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  #21  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:42 PM
WJW WJW is offline
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

As far as timing Les...I found it's easier to get it right by focusing on getting the oven to the right temp early.

By "right temp" I mean hearth of around 570. Assuming you oven is heat-loaded, it can wait a long time and still be good to go. Even if it slowly drops to 550 over a couple of hours...you're still good to go.

On the other hand, if you're two hours early with your bread....you've got real problems.

All that seems obvious, but for some reason it didn't really sink in for me until someone on here made the point.

Bill
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  #22  
Old 03-11-2013, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

OK - this was a disaster. Jay's recommendations on proof / rise time gave me a lot of wiggle room for the oven heat. I slid the bread in around 550 deg ( The FB recipe called for that at 22 minutes) I had the bread in for around 45 minutes and it was / still is a putrid white. I put some butter on it to give it some color but this is NOT what I was looking for. It may taste good but it looks like crap!

Jay it was my bad that I didn't adjust to our altitude - this was way wet. I had no reason to slash the boule's because they stuck to the baskets.

I will try again once I understand what went horribly wrong... Or I may just stick to pizza and steaks.
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  #23  
Old 03-11-2013, 05:27 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

I'll be curious to hear Jay's take. If that temp was 550, something is off.

For one thing it looks like there wasn't much (or any) steam in the oven. Are you doing anything to add steam?

In spite of what you say about temp, it looks like it was too cool. Is it possible that you were at 550 on loading but were not heat saturated so that temps fell off dramatically?

Is it possible that you were over proofed to the point that there was very little sugar left in the crust to carmelize?

What's the crumb look like?

Bill
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  #24  
Old 03-11-2013, 06:02 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Les, Looks like you have a lot going wrong not just one thing. At first glance I would say that your dough is overly hydrated and second you have a lack of dough development. This could be because hydration level and perhaps a young starter. Is that a new starter?

Hard to tell about the heat. Just because the inside wall/floor is at 550 once the coals are removed if you don't have good heat saturation that interior temp will drop like a rock. Once the coals are removed you should close up the oven and let the temp regulate. I do as much as 2 hours. But if that actual hydration is as high as it looks then it won't mater what the temperature is because your boiling water and not baking bread.

That is my take on it...I would be interested in the hydration. Can you share how much of what you used?
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Faith,

I fired the oven for a few hours and it pretty much burned clean. After I shoveled the coals out the hearth was around 750. I left the door open for quite a while to let it drop. I followed Jay's recommendation below to achieve 70% hydration. I think I made an error here because I am a tad below 5000 foot in altitude. I need to research this but I think I have to add flour and reduce water to make it all work. Also, my starter is only going on it's second week of life. I cut into one of the loaves and the crust was great, the air pockets looked good, and I loved the taste. What is wrong is the color of the boule's - haven't opened one of those up yet.

Bill - I did add steam. It is very possible that I over proofed and was not aware that sugar was an issue. Most of the bread I cook in the home has me adding some sugar, I did not do that on this batch. Would that help with the color?

Jay - thanks. You got me going in the general direction. Making good sourdough bread is light years ahead of pizza

Thanks all - I really appreciate the help. I do want to figure this out.
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:29 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Don't know about the altitude thing, but my starter was nowhere near optimal by two weeks...

I started my starter on April 22. My first bake was 5/13.

May 13
The better looking boules are yeast...the ballons are sourdough.


May 28
Again, the funky shaped ones are sourdough. The other less-funky ones are yeast (I haven't done yeasted bread since that bake.)


June 3


July 22




I think it took at least three months before my starter was completely mature. Keep feeding. It'll come.
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  #27  
Old 03-11-2013, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Bill - the taste is great. I don't think that time will improve that aspect more than I am after. I noticed in your pic's that you have some "pale loves as well". May be the nature of baking? Also, a heavy use of flour, is that the norm? It may have kept mine from sticking to the basket (although I think the dough was way too wet) Your work does look great! It's kind of embarrassing that my oven is almost five years old and I am just now trying to cook bread.
Thanks for the help - I do appreciate it...
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  #28  
Old 03-11-2013, 09:45 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Les

The heavy use of flour was wrong. I did that because I didn't have any linen at the time and I didn't really know what was required to keep it from sticking.

The differences in those photos was, in equal parts, the increasing vitality of my starter, the input of Jay, Faith and a few others, and my learning a thing or two.

The pics below are from my most recent bake two weeks ago. I obviously use a lot less flour now. But still a bit on the loaves I don't use linen on. (I like the way it picks up the pattern from the bannetons.)

I didn't know that having too much hydration could make your loaves pale as indicated by Faith.





Hang in there on it. It will come quick if you pay attention to faith and Jay's advice.

Oh yeah...the pale, grey loaves were (I think) a function of too little steam and insufficient baking time. Now I'm doing 30-33 minute bakes with a fully saturated oven and loaded at 560-565. I do large bakes (as can be seen in the photo). Makes for more work, but better results in a WFO.


On more thing...as far as taste...there is no doubt that fresh baked bread is great. When I did those first grey pale loaves they tasted great. I certainly found (and I think you will too) that the flavor changes and improves as your starter matures. It gets more complex... in some ways the comparisons are similar to wine...less so as far as a spectrum of flavors...but similar in that there are varying complexities which really do come through.

Bill

Last edited by WJW; 03-11-2013 at 09:57 PM.
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  #29  
Old 03-11-2013, 09:57 PM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Thanks Bill - I guess we are all learning. Weather it's to build or use these damn things - it is fun. The good and the bad...
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  #30  
Old 03-12-2013, 04:09 AM
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Default Re: Sourdough Starter

Les,

Let's look at your hydration first. how much starter did you use and how do you keep it 1-1-1 or such.

Then the amounts in your recipe of flour and water. I know higher elevations effect baking times did not know it had an effect on hydration. I will give that a look at.

Your oven heat sounds right.

Don't give up on bread. Once you get it figured for your location it can be quite rewarding.
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