Dom, are you about?


Hi Dom,
I'm making another loaf a bit late in the day and it will be ready for baking at about 4.30 am! Not likely
The one I put in the fridge last week and baked the next day turned out flat and awful....the chooks got it.
If I put this one in the fridge are there any special instructions for what to do with it before baking tomorrow? ie: leave it for so many hours before baking etc..

I have ordered Dan's book (from Collins) and am getting it for my birthday, pretty chuffed about that. Oh, and some digital scales hopefully....I've dropped enough hints that's for sure.
I'll have to wait a bit longer for the cob oven though me thinks..

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SourDom 2006 February 5


This advice will probably be too late for your current loaf.

It sounds as though your 2nd loaf last week was overproved. That means that the rise after shaping was too long, and the loaf collapsed on being transferred to the baking tray. When that happens, you lose some of the precious accumulated gas within the loaf, and the loaf ends up flat like a frisbee (with little oven spring).

Proving is a mysterious process that I am still only beginning to understand more. Jack Lang has written a fascinating post on the subject on an American baking forum in the last week.
My guess is that your 2nd loaf from last week looked a bit like Jack's 7 hour loaf.

Just to go back a step and explain some of the terminology (forgive me if I am tellilng you things you already know) . In the instructions last week there were lots of stages, but in essence the prebaking process can be divided into mixing (thats the step with 3 quick kneads over thirty minutes), so-called "bulk fermentation" (or first rise -that's the stage after mixing when we were folding the dough and letting it rise for an hour each time), and "proving" (or second rise - the rise after shaping).

The sort of rough timing that I usually use involves 1/2 hour for mixing, 3 1/2 to 4 hours for bulk fermentation, and 4 hours for proving. However the timing needed will vary with the contents of your dough (and the type of flour), the temperature of your kitchen, and the activity of your starter. For example, things that will make these stages take longer include all white flour in the dough, a cold kitchen, and a sluggish starter. Things that will make the process shorter include having more rye or wholemeal flour in the dough, a warm kitchen, and a cracking active starter.

Because I wasn't sure about the activity of your starter I suggested increasing the proving time last week for your second loaf. However in retrospect the first loaf looks like it was baked at just the right time, and the second one sounds as though it missed the boat (though I am sure the chooks enjoyed it).

One of the great things about sourdough is that it is much more flexible in terms of timing than yeasted breads. Half an hour here or there is unlikely to result in disaster. However the length of the process can be a bit daunting. You can use the fridge to help fit sourdough baking around your life (rather than having to rearrnge your life to bake...). The fridge does a number of things. It slows fermentation and allows you to stretch out the stages above. But it also develops flavour and character in the loaf, and as such is a deliberate part of much artisan baking (when it is often referred to as "retardation").
You can put the dough in the fridge after mixing, or part way through bulk fermentation, or after shaping - or various combinations of the above.

What I have been trying recently is to do the mixing before work, put the dough in the fridge, then take the dough out of the fridge in the evening, fold a couple of times, and then put it back in the fridge. I then take it out in the morning to bake. (To have a loaf for breakfast you need to get up in the night to take the dough out of the fridge
Because there is ongoing fermentation and changes in the loaf while it is in the fridge the timings will alter when you take the dough out (ie you can't just continue where you left off). Following a suggestion by Jack Lang in the post mentioned above, I have been subtracting two hours from bulk rise or proving times when the dough has been in the fridge.
That seemed to work with the loaf that I baked yesterday morning, but I haven't played around with this enough to be sure.

So to get back to your question about what to do with the dough that you put in the fridge last night. I am unsure what stage it is up to. If it is shaped then I would suggest putting it in the fridge immediately after shaping then letting it return to room temperature for an hour or two in the morning before baking. Alternatively if it has had a couple of hours rise before going in the fridge you could bake it straight out of the fridge.

There are lots of different ways of doing this, and I am sure that other bakers out there will have alternative opinions/strategies


~tullymoor~ 2006 February 5

Well, Dom, I left it out on the bench all night wrapped in the floured tea towel. The shaping was done at 1 am by the way and I made just the one loaf. This morning at 10 (I know, I slept in...again!) I heated the oven and bunged it in for 45 minutes. It turned out just fine. I even had a go at 3 quick slashes
It's not as "risen" as it could be I doesn't seem to be much bigger (higher) than my first loaf last week.

Thanks for that link, phew, I have so much reading to get through and I feel as though I'll never catch up.
Getting THE book will be a great thing as I will just stick to that (and here for hand -holding of course ) and do one new recipe each bake.

Can you cook these loaves in breadtins? I was given some really nice, heavy ones the other day and would love to get some use out of them. Then the loaf would stay in shape.....not very artsy fartsy though, eh?
I guess I need to get one of these basketty thingamebobs? Do you just tip the loaf out onto the stone/baking tray?

SourDom 2006 February 5


glad to hear that your loaf worked OK. Leaving the bread out all night is certainly an option, particularly in winter.

Yes you can use bread tins for sourdough. Put the dough that you have made the last two weeks directly into the tins after you have rolled it up, then let it rise in the tin.

There are lots of different accessories that you can get to use for your breadmaking as you get into it eg stone, banneton (rising basket), peel, lame. However you have already discovered that all you really need is an oven, set of scales, tea towel, and a tray. The rest is icing on the cake (decorations on the loaf perhaps?).

Try making the same recipe once a week for a month. You will find that the loaf improves each week as you gain confidence, and get a feel for the dough.

Happy Baking

~tullymoor~ 2006 February 5

Ok, thanks Dom I'll use the tins next weekend.
Thanks to you I have spent (lost ) the whole night reading the forum over at Dan's site. You have baked some great looking bread and even ironed out a few little wrinkles in recipes....when are you opening the bakery??

SourDom 2006 February 5

Its awfully easy to lose hours reading about baking. The good thing is that there is something concrete (well hopefully not too much like concrete) to show for it at the end.
I am strictly an amateur, albeit an enthusiastic one.


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