September 29, 2009 - 10:29am
Simple Sourdough (9/09)
50g firm starter, 204g water, 275g high gluten flour, 25g white whole wheat flour, 6g salt. All mixed minimally by hand, rested for 30 minutes, one Stretch & Fold, two more S&Fs at 1-hour intervals, let rise to double. Kept the dough temperature in mid-70'sF. Pre-shaped, rested 15 minutes, shaped, then plopped into linen-lined colander. Put in plastic bag, then into fridge for overnight. Out of fridge for 2 hours before scoring, then baked at 450F for 20 minutes covered followed by 20 minutes uncovered.
BTW, would you remind me what you feed your starter?
High-gluten flour, since I buy it in bulk. Here's my usual regimen: Using the dregs of the sourdough starter, mix it up with 15g water and 25g flour, let it sit for a couple of minutes, knead it with my fingers into a little ball, then let it rise for a couple of hours and into the fridge. Use it within a couple of days, or refresh as above. By measures, I'd use 1T starter/1T water/3T flour, making sure it was kneadable after a few minutes' rest. I don't worry about how dry it is as long as it is kneadable, but I don't like to use a wet starter.
And thank you. It's always nice to receive a compliment, especially from The Bread Master.
And, when you do receive a compliment from "The Bread Master," I'd love to read what she has to say.
Wonderful caramelization on the crust and a gorgeous crumb! It's always a wonder to me that such simplicity can produce such great results. Bravo!
The marvels you can do with simple ingredients. We all start with flour and water, but look what you create. Eye-popping oven spring!
Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Boule, Susan! After my Jury Duty, I might try some...yes I got called...again..this time the Vista Store! : /
Do you use a convection oven Susan?
Marni, you and Wally get to share the brass ring! Sourdough CAN be simple. Thanks to you both.
Sylvia, not again! Hope it's quick for you. Thanks.
And Weavershouse: Yes, I do have a convection oven, but I don't use that feature for baking bread. Thanks to you, too. Is it cold there yet?
BTW, I have a baking stone but don't use it, and I have a peel but use a piece of cardboard instead. I like keeping it simple.
If anyone has a question, feel free to ask.
Susan, You use Trumps HG Flour that you get at the Poultry Ranch, right? I'am still hoping for rain, please rain!
I think they finally changed their name, though. To Lakeside Bakery Supplies.
A storm cloud just blew over and dropped maybe 20 drops, but it did cool down a bit. I sent it your way! Maybe you can wring more out of it.
Thanks for answering questions. Here are two of mine:
When you leave it overnight in the fridge, about how many hours is it in there?
I don't have high gluten flour, what's your opinion on that?
You're welcome, Marni.
Overnight for me means about 8 hours.
And my opinion on your not having high-gluten flour? It depends on whether you like stretchy, chewy sourdough. If you do, then track down some H-G flour or use King Arthur Bread Flour instead.
I need to spend some time using bread flour (other than KA) or even AP flour with my formula. I suspect that either flour would require less water and much more hands-on work (actually kneading, or lots of S&F's) than when using H-G flour. Anyone who has dealt with this situation is most welcome to chime in here.
I am hoping to start this tomorrow. I have the starter in the refrigerator now.
I think I might try using my mixer for the kneading followed by a few (3-4) S&F's. Hmmm... less water. I'll have to play with that one.
Thanks again for the tips.
Susan you would called for taunting if this was football. A beautiful boule in every respect.
If it doesn't look like a football, Eric, nothing does. A poor choice of slashes and a bit underproofed, perhaps. This loaf has 2T ground flaxseed folded in; no other changes from the above recipe.
I'm looking forward to trying this method this week-end. I've been away from baking for awhile and I'm looking forward to starting again now that fall is here. We've finally got a week-end with no set plans - finally! I've had some great luck with some of your recipes - Farm House White comes to mind. It's great to be back to reading TFL regularly and seeing some of the same folks here!
Susan, thanks for posting your recipe and techniques with a photo! This is exactly what I have been looking for; a boule which expands into a ball rather than into sourdough biscotti. I am refining my technique, but am far from an expert, yet can tell from you broad directions that this is quite simple for you based on your experience. Can you go back over the steps and add in pearls of wisdom to each step so that we (I) can use them. Better yet, have you thought of making a quick video of your technique and post it on youtube.com? Thanks so much. Jean-Paul
Here are a few things I do, but whether they are nuggets of wisdom is left for you to decide.
Yes, please do share any other golden nuggets of info that would help us copy your perfect boule! Thank you!
Im jealous of the gals you've been mentoring with your sourdough. I used to live in Rancho Bernardo and moved out of state :-( Rats.
Your bread looks lovely and I would like to try your recipe. Do you know the hydration level of your starter? Difficult to calculate from your info since I weigh rather than measure volumes of ingredients. I keep my starter is at 66% hydration - eg in grams if I add 60g of flour, I use 40g (40ml) of water. And, I normally refresh using say 30-40g of the 'old' starter.
Would you consider my starter a firm starter??
Well, it depends on what flour you are using.
After I mix the starter and let it rest for 10 minutes, I pick it up with damp hands and shape it into a little dough ball with my fingers, then let it rise. That's what I call a firm starter.
Remember to have fun!
I love the color you get Susan. Did you add any additional water for the flax?
No additional water. I probably should have, but I just folded in the ground flax. It's one of my fav additions.
I had hoped to follow the directions exactly with one exception. I added about 2T of flax seeds soaked it about the same amount of water till it got gelatinous.
I first mixed the dough, let sit for 30 minutes. added in the flax seed mix and worked it in.
waited 1 hour - did stretch and fold. I'm going on my second hour and then I plan on the stretch and fold again, but I'm falling asleep. I misread the recipe and thought I could refrigerate after the 2nd stretch and fold. I'll never make it for the doubling in rise.
hopefully, if I continue this in the morning, I'll be OK. I"ll put it in a floured lined linen collander, put in plastic bag and refrigerate. tomorrow, I'll take it out - let it warm up, stretch and fold and let rise til double and then bake.
wish me luck! If it works, I'll post a picture. If not, well I'd rather not immortalize my goof-ups.
Susie, I hope I'm not too late to tell you to place the dough in an oiled container in the fridge overnight, then let it warm up a bit and do your last stretch and fold. If the container doesn't have a lid be sure to cover it with a plastic bag or wrap to keep it airtight. I'm betting it will be fine, let us know, A.
I did cover it with a platic bag, but when you said linen lined collander I assumed it was dusted with flour. Well, it's out of the fridge and warming up. I guess we'll see but thanks for that info. I may use that in the future.
edited to say I WILL remember that in the future. ;-)
Susie, I was hoping to catch you before you put the dough in a floured container so that you could do your third stretch and fold in the morning, THEN let the dough proof until double. Looks as though what you did worked just fine - bread is so forgiving, A.
..i just tried this formula and would love feedback from anybody that has pointers...i still feel like a newbie with the whole "natural yeast" thing...i posted it in the forum under general..just now realized i should have posted it in a blog..:s...next time!cathy in wi
I forgot to slash this before baking and I had to bake it in a covered dutch oven (cast iron) 20 minutes with lid on and 20 with lid off. It's a small loaf, but it's very tasty!
I don't know how big this should have been, but since I got sidetracked and didn't follow the directions exactly - it may not be what it could have been. My starter was kinda firm, but not a solid that could be kneaded. Maybe I need to cut back on the water and use a firmer starter or just add more flour to the dough?
hopefully these photos come thru OK. I keep forgetting how to do the picture thing
I'd like to make this again - only maybe as a baguette. How would I do that? Just follow the basic directions and shape differently? I really love the addition of flax seeds. I soaked them ahead of time, but perhaps I could just add them without a presoak?
You can shape it any way you like. And if you forget to slash it before putting it in the pot, you can always grab a pair of scissors and snip away. Yours came through fine, though, without slashing. I'm glad you like the flavor; that's nice of you to say.
When I write about making a firm starter, I mean mix up the starter, let it rest for 10 minutes, then pick it up to knead into a little round ball. It will have loosened a bit by the time it's ready to add to the dough. Hope that description helps. Don't get bogged down in the intricacies; method is more important than recipe, I've found. You'll find the best ways for you by baking and more baking.
Susan, This is my first posting on TFL and your Simple Sourdough is what inspired my participation! I've been lurking for 5-6 weeks and trying to learn how to make sourdough bread (Good sourdough bread). I finally managed recently to get my first homemade starter to convert successfully to a firm starter as described by Maggie Glezer in A Blessing of Bread. I wanted to do that so I could hope to reproduce your loaf as closely as possible. Your loaf caught my eye, not only because of how good it looks, but also because it is a somewhat smaller loaf than most recipes will produce. My wife and I are empty nesters now, and I have to watch my sugar, so we don't eat much bread anymore, but I was bound and determined to master sourdough before I die, and your small loaf really spoke to me. In the last several weeks, I attempted to make bread with my liquid starter with various partial successes but mostly disappointments, largely due to an inability to reconcile the proper amounts of the various ingredients, since my measuring ability is limited by the lack of a good scale, and a starter of unknown strength. Getting my starter into a firm form of known strength helped a lot. I then made conversions of grams to teaspoons for the water and salt, and used my analog scale (with 25 gram divisions) to weigh the flours and starter. I think I've succeeded in getting pretty close to your recipe, and my loaf turned out GREAT! (I have pictures but my wife took our camera with her on a trip so I had to use my cell phone, and I don't know how to get them from it to my computer) It is simply the best loaf of bread I've ever made! I was thrilled on many levels, not the least of which was the realization that my starter was a pretty good one. I have one burning question for you though. My dough was fairly wet and sticky and although I've learned to work with that, I don't see how I could score such a loaf before baking. How do you do it, or is the dough supposed to be more firm, and I just got the measurement wrong? Thanks so much for your contributions to this craft.
Chris in Sylvania, OH
Hi, Chris, and thank you so much for prodding me; I had not seen your post.
May I suggest that (until you buy, beg or borrow a digital scale) you measure out 200g water and 300g flour using your analog scale. Use 50g of your starter and a scant teaspoon of salt. Mix and bake as you did before and let me know how it goes. Keep things really simple!
Congratulations on getting your starter active. It took me a lot longer than 5-6 weeks to bake the first loaf I was satisfied with!
Small loaves are all we need around here, too. There's nothing like fresh bread every two or three days! If I baked for 3 or 4 people, I'd double the recipe.
i'm going to try this over the weekend and have a few questions:
1) is this recipe sized so that i can bake it in a le creuset 2qt round dutch oven? it is about 7.5" diameter, 3.5" high (to rim of the oven, probably another 1/2" clearance to the inside of the lid).
1b) if the recipe will produce too large a loaf for the 2qt pot, how much would i have to reduce it proportionally for it to reasonably fit inside that pot?
2) when you proof your bread overnight in linen, do you dust the cloth with flour?
3) for the overnight proof, is the colander necessary or can i also use a glass bowl?
4) for the overnight proof, is linen necessary or can i also use cotton (an old but clean bandanna)?
thanks in advance!
Love your name. I get fractious on occasion.
Sounds like the Le Creuset will work fine.
Plain weave cotton will do. Lay it flat on the counter and smear flour into the weave. Lay it in the bowl or colander or basket. Sift a very small amount of rice flour onto it, then place your dough in. Put the whole thing into a plastic bag, seal it, and then into the fridge for the night.
I really like linen, and have used old linen napkins from the thrift store (they don't have to be perfect), linen remnants, and old linen tea towels. Do not wash your cloths. Make sure they are completely dry before folding and storing in a plastic bag or you will end up with mold.
finally baked it -- it's cooling now so i don't know about crumb and structure, but i think i got significantly less oven spring than in your photos. what are your thoughts on:
1) doing the final 2h warm-up (after taking the dough out of the fridge) in the baking container (small le creuset), then putting the container cold into the oven? should the oven be preheated?
2) charred base? i'm getting good colour on the top but the loaf is too dark underneath. i have a gas oven that heats the oven floor directly. what do you think of putting a pizza stone on either the lower rack or on the oven floor to reduce radiant heat?
Give it a try and see how it works. I don't bake from a cold oven, but others do. You might discover something wonderful!
Given a choice, I would preheat the oven with the Le Creuset in it, then lower the dough into the hot LC using parchment.
Ah, the old charred base problem! Move the rack up.
Susan from San Diego
here's the loaf after it cooled for about an hour -- comments? suggestions? i'd love to get more oven spring and a more open crumb. this was allowed to double in size, preshaped and dropped into the cloth-lined bowl, then retarded for 16h, allowed to come back to room temp for 2h, then unloaded into a cold le creuset, slashed 1/4" deep, 30deg angle, in a cross and baked at 450F covered for 20min (from cold oven), then 400F uncovered for 15min.
would especially appreciate tips/suggestions for
1) slashing: is 1/4" not deep enough?
2) shaping: i can't get the gluten cloak tight enough during the preshaping before i put it in the bowl for the overnight retard. is there a video or something you can point me to that shows how this is done (slowly, and with closeups)?
3) getting a more even distribution of hole sizes: currently, the crumb is a good consistency but has a few extremely large holes and lots of much smaller ones. i'm hoping to get more medium-sized holes.
1/4" deep slashing is just perfect.
Have you watched Mark's videos at http://TheBackHomeBakery.com
They are fantastic! You can also access them at the Video link at the top of this page.
Don't feel that you are alone. We have all gone through the process of learning our dough. You can't pin down sourdough, as we all are dealing with different temperatures, humidities, flour, starter strength (a big deal!), and our own handling. When the seasons change, you will find that your starter and dough are acting up, and you'll have to change your habits, too. After all, it's life we're dealing with here. Little bitty life, but life nonetheless.
Just keep baking, and try not to get anxious about it. It will happen.
Susan, I am loving looking at your beautiful bread and I've been drooling over it. I'm in the process of making a mostly whole wheat takeoff on it.
I have some questions about the covered baking, though, since I've never done covered bread.
First: I am having a time finding the right cover. Based on the size of my proofing basket, I'm measuring things while the dough rests. Everything seems to be either too high to get it into the oven without damaging the loaf or it is too low and the bread will (hopefully) spring up and get pressed flat on top.How big should the cover be...as in how much extra space should there be around the proofed loaf?
I have canners that are too tall. I have 2 different crock pot inserts. One is meant to take high heat, but it is a bit low in height. The other one might work, but it will be a very close fit in diameter. My big stock pot is as tall as the canners.
Second: Assuming I find a suitable cover, should I heat the cover with the oven, for an hour before baking? If I don't heat it, I am guessing it will keep the temp too low for a nice crust.
Third: What does the covering do that steam won't do--in case I can't find a suitable cover?
So, in hopes that this bread works out, I'd like to know how to bake it...covered or simply on the stone with steam?
Also, since I prefer not to bake too late in the evening, My loaf will be in the fridge more than 8 hours. I suppose that will be okay?...I hope so. It may have at least 12 hours or more in there. I am just too impatient to wait till tonight to mix it up.
And thank you!
I like covering better than steaming, but it does limit the size/length of one's bread. These days, I am using an old aluminum roaster. I like that it heats up quickly.
I don't preheat either an SS bowl or the top of the roaster. The roaster is about 5.5" in height. My SS bowl came from Wal-Mart and was around $5-6. Try to find one about the size of a 4-quart Pyrex bowl. If you search on TFL for Magic Bowl, you'll find more info. You could also use an aluminum roasting pan from the grocery. Anything to keep the bread's own steam around it for 15 minutes or so.
You may be a just a little optimistic about the height of your loaf if you are using mostly whole wheat flour, as ww generally has a harder time rising.
Glad you are having fun. Don't spend time worrying about the bowl.
Susan from San Diego
Based on that size cover, the loaf may not be as large as I imagined it would be...I mean, the basket I found to proof it in is probably a bit too big. I do have a smaller thing I might need to use instead. If the loaf is a bit smaller, I have a couple choices of covers. I have a nice crock pot insert that can take the heat, but, since it is very thick, maybe it isn't the type cover for this purpose. I'd like to try the cover once to see how I like it.
Right now it's in the process of doubling, but my house has been cold all day, so I had to resort to warming the oven a bit.
I have added some honey and about 10g more water to the dough because my wh wheat is home ground and very high protein. I'll let you now how it comes out.
I'll look forward to seeing your bread. Usually, I use a Tupperware colander that's 7 inches across the top to proof this little loaf. Your crockpot insert will work fine as a cover, but please be careful not to burn yourself when you remove it.
Susan from San Diego
Susan, Here is my whole wheat version. I used 210 grams of high protein light whole wheat flour, 90 grams of white bread flour, increased the water to 220g. I also added 40 g dark honey (mostly MD tulip poplar)
I am very pleased with the crumb and the flavor. I am not pleased with my scoring. Because I slashed my last sourdoiugh loaves way too deeply, they burst open a bit too much. This time I tried to do some artistic slashes and was too careful, not going deep enough. The crumb is light enough that I'm sure it would have sprung more if I had slashed more deeply. I'll keep practicing.
The covered baking made a nice crust, but I think, for me, leaving it uncovered with steam is easier. I will often want to make larger loaves or more than one at a time, so covering is too limiting to size.
The other change I will make next time is to lower the oven temp a little to accommodate the whole grain and the honey. It is a bit darker on the bottom than we prefer. The flavor is heavenly, though.
You did a great job. Congratulations! I look forward to seeing your next loaves.
Susan from San Diego
I know this thread hasn't been active for a while, but I was wondering about your baking method, Susan.
I've just started covering loaves when I bake, and I like the ease and the oven spring I'm getting. However, I preffered the crust color I was getting when I steamed. I find the crust color kind of flat and featureless when I cover loaves. I guess when I steamed there was more color variation and also some small bubbles on the crust.
Do you spray the inside of your aluminum roaster or anything like that? Do you have any tricks other than just covering the dough and putting it in the oven?
Scottsourdough, I always cover my loaves with a large stainless steel mixing bowl which I rinse in hot water. This stays on for the first 20 minutes, then I remove it and rotate the loaf (and remove the parchment paper) and bake for another 15 minutes. The crust is always covered in "birds' eyes" and is a deep bold-baked color. Are you removing the bowl after part of the bake time? I should mention that this is for the simple sourdough boule and I preheat the stone to 500* and reduce the heat to 450* as soon as the loaf goes in. Hope this helps, A.
I do pretty much the same thing, except I haven't been sure whether to spray the inside of the bowl or not. I'll try rinsing it with hot water and see if it's any different. I do uncover the loaves about halfway through. Nothing may be wrong, it's just different than what I'm used to from steaming. Thanks for the reply.
Maybe something else is going on... That sounds more like over kneading or salt free or the oven temp is low or it needs a few minutes longer in the oven. Hope you don't mind me jumping in here. Susan is temprarily not available.
You can spray the inside of the bowl with water. It does steam under the bowl, the color is the most amazing thing! So I don't quite understand. Does the bowl sit firmly on the sheet or stone?
Overkneading could be possible, I've thought thatcould be a problem before. I'll try spraying the bowl next time to get the best of both worlds from steaming and covering.
been messing about with your basic sourdough proportions (using lower gluten flours mostly). made a rye and whole wheat loaf last night that worked extraordinarily well, though the dough was a lot stickier than usual. i got a lot more oven spring using a cloche one of my friends built based on my suggestions (full disclosure: she's selling these).
the experiment result: http://breadbakers.blogspot.com/2010/06/sourdough-rye-boule.html
crust was great, crumb was aerated and mildly sour. fantastic bread.
one question though: what hydration would you use if you weren't baking with high gluten flours?