The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Went for it...YES!

hilo_kawika's picture

Went for it...YES!

I suppose that I'm not the only one who can't stand to throw part of a perfectly good sourdough starter away when doing the weekly refreshing process.  This particular starter was made according to Peter Reinhart's directions from his ABED book, using lemon juice (from a Meyer lemon tree in my back yard) and whole wheat.  It turned out to be a very perky starter which was quite responsive to flour addition when mature.

I had made a loaf of Peter's recipe for pain au levain from the same book (ABED) using the three day approach which turned out really well - in fact giving me a bread which I now enjoy over all previous ones for its texture and flavor.  But then I thought why not just make it into a two day affair and use a pound of straight sourdough starter which had had a week to chill out in the fridge instead of dumping about that amount of starter when I refreshed it?

So yesterday I did just that, following his instructions beginning from day two using a lb of the sourdough starter instead of a smaller amount of starter to which flour and water had been added a day earlier.  This morning I baked it as a single boule after warming for two hours, shaping and a 2 1/2 hour proofing.  In this case, I used a Dutch oven to cook the bread in at 450 degrees with the cover on for 20 minutes, off for 20 minutes, then removed the loaf from the Dutch oven to let it sit on the stone (which was beneath the Dutch oven) for 20 minutes and a final 10 minutes with the oven turned off for a total time of 70 minutes and an internal temperature of 210 degrees.  Very nice spring and crumb and just lovely flavor and texture.  My wife said "More sour than the previous one, but very nice".  This will be my weekly go-to bread from now on.

I'm sure that others have tried this approach, and I'd enjoy hearing from them about their experiences.


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

andrew_cookbooker's picture

I had the same idea myself with the same recipe, but only after I'd mixed up the starter using his directions. I'm going to try it later this week though, as it seems sensible and time saving.

I think my starter was sluggish - I was using his 'mother starter' recipe and it was very slow to rise before I refrigerated it. When I mixed up the final dough it seemed to take forever to rise and in the end didn't really give much rise at all. After 6 hours I threw it in the oven, and received this excellent example of what not to do!

It still tasted quite good, but very dense, with a huge 'cave where the baker sleeps' running down the middle and some inedible bits at the bottom. I'm going to try using my brand new WW room-temperature 100% hydration starter next time, which is nice and active, and see if that helps.