The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

How am I doing ?

TonyBakes's picture
TonyBakes

How am I doing ?

Hi forum - First post here, I thought I would share my little bread journey for now and ask for advice and opinions of what I might be doing wrong and what could be better. Beware, English is not my first language. I attached some photos for science. https://imgur.com/a/b5P75Xu

after few youtube videos, I made a sourdough starter with half whole meal and half white flour. Chose cheapest flour in supermarket as I got the impression it didn't matter. Its quite active, I keep in the fridge and feed it once a week, even though it goes down to the normal level in 4-5 days. But every time I feed it it bounces back, so I'm guessing its not an issue. I usually feed it once then feed it a second time. The second time is what I use to bake. When its risen to the max, I use it. I feed it 100g water, 50g whole meal and 50g white.

I follow these measurements :

1000g Flour (75%white and 25% whole meal)

700g water

150g started

15g salt

 

I mix everything then let it autolyze 30 minutes before slap an fold on the counter. I usually do that for like 4-5 minutes until it gets well together then put it in a bowl and start stretch and fold after 30 minutes, then every 30 minutes for 2 hours. I then put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I take it out and let it rest 30 minutes before taking it out of the bowl. I place it on a gently floured surface and then stretch it in a long way and fold it 3 folds. Then I roll it and make it roundish before putting it in the bowl again. 

I start to heat my oven and dutch oven at 230C for about 45 minute and then put the dough in the oven for 30 minutes covered and then 30 minutes uncovered at 200C. Comes it quite tasty and nice most of the times!

 

Questions maybe you can help to avoid me doing lots of trial and error:

- What happens if I cook it longer with the lid on ? or shorter? 

- What happens if I cook it at higher temperatures ? 

- Why is my dough falling apart after the day in the fridge ? I think I should get it to be stronger. Its the same when I remove it to put in the over, it falls apart, but it still rises and its delicious. 

- Does the thickness of the Dutch oven impact the bake ? If so, how ?

- Am I wrong to assume that I should see bigger holes in my bread?

- I usually slice and freeze in ziplock bags. Any more eco-friendly way to keep bread in the freezer?

- Can I safely swap flour brands without killing my starter ? as long as I'm using 50% Whole meal and 50% white.

 

thank you :)

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

First, if you are happy with the taste,  I wouldn't change too much, since to me taste is more important than looks. I answered the questions I felt I knew the answers to, hopefully others will chime in on the rest. 

 

What happens if I cook it longer with the lid on ? or shorter? 

 The longer the lid is on, the less color to the crust.  The shorter the lid is on, the more color or browness to the crust - though if everything esle is right on, having the lid on traps in moisture and allows for more rise in the bread as it bakes - called oven spring.  Many shoot for 1/3 time lid on 2/3 lid off, others go for longer lid on.

- What happens if I cook it at higher temperatures ?  

the crust will be darker 

- Why is my dough falling apart after the day in the fridge ? I think I should get it to be stronger. Its the same when I remove it to put in the over, it falls apart, but it still rises and its delicious. 

- Does the thickness of the Dutch oven impact the bake ? If so, how ?

I don't think so

 

- Am I wrong to assume that I should see bigger holes in my bread?

- I usually slice and freeze in ziplock bags. Any more eco-friendly way to keep bread in the freezer?

- Can I safely swap flour brands without killing my starter ? as long as I'm using 50% Whole meal and 50% white.

Yes,  starters are hard to start from scratch, but once started, are pretty hard to kill .  Changing flour will not be a problem.

TonyBakes's picture
TonyBakes

thanks for the reply. I forgot to mention that I put a tray at the bottom of the oven when the lid is off. Helps avoid the bottom crust from thickening or burning out 

Econprof's picture
Econprof

Whether flour matters - the brand of flour can definitely matter. Some flours are able to take more water than others. Some flours build strength more easily than others. This is not to say that you can’t use a cheap flour, but it’s a good idea to experiment with different brands available to you. You can definitely swap brands without killing your starter, although you may observe that your starter seems to have “preferences.”

Dough falling apart after cold proof - for this type of bread, it’s more common to shape it and leave it in bowls or bannetons *before* the cold proof. Have you tried this? 

Temperature - the temperature you are using is pretty standard. Since you are using a Dutch oven, you may have burning on the bottom if you use a higher temperature. (This seems to be less of an issue with a baking stone.) A lower temperature might not give you so much oven spring, and the crust might be softer.

Bigger holes - definitely not a requirement for good bread. As long as your crumb isn’t dense and gummy, you’re doing fine. (From the pictures, doesn’t look like your bread is suffering from these defects.) But if you *want* a more open crumb, there are many recipes on the internet to help. You could check out https://www.theperfectloaf.com/best-sourdough-recipe/

Finally - it’s a good idea to fill out your profile so people can tailor their recommendations to your local area (weather, available supplies, etc)

TonyBakes's picture
TonyBakes

thanks for the reply. I am in the Netherlands. Not sure what more to fill. I dont use any gear really just that duthc oven. Everything else I do by hand.

I will definitely try your tip for the proofing in the fridge rather than bulk rising in the fridge. Would it work if I proof it overnight ? 

You are right, my crumb is good and bread is quite tasty. I did find out that it dries out fairly quickly thought. 2-3 days later and it starts being a bit hard and loses a bit of taste. However, the frozen slices just come back to life when toasted and taste epic. 

 

Thanks again :)

Econprof's picture
Econprof

You can definitely cold proof overnight, or even a bit longer. That’s what I usually do. It also makes the bread easier to score (if you so desire). It’s best to use rice flour on your proofing baskets so the shaped loaves don’t stick when you turn them out.

TonyBakes's picture
TonyBakes

thanks, I will get some rice flour for that and try it. I noticed when I proof them too long, they get crusty and sticky. even though I floured generously. I will try rice flower then.

clevins's picture
clevins

For the banneton, definitely rice flour but also make sure you enclose everything in a plastic bag with airspace over the loaf so the plastic doesn't stick. I use the plastic bags from the supermarket but you can use shower caps (really) over them. That keeps the exposed dough from drying out.

TonyBakes's picture
TonyBakes

thanks fothe tip. I actually font have any cap showers :D and I don't use supermarket bags, we have these re-usable bags. I will likely try a cling film solution and see how it goes

Missmoneypenny's picture
Missmoneypenny

Just a suggestion: the dough falling apart ( is it tearing across the middle?) can be due to weak gluten development and an excess of bacteria compared to yeasts in the starter. The bacteria will result in proteolysis , they start to digest the gluten proteins. Remedies for me have been1) a stronger, but milder smelling starter ( you will notice it smells less acidic ) which has been fed so it consistently doubles in volume in about 4 hours and 2) some old fashion kneading for 2-3 minutes after autolyse ( which is actually a fermentolyse in your recipe as you include the starter. I also find it helpful to ensure the dough is kept at around 24-26 C throughout the BF.