First Sourdough Bake
I baked my first sourdough yesterday, with sort of mixed results. I thought I would drop a few pics into this thread and see if the experts can help me tweak some variables for next time.
I want to preface all this by saying: I have never eaten sourdough bread in any context ever before this. So it's possible some of the things I'm going to describe as problems are actually just known differences with sourdough bread vs something baked with storebought yeast.
Ok, on to what may be kind of a lengthy post filled with unorganized ramblings :)
- 100g WW flour (robin hood)
- 400g Unbleached AP white (robin hood)
- 330g H2O
- 100g Starter (100% hydration starter made/fed with same WW flour as the bread dough)
- 10g Salt
I autolysed for roughly 1 hour, mixed the rest of the dough ingredients, did some gentle mixing/kneading for a couple of minutes (just pulling and folding), and then did coil folds in a pyrex pan roughly every hour or so throughout bulk fermentation.
I think I bulk fermented for roughly 8 hours, although I did lose track. This is my first theory on where I went wrong; I may have over-fermented? I used a trick I saw online where you take a small piece of your dough and put it aside in a little container and use it as an indicator of how much rise has occurred throughout the fermentation. Seemed like a good idea, since the relative volume of the main dough is tough to gauge while doing all the folding, and there are so many variables (temp, etc) which could make a fermentation period managed purely based on time inconsistent.
Issue is that my little "indicator" piece never rose by a noticeable amount at all (in fact just out of curiosity I still have it set aside and roughly 24 hours later it still looks pretty much the same--I suppose it could have risen and re-fallen while I was asleep, though). So I was waiting waiting waiting....eventually I ran out of day and figured "let's just bake and see what happens".
The dough came out of (2 hour) proofing--which I did in a makeshift banneton consisting of a towel in a mixing bowl--looking pretty much like a pancake. Again, since I was out of day and figured this was a first-time experiment, I went ahead and baked anyway, honestly expecting a hockey puck to come out of the oven.
Much to my surprise, it actually sprung. A little inconsistent and weird-looking, but actually kind of sort of looking like a baked bread :)
I've included a close-up of the crumb below as well, as I'm curious what people's thoughts are on the look/texture of it. To me, it seems like the parts of the crumb that aren't holes are very dense and almost leaning towards feeling/looking like uncooked dough (incidentally I did an internal temp check when removing from the oven and all was ok, so I don't think I underbaked, but that's certainly a possibility). This is one of the main things I alluded to in my intro: maybe this is just what sourdough is like? I will say that, just at a high level, this loaf feels very heavy for its volume compared to yeasted ones I've baked.
My other main theory (which I didn't know where to inject within the narrative) is that maybe my starter wasn't quite ready for primetime? That would explain the "indicator" not rising for sure, and I was honestly 100% convinced this was my problem right up to when the bread sprung in the oven...that threw me for a bit of a loop, as, if my yeast is inactive, where'd all those holes come from? :)
My starter is roughly 10 days old, and easily more than doubles on itself every day, so I think it's ready to make bread. I prepared for the bake the night before by making a 1-3-3 offshoot (I guess that would be a levan?) separate from my main starter, and when I incorporated it in the morning it seemed like it was in the sweet spot (nice and bubbly, more than doubled in size, a little bit sour-smelling...), but this is still one of my main theories for where I went wrong...maybe my starter is still too young and weak to be making bread?
Anyway, I think that's about it for my kneejerk thoughts. Really enjoying this process, and hopeful that some of you with a bit more experience under your belts can help steer me closer to that ideal loaf.