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nissanneill 12-07-2008 03:30 AM

Neill's sourdough starter loaves
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Well, it all happened today.
I started the sourdough culture just over a week ago, been tending and feeding it as per the instructions in "The Bread Builders" book and followed the recommendations for the Old French leaven baking P60, but I only started with 50g of leaven instead of the 1Kg because I didn't want to end up with 168Kg of bread. As it turned out, I ended up with just over 8 Kg of bread.
All well until I ran out of unbleached bread flour and had to substitute it with a little SR flour and Pizza flour.
All times were extended as I wasn't reaching the 75˚F but sticking as close to the book as possible.I made 2 batches of FB pizza dough for lunch, fired the oven, added the final mix for the bread, kneaded the dough (well at least my wife did as I seem to find it difficult, besides I let her do the hard work), had lunch, baked a couple of batches of sultana rolls and mid afternoon tried to bake the bread.
We put the shaped loaves in floured bowls and they wouldn't come out without some rather rough handling. (the last time I take advice from others when I wanted to oil the containers).
Anyway, we managed to get them out, reshaped roughly and put into the oven. 3 x 1Kg loaves, and 4 smaller ones. The pictures shows only those left after giving some away.
30 minutes later, the loaves are looking done. Removed them (on a baker's advice by tapping their bottoms), leaving to cool a little and then sampling the still hot bread, the cut one in the picture.
A little heavy but a very slight sour taste. Now I see why it is called as such.
I certainly need some proper containers with liners for shaping and proofing before I try again.
We also cooked a lasagna in 1 hour which was and will be enjoyed over the next few meals.


Jed 12-07-2008 05:41 PM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves

Those breads look great! Good job!

So you have proven that it can be done... Now a lifetime of work to do it one more time, and "if I change this (flour, water, time...), how does that change the bread..."

Nicely done.


egalecki 12-08-2008 07:05 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves
Neill- your bread looks good! Much better than my first attempts! If you don't like the slight sour taste, dilute your starter a bit more. I start tasting the sour at the point of doubling the starter- if I triple or quadruple it, it's less sour. And the longer you let it sit after it becomes active after feeding, the more sour it will be.

When I proof in bowls, I line them with a towel- sprayed with oil rather heavily and then floured. It comes out well from that, and if the towel sticks a bit I find it's easier to get it off without deflating the loaf than trying to get the bread out of a bowl when it sticks.

I use a thermometer to check for doneness- I don't find thumping to be consistent on hearth breads. My recipe says to go to 205F for the higher hydration breads (which mine tend to be), so I aim for that. If I rely on thumping, I tend to have them a bit undercooked in the middle. Even when they're a little carbonized on the bottom! :rolleyes:

nissanneill 12-09-2008 02:12 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves
I must admit that when we opened the oven after 30 minutes, the larger loaves had the better colour but I wanted to cook them a little more. I was however influenced by a bakers wife of some 25 years that they were 'done', (she was only going by the colour and hollow sound through tapping the base) but after cutting the loaves, they could have done with 5 minutes longer. They were 1kg loaves.
What sort of thermometer is used to measure the centres of the loaves and when do you take the measurement? After the initial estimated bake or earlier?
The loaves only had a little sourness, but I did forget in the rush of the day to add the salt,
Friends and workmates liked it but said that slices off the larger loaves were a bit heavier.


CanuckJim 12-09-2008 04:23 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves

I use a Thermapen Super-Fast instant read thermometer to test for doneness. With a lean bread (sourdoughs included), 205 F or above is the correct internal temp. With an enriched bread (those that include sugar, eggs, milk, etc.), 190 or above is best. I take the temps at the end of the estimated bake time.

It's important to bear in mind that a new starter takes about two months of regular feedings before it reaches maturity, because it takes that long for the base culture to attract all the good bugs to the party.


nissanneill 12-09-2008 04:33 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves
Thanks Jim,
I was given a culture from Tim which is around 6 months old and will try another batch, but not the same as I tried.
I am still waiting for that special book, "Bread: A bakers Book of Techniques and Recipes", so until then,
Any suggestions?


CanuckJim 12-09-2008 06:23 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves

I've sent you a suggestion by email.


egalecki 12-09-2008 07:08 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves
Neill, I covet the Thermapen Jim uses. However, I just use my trusty "instant read" thermometer. You know, the one with the dial and the probe. It takes a little longer, but it works ok. I usually just stick it in at the end of what I think the time ought to be. The only problem with doing this is that you end up with a hole in the bread. If you have a lot of nice oven spring in your slashes you can hide the hole pretty well.

Jim- while you're waiting for your culture to mature, how often should you feed it? Once a week? Every few days? All the information I have gets you to the point of having a starter, but none of it seems to care about it past the first loaf. I've been dumping and feeding every few days, but I'd like to refrigerate it now if I can.

CanuckJim 12-09-2008 08:05 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves

Turn the loaves over and probe through the bottom so the holes don't show at all. I'd feed a new starter once a week. Divide what you have in half: discard one half, then feed the second half with equal parts strong flour and good water (no chlorine, no added salt) by weight. Let it stand out of the fridge for about twelve hours, until it's very bubbly. At that point you can refrigerate it. As a side note, wild yeast seems to favor the trace minerals present in good, deep well water.

You can tell when a starter is mature by checking the surface of the fed pet. The deeper bubbles are wild yeast fermentation, but when the surface shows stripes foam (much finer bubbles) that means that the lactobacilli have arrived.


Tim F 12-10-2008 05:55 AM

Re: Neill's sourdough starter loaves
That's exactly my feeding schedule too. I feed it every week, aiming to double the volume - usually because I have just taken out half for some bread. Then I leave it out for the day to get started on it's new food before refrigerating again. If I have left it in the fridge for a bit longer than I wanted, I feed it again a day before I use it. One good tip that I got from one of Peter Reinharts books was to stir regularly to redistribute the food to the yeast evenly and make sure it has oxygen.

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