#41  
Old 03-01-2008, 08:16 AM
sarah h's Avatar
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Very informative & interesting, and something I can do while I wait for spring to unbury my oven - thanks John!

I tried to make starter a year or so ago and things 'started' out great, but sometime into the process, I began to question the look and smell of the stuff and when I tried to make bread it just didn't work. Thanks to the FB forum, I'll try again and post a distress call here if need be.

I've copied all the information into a document I can shorten and print out to work with a bit more easily and, like Frances, may try spelt, since I have a bag of it in the cupboard.

Now, if only it works for me - actually, for all of us trying to harness those wild yeasts ... may our starter 'live long and prosper'!
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  #42  
Old 03-01-2008, 08:50 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Frances, Sarah, John,

I certainly have The Bread Builders and certainly admire David Wing. However, the clearest, simplest, most foolproof method I've ever seen of developing and nurturing a starter is contained in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's not perfect, but almost, and certainly dispels the mystery and voodoo out there. Another clear, fine approach is from David Hamelman in Bread. The development of mold is a sure sign that the starter is getting too warm. Once it's reached full maturity after a feeding, either use it or refrigerate it. There are lots of bugs, good ones, in a mature levain, but you don't want to create an environment that welcomes the bad guys. When developing a starter, it's important to keep it feeding actively but not let it get too warm. True, if you keep doubling it, soon enough you'll need a forklift to move it around. Grit your teeth and toss half of it.

At least in the early, developmental stages spelt will not have the strength to develop a strong starter. Once the culture is well established, though, you could take a portion and try making a spelt starter, but I'd use it only in small proportions at first, then see how it goes. Really, the best flour to use when creating a starter from scratch is hard, unbleached bread flour. Again, once established, you can turn it into a whole wheat or rye starter as you will. Hamelman is very good on this subject.

Jim
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  #43  
Old 03-01-2008, 10:34 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Thank you Jim!

So if my starter is all bubbly and developing mold, that means its ready to use or refrigerate or feed, even though I only started it last Tuesday?

Ok, I'll feed it then, and use the other bit for a small loaf of bread, just to see what happens...

I used spelt because its the most natural wholemeal flour I had in the house at the time, but I'll start feeding it regular flour from now on.

Thanks again, I'll let you know how it turns out...

"May your starter live long and prosper" - I love it!
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  #44  
Old 03-01-2008, 11:02 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Thanks Jim. Since I haven't begun yet, I'll go with white flour. And maybe look for that Reinhart book too.

Quote:
So if my starter is all bubbly and developing mold, that means its ready to use or refrigerate or feed ...
Frances, if it's growing mold, wouldn't this mean it's time to start over?! They're not all penicillin ...
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  #45  
Old 03-01-2008, 01:16 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Frances:

Easy answer: Scrape off the mold and keep going.

Much tougher answer: The seondary sponge is really about flavor. You could make your dough directly from the primary sponge in a pinch, but it wouldn't be ripe, and wouldn't have near the flavor you want. It is the production of acid that gives natural leavens (or any breads) their flavor. THat's why straight dough method breads made with commercial yeasts have so little flavor. So the answer is yes, you can, but you really don't want to. THe reason you triple it twice is to give the yeasts that have already developed more fresh food, so they can continue to ferment for longer without overdeveloping and thus starving to death.

Now, let's make sure we have the math right. You want to keep at least half your starter. You say tripling that would give you too much sponge. So use less starter. (As Jim says, grit your teeth and throw some away, if neccessary. You'll get used to it). If you want to make two one-kilo loaves, you could start with, say, 100 grams of starter. Triple to 300. Throw away 100 grams starter, and refresh your starter with 100 g water, 100 g flour, let ripen a bit, and put back in the fridge. After your primary sponge is ready, "triple" your primary sponge to 800g (40% of two kilos, if it's still winter where you are). Let ripen, then make the dough, autolyze, knead, rise, divide, rest, shape, bench-proof, slash, bake. Patience. You're gonna love this stuff.

Last edited by John Fahle; 03-01-2008 at 01:19 PM.
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  #46  
Old 03-02-2008, 08:16 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Sarah, the mold was just a very small patch on the edge of the glass, so this time I'll risk it. If I thought it was developing throughout the starter of course I'd start over.

John: somehow I thought it wouldn't be that easy... .

I made a small loaf of bread yesterday, and to my complete and utter surprise it did in fact rise and produced an edible product that two out of five family members are prepared to eat for breakfast. So still plenty of room for improvement - I'll plan a proper three stage bread for next weekend.

Thank you for all the advice!
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  #47  
Old 03-02-2008, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Frances:

Congratulations on your first natural leaven bread! Even with the hurry-up method you described, I'm certain it has more flavor and texture than any straight-dough method bread, just because of the increased rising and proofing times. When you add that extra ferment, I think you'll be very pleased with the results. And the starter will just keep getting better with time, giving you a higher rise and more flavor. The first of a long line of great breads.
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  #48  
Old 03-06-2008, 04:34 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Quick update: This time I went for longer rising times. Not quite as long as you suggest, the first trippling was more a sort of doubling, so it bubbled up faster and had to sit in the fridge till I was ready... I also added some malt, as the first loaf made me think that would be a good addition tastewise.

But the bread really is better than with bought yeast! It has more texture somehow. Everybody loved it! As a newcomer to all this, I find it fascinating that all you need is flour and water to replace the yeast. Weird... cool!

It didn't have a sour taste at all, which is great, because thats what my family objects to... propbably only beginners luck though. So my next question is: How do I keep the sour taste low?

Here's a pic of one of the four small loaves, and one of the copious notes I had to make to get there...
Attached Thumbnails
Proofing - raising questions????-notes-001.jpg   Proofing - raising questions????-notes-002.jpg  
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  #49  
Old 03-06-2008, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Frances,

Congratulations, well done. The crumb structure will become more open as the culture matures. You also might experiment with higher hydration levels and more steam while baking in the first half of the time alloted. Retardation of the shaped loaves overnight in the fridge will result in more complex flavours, too.

Soudough/levain cultures can be prevented from becoming too sour by several methods. The first is to stick to hard white, unbleached bread flour for feeding. Both whole wheat and rye flours have much more in the natural sugar department, resulting in more aggressive feeding by the wild yeast and more acetic acid production, leading to a more sour flavour. The size of the feeding just before you plan to bake also has an effect. The larger the feeding, the less sour, the smaller the more. It's really not complicated (except biochemically), and it's a great way to manipulate the flavour of the final outcome.

Jim
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  #50  
Old 03-06-2008, 02:21 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Beautiful, Frances! One other thing I noticed is that it doesn't appear that you slashed the bread. If you slash it, you get a much better oven spring, resulting in a looser, more open crumb. A razor or a (fairly sharp) serrated knife will do it. You can find all sorts of slash patterns. I just usually do a box cut (a rectangle, essentially, slashed into the top of the bread just where it starts to curve down and become the sides), followed by a small X in the center of the box. 1/4" to 1/2" is about how deep you want your slashes.

Last edited by John Fahle; 03-06-2008 at 02:27 PM.
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