#11  
Old 02-12-2011, 08:55 PM
Apprentice
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Napa, CA
Posts: 150
Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Jay,

Thanks for the tips. Just a few more questions before I give it another try as I think the weather here is going to turn to rain again, I know, I know! most people don't realize that it does rain in California and the temps are supposed to get down into the 30s! (I might even need to put on long pants again!)
  • What temp should I take the WFO up to before removing the coals/fire? I had not been taking it up to pizza temps 850 - 950 F (interior dome temps)
  • Any IDY (I finally figured that one out, I think) recipes that you would recomend?
  • Any IDY breads to stay away from until I start getting some of the easier recipes down?
Thanks again for the help to a bread newbie. And I guess I should reread my Alan Scott book and start the BBA that I have had laying around.

Eric.
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  #12  
Old 02-12-2011, 11:07 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Hi Eric!

You really need to take it way past pizza. If you have Scott he will say fire for 3 to 4 hours. If you have a Pompeii two is probably enough - maybe even one and a half for a light load, but if you don't put heat into the refractory you can't get heat back and without heat you can't bake. Putting a big load of dough in the oven (and/or spraying) can easily knock the temp of the surface of the hearth to 300 range. It is the heat you put in the refractory in the extended burn that gives you the heat to get back to the baking range of 450 or so. (and the temp should bounce back to at least 485 or so after you take the bread out and close the door - to prep for the second batch if you were going to do one).

I use Fleichman's. Buy it by the pound. Use it mainly for pizza. Keep it in the freezer for years.

Straight dough is best for learning - just flour, water salt with baker's percentages 100, 62 to 66 or so for water, and 2 for salt in the final dough. The bread will be better if you do a preferment or a presoak of the flour. I will give you some recipes when I am awake.

More soon!
Jay
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  #13  
Old 02-13-2011, 12:53 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: minnesota, usa
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

you must must must get to white dome, pizza temps and then, ideally, spread your fire out over the whole hearth and let it die down for a couple of hours before you rake out for bread. If I *just* fire to pizza temp (in my 36" pompeii, that's 1.5-2 hours depending on how big a fire I make), rake out immediately and let it come down to baking temp, I'll have burnt bottoms every time, no matter what the thermometer says. A longer firing and heat cycle works produces a much nicer result for me.

What's your favorite kind of bread? Start with that. Pick a recipe and give it a go. Repeat as necessary As Jay says, Bread Bakers Apprentice (or any of the other Reinhardt titles) is a good book for beginners.

IDY, aka instant dry yeast is also known as bread machine yeast, which you can find in the supermarket in the little envelopes to start with. Active dry yeast is fine and will work, the difference being ADY wants to be dissolved in water before meeting dry ingredients vs. IDY that can go right in with the dry stuff. Most serious bread baking texts and recipes are written for IDY, so if you're going to go all in with this, you may as well standardize that variable as soon as possible.
At some point you may find it worthwhile to purchase in a larger package. I also buy mine 1lb. at a time (I use SAF), freezing half the package until I'm through the first half. I mostly do sourdough, so I'm on about a 1/2lb. a year schedule with yeast.
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  #14  
Old 02-13-2011, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by splatgirl View Post
...you must must must get to white dome, pizza temps and then, ideally, spread your fire out over the whole hearth and let it die down for a couple of hours before you rake out for bread. If I *just* fire to pizza temp (in my 36" pompeii, that's 1.5-2 hours depending on how big a fire I make), rake out immediately and let it come down to baking temp, I'll have burnt bottoms every time, no matter what the thermometer says. A longer firing and heat cycle works produces a much nicer result for me.
I definately was NOT firing it to those temps and I certainly had burnt bottoms!, I do genrerally fire my WFO for at least three hours at a time but I will crank up the heat next time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by splatgirl View Post
...As Jay says, Bread Bakers Apprentice (or any of the other Reinhardt titles) is a good book for beginners.
Funny thing is that I purchased both Scott's book and the BBA at the same time but just started reading the BBA. I think I will try the non-SD French Bread mix.



Quote:
Originally Posted by splatgirl View Post
...IDY, aka instant dry yeast is also known as bread machine yeast, which you can find in the supermarket in the little envelopes to start with. Active dry yeast is fine and will work, the difference being ADY wants to be dissolved in water before meeting dry ingredients vs. IDY that can go right in with the dry stuff. Most serious bread baking texts and recipes are written for IDY, so if you're going to go all in with this, you may as well standardize that variable as soon as possible.
I need to go hit the store this morning and my new term IDY is on top of the list! I assume the Fleischmann's "Rapid Rise" is the item from my local supermarket?



Quote:
Originally Posted by texassourdough View Post
Hi Eric!
...I use Fleichman's. Buy it by the pound. Use it mainly for pizza. Keep it in the freezer for years.

Straight dough is best for learning - just flour, water salt with baker's percentages 100, 62 to 66 or so for water, and 2 for salt in the final dough. The bread will be better if you do a preferment or a presoak of the flour. I will give you some recipes when I am awake.

More soon!
Jay
Thanks guys, I REALLY appreciate the pointers (this is one of the GREAT aspects of the internet!) I now have a direction, an awakening (bread is not just open the packages, mix the igredients and Viola!) and though humbled, I am not discouraged or disheartened!

What is now killing me is our weather is turning to rain again as we have so spoiled for the last three weeks here in Northern California (it was 82 on SuperBowl Sunday) and I have not finished my WFOs enclosure, but when done my I will be able to bake/cook in the rain with planned overhang and lighting!

One more question; If I move my bread honing skills indoors (electric convection oven) do I just use a plain baking sheet, one of the double layer baking sheets or should I use a stone?

Again, Thanks!

Eric.
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  #15  
Old 02-13-2011, 04:04 PM
Journeyman
 
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Location: minnesota, usa
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

You'll need a stone. Also, the technique of baking the loaf in a cast iron pot produces amazing results. Google "no-knead bread" and give that a go or two. It's a great learning experience, dough and technique-wise and will teach you things about bread that can be applied to any recipe. Unfortunately, you're basically limited to the boule shape using a pot as a cooking vessel, but it's totally, totally worth it.
If you don't already have a cast-iron LeCreuset-type pot with a lid, consider going the combo cooker route:
https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefro...idProduct=4082
https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefro...idProduct=4044
These let you put your shaped dough into the shallow part and cover with the deep part, which I've found is much easier than trying to wrangle and slash dough down in a deep pot. Plus the Lodge stuff is quite a bit cheaper than most enameled cast iron and you get two pieces for the price of one with the combo cookers.
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  #16  
Old 02-13-2011, 07:14 PM
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Join Date: May 2010
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by splatgirl View Post
...the technique of baking the loaf in a cast iron pot produces amazing results. Google "no-knead bread" and give that a go or two. It's a great learning experience, dough and technique-wise and will teach you things about bread that can be applied to any recipe. Unfortunately, you're basically limited to the boule shape using a pot as a cooking vessel, but it's totally, totally worth it.
If you don't already have a cast-iron LeCreuset-type pot with a lid, consider going the combo cooker route:
https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefro...idProduct=4082
https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefro...idProduct=4044...
Het Splat, I just checked out some videos on the No-Knead and I already have a whole bunch of Lodge cast iron, got a leg of lamb cooking in the WFO right now in my cast iron dutch oven. So I will definately give that idea a try!

Right now my WFO is at under 900 including the walls, it was well above 950 and the exterior of the dome is about 115 F. I am just getting readey to proof what I think will be four or five loaves of french bread from the BBA recipe (I doubled it). After shaping the loaves and starting the proofing I will remove the lamb from the oven and start preping it for bread!

Used the IDY, and the stuff definately rose, much more than our SD and now I am getting kind of anxious!! But I will take my time.

I will let you guys know how it turns out! Stay tuned!!! Lamb and Frenc Bread are sounding pretty good right about now (but I am going to cook some rice in case I "brick" or burn the bread!!)


Eric
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  #17  
Old 02-15-2011, 11:36 AM
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Default Getting better but still not great

Well, I did try another batch, used the BBA IDY French Bread recipe. Doubled up the recipe as I figured that either I would screw up the cooking enough to have more than one attempt or if it came out good I have two teenage boys.

I think I had the hearth too hot this time, though I certainly had the brick mass heat soaked and an even temp.

I went and bought a digital probe thermometer and some more wooden mixing spoons.

I measured by volume as I still don't have a scale - Any suggestions on scales? Are the twenty dollar ones at the local stores that go to 0.1 oz good enough?

Mixed the dough by hand, used a 50/50 mix of bread flour and AP flour. The Bread Flour was some Con Agra bleached that a friend gave me which we will not use anymore after it is used up. The AP is KA which is what we get at our local store.

The starter dough, and the second rise did quite well and seemed to rise as much as the recipe called for. Shaping the loaves for the proofing stage seemed to go well.

When I went to move them to the peel, I had a little trouble as I had more than one each of two sheets and a couple of loaves seemed to "deflate" a little, next time I think I will use individual sheets of parchment paper for each loaf.

I followed Splat's suggestions on the WFO prep, but I think my hearth temp was too high at over 550 F. The first loaf burned the bottom almost immediately and the second one did almost the same. I was pretty bummed at that point but kept tossing em in the WFO. When I pulled them out the crust seemed kind of hard, but then again I don't what it should feel like. The internal temp was right at 205 F according to my new remote probe thermometer.

After bringing the loaves inside, I didn't wait to cut the best looking and least burnt loaf that has just a bit of surface black on the bottom. It definitely tasted good. There were some uniform air pockets and again I am not sure what it should look like.

So now we have a week of rain, and the WFO is sidelined until the good weather returns, but I am going to get a stone and maybe a scale today from our local kitchen supply which is an old school family run crammed shelf place in the old section of downtown, so I can continue indoors.

Thanks again for the help guys, it is getting better. All the loaves were eaten this time, though some took more trimming than others. Overll score this time, C-

Eric
Attached Thumbnails
Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-bread-burn.jpg   Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-bread-cut.jpg   Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-bread-proofing-01.jpg  
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  #18  
Old 02-15-2011, 01:58 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

For me, 550F hearth temp is way too hot. I shoot for between 450 and 500. I would never load with a hearth/overall temp over 500F. Your burnt bottoms and under browned tops reflect too high a temp. Next time, try loading at 450F. I think you'll have better results even if you change nothing else.

I have a OXO scale from Target. I think it was $30. It only goes to 5lb. which means for really large batches I have to split up the measuring, but that's not a big deal vs. the significantly larger expense of a 11lb. scale. I have a smaller gram scale for measuring yeast and salt, but I rarely bother using it.

The individual parchment sheets is a good idea. I have sometimes used a whole sheet up to the point of being ready to bake, then I just cut the sheet apart around the proofed loaves to transfer/load.
At some point you may find yourself in want of specialized proofing tools like a linen cloth (couche) for baguette/batard and either bannetons or brotforms for round/oval shapes. I still use parchment for WFO baking. In that case, I dump out or roll the proofed loaves onto pieces of parchment to load.

As you progress, you'll find you start paying a lot more attention to bread. You are likely to arrive on a pretty specific set of criteria for what you like as far as crust, crumb, etc. Ultimately, it comes down to what you like. Of course there are specific criteria upon which each style or type of bread could be judged in the professional realm, but if you're happy, does it matter? At any level, it's useful and interesting to seek out examples of breads that are well made or understood to be prime examples of their particular style to establish a reference for yourself. Seek out great bread and eat great bread!
The best thing about baking, especially when you're a beginner, is that the sense of accomplishment when you produce something edible and even kind of good far outweighs the shortcomings of the loaf. Improving your skills also means you'll improve your critical skills...for better or worse!
As it happens, I just baked a batch of the BBA French (with a couple of adjustments) because I needed some baguette on the fly for a dinner party. My first batch of IDY dough in ages!
baguette 2-12-11 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
In no way a stellar example, but it gives you something to compare to at least.

Here was my first ever bread from the WFO, also my first sourdough, from my first ever successfully cultivated starter:
first attempt at sourdough in the WFO | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
It sucked on every level, but I was over the moon.
A years' worth of practice later:
cereales and pain campagne from the WFO | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
And then, at long last, starting to look the way I think it should:
rip! | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

This season, if I can tweak the variables to get a boule from the WFO that compares to these I've managed from the indoor oven, I'll be pleased:
Best yet from the indoor oven! | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

As Jay says, bake on!
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  #19  
Old 02-15-2011, 01:59 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

editing for double post

Last edited by splatgirl; 02-15-2011 at 02:02 PM. Reason: oops
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  #20  
Old 02-15-2011, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by splatgirl View Post
For me, 550F hearth temp is way too hot. I shoot for between 450 and 500. I would never load with a hearth/overall temp over 500F. Your burnt bottoms and under browned tops reflect too high a temp. Next time, try loading at 450F. I think you'll have better results even if you change nothing else.

Yeah, I cant wait to get the WFO fired up again, but apparently we are getting our version of winter now. But I need to learn time and temp management of my WFO.

Picking up a stone today for the indoor oven and will mix up a batch of the pre-ferment later today for an attempt at indoor bread tomorrow.

I might also try the No-Knead batch tonight also.

By the way, I love your oven (if that is yours with the red-flame tiles at the entry door) way cool design.

And again, thanks to you and Jay for all the help.

Eric.
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