The Fresh Loaf

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ehanner's picture

This is another in my series of large boules of whole grain sourdough. I may have finally found a way to make a crumb to complex. Using perhaps more rye than I should have, this is a little more dense than I like but still flavorful. My wife made me a tool to create a round slash for the top. She is an artist with all the skills to make what ever tools she needs for sculpting or jewelry making. I was doubtful that it work but alas, the proof is here for all to see. I'm resisting the call for a polka dot pattern (artists are a demanding lot).

Today I will be starting some Tomsbread 100%WW. I think I have decided that it is better from the standpoint of flavor to to use fewer types of flour and therefore develop a more distinct taste that can be identified. The same is true in European style cooking. Some of the best dishes I make are simple distinctive flavors that stand out on their own. Pizza is a good example I think and Focaccia with a little olive oil and tomato/balsamic vinegar topping. Or maybe a slice of Ciabatta dipped in expensive olive oil. Mmmm delicious!

T4tigger's picture

After looking at several other blogs showing amazing sourdough results, I'm feeling really envious!    My starter experiment is dying a slow, horrible death. (If figures that the 3 other starters I have took off in no time at all, but the one I share with everyone tanks!!)   I fed the starters again trying a reduced amount of flour and water to see if anything will change.  If not, I'm going to toss both of them and start over.

I did have a bit of success with my original starter, Boris, this weekend.    I was able to get a batch of English muffins and a couple of loaves of bread baked on Saturday.     I still can't get big open holes in the muffins, but the crumb on the bread was pretty good.


Thegreenbaker's picture

I began my sourdough journey last week on the 16th. My starter was active on day 2, died down and remained quiet until day 6. I fed it over those two days to make sure it was alive and kicking and it looked great. each time with in feeds it doubled even trippled and I decided yesterday that I was going to start my first sourdough loaf. I followed reinhearts baasic sourdough from BBA and put the starter (biga type I dont know the word) in the fridge over night. Took it out this morning, and began my permentation. I was so excited to see it grow to much. after 4 hours it had doubled in size and I was very happy!

I then shaped the dough into 6 torpedo rolls and one boule. I proofed the boule in a ceramic bowl in a plain teatowel covered in lots of flour. It came out of the mould with ease and everything came out very brown but very nice.

The loaves are half wholemeal and half white flour. They taste slightly tangy and smell good.

To be honest I am still worried I am growing something other than yeast in there and am very wary about eating my beautiful looking and smelling bread. Yes, I am paranoid. ;P


Here is my starter as it is now :)



and here is it closer


And my very first sourdough loaves!





mse1152's picture

Hello there, flour-heads,

This weekend I made my usual sourdough, but added the extra step of retarding it in the fridge after 4 stretch & fold cycles. It was in there for 19 hours. Then I let it warm up for 2.5 hours, shaped it, rested it for 30 minutes, slashed and baked. It's a two sponge recipe that I began on Friday morning and finished baking about midday Sunday. It has the best tang of any I've made so far -- wouldn't really call it sour, but a nice lingering aftertaste.

The first sponge usually begins with just one tsp. of starter, but for some reason this time, I thought 1/4 cup would be good. So now I have introduced two new variables: more starter, and the refrigeration. Oh well, now it's hard to say which change affected the flavor. Guess I'll have to do it again, playing with more variables. It's hard to limit myself to just one change each time I bake this!

The Blob after 19 hours in the fridge

The Blob after 19 hours in the fridge


I only recently figured out how much to slash the dough to avoid blowouts in the oven. I go over the initial cut a time or two to make sure the dough has room to expand. Who cares if it's not traditional? Neither am I!

Slashed just before baking

Slashed just before baking





This recipe/formula claims to be about 65% hydration, so I guess I won't get the big holes unless I increase that. But it sure tastes good!

I use Bob's Red Mill flour exclusively right now. The sponges contain some whole wheat and some rye, thus the tan color. The rest of the flour is organic unbleached, protein approx. 11.75%.

The un-holey crumb

The un-holey crumb

Now as a last note, I must thank Susan for suggesting that I resize my photos to 640 x 480 in order to post. I was at my wits' end trying to post pictures. They just would not appear. So resize those buggers and start posting! Susan, I owe you a loaf of bread....someday....just not one of understand....!


Floydm's picture

Though I haven't posted much in a while, I have been baking. I baked Hot Cross Buns for Easter.

Some sourdough loaves and Hamelman's pecan golden raisin whole wheat bread last weekend

Tonight I made calzone.

And my Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

I'm a bit off my game. The new job is taking quite a bit more of my attention than my previous job. And with spring here, the yard and garden beckon me constantly. To top it all off, my boy figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels last weekend, so every spare dry minute is spent at the high school track letting him practice riding laps. Good times, but less time for baking right now.

ehanner's picture

Yesterday morning I was busy feeding starters and I recalled some recent mentions on the forum about using the excess starter instead of discarding it. I decided to quickly put twice the amount I normally use (100g) into a bowl and start a soaker for later. My starter was very happy, bubbling away and smelled great! So I weighed out 200g and finished feeding the boys.

When I got around to finishing the soaker, I decided to make a SF style 50% whole grain combination using a "everything but the kitchen sink" blend. This is a highly random selection whatever I see in the flour pantry and never ever gets measured, except that the total weight equals the AP weight. A look at today's gumbo; WW, white WW, rye, seven grain mix, wheat germ and milled flax. This was a lean mix with no oil or malt or honey. I set the hydration at 85% based on the total flour weight and set it in an 80f spot for the day.

I managed to remember to stretch and fold once before I started my Saturday run around routine. Today was going to be a challenge to get everything accomplished and still do justice to the bread. Off to deliver 2 lap tops, repair a stubborn router, bank, take daughter bowling, Stretch and fold, drive to Milwaukee with son to move band equipment, another stretch and fold, groceries an pick up a pizza (no energy for home baked tonight).

A side note; My son is an aspiring musician. He teaches/plays the saxophone and most everything with a reed, flute and guitar. While Jazz is his passion, rock and roll funk style is the band focus. The drummer is a tall good looking boy who is a self described Vegan. My son tells me he is struggling trying to find tasty food that fits the vegan profile. Always looking for a justified excuse to bake something I decide to look into what this means. From initial research it looks like most of my breads would qualify since I don't add butter or milk as a general rule and honey is my sweetener of choice. Maybe I could just make most of my breads "OK for Vegans". The Tomsbread style 100% WW would be a hit for sure.

After dinner I declared the bulk ferment finished. One last fold and a decision about the final consistency of the dough. I added a little more flour at the last s&f so it's now about 80% hydrated. Formed into a boule and set on parchment for a free form proofing. My daughter had a friend over for the evening so they picked the movie. Had to be a thriller sci-fi flick for them. Movie's over and the oven is heating up again.  Checker board slash, hold my breath (no it didn't fall on slashing) and into the oven. Tonight I'm ignoring all the steaming gadgets/covers and unceremoniously toss a 1/2C of hot water onto the brick in the bottom of my oven. Quick cover the vent and set the timer for 10 minutes so I don't forget the towel covering the vent. Another 13 minutes and it looks done. The question now is will 2 teenage girls let it alone long enough to cool?. I better take the picture now, just in case!

It looks about right but I could of rotated it for a more even browning.

Look at that structure! I might try and remember how I did this! I do love the taste of whole grains caramelized on the outside and chewy in the inside.  


T4tigger's picture

Well, I'm not going to post any pictures because the starters aren't doing anything right now.   I'm hoping that it is just the typical down time in the early life of a starter.   I fed both of them again tonight with a 30/60/60 feeding.    Hopefully I will see bubbles tomorrow.

redivyfarm's picture

We're having fun now! The bread baking mentors of this community have been so generous with their advice and encouragement. It's starting to come together in my kitchen. I baked a sourdough no knead using notes by JMonkey and Susan this week and here is the result-

Dutch Oven Sourdough

Dutch Oven Sourdough

I was elated when I saw this crackley crust. Where you accomplished baker's would scowl and say "that D@^^%loaf (say, I accidently created a new domain name) tore all to #&!!" I say "that lower quadrant is looking good!" If Susan's beautiful boule is "the football", I think this is at least a foosball. And the crumb. Anticipation and dread. Do you ever feel that way?-

Sourdough Crumb

Sourdough Crumb

I like it. It pleases my sense of aesthetic beauty. Yes, it is toothsome. I know you think the holes could be placed more uniformly but I am giddy with my small success and may be beyond help from this day forward.

This loaf baked on a higher rack and at a slightly higher temperature in my really big oven. Bwraith and Mini Oven advised me on that. As a result I could follow the baking times exactly.

The sourdough starter was about 3 days at room temperature since the last feeding. We discussed this on the Sourdough starter thread and I've now learned that the starter really needs to be used at the peak of its yeasty goodness. In this case, the proof was in the proof; only about a 60% increase after 20 hours of fermentation. I used yet another tip and incorporated 1/8 tsp of instant yeast during the stretch and fold.

Susan wrote "Oh, I used all high gluten flour". I think this really made a difference. The dough was smooth, elastic and held tension in the forming. The texture is exactly what I'm looking for in carefully crafted bread. Although I had planned to refrigerate the formed dough overnight, we had guests so went to plan B, 3 hours proof at 85 degrees.

I really wanted to be faithful to the formula, but my lab technique is imprecise (read- a joke). There are plenty of other things to improve upon. Slashing could certainly head a list; a long, long list!

Thanks to all the sourdos (the ugh is silent), guy, lady and the rest. You rock! I also must thank the dogs, brown and mountain, for their cyber-enthusiasm. Bake-on, dogs!

mountaindog's picture

Seeing everyone make such beautiful whole grain breads lately inspired me last weekend to finally try Jane's lovely sourdough technique (Jane's results here), with tips by JMonkey and Tomsbread as well - thanks guys!

I converted some of my mixed white/WW starter into a 100% hydration WW starter, followed Jane's techniques and made a rather wet dough of about 80% hydration, kneading in my stand mixer for about 12-15 minutes on speed 2. I did not ferment the dough in the frig as Jane did though, I just left it in my cool room temp kitchen for maybe 3-4 hrs for the first ferment - it rose nicely. Then I divided the dough, rounded, rested for 10 minutes before placing in bannetons for final 80-85F proof near the woodstove (this was the day the big Nor'Easter started so we were getting 5 inches of wet snow, good reason to have a fire going and good weather to stay in and bake bread).

Since I had 2 loaves of rather wet dough, I decided to do a little experiment and bake one in my 5 qt cast iron Lodge dutch oven to hopefully keep it from spreading too much, while I baked the second one right on the hot baking stone after the first was done. I was surprised at some of the differences between the two. The loaf on the left in the photo below was baked on the preheated to 500F stone which was immediately turned down to 400F, and the one on the right was baked in the dutch oven at 450F entire time (lid removed after 25 min.):

I was surprised at how much darker the crust was on the dutch oven loaf. On the other hand, the dutch oven loaf did not rise much higher, probably because it sort of collapsed after an awkward flop into the oven from the banneton, hence the crumb was slightly more dense than the free-form loaf's crumb. I'll try the dutch oven again but try to be much more gentle in getting it into the oven, maybe using parchment like Susan did in her posts of her beautiful "football bread".

I am really happy with how the free-form loaf came out, the crumb was much hole-y-er than any 100% WW I've done so far, not as hole-y as Jane's, but next time I'll try an even higher hydration with a little more folding and see how that comes out. Seems like the key for me was wet wet dough and very very gentle handling - I didn't shape the boules as tight as I normally do, I kept them much looser.

This was also the best tasting WW sourdough I've made yet, it tasted better than the last desem I made. It had a nice tangy SD taste rather than a bitter wheat taste, probably from the long cool bulk ferment and also long warm final proof. In fact, the reason the second free-form loaf may be so much lighter is because it was slightly overproofed so the crust did not carmelize as much, but it still tasted very good and it lasted all week! We are still enjoying this loaf made last Sunday (5 days ago), it has stayed fresh-tasting and moist just sitting on the cutting board with a piece of foil covering the cut end. It did not get dried out and hard like other lean WW breads I've made before.

The same weekend, I also made a batch of Columbias and Leonard boules. I hadn't made the Columbias in awhile, and this time my batartd-shaping and slashing showed significant improvement over the last few times making this recipe, where the batards used to collapse at the slashes. Thats's thanks to Floyd's batard-shaping and slasher video! Giving the dough the extra folds also helped it get much better height and oven spring than my earlier attempts. These did not last the weekend and got eaten right away.

browndog's picture

Submitted by browndog5 on April 19, 2007 - 10:18am.

After being graciously guided through the process of starter CPR by BWraith, I found myself with a significant (and growing) stash of starter cast-off. Thought I would save it for the next batch of dog biscuits, but a remark of Mini Oven's that the discard can be pressed into service as poolish gave me paws. (I am SO sorry...) So instead of actually making sourdough bread with my born-again starter, I took the spare and made some yeasted oatmeal bread. (About 5 cups of flour, about a cup of rolled oats, about a third cup of maple syrup, a handful of raisins and some other stuff.) That's a pretty anemic spiral, I agree, but further in it blossomed a little . The other loaf is a spiral-free zone.

Oatmeal About Bread


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