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First go at sourdough

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  • First go at sourdough

    I had my first attempt at baking some sourdough bread. I went with the sound advice of this forum and purchased The Bread Baker's Apprentice - I used the instructions in the book to make the barm and followed the formula for the basic sourdough bread. However, instead of all white flour I substituted 40 percent whole wheat. I think the bread turned out ok - great taste and good eating over a number of days. I found that doing the sourdough bread I treated the dough as a much more precious thing to be handled carefully and looked after.

    I thought the Reinhart book was excellent and I cant wait to try some of the other formulas.

    I left far too much flour on some of the loaves. This was mainly due to me wanting to make sure they released from the linen cloth in the proofing bowl. Any tips for doing this with less flour? I also found the scoring to be quite a challenge - got some interesting lop sided results.


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    Salv

    my wood oven build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...uild-5896.html

  • #2
    Re: First go at sourdough

    Wow!

    Salv, Those loaves look great!

    I wouldn't worry about 'to much flour' on the loaves, any extra can be brushed off with no harm to the process.

    And my experience with the slashing is that you must approach with authority, and slash seriously, and get some experience with the "slash". I started with a tendency to be gentle, and didn't want to knock the air out of the loaf, but if too gentle, it takes too long to get through the slash, and the loaf will be fully flat by the time you get done, slashing... do it quickly and with authority (and with a sharp small blade, ie razor..)

    I think your loaves look great! and great oven spring, and color, etc...

    Keep up the good work.

    JED

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: First go at sourdough

      Hi Salv!

      Welcome aboard!

      I agree with Jed, don't sweat the flour on the surface. Really wet, sticky dough and alder baskets pushed me to use more flour than you used. That is pretty light IMO.

      I would like more color so I would like the oven a bit hotter but...that's me and not necesarily you. You got great oven spring - especially for a 40% whole wheat. Nice job.

      RE: scoring. I think imperfect scoring has its own benefits. It shows it is home made OTOH, we all want it perfect so...

      Nice job!
      Jay

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: First go at sourdough

        Jed - spot on - I was rather timid with the scoring - I was in fear that the whole loaf would deflate right before my eyes. I ended up using a hobby knife as I couldn't find any place in Adelaide which sold lames - I even had problems finding the old style razor blades.

        Jay - I was also expecting more color from the loaves but wasn't too sure how to achieve this. I baked at around 550 F and was worried that if I went any hotter it would burn the bottom of the loaves. How hot can you go without doing this?

        Thanks to both of you for your useful advice. I've always liked the taste of sourdough and am itching to bake another batch. I prepared my first batch while I was on holidays for a week - haven't quite worked out how to schedule the preparation around work commitments.
        Salv

        my wood oven build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...uild-5896.html

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        • #5
          Re: First go at sourdough

          By the way, Salv, I want to repeat...you got huge oven spring for 40% whole wheat! You must be doing something wrong! ) (that is totally intended as a joke! I am jealous of that spring for whole wheat boules!)

          Couple of possibilities on color. If the oven was at 550, then it hotter is probably not the answer (unless your oven is really light weight or you aren't heat soaking it which results in faster than appropriate cooling). The look to me is on the undercooked side. Hearth breads should IMO have three shades of brown: a medium to slightly dark general crust tone, areas that are almost burned where the slit flaps are thin, and a lighter color where the expansion rip occurs. My guess that you are "underbaked" is based on the relatively uniform color. Did you take the temperature of a loaf when you pulled them? I like to bake mine to around 206 degrees so that I get some roasting of the flour in the dough (you will also get some roasting of the raw flour on the outside). If your internam temp was 198 or 200 I would add five minutes or so to the time. If your internal temp was 206 then I would try to put the bread in at a higher temp - maybe 570. OR...if you didn't fire the oven for an hour and a half or two hours before the heat soak period, I would try making sure the oven was truly hot first.

          And one last thought. It looks like you made only four loaves. I find that in my 1 m oven I need at least 12 to 14 pounds of dough to get great crusts. Yes I know spraying the oven helps but wet dough is the ideal hydrator of the oven. It is possible that your oven was dry and that resulted in low gelatinization and thereby crust color, but...your oven spring makes me feel like the oven wasn't terriby dry, so...

          Lots of possibilities. Which seems to make sense?
          Jay

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          • #6
            Re: First go at sourdough

            Thanks for the comments Jay. I wasn't too clear on whether the oven spring was about right or not - at least that seemed to work. The Wholewheat flour I used was organic stoneground - I don't know if this was a factor?

            When I took the bread out they registered 206 F so I don't think leaving them in longer would help. Out of all the possibilities I think the most likely one is that I didn't fire the oven for long enough - I seem to remember firing for maybe 80 minutes before heat soak so I will try 2 hours next time. You are also right that I only baked the four loaves - so this also may be a factor.

            I also had another question which I forgot to ask earlier - I noticed that the crust was ok but wasn't as crunchy as I would like - is there anything that can be done to improve this. I cracked the door of the oven open for the last 2 or 3 minutes of the bake - should I be doing this earlier?
            Salv

            my wood oven build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...uild-5896.html

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: First go at sourdough

              Hi Salv!

              Very helpful info. I think the first thing to try is longer firing of the oven as you said and if that doesn't work, try going up in oven temp when you load the bread. As I said in another email, every oven has its idiosyncracies and you are still learnng yours...

              Putting loaves in the oven really hammers the oven temp. Temp will drop and then rise as the loaves warm and heat seeps back in from the oven mass. The crust color and character is heavily influenced by the gelatinization of the starches in the crust zone which mainly occurs during the first ten to fifteen minutes in the oven.

              Did you spray water in the oven when you loaded the bread? That helps compensate for low bread mass, but to get thick crunchy crust loaves in my oven I find I need at least 12 lbs of dough. Spraying can sort of make up for it but the results simply aren't the same in my experience. If you use only four loaves don't be afraid to spray the hell out of it. Remember, in a puny little household oven they usually have you put a cup of water in a pan in the bottom of the oven. You can spray a lot of water in the WFO and if you have good thermal mass it will rebound and bake the bread. Try not to directly spray the loaves though!

              You will probably have to fine tune the balance of # loaves, temp at which you load, amt of spraying, and time baking before you get consistent results.

              One last aside, I use cloches a lot for smaller batches using my regular oven. I get gorgeous bread, but the crust is always thinner than I prefer. So I routinely take loaves and put them in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes and that greatly improves the crust. Most artisanal bakers use rather high bakers' percentages (like 68 to 70) which leaves a relatively wet interior that will soften the crust rather rapidly even when done "right". So don't be averse to "refreshing" the crust in the oven.

              One last comment...and again, your loaves are very pretty and held their shape well and I am sure (if they reached 206) that they tasted great. The fact they held their shape so well implies that you were probably fairly low BP. Nothing wrong with that per se and handling wetter doughs can be "interesting" to say the least, but I would encourage you to play with wetter doughs as you gain experience. I think it gives better bread but others may disagree.

              Way to go!
              Jay

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: First go at sourdough

                Jay - I sprayed water for about 10 seconds 10 minutes before I put the bread in and another 10 seconds when I put the bread in. I am going to do another bake this weekend and the plan of action is to:-
                • give the oven a good 2 hour fire
                • double the amount of loaves I bake
                • increase the spray when I put the loaves in

                Re the Bakers percentage I strictly used the amounts in the Reinhart formula but the dough did feel somewhat firmer than the dough I have used to make Ciabatta - so I may try a little more water as well.

                Thanks for the great advice - will report back on how it goes.
                Salv

                my wood oven build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...uild-5896.html

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: First go at sourdough

                  Originally posted by Salv B View Post
                  Jay - I sprayed water for about 10 seconds 10 minutes before I put the bread in and another 10 seconds when I put the bread in. I am going to do another bake this weekend and the plan of action is to:-
                  • give the oven a good 2 hour fire
                  • double the amount of loaves I bake
                  • increase the spray when I put the loaves in

                  Re the Bakers percentage I strictly used the amounts in the Reinhart formula but the dough did feel somewhat firmer than the dough I have used to make Ciabatta - so I may try a little more water as well.

                  Thanks for the great advice - will report back on how it goes.
                  Hey guys! Great advice Jay! Those are some good looking loaves of bread! Just a couple of things off the top of my head Salv...we have found it best to fill the chamber of the oven with steam closer to when you load the oven...and that means get the end of the sprayer as far back in the oven as you can and spray until the vapor starts to roll out the door...then after you load the bread repeat the process...just try not to spray directly at the loaves but rather up into the ceiling...don't worry about spraying the bricks as the water is usually vaporized instantly...and for the hydration percentage for your dough formula...keep in mind that the relative humidity has a large effect on the final dough texture...our best method is to be exact with the dry ingredients and hold back a bit of water...then watch the dough in the mixer and add water about 2 tablespoons at a time to achieve the proper texture...
                  Keep up the good work and keep posting pictures!
                  Best
                  Dutch
                  "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
                  "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: First go at sourdough

                    Hi Salv!

                    Back from a short trip... Your plans sound good. Also...spray like Dutch suggests - back of the oven. And...the lower the loading of the oven the more water you need - but...remember water drops the temp and will probably extend your bake time slightly.

                    I look forward to the results from "Round 2"!
                    Jay

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: First go at sourdough

                      Thanks Dutch and Jay for the additional comments - I had a go at some baking on the weekend with this advice in mind. In addition to doing four sourdough Boules I had a go at some Pan L'ancienne and I also threw in some leftover pizza dough as well! We fired up the oven for my sons third birthday party so it was a little bit rushed and I didn't get the temp even across the whole hearth. I cooked two boules in the hottest part of the oven (almost 570 F) and they were slightly burnt underneath but the colour came out great and so did the crust. The two other boules were just over 550 F and they came out ok as well and no burning underneath. The bolues were only about 10 percent wholwhweat this time. I gave the oven a good two and a half hour fire and I did a much longer spray this time as well. Heres a pic of the bake for the day

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                      And heres a close up of the Boule cooked in the hottest part of the oven

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                      Salv

                      my wood oven build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...uild-5896.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: First go at sourdough

                        Hi Salv!

                        Sounds to me like you mainly needed a bit more firing the first time - i.e. you put in at 550 but the oven wasn't fully loaded so the temp didn't get back up to the temp needed to give an optimal bake. These look pretty good to me. Sounds like a few more minutes of heat soak to even out the oven might be desirable (to let the floor even out a bit... and avoid the burned bottom) but other than that sounds like you are close!

                        What do you think?
                        Jay

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: First go at sourdough

                          Hi Jay,

                          I think the main thing was the longer firing - which I will make sure I do each time I bake bread now. I also think I need to do my bread a little higher than 550 F - I will maybe go up to 560 next time. The bread had much more colour this time and much more crunch. I also should have allowed more time for the oven temp to equalise but I had hungry people over waiting to eat - I forgot to mention that while the bread was baking I also had a tray of chicken drumsticks in at the same time!

                          Once again, thanks for your great advice.
                          Salv

                          my wood oven build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...uild-5896.html

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: First go at sourdough

                            Nothing like a hungry horde of scavengers to rush the oven preparation!!!

                            I NEVER do bread when there is a crowd around. Bread is just me and the oven. Pizza...now that's a different story. I try hard to have the oven just about ready when people are supposed to arrive. That way there is no standing around, drooling, and pilfering toppings! (WHACK!)

                            Jay

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                            • #15
                              Re: First go at sourdough

                              I agree about bread not being an audience thing... I will fire the oven up JUST to do bread. Then I'll use the retained heat to do other things later. Or you can jack it up again and do pizza. Bread's too easy to mess up the timing when you have to think about all the other stuff. And when you have "is it time yet, is it time yet" going in the background....
                              Elizabeth

                              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/e...html#post41545

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