The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough in a bread machine; or…

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Sourdough in a bread machine; or…

… is that heresy?

I have a Zojirushi BB-PAC20 bread machine.

What kind of results could I expect with that machine to machine bake sourdough, with a really healthy starter, please?

If so, how do I adapt recipes - particularly those by volume - to take account of the extra liquid and flour in the starter… can I just assume I'm substituting 50% of each (flour, water) and deduct the amount I use from a recipe?

Or am I only ever going to get decent results worthy of a starter by manual steps? If so, that's fine :-)

Is it heresy to try; to add yeast etc?

Secondly, is there anything to be gained by vacuum-sealing my flours between baking, please?

Any advice gratefully received :-)

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

for sourdough in a Zoji are floating around the net:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=sourdough+zojirushi+recipe

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @idaveindy!

GaryBishop's picture
GaryBishop

Lots of bakers add yeast to their sourdough. I'm seeking a particular combination of flavor, density, height, and convenience. I'm willing to use any available tool to achieve what I want.

 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Gary!

I shall be pragmatics :-)

Any views on vacuum-sealing flours, please?

GaryBishop's picture
GaryBishop

I haven't done it. Mine seems fine in OXO containers. 

The problem with asking multiple questions in a single post (or email) is typically only one gets answered.

 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Gary! Probably overkill on my part :-)

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Not between weekly bakes, but... If you buy AP or bread flour (refined white flour only, not T70 and up) in 50 pound bags, it may help preserve / extend freshness to seal 40 pounds of it in 5 pound bags, and then open and use as needed.  

The bulk flour  cost savings (if you can buy a 50 pound bag at a local restaurant supplier) might more than pay for the plastic sealable bags.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @idaveindy. I don't bake in that quantity. So I probably need to keep things simple.

At Gary's suggestion, I've just bought a set of OXO (supposedly) airtight 5 lb bags.

Your help appreciated :-)

mariana's picture
mariana

Sure, Mark, you can knead, ferment and bake sourdough breads in you bread machine. Sure, you can add as little as 5% of all flour in the recipe with your starter, or as much as 100%. In other words, you can simply add salt to your ripe starter and bake it into bread. 

You can bake pure sourdough, purely yeasted, or combination of the two in the same loaf. No problem

Anything is possible. Bread machine is simply a combination of three devices: mixer, proofing cabinet and oven. Your model is programmable, so you can watch how much time you need to knead your dough and how much time it will take to rise and to bake and make your own program and bake hands off in the future. 

The only problem with bread machines and sourdough or yeast for that matter is that all sourdough starters are different and all yeasts are different. You cannot use someone else's recipe for a sourdough bread in your machine with your starter, because it rises differently. Different sourdough starters rise with amazingly different speeds depending on what kind of yeast lives inside the starter. The difference is 15-fold. 

Researchers took samples of the sourdough starters from 500 bakers and bakeries from all over the world and shown us the differences in leavening power between them; see it with your own eyes. All these sourdough starters bake perfect loaves, but some starters are slow and other are super-fast. 

source: The diversity and function of sourdough starter microbiomes

So yes, you can bake any bread in your bread machine, you will just have to figure out first how long each step will take with your particular sourdough starter and your specific brand and kind of yeast (compressed, instant, dry active, osmotolerant, fast-rising, etc.)

Vacuum sealing is good. It slows down aging of flour due to oxydation, contact with air. Normally, you would combine vacuum sealing with refrigeration of vacuum sealed bags. 

However, for the bread machine only freshly bough flour works. Not older than 6-8 months after milling. The more your flour ages, vacuum sealed or not, the less predictable would be the results of baking in the bread machine. They talk about it in your bread machine instruction booklet, see p.49. with illustrations. Flour being too old results in loaves that rise and then fall, not rise enough, or come out too short and heavy. 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Mariana - thanks so much for your wonderfully comprehensive and helpful reply; I really appreciate it!

Particularly illuminating is your first paragraph, which I read as a really clear description of how the starter 'influences' the rest of the loaf: it doesn't. The starter is not like yeast, but is an integral component in the loaf. Yes?

A 15-fold difference in the extent to which the rise happens is quite startling. I need to be more hands-on than perhaps I expected, don't I? I have previously 'designed' my own cycles with the Zojirushi. That may be the way to go.

Thanks for the video and link. A lot to review, take in, and make my own document of notes to use in the future :-)

What you kindly say about aging flour is instructive. It makes me think that I have in fact been letting my flour sit for too long. I shall either have to bake more bread and/or buy flour more often. What a burden :-)

Thanks again for taking the time and trouble to extend this help, Mariana!

mariana's picture
mariana

Mark, I saw the sourdough loaf that you baked inside Zojirushi Virtuoso and it looks fabulous. You are on the right path. You have a great starter, an excellent bread machine, and solid breadmaking skills and understanding of dough. You will do great, I am sure. 

Obviously, the starter influences the rest of the loaf, otherwise we wouldn't call it a starter or won't use it at all. The difference it makes depends on what you want from your starter. It can simply flavor the rest of the loaf by acidity that it brings with itself, or it can start fermentation in the rest of the loaf, because the starter contains both yeast and bacteria.

The yeast in your starter will be responsible for alcoholic fermentation and the bacteria will be responsible for lactic acid and acetic acid fermentation. Altogether, you will get a tall and fragrant loaf thanks to your starter. 

You can use a very young (recently fed) starter or a very ripe starter, a small amount of starter or a lot of it, and the results will be different. 

Anyways, it is not that important to discuss right now. Most important thing is to bake bread. Bread machine bakes bread that is very special, super tasty and fragrant, and it makes amazing preferments and all kinds of excellent lean or enriched dough. Also, with the help of the bread machine, like Zo, you can develop a variety of starters as well, because it mixes flour with water and it sustains even warm temperature for a long time, up to 12 hours at a time. I prepare most of my starters inside Zojirushi. 

So you choice of exploring sourdough baked with the help of the bread machine or using some program from start to finish is good and very promising. Sourdough in a bread machine or with the help of a bread machine is simply one of the the best. 

Godspeed!

m. 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

… Mariana!

Thanks to the help I have received here I believe I have a really healthy (bubbly and fragrant) starter. I plan to nurture it carefully… feed at least once a week :-)

Thank you for drawing my attention to the three process of alcoholic, lactic and acetic acid fermentations; I now plan to read up on that in greater details. I am ashamed to say (!) that I already have bread books all over the floor - including sourdough ones :-)

I guess I should also try the Zo's starter cycles. Although I have enjoyed caring for my own, that would be something else to experiment with.

The very best to you too, Mariana!

greyspoke's picture
greyspoke

@Mark, I have experimented with surdough in my ancient Panasonic machine.

Sometimes I see evidence of incomplete mixing in the finished loaf.  I think it doesn't cope so well with sticky starter/pre-ferment.  Lightly mixing the ingredients in the breadmaker bowl before setting it off seems to help.  

For simple recipes you do what you would have done to make your sourdough loaf, but for the final mix bung the ingredients in the breadmaker, select a programme and see how it goes.  But see above, if your recipe involves sponges or autolyses that are likely to have developed some structure themselves, there may be mixing problems.  Wetter pre-ferments/sponges are probably better from a mixing perspective.

I generally stick a bit of yeast in to help the rise, but results are OK without it.

Of course your Zorushi machine may be better at it than my Panasonic.

ETA I also tried using the delayed start function and adding starter that wasn't ready, so obviously then you wouldn't want to pre-mix, which is where I found out about the mixing issues.  But also, getting the timing right with variable overnight temperatures was difficult, so I haven't pursued that.  The aim was an almost one-shot sourdough loaf.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

@greyspoke, thanks for that!

Yes - premixing sounds like a great idea (or delaying).

Presumably, it wouldn't hurt to leave the lightly-mixed ingredients for a longer rest (the Zojirushi has a maximum of 30 minutes) in the slightly warm, either, would it?

You have given me much to think about, and experiment with: very grateful!

greyspoke's picture
greyspoke

@Mark I think your Zojirushi may be more sophisticated.  My Panasonic has a few fixed programmes, all of which are for a complete mix and bake apart from "bake only", with fixed timing (probably selecting small, medium or large affects the time and light or dark affects the baking temperature).  You can't dial in the different phases separately.  So all I can do is delay the start of the programme, which would mean everything is left at room temperature until the programme kicks in, that delay can be up to 13 hrs until the end of the programme.  With instant yeast, the long delays work fine as you can keep the yeast dry by putting it in the bottom of the bowl, adding the dry ingredients then the liquid.  I was experimenting with putting in the bulk flour etc., adding a just-refreshed starter on top (to ferment during the delay), setting a delay time and programme and letting the machine get on with it, but the results weren't great.  I will have another go when summer comes and overnight temperatures in the kitchen are warmer.  If you have more settings available there is a lot more to play with there.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @greyspoke.

You may be right. With my Zojirushi I can set up to three custom cycles. Even these do have minima and maxima which it's not possible to override.

I do note, though, that practically all the recipes I have read say to use one of the Zojurushi's built-in cycles. So far that's been very successful. I feel as though I'm learning a lot :-)

Good luck!

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks again to GaryBishop, greyspoke, idaveindy and mariana for your help! 

I’ve been making real progress with hand made loafing! 

My first attempt at the bottom of this thread

Your support and encouragement very much appreciated :-)

GaryBishop's picture
GaryBishop

Your loaf looks great. 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Gary!

greyspoke's picture
greyspoke

Yes that looks good Mark, nice looking crust.  But the main thing - does it taste good!

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Greyspoke, Yes!

Possibly the best loaf of any kind I have ever made.

Although the bottom was a touch burnt and the crust overcrutsy, I know why: Lodge.

I should be getting my Challenger this week. Then shall also try baking for perhaps a few minutes (5, 6?) less.

It had no fat, yet was doughy and moist. The flavors were superb. I was really lucky. Or I am really benefitting from all the help of the good people here. Or both :-)