybe there was a little more enzyme action in it since the entire dough was hydrated at room temperature for about 14 hours.

Crumb

Although they are more similar than different, the crumb was slightly lighter going from 1-4.

For loaf #1, this may again be a function of the enzyme action, which may have in some way hindered the gluten development. Another explanation might be that I needed to fold #1 one or two more times earlier to improve the gluten development over the longer fermentation, as it did seem a little too relaxed at shaping time, relative to the other loaves.

For loaves 2-4, the more mature preferments did not hurt the gluten in this case. I believe the very strong flours contributed to the better results with the more mature preferments. The more mature preferments probably had a larger organism count than the preferment for loaf #2, as they weren't at the collapsing stage yet. So, with higher organism counts, higher fermentation byproducts, but very sourdough tolerant flour, the more mature preferments ended up with slightly larger loaves in the end.

The oven spring went in opposite order to the loaf volume, not surprisingly, which explains why the result after baking is not as different, but the overall loaf volume before baking was significantly larger for loaf #3 than loaves #1 or #2. In the case of loaf #4, the yeast clearly had a big effect on gas production before shaping. I did deflate it a little during shaping, of course. It again was significantly larger pre-bake than loaf #4, but after baking it was only a little bit larger. In summary, the loaf volume before baking increased significantly from loaf 1-4, but the oven spring, which was greater in 1 and much less in 4, offset much of the difference. Nonetheless loaf #4 had a noticeably lighter feeling in the mouth.

Flavor

All of the loaves were fairly mild in flavor. However, without a doubt, loaves #3 and #4 were more sour than loaves #1 and #2. Everyone who I had test the loaves was able to discern the more sour flavors in #3 and #4. There was some debate about the order of #1 versus #2 and #3 versus #4. My youngest son, William, noted a sweetness he seemed to like in loaf #1. I believe he may be detecting, once again, some effect of the enzyme action that was probably greater in that loaf, which soaked for so long at room temperature, and may have resulted in more starch broken down into sugars. My oldest son thought #2 was more sour than #1, which may be correct, given that it had a slightly longer total fermentation time. My son's girlfriend felt the order was 1,2,3,4 from least to most sour, but others had no opinion on #3 versus #4.

Comments

I believe the following are true, all other things, particularly the temperature and amount of enzyme action in the process, being equal.

The difference between #1 and #2 is minimal. You can do a one-step or two-step process timed for convenient stopping points, and the results will be nearly alike, provided that the preferment is not allowed to get very ripe. A two-step process where the preferment is allowed to ripen significantly more will have a more sour flavor.

The least sour result comes from a one-step process run from a very small initial amount of starter.

At some point, I would like to test out effect of temperature in a side by side comparison. I believe if you adjust the fermentation times so that the relative ripeness of the preferments is similar to the loaves above, that the results may not be very different from above. I suspect the slight favoring of lactobacillus versus yeast at temperatures around 65F will have a smaller effect on flavor than overall relative ripeness of preferments and final dough, but I don't know if that test will get done at my house any time soon.

lbw648's picture
lbw648

The following are the ingredients that are used in my recipe for 1 batch (3 loaves) of homemade sourdough bread:

6 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups warm starter
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 envelope regular yeast

Today, I purchased a 1lb. block of Fleishman's Instant Dry Yeast. I need to know how much of the IDY to use that would be the equivalent of the single envelope of regular yeast. Also, is IDY the same thing as the rapid rise? If so, after the bread dough is blended, do I go ahead and divide it into 3 loaf pans for only one rising? Please respond to lbw648@hotmail.com. THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!

Susan's picture
Susan

Thanks, Norm, for this recipe. Boy, are these good! This is the first recipe in a long time that tempted me to stray from straight sourdough!


I think I should have used convection for the last half of baking. And I should probably smush them down more and give them a bit more room on the sides next time.


You can see that I started out with 15 two-ounce rolls and now have only eight left, and they just came out of the oven! Mmmmmmm.

Susan from San Diego

Half-baked Onion RollsHalf-baked Onion Rolls

Norm's Onion RollsNorm's Onion Rolls

Here's the link to Norm's recipe: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6245/another-one-norm-onion-rolls#comment-31799

 

 

Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey

I had a go at the a l'ancienne method with 27% organic rye flour (I think it was wholemeal - there were gritty bits in it), 73% organic bread flour and a 75% hydration. I threw in half a handful of caraway seeds. I also used 4% organic raw sugar (in Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" there is a recommendation to use some sweetener when using rye flour).
I fermented the starter overnight (about 12 hours) but the finished dough fermented in the fridge for about 20 hours. When I took it out to shape it, the internal temperature registered 6.1 C (43 F).
The flavour of the baked loaves was amazing! A l'ancienne - The Money Shot!

 A l'ancienne - The Money Shot!

My wounded baguettes

My wounded baguettes
dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Bread awards

Bread awards: Grandaughter, Naomi, really likes my SF Sourdough Bread.

You can have your James Beard Prize and your Coupe du Monde. This is enough of a reward for me.

David

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

I decided to try the Pain a l'Ancienne from the BBA after reading all the latest success stories with this recipe. My Cuisinart isn't big enough for the full amount so I halved it and all was well. I was so scared of overmixing that I probably could have let it go longer but the dough seemed fine and went into the refrigerator overnight. I was totally amazed to find it had more than doubled by this morning - so now what to do? PR says to let it sit out for 2-3 hours to warm up and continue fermenting. I gave it over an hour while the oven heated, and maybe I should have believed Peter. No problems cutting and stretching the dough, and got a fantastic amount of steam from the cast iron skillet I had decided to sacrifice to the cause. The baguettes have a crispy crust and taste good but the crumb isn't very holey, or not as open as I had hoped. Oh well, I'll just have to try again.

On the other hand, the loaf of Almost No Knead bread was really sloppy and hard to shape into a boule. I let it rise for 2 hours and was convinced I would find a pancake when I removed the ss mixing bowl after 30 minutes. In fact it was well risen and had "bloomed" where I had snipped with scissors. Gave it another 20 minutes with the cover off, then 5 more with the door ajar. It "sang" so loundly I could hear it in the next room! I suppose it would be better to be sure of the results each time but I rather like the unexpected, especially when they are good. Now I have to work on my roast spuds, my part of the Easter dinner with the family, along with baguettes and the happy loaf, A.

zhi.ann's picture
zhi.ann

I mixed up the artisan bread master recipe as found online at several news sites. I knew the dough was supposed to be really wet, so I didn't pay much attention. I let it rest 4 hours, then stuck it in the refrigerator. Brought it out to make the next day (that's when this pic is).

dough, still wet

I shaped it into a boule (ball) on a very floured cutting board, let it sit out an hour, preheated the oven, poured in the water and slid my bread onto the back of a pizza-type pan (actually came with my microwave oven.

prepared dough

I'd forgotten to cut the X in it, but it formed a perfect one, anyway, as it rose and tore. The only part of the form I thought was strange was that it mostly rose straight up in the middle - it rose well but was more like a volcano than a half ball, for example. Had to leave it in the oven over an hour to get any brown.

After 30 minutes, the X it split itself was obvious.

after 30 minutes

Eating-wise, it came out mostly amazing - very crisp crust - but a gooey middle even though the bottom was blackened.

finished loaf 

I later found out I should have been using the top and bottom heating elements. The dough didn't rise much pre-oven, but had incredible oven spring (isn't that what it's called?) - I was afraid it would hit the top of the oven! The crumb looked good, but like I said was too gooey.

crumb 

bshuval's picture
bshuval

Hi all,

The third meeting of bread baking enthusiasts in San Diego took place today. 

It was a great meeting, with 7 of us in attendance. I took pictures of all the breads we brought, and wrote about the meeting. You can find it all here:

http://foldingpain.blogspot.com/2008/03/third-san-diego-bread-lovers-meeting.html

Our next meeting will probably be on April 19, with the subject of rye breads. If you are in the area, please come! 

Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey

Sourdough CiabattaSourdough Ciabatta

I used the recipe from Peter Reinhart "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" - the Biga version.

My Biga was my white sourdough, mixed with an equal amount of organic bread flour and some water to make a firm starter.

I used half the oil given in Reinhart's recipe. I proved it on a couche (well, I got a length of thick cotton table-cloth material from a textile shop and hemmed the edge).

I flipped it onto a polenta-dusted "peel" (actually the off-cut from the ceramic tile I used in my oven) and slid it directly on the hot tile. The bread Ballooned (?does this mean it was under-prooved?) and the top-being closest to the element, almost burned.

ejm's picture
ejm

chapati
A few mornings ago, I imagined that my wild yeast starter was all ready to make bread. I announced I would make focaccia with it to go with that evening's dinner of puy lentils and sausage. Silly me. I should have known this would be a mistake. My failures with my wild yeast are legion this winter. The focaccia dough failed entirely to rise. Not even a glimmer of a bubble. After several hours. So I stuck the slumping lump of dough in the fridge and made another announcement: I would make chapatis with wild yeast (ha) dough the next day, because they're made without yeast anyway. What a brilliant save!! The chapatis tasted faintly sour but they were absolutely wonderful. Especially when you consider that the dough might have been baked into a spectacularly terrible focaccia.
omelette and chapati

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