Sourdough Diary - Beginners please ask questions here

Please feel free to ask questions or talk about your experiences making your first sourdough.

183 comments

Nina

great looking breads
well done!

slashing the moist dough to see what is going on is something that takes a while to get used to. I routinely slash every time I fold - it takes a little while to get a feel for what the bubbles look like, and how many you are expecting to see. Keep trying - you will get the hang of it. You do, however, need a really really sharp knife, and very fast slashing action. Spread the sides of the cut apart gently with your fingers to see the cut surface.

cheers
Dom


Good work Nina, you are well on the way.

I had really good results with both doughs compared to my previous attempts. Thanks a bunch for all your helpful advice

Very Happy

Not only did neither turn more sticky during bulk fermentation, they also kept their shape when removed from the proofing basket. And I got my first oven spring, yay!

The 60% loaf turned out slightly better, I suspect partly because it had 30 min longer proofing time (while the 64% loaf was in the oven) and partly because I was able to handle it more carefully and shape it better because the dough was less sticky.
I also had a hard time slashing the 64% dough during bulk fermentation to see what was going on inside... the less sticky dough was a lot easier to slash. The 64% also stuck more to the bowl and was harder to scoop out for turning.

So... I think I'll stick to 60-64% hydration with my future sourdough attempts as my conclusion by now is the danish flour is not strong enough to handle 68% hydration. Hopefully I'll get better at handling the stickier dough though with time and practice.

And here's some image spam: first the 64% loaf (a tad under-baked I think)
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060620_panefran1.jpg[/img][img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060620_panefran2.jpg[/img]
And in a different shape, the 60% loaf:
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060620_panefran4.jpg[/img][img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060620_panefran3.jpg[/img]
I didn't slash the loafs... didn't want my poor slashing technique to deflate them. Taking it one step at a time...

Ah, now I get your point about the oil, Graham. I can see how the smoothness from the oil could trick me.

I just mixed 2 doughs; one at 64% and one at 60% hydration (I believe that is pretty close to the yeast breads I've made before).
I was very careful to add just a tiny bit of oil to the table and I'll be using flour to turn the doughs later on. And cutting into the dough to check it's not overproofing.
So far the 64% is sticky, but manageable (even without much oil) and the 60% is soft, smooth and very easy to handle.

I also did the autolyse (10 min) - accidentally I forgot to add salt to the 60% dough and had to work it in afterwards. I did seem to make the autolyse more effective though, the dough had really come nicely together.

Ok, I'm off to what I really ought to be doing: studying for my exam tomorrow.

Embarassed

Will keep you posted though

Wink

I agree with what you are saying Graham, personally I'm a flour man . I have tried the oil method and found that I lost the "feel" that you get as the dough develops. I have refered in some of my posts to "kneading until you feel the dough come alive", this is the smooth silky feel you get in a lowish hydration dough or the lessening of stickiness that you get with a high hydration dough. This is the vital indicator that the dough has or is nearly developed.
I have found that, except for high hydration doughs, the dough that initially sticks to your hands at the start of kneading will transfer back to the dough as it develops.
One thing that will help, regardless of the hydration, is a thing called "Autolyse", which is just a fancy name for letting the dough rest so the flour can soak up some water after the initial mixing, I usually rest the dough for 10 minutes before I start kneading.
I have read somewhere that it takes about 20 minutes for wheat flour to completely soak up as much water as it can hold.

Nina,

one other thought.

What you describe - the dough becoming moister as it ferments - is exactly what happens during starter development.
When I make up a starter with equal weight flour and water (100% hydration) it is initially the consistency of thick mud. However by 12 or 24 hours it has becoming a liquidy gloop that I can pour out of the jar. NB the extent of this change does vary between flours, and I find it more likely at higher ambient temperature, or with starter that is left past its 'peak'.

So what I was wondering was whether your dough was over-proving during bulk fermentation. This might be particularly likely if you have a very active starter, or if the room is warm.

To know how long to prove your dough - this is what I have been doing (thanks to Dan).
Leave the dough for an hour. Scoop/tip it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface - before you poke or disturb the dough very much - slash the top rapidly with a very sharp knife. At this stage you will probably just see a few small bubbles below the surface.
Fold the dough on the floured surface (double fold), put back in the bowl.
Leave for an hour - repeat the above.
If it is not ready - repeat, folding at hourly intervals until you find the following:
What you will find is that when the dough is ready it will have a rich network of tiny bubbles honeycombed below the surface of the dough.
(You will also find that with each fold the dough is a little more resistant to the folding and stretching - it will be easier to shape at the end of this process).
I wonder if when you try this you find that your dough is actually ready to shape earlier than you are currently leaving it.

let us know

cheers
Dom


[quote]
So my theory is that is takes stronger flour to hold a wet dough togther. I might be completely wrong of course.
[/quote]

You do need a strong flour to hold a wet dough together. One reason is that an 'elastic crumb' is necessary to carry the larger amount of water. Inelastic crumb is indicated by 'water bands' in your loaf....where you have uneven distribution of water - including a moist, doughy band at the bottom of the loaf. It has happened to me in the past and is more likely to happen with rye, rather than wheat flours.

Interestingly, rye has a better water absorption capacity than wheat flour, but rye is not able to retain enough dough water during baking to form an elastic crumb. [i]Baking. The Art and Science, 1986[/i]

[quote]
Yes, you're quite right - my usual approach was to use flour. But that was with firmer doughs. I usually never weighed the flour, I just used as much as needed to make a firm dough. Even though my yeast doughs were kept a bit on the sticky side they were nowhere near as sticky as the ones I'm attempting now.
[/quote]

I haven't had Dan's book long, but I just had a quick look and see that the oil is mainly used to handle the [i]already developed [/i]dough. Any stickiness should be because it is a high hydration dough, rather than being sticky because the dough is not fully developed.

Using oil to handle dough is fine providing the oil does not hide a dough that is not developed enough for your needs (or the needs of the flour).

Dan does say somewhere (I forget exactly) that as bakers using oil become more experienced, they may wish to use flour (and movement) to handle the dough. Professional bakers will keep a wooden bench oiled, but do not use oil on their hands (or on a non-porous surface such as stainless steel or laminate). The dough is developed (during mixing) to a point where it is manageable using just a sprinkling of flour and by keeping the dough moving.

My point is, that a fully developed dough (even a wet one) feels less sticky than an underdeveloped dough. But they will both feel the same with a layer of oil on top (Nina, [i]you actually made me[/i] aware of this in your first post).

One of the indicators of a well developed dough is how it smoothes out during mixing. Professional bakers identify strongly with a wet dough 'coming together', and 'leaving the sides of the bowl' during the last stage of development. This is the stage when it finally feels smooth...as if it had oil on it

Wink

Graham

Thanks a lot for your advice!
The bread I baked today turned out good and not as flat as my previous attempts, but closer to a wholemeal loaf like you said. So not really what I was after...

After reading your posts I think my next attempt will be with regular wheat flour, less water and using flour on the table when turning and shaping the dough. When we finish eating the ones I've already baked that is

Laughing

[quote]
After the dough has risen (I take it that it has risen?)
[/quote]
Yes, it rises fine both during bulk fermentation and final proofing. It just seems to get a lot more soft as it rises.

[quote]
The other angle I would take is to find a way to better assess how well mixed your dough is. My guess is that all your yeast dough experience would have given you a lot of knowledge about how a dough feels when it is fully developed.

I suggest you go back to the method used to mix those doughs...which I assume used flour rather than oil to stop the dough from sticking (?)
[/quote]
Yes, you're quite right - my usual approach was to use flour. But that was with firmer doughs. I usually never weighed the flour, I just used as much as needed to make a firm dough. Even though my yeast doughs were kept a bit on the sticky side they were nowhere near as sticky as the ones I'm attempting now. I have no idea of the hydration level, but my guess is a lot lower than what sourdough recipes call for in general.
Also, I used a longer period of kneading and no turning of the dough during bulk fermentation. So it's really two very different approaches and I guess that's why I'm struggling so much with this white sourdough...

[quote]
That rye smells absolutely gorgeous!

Do you use water (rather than flour or oil) to stop a wet rye from sticking to the bench when you do the final shaping?
[/quote]
Thanks

Very Happy

No, the dough for this bread is rather wet. It's not kneaded and never leaves the bowl, well except for when I put it into the baking tin. It's baked on a low temperature for 3 hours and stays good to eat for days (the loaf we're currently eating was baked a week ago and it's still not dry).

Edited to add: Thanks for the input Bill. I think the main problem is that the danish flour is not very strong. As I understand it the level of protein does not say everything about how strong the flour is...? But as it's the only info on the package it's kind of hard not to compare protein levels...
I've baked great breads with danish flour before, but not with wet doughs. So my theory is that is takes stronger flour to hold a wet dough togther. I might be completely wrong of course.
But anyway, I'm not giving up just yet

Wink

Welcome to the forum Nina.
I can't add anything to what Dom has said regarding handling high hydration dough, he is a master at it.
There is one thing I would like to comment on, you seem to consider that 11.5% protein white flour is "Low protein", it actually is a good protein level for baking with and quite a lot of the flour in Australia is at this level. If you have seen any of my white loaves, they have all been done with 11.5% flour.

Nina,

I have no idea about the Danish flours that you are referring to. It is possible that their absorbency is quite different from those that I am used to, and Graham's suggestion of lowering the amount of water is probably a good idea. (For example you could try 180g starter (refreshed using equal weight flour and water), 300g water and 500g flour).
The spelt-like flour will probably give you quite a different bread - closer to a wholemeal loaf, more dense and with less rise. You could try mixing the flours 50/50.

You mention that the dough is difficult to handle after bulk fermentation.

My own experience with moist doughs is that they can be quite fragile after they have risen, and require sometimes a bit of a delicate touch. There are a couple of tricks to handle them. At this stage I wouldn't use extra oil - the real benefit of oil is in the mixing/kneading stages, when it allows you to handle dough without needing to add extra flour. After the dough has risen (I take it that it has risen?) I would lightly cover your bench surface in flour, and dust your hands with it. You should be able to scoop the dough out of the bowl and on to the work surface.
The flour on the work surface is to allow you to shape the dough without it sticking to your hands too much. You can add extra flour if you need to, though often I find that I only need a very light coating to allow me to handle the dough. If the dough sticks to the surface you might use a metal (or plastic scraper) to lift it off.
The dough can also benefit from folding during bulk fermentation (which you may already be doing). I often do these folds on a lightly floured surface, which will also tend to make the dough a little easier to handle at the end of bulk.

The critical thing with baskets or towels is to use lots of rye (or rice) flour to reduce sticking. Rub a good handful (or two) into the towel vigorously before using it to line the bowl. If the dough sticks to the towel it will tend to deflate when you try to tip it out, and then have little oven spring.

let us know how you get on
cheers
Dom

PS - Graham, the benefit of oil in mixing (as I understand it) is that it allows mixing/ kneading of high hydration doughs by hand (otherwise virtually impossible). Although it will make the dough somewhat smooth in external appearance, the dough develops from being given time resting, (in between short kneads).


Welcome to the forum Nina.

Good advice is likely to follow from members. Reducing the water content sounds like a worthy first step if you are uncertain about the characteristics of your flour.

The other angle I would take is to find a way to better assess how well mixed your dough is. My guess is that all your yeast dough experience would have given you a lot of knowledge about how a dough feels when it is fully developed.

I suggest you go back to the method used to mix those doughs...which I assume used flour rather than oil to stop the dough from sticking (?). I think that Dan has only introduced oil as an aid for people trying wet doughs for the first time. As you inferred, the oil could be giving the dough a 'smoothness', rather than the smoothness occurring as a result of adequate dough development.

That rye smells absolutely gorgeous!

Do you use water (rather than flour or oil) to stop a wet rye from sticking to the bench when you do the final shaping?

Graham

Hello, forum newbie here. I'm Nina, I live in Denmark and has been baking on and off for years using commercial yeast.

First of all I'd like to say thanks to you all for providing such a great resource - reading the posts in this forum has helped me a lot.

And on to my problem. I started my first sourdough starter last month following the recipe in Dan Lepard's Handmade Loaf. I now have a white and a rye starter and they're both lively and active, I've baked with them several times with tasty results.

Now, I'm really having troubles with baking wheat bread though. This is what happens: The dough starts out sticky but during the first brief kneadings it goes all nice and smooth and relatively easy to handle (with oil anyway). At the end of bulk fermentation is has gone back to extremely(!) sticky and it's impossible for me to shape it. After proving it never holds its shape when I turn it out of the basket because it's so soft.
The bread ends up flat, but very tasty and with a nice crumb and crust. There isn't much ovenspring either.
These are pictures I took when baking yesterday, using Dom's Pane Francese recipe (using a proofing basket instead of teatowels):
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060614_panefran1.jpg[/img]
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060614_panefran2.jpg[/img]

I think the cause of my troubles is the danish flour. Wheat flour is generally low in protein(11,5%) and gluten and there's no such thing as strong flour or bakers flour. Italian or American flour is recommended for strong flour, but it just seems wrong to me to be using imported flour for basic everyday bread...
I've purchased something called Ølands wheat, supposedly very similar to spelt, high in protein(15,5) and gluten. I noticed right away that it absorbs more water but in the end I had the same result: a sticky dough impossible to handle, much less shape.

Today I tried reducing the water in the recipe - the dough is bulk fermenting as I type. But I was hoping to keep the great texture and moistness a wet dough gives the bread.
Does anyone have any advice for this problem?

Thanks in advance, Nina
PS: Just to show off:
Here's the rye bread I made last week, traditional danish style. Tasted very good, even my 3 year-old daughter loved it. And what a great pleasure it gave me to walk right past those bread shelves in the super marked!
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060602rugbroed11.jpg[/img]

[quote="grubdog"]
Ok - I started trying to bake my first bread today I started to use the method you gave to me earlier but was a bit stumped when it read:

[quote]
1pm Shape your loaf. Divide it in two. Put it onto a floured surface. Press gently out into disc. Take furthest end and roll tightly up towards you. Place your dough onto a well floured tea towel with the seam facing up. Repeat. Fold the long ends of the tea towel over each other. Twist the short ends so that they are tight against the end of the dough and tuck underneath the dough.
[/quote]

does it want me to wrap the tea towel tightly?, will this not prevent it from rising?
why not just leave it in a bowl to rise?
any chance you could explain this method further?
I have put dough in the friedge and will take it out in the morning for its final rising.
[/quote] [/quote]

Grubdog, one of the hardest things to do when you are a beginner is to trust the advice of experienced bakers, because some times the advice may be contrary to what you think. I have done this recipe several times and trust Dom's advice, it works.

Ok - I started trying to bake my first bread today I started to use the method you gave to me earlier but was a bit stumped when it read:

[quote]
1pm Shape your loaf. Divide it in two. Put it onto a floured surface. Press gently out into disc. Take furthest end and roll tightly up towards you. Place your dough onto a well floured tea towel with the seam facing up. Repeat. Fold the long ends of the tea towel over each other. Twist the short ends so that they are tight against the end of the dough and tuck underneath the dough.
[/quote]

does it want me to wrap the tea towel tightly?, will this not prevent it from rising?
why not just leave it in a bowl to rise?
any chance you could explain this method further?
I have put dough in the friedge and will take it out in the morning for its final rising.
[/quote]

[quote]
I am currently storing them in kilner jars and I wanted to know whether it would be ok to use the lid on these (basically there will be no air) or whether this would kill off the starters
[/quote]

grubdog, in microbiology, if you want the yeast to multiply you need air to invigorate them, that is why If I refreshed the starter I occasionally stir them during their lengthy fermentation time (to introduce air inside. )

If you look at large scale institutional sourdough fermentation tank there is the occasional slow stirring mechanism inside that turns the starter for the same reason.

Cool

[quote]
I wanted to know whether it would be ok to use the lid on these (basically there will be no air) or whether this would kill off the starters.
[/quote]

grubdog, my own way is to put a lid on loosely...not screwing it down to a complete seal. If I use glad wrap I push in two or three skewer size holes. If it is a preserve jar, I take out the rubber seal so closure is not completey air-tight.

However I am open-minded on the affect that a limited supply of air might have. How much oxygen does fermentation require, and for how long? We might find that other bakers are completely sealing their brews for certain time periods, with good results.

Graham

Still waiting to actually use my starters - (been rather busy currently)

I am currently storing them in kilner jars and I wanted to know whether it would be ok to use the lid on these (basically there will be no air) or whether this would kill off the starters.

Many thanks that's exactly what I wanted to know! I think i'll only be baking once a week so this method sounds perfect.

Hi Grubdog,

[quote]
So anyway now I have my starter's to use what do i do now? how much do I take out when I want to bake bread? and do I keep feeding it like im doing now? pour out most and re-feed with 75ml water 75ml flour.
[/quote]
You're ready to go with an active starter, the thread Graham pointed to with regards to the recipe by Sourdom is a good start... For the remaining starter, I will feed it with 50g bread flour and 50g water, leave covered for 12 to 18 hrs till its active then transfer it to a clean bottle with a screw top and into the fridge. The next time when I want to use it, I take about a tablespoon or 2 (scoop only the greyish paste and not the liquid) then add whatever the amount of flour and water required to make the starter for that recipe you're gonna be using. Mix it well and leave covered till its bubbly and active for use. I do this as I do not bake as much as the rest of the guys and I will be wasting lots of flour just feeding the starter to keep it active.

Razz

Just my two cents worth...

Wink

Cheers...

Don

P/S If the stock is getting low, make extra starter from your next bake and pour the extra into the bottle.

Cheers...
Don

Hi grubdog

I am still getting my starter up to strength. Yesterday I also started to add rye and there was a noticeable difference the first time I used it. However I have been playing with the feed times and the ratio of water to flour (hydration) which is probably partly why the performance of my starter is erratic.

If you are game to use your starter to make a leaven, then I would look to the bakers in this forum who are baking regularly [i]from a starter[/i]
SourDom, Bill44, Jeremy, TeckPoh, bethesdabakers, northwestsourdough, etc

Use the 'Memberlist' link at the top of this page to locate the posts of these members (note: you now need to log in to be able to view the Memberlist).

For instance, SourDom demonstrates his way of using the starter in bread and maintaining it at the bottom of the following page:

[url]http://sourdough.com.au/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=1065&highlight=#1065[/url]

Then look at:

[url]http://www.sourdough.com.au/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=46[/url]

A complete beginner's page with the info you need is still a while away. I would like to have an active starter and be baking before completing the beginner's page and/or offering detailed advice about starters.

Hope this helps,
Graham

Currently coming to the end of my second week of trials for my own starter. I had fairly big problems the first week trying to get one going, I was using ONLY white bread flour, tap water, raisins and trying a curious experiment with apples (which had an exposive reaction initially). But basically my jars were doing very little coming to the end of the week, just a few bubbles going through (so there was a suggestion that there was something there).

I got rid of two trials at this point (I had four) and started 2 new ones from here:

1st one was to ferment raisins for 6-7 days
2nd was with yogurt, raisins, rye flour and white flour.
3rd was from of the residue from my apple attempt
4th I think also had raisins at some poioint but I forget now.

Either way the big change I made for all these startes was to add rye flour, as soon as I did this - BANG - it worked. My personal preference if I had to start one again though, would be with fermenting raisins, as it has been working fantastically well since I added the flour (a mixture of rye and white). My other favorite is the apple starter, I think mainly because it does actually have a smell of apples and rises well also.

So anyway now I have my starter's to use what do i do now? how much do I take out when I want to bake bread? and do I keep feeding it like im doing now? pour out most and re-feed with 75ml water 75ml flour.

[quote]
Can you explain to me what you mean by the term hydration.
[/quote]

Grubdog - I will answer this for you in the 'glossary' post on this forum

cheers
Dom


[quote]
Thanks for the explaination. Now it clears up the air for me....
[/quote]

No Worries mate....At least that its clearer than hooch

Laughing

Can you explain to me what you mean by the term hydration.

[quote]
That is reasonable....wholegrains tend to have more fats than white flour so it will biochemcially produces more fatty acids contributing to the sour flavor. Another thing also the enriched culture of wholegrain starters promotes vigorous activity which contributes to more acidification.
[/quote]

Hi Chembake,

Thanks for the explaination. Now it clears up the air for me....

Wink

Cheers...

Don

Cheers...
Don

That is reasonable....wholegrains tend to have more fats than white flour so it will biochemcially produces more fatty acids contributing to the sour flavor. Another thing also the enriched culture of wholegrain starters promotes vigorous activity which contributes to more acidification.

Hi All,

I would like to ask if there's a different in sourness with regards to a wholemeal starter and a white starter. I realised that breads made by my wholemeal starter has got a higher level of sourness compared to the white starter. Both starters are at 100% hydration. Any experiences or information to share is greatly appreciated.

Smile

Cheers...

Don

Cheers...
Don

Apart from when they are in the fridge all mine are in the light, not direct sunlight of course. All my captures and development are done in light, apart from night time naturally.

Hi grubdog.

That is a very good question: Does light affect the development of sourdough yeast and bacteria?

Can anyone answer this?

Thanks,
Graham

I am trying to grow my starters in large glass jars I have them in the window where light comes in. Do you think it better to keep them in a dark place instead?

[quote]
Oh and also trying some other way to get my starters, but I will let you know how they go in a few days.
[/quote] Let me know your about experiences with getting your starter(s) going. I am using input from people on the site to help compile the beginner's page.

[quote]
As I understand it Bannetons are mainly for proving the dough and once proved the dough is tiped onto a hot bakers stone or tray (if baking in a home oven) - let me know if this is wrong.
[/quote]
The bannetons are used as you described. If you want a larger loaf in a domestic oven, I would try the 1.0 kg size...we have had good feedback from that size even though initially I thought they might be too big for home use...it appears they are just fine in most cases. If you are in London they are available, but not ceratin where.

Graham

Thanks Graham I will keep you posted.

I was also looking at the bannetons made in germany available on this website and was thinking about ordering some to play with once I get started.

As I understand it Bannetons are mainly for proving the dough and once proved the dough is tiped onto a hot bakers stone or tray (if baking in a home oven) - let me know if this is wrong.

What sizes do you think are appropiate to get if I have a standard home oven - I'd like to make the loaf as large as possible.

Oh and also trying some other way to get my starters, but I will let you know how they go in a few days.

Hi Grubdog

It could help to put a photo of your starter in the [url=http://www.sourdough.com.au/gallery]Personal Albums[/url] and from there you can insert it into the forum if you wish.

Without having the entire details it is difficult to comment. However removing any remnants of the rotting apple is likely to help. The fruit-in-sourdough-starter-thing is a romantic concept until we have more data on what actually occurs. There should be enough naturally occuring yeasts in the flour you use.

It is possible that the fruit concept grew out of the baker's uncertainty about natural yeasts occuring in flour: yeast on fruit is clearly visible, whereas on flour it is not. Plus of course there is a history of fermenting fruits for an abundant amount of goods. The actual effect of the fermenting fruit on the flour/water mix (starter) is not completely clear (to you and me, anyway) so remove this variable until it is more understood.

By the way, I am really just reflecting back information that has entered this forum in the last week from other members...so it would pay to have a quick browse of their posts.

You have already started the cycle of discarding exhausted or suspect starter but retaining a small amount to start off a fresh batch. Keep this process up, using just flour and water, and your starter should grow to be healthy.

Keep an eye on [url=http://www.sourdough.com.au/beginners]The Beginner's Page[/url]because I am going to update this soon with more info on starters, including some temperature information.

Graham

Ok? I think the red has taken it's effect!Or it's a Graham acetic flashback! I think we already have too much information that controls our life today, better we bake for others with whatever nuiance or skill, besides better to have something that is ours by design but defined by nature(science)!

Ta,
Jeremy

Thanks Teresa, Don and everyone ... for your feedback and encouragement. I actually considered NOT putting the photos up, because the loaf is a bit flat and all ... but then you lot wouldn't be able to critique and help. And that's the whole point of the forum, right?!

And I figure that it's only in Chembake's special corner of the forums that pointing and laughing is allowed!

Smile

'Discovering' the wetter dough was a big step for me, an 'Ahah!!!' moment as they say in the classics! And the oiled surface for kneading, too.

All quite obvious to most of the forum members, I'm sure, but quite a discovery to this new bread baker!

I'd encourage all forum members to post their photos ... because learning from your comments about other folk's breads is really helpful.

[quote]
we ought to just open a forum member bakery somewhere, just do some nice bread!
[/quote]

[quote]
Hmmmm...wish I could go. I can be bizarre if I want to!
[/quote]

A fun option could be to [i]bake by remote control.[/i] It would be a bit of a game where one baker gets to direct another baker's skills for their own purposes. We would need to work out how much freedom the controlling baker has, or it could cross the line that separates bizarre and offensive.

[quote="Graham"]
Actually I read between the lines a bit with chembake and it would not surprise me if chembake joined us for dinner and bizarre conversation along with most of the other forum members. I wish I could get everyone to [url=http://sourdough.com.au/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=136]Boonderoo[/url] (this is not a plug, Boonderoo is just for the fun of it) but it's faily isolated, particularly for you, Jeremy.
[/quote]

Hmmmm...wish I could go. I can be bizarre if I want to!

Laughing

Graham,
we ought to just open a forum member bakery somewhere, just do some nice bread!

Jeremy

[quote]
I baked them in nice bread tins my hubby gave me ... which means they weren't pretty, but they were tasty with nice crusts!

and I know some of you have had much more glamorous first efforts than me, but I was quite pleased with myself.
What I learnt from this is that my doughs haven't been anywhere near wet enough ... this was much wetter.

So ... how do I get bigger holes? The bread tasted nice, although not as sour as my 4 year old son would prefer! An all-round 'pleasant' utility loaf.
[/quote]

Wonderful first loaves Carol! We are all proud of you! Many give up because their first loaves aren't what they had in mind. But you have done the right thing, you have assessed what you want and what needs to change for the next batch. From here on out it is basically taking each loaf and doing the same, assess what you want done differently and change that in the next batch. Bill and Sourdom are both right in my opinion, about the holes. Wetter dough does give a more holey structure but is hard to work with and shape. Lower hydration doughs also give great holey structure, that is also in the handling, kneading,recipe,oven spring,etc. Most of my loaves are like Bill's, not too high or too low hydration, and my loaves are almost always

Wink

holey!
"Some" of us may have had more glamorous loaves on our firs try, but "most" of us did not. I did not have glamorous first loaves. But I do think they dance and sing now! Great first try! Good for you!
TEresa

Actually I read between the lines a bit with chembake and it would not surprise me if chembake joined us for dinner and bizarre conversation along with most of the other forum members. I wish I could get everyone to [url=http://sourdough.com.au/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=136]Boonderoo[/url] (this is not a plug, Boonderoo is just for the fun of it) but it's fairly isolated, particularly for you, Jeremy.

Hey Graham!
It's generation thing I suppose, I grew up at the end of the Vietnam era and was "highly" informed on the subject as well as some activities while in the Army! But I think more seriously, that food interchanges with sort of a 3 degrees of sepration sort of thing, if you can dig that idea? I alway's look at things historically as well as with a lazy knowledge of science but more an artistic "look" of nature and how it affects the soul rather than the mind(phew, gotta lay off the red!)Chembake would have a field day with this mumbo jumbo!
We definitley need to have a good dinner and a few glasses of red, or some red wine then ponder mothers (maybe Frank Zappa and the Mothers of invention!)

Wink

Jeremy

Jeremy I did not realise that you had figured out what I was up to. The Australian Bush is a wilderness full of opportunities that can only, yes [i]only[/i] be realised with the help of sourdough and [i]the mother[/i] and the produce of [i]the mother[/i]. But now you are aware, then possibly others are also and we have to be careful because there is a limit to how many people are capable of exposure to acetic acid at such cosmic quantities. Jeremy you obviously drink the same brand of red! Love to you and all in your company. Graham

Just to change course a bit but still in the mindset of bacteria and the like! Years ago I discovered a book about lsd and they had a great chapter about the ergot infections in rye bread and the Salem witch trials! Careful Graham! And what about vinegar where it is created by a mother?
Mother of vinegar is a slime composed of yeast and acetic acid bacteria that develops on fermenting alcoholic liquids, which turns alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air. It is added to wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquids to produce vinegar.

Mother of vinegar can also form in store-bought vinegar, if there is some non-fermented sugar and/or alcohol contained in the vinegar. While not appetizing in appearance, mother of vinegar is completely harmless and vinegar does not have to be discarded because of it. It can be filtered out using a coffee filter, or simply left in and ignored.

Jeremy

the preferment loaf is a yeasted loaf, so isn't affected by starter hydration. It isn't a sourdough loaf, but is a great way to develop some of the techniques for sourdough baking - including by the way, the ability to deal with wet doughs.

The secret to moist doughs is to knead on an oiled benchtop (rub a tablespoon of oil onto a clean benchtop, and over your hands), to knead briefly (Dan kneads often for only ten seconds at a time), and to avoid adding much (or even any) extra flour.

Dom


Dom, could we just ask for 3-5 volunteers to set up CultureCams for a designated 2-4 week period? I can host them on the site and one person can be responsible for reviewing all the cams and taking a log, which would be posted on the site as available.

It is something to think about. I am happy to help get the cams up. It doesn't have to be a Cam thing...but would make it easier to verify that we are all doing the same thing, and get others interested in what we are doing. If it occurred during the coming months my role would probably be technical and coordination, rather than doing the test bakes. We (family + me) are transitioning from QLD to VIC via NSW and I will be on the road a lot in the next 6 months.

Can anyone see themselves joining a number of coordinated baking events for this project?

Graham

Carol,

I'll add my voice to the chorus of congratulations.

I have tended to associate bigger holes with wetter doughs (Carol Field in 'The Italian Baker' quotes a baker saying that 'the wetter the bread the better the bread'). However Bill will jump back in any moment now to disagree

Wink

But the other things that affect the 'hole' size include the flour (smaller holes with rye and wholemeal - on the whole (pun intended)) as well as how you handle the dough. If you do the 'folding' trick during bulk fermentation (I am pretty sure that Dan talks about it in his 'preferment' bread) it tends to stretch and encourage the development of pockets of air in the bread. I usually fold every hour during the first rise (also known as 'bulk fermentation).

Then you need to avoid losing any of the air that has carefully built up in your dough - to do this you need to handle the dough carefully and deftly when you shape the loaf (don't punch or knock back), and especially when you transfer into the oven. If the dough sticks, or is manhandled it will tend to deflate before it hits the oven.

For free-form loaves to get maximum height, here are three things that help
1. Bottom heat (preheat oven, and have an oven tray or stone in the oven onto which you will transfer your dough)
2. Avoid overproving. (As Graham suggests, if anything you should underprove). So try shortening the second rise time.
3. Fold the dough during the 1st rise (this gives it a bit more resilience)

On another matter...
Graham - the idea of a research group to investigate questions in home sourdough baking has been one that I have thought of before.
The logistics might be a bit offputting, but you could in theory have bakers all over the country following a set protocol for baking (with a couple of variations) and using clear outcome criteria. I am not sure how you would measure variables like the taste of loaves, or activity of starters, nor how you would go about 'blinding' assessment, but there would be a way.

cheers
Dom


Thanks for the encouragement. I am very pleased and have learnt a lot from this latest attempt ... which I can thank the forum for giving me the encouragement to do!

Starter fed and watered.

And ready to go.

Carol, great first loaves lady. Don't get too crazy with the wet thing, there are a lot of good recipes that are high hydration, and a lot of people think that is the [b]only[/b] way to go, it's not, it is only one method. You've seen pics of my white bread with a good spread of holes, they are done at only 62% hydration.
Keep it up Carol, the more you do the more you learn and the better you get.

Congratulations SourYumMum, your bread is leavened and edible!

Smile

Many of the open-textured, large hole breads are baked on the sole of the oven. They benefit from a strong blast of heat underneath, giving quick spring to a wet and often less than fully proven dough. A baking stone is a good first step to open texture because making freeform loaves will change the way you prepare and shape dough...which is another influence on the texture of your bread.

Great stuff. Don't forget to look after your starter!
Graham

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