#31  
Old 02-18-2011, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by splatgirl View Post
Your no-knead came out beautifully! It really is magic, that whole cast-iron pot baking business.
It did come out delicious, and I have to again thank you!


Quote:
For creating steam, a wider, open surface will work better, IME. The teapot would be better than nothing, but a cast iron skillet will be superior because it offers a larger evaporative surface than a teapot...KWIM? A shallow depth, wide pool of water is more likely to maintain boiling temp and thus steam vs. tall and deep.
The last time I had the WFO going for my bread making (aka "Home Brick Supply") I used a special Napa Valley Custom Stainless Bread Oven Steamer Bowl (NVCSB). OK! it was my dog's water dish, but it ran out of water pretty fast, and my dog wasn't happy with me.

We gave the cast iron tea pot a test run in the indoor oven, and it worked pretty well. Though you gave me an idea for the WFO, I may use both and put ice in the NVCSB.


Thanks again for all the help, Eric.
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  #32  
Old 02-18-2011, 06:12 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Need to read this entire thread...again
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  #33  
Old 02-18-2011, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Jay, Eric and Splatgirl,
Thanks for this thread. I have been experiencing many of the same problems as EricU, I don't feel so incompetent now. I've been reading everything I can find, and this has been as helpful as anything I have found. Now to improve my results
Thanks,
Eric
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  #34  
Old 02-18-2011, 08:06 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

It's a shame that there exists so much conflicting, dark art-type info on sourdough, because I think it either puts people off entirely, makes them timid, or turns what is a pretty straightforward process into something way more confusing than it needs to be. Or all three.
I was exactly where you guys are about two years ago. I really owe a lot of what I know to Jay, too, plus countless hundreds of pounds worth of practice and hours of reading and screwing around. In addition to having become a pretty decent bread baker, I'm glad that what I can offer might be making it a little less daunting for others!

Bread is one of the few hobbies I've ever found where there's enough to learn that I don't get bored in a few months.
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  #35  
Old 02-18-2011, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Eric,

Just follow along and listen to Jay & Splat and keep trying. I cannot believe how much better my loaves (IDYs) have come out in ONE WEEK! It is unbelievable to me, and I really owe it to the people who contributed to this thread.

My wife cranked out her first attempt at a SD Rye last night that wasn't what she was looking for but was way better than the "Designer Loaf" that she bought earlier in the day as a comparison. After she was done, she tells me that she doesn't really like rye, but she got the flour from up the road at our grist mill which is a Cal State Park. She figures if she can do a rye, the rest shouldn't be too bad.

I have been concentrating my efforts on baking tools, techniques and IDY dough prep, hoping to have the indoor stuff down before the rain out here ends so I can have those variables checked off when I can get back to my WFO.


And tossing in a No Knead doesn't hurt the ego either after my whole homemade brick stint!

Good luck, Eric.
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  #36  
Old 02-19-2011, 01:53 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

My latest update and series of questions (hopefully you guys aren't tired of my questions just yet!)

Two days ago I started a double batch of the BBA "Pre-Ferment" and it sat in the fridge and expanded quite well. I was originally planning on baking yesterday, but after I mixed in the second amounts of flour and other ingredients (from the BBA "French Bread" recipe) and realizing that I would not start baking until about 10:30 PM, I stuck it in the fridge covered with a damp towel for the second ferment (if that is the correct term).

Early this morning I took it out of the fridge and it certainly fermented, as it looked like a giant muffin with a red-towel over it. I then cut it into pieces on the counter top to facilitate it warming up, then shaped the loaves placing them on parchment paper for the proofing stage. Let them sit for over an hour, again covered with a damp towel while I pre-heated the oven and my $1.19 HD baking stone to over 500 F. I also pre-heated my cast iron teapot at the same time. The oven is an electric convection and I did use the convenction function.

The first loaf I slid onto the stone still on the parchment paper as it sticks to the paper until heated. After about 5 minutes I reached in and pulled the paper out from under the loaf which worked quite well for me.

After a total of twenty minutes the crust was nice and dark golden but the internal temp was only around 195 F, so back in for a few minutes and pulled it out at 205 F (or so). The next round of loaves, I turned the baking temp down to 485 F after bringing the oven back up to around 550 F. This seemed to work well with a twenty minute bake cylce with a nice combo of 205 F internal temp and color of crust.

After 40 miutes of cool down time, my wife, Dallas (my youngest boy) and myself finished the first loaf no problem (well, my wife had one slice while Dallas and I hammered the rest down).



Now for my questions & observations:
  • The cast iron steam kettle worked quite well, though I did run out of water as I didn't check it but once.
  • My Napa Valley Custom Baking Stone (NVCBS) also known as a $1.19 Mexican Paver didn't fare so well as it cracked sometime after the second round of loaves. Though I did continue to use it for all the loaves.
  • Is there a minimum temp that the proofed loaves should be prior to placing in the oven?
  • I did not see a lot of air gaps or holes in my finished bread. How do I encourage more holes?
  • When should I "slit" the loaves?
    • Right before going in the oven?
    • Right after shaping the loaves? It seems that the ones that I slit at this stage just kind of filled in those areas.
  • How deep should the slits be?
  • Why does the BBA say to let the baked loaf cool at least 40 minutes? I don't want to wait that long!!!
  • So far all of my mixes seem to use more water than the recipes call for, at least 30% more. I have been using up some Con Agra bleached bread flour that was given to me and mixing that with equal amounts of KA AP flour. The extra (untreated well) water doesn't seem to be a problem, but it has definately been more than the recipes call for including the no knead.
I feel that these loaves came out quite well and they are quite tasty, but they are not exactly what my bread goal is, which would be something a little more along the lines of a commercial bread we get out here by a company called "San Luis Sourdough" and the one that we enjoy the most is their "Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread" but I would like mine a little more "Rustic" (?) if that makes sense.



So to now get my breadmaking skills towards that goal of a more "Rustic" San Luis Sourdough Company style SD Cracked Wheat":
  • What is cracked wheat? Is it a coarser flour?
  • Where do I get cracked wheat? Whatever it is.
  • Could someone suggest a recipe to start with? I have Reinhart's BBA and Scott's "Bread Builders" and of course I have the innerweb.
  • Do I start with the same IDY white flour based pre-ferment for now? I believe that eventually I will want to move to an SD starter.
  • When do I add the cracked wheat or is the whole recipe based on cracked wheat?
  • Our local grocery store carries the KA Wheat Flour, should I be using that for my ultimate loaf?
One more set of questions and I am done for now regarding spicing up my current IDY French Bread:
  • I would like to add green olives, jalepeno or other peppers and whole baked garlic cloves to my current IDY French Bread, both as seperate flavored loafs and maybe all combined in one "Super Loaf".
    • When do I add these items?
    • Do I need to adjust anything else, ingrediant or otherwise?
Thanks again for all the help, this has been quite fun.

Eric.
Attached Thumbnails
Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-idy-french-bread-01.jpg   Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-idy-french-bread-02.jpg   Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-idy-french-bread-cut.jpg   Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!-cracked-stone.jpg  
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  #37  
Old 02-20-2011, 11:58 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Hi Eric!

I will have to reread your message and respond in detail when I am fully awake. But a couple of comments. First, the fact that you bake in a WFO at 550 has NOTHING to do with the temp you bake at indoors. The ovens have drastically different heating and heat recovery patterns. Second, for now, I suggest you stick to recipes in books and to one recipe until you get it right and the way you want it. There are plenty of recipes in BBA that use IDY and fresh preferments begun the day before. LATER you can, for the most part simply replace the preferment and yeast with levain (preferment based on sourdough starter). Cracked wheat is chunks of wheat - not flour. Visit your local health food store bulk section. Most things added to bread are added either during the forming of the final dough or during folding early in the process. (but not cheese which should almost always be added at the last minute). One of the reasons you shouldn't mess around with addiing things for now is that when you add jalopenos you will be adding acid and that slows the yeast so... if it doesn't rise or doesn't rise rapidly it won't help you arrive at a basic process you understand. You can safely add nuts, olives and seeds without much problem but I encourage you to not play with flours or other things until you are under control. Whole wheat, rye, etc. will foul you up if you don't understand them and you simply start mixing them in. You will get confused.

Consider taking a class on bread. There must be good ones around.

Good Luck!
Jay
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  #38  
Old 02-21-2011, 07:24 AM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

I need a copy of BBA very badly but having a hard time finding it here in RP. What, may i ask is a "preferment". How is different from retarding the dough in the ref overnight?
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  #39  
Old 02-21-2011, 07:50 AM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Hi lwood,

A preferment takes part of the flour and yeast - say 25% (highly variable) of the final dough weight and lets it go for a period of time - typically overnight at room temp. (Note: the preferment need not be the same hydration as the final dough and usually requires calculations to get the desired hydration of the final dough). A poolish or biga (both commercial yeast) or a levain (sourdough) are all preferments. The retard you allude to is done with the final dough. You can do both. The preferment is a way of putting even more flavor into the dough by giving it longer fermentation. You can also accomplish somewhat the same by soaking flour (presoaks) which are simply water and flour - no yeast. But don't get carried away. The enzymes in flour break down the starch and the bread will eventually begin to suffer as it loses structure.

And one more comment to Eric (and anyone else) about seeds. I probably shouldn't have listed seeds as safe to put in dough because if you are careless they can drive you nuts because they can soak huge amounts of water from dough. If you add seeds or cracked wheat/barley/rye/etc. they should be soaked in water overnight. Put them in a bowl and add water until the water reaches the top of the seeds. Cover with saran and let sit overnight. Drain any excess water before adding to the dough (usually not necessary!).

Good luck!
Jay

Last edited by texassourdough; 02-21-2011 at 07:54 AM.
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  #40  
Old 02-21-2011, 08:15 AM
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Default Re: Sourdough Bread FAILURE!!

Thanks Jay for that great explanation. One time I tried to put cracked wheat into a bread dough without soaking the cracked wheat overnight and I nearly cracked a tooth on the cracked wheat it was so hard.
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