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Old 11-26-2008, 09:13 AM
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Default adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing it

Sorry, guys. I'm sure you're tired of me. I made sourdough yesterday- I eventually got 4 nice loaves, but I had to do some really awful things to them to get them to rise.

I started out badly- I miscalculated how much to feed my baby to begin with, so I think I sort of starved it. So, when I mixed up my doughs, it wasn't as active as it should have been. I let it sit for several hours, and didn't get any rise- which should have been my first clue, I'm sure. I put the bowls in the fridge overnight, hoping for more spring in the morning.

Well, next morning (yesterday), nothing after several more hours on the counter. So I stuck my hands in to see what it felt like- not sticky, but it was sort of like that nasty kid's toy "slime". It sort of melted through my fingers. Not good. So, at that point I probably should have thrown the mess away and started again, but hey, I'm pigheaded. So, I thought, well, it can't get any worse, so I added some more flour and water and added a bit of IDY, and kneaded it . I got a little bit of rise then, but it was still a bit on the slimy side, so I kneaded again.

It rose. Still felt weird, but it rose. So I shaped it and let it rise again- and baked it (inside, I'd given up on wfoing in the spitting snow and 30 mph gusts). I used my pizza stone underneath and quarry tiles above, which I've found gives me much better inside results if I'm forced to do it inside. I got really nice spring and good color- and it looks ok inside. Sort of a peculiar mix of small holes and large ones, but flavor's not bad, although the bagettes have a slight bitterness at the end- I think it's from the really long rise (or non-rise, really).

So, a lesson in how not to feed one's starter, I guess. I also think it may still be that my starter isn't strong enough on it's own to raise bread, since it's only two weeks old. I took what I had left and quadrupled it- it was nice and bubbly this morning, though, so maybe that's not it..
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

Hi Elizabeth,

One of the amazing qualities of 'sourdough' is the wide range of circumstances that will still produce 'bread'.

We keep our house pretty cool, so I will plan on long bits of time in between mixing / kneading / forming activities with the bread. And the results are pretty consistent - bread that we enjoy... It is commonly 30 hours from when I pull the starter from the fridge, till the bread pops out of the oven. And I have been known to forget about the project at any phase along the way, and have to change the timing of the activities... extending the full process.

Reinhart says these long ferments improve flavor...

I figure the only real answer is with more practice! An exercised starter is a strong starter...

Did you have any pictures of these loaves?

JED
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

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Originally Posted by egalecki View Post
Sorry, guys. I'm sure you're tired of me.

Not at all! I love a good sourdough story anytime... and good for you for not giving up on it. I'll bet it still tasted a lot better than store bought stuff.
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:18 PM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

Here are some pictures. I got them before the vultures (home for Thanksgiving) got it all!

I keep our house pretty cool too- 65-68 during the day, so I guess I'll have to learn to time it for longer rising! Well, that and feed it properly first.
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:15 PM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

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Originally Posted by egalecki View Post
Here are some pictures. I got them before the vultures (home for Thanksgiving) got it all!

I keep our house pretty cool too- 65-68 during the day, so I guess I'll have to learn to time it for longer rising! Well, that and feed it properly first.
elizabeth
If your baking schedule has not been regular I would suggest feeding the starter pretty consistently and instead of discarding it, bake with the other half(spike it with IDY if you think it needs it)...it will both strengthen your starter and give you more experience with timing the bake...I think it is probably not strong enough after only two weeks...I was "spiking" the sourdoughs I made in the first month while I was building the starter
Keep up the good work...just keep learning along the way!
Best
Dutch
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

Here's today's effort. I forgot to score the loaves, so I have blimpy looking small loaves, but the round ones split themselves nicely. This is the best oven spring yet- I'm very pleased with them. I could hear them crackling when I brought them in! You can see the pattern on the front round loaf from the cloth I lined the bowl with. It was one of those waffle-weave towels!

I spiked the doughs with just a little IDY, taking dutchoven's advice. The dough still rose quite slowly yesterday, but it did double after 6 hours. I put it in the fridge overnight in the bulk rise (where it continued to rise!) and formed it this morning. It rose much more quickly this morning than it did last night. Is there a reason for that? I managed to get the oven and the bread ready together this time!

I made the small loaves for when it's just the two of us and we don't need a big loaf. I'm going to try freezing them. They're a bit ugly, but I bet they taste fine, and that's what matters.
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:52 AM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

Wow, they look good!

Be sure to tell us how good they taste - and I'd like to see what they look like inside, too
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:09 AM
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Thumbs up Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

Hi Elizabeth,
I'm about to venture into unknown territory on Sunday with my new leaven only 9 days old.
I have been following the recommendations in "The Bread Builders" book. It seems to be working as expected generating quite large bubble on the surface afteronly 8 to 10 hours.
I plan on a few pizzas for lunch and let the oven cool then bake a range of breads (as in the book) the old French way.
Will keep you posted. hopefully the results will be good to great rather than disappointing.
This baking sure needs careful planning and timing. As the saying goes, 'there is no substitute for experience'!

Neill
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

Ok, here's the inside of one of the round loaves. The holes are irregular, but the bread is nice and moist, and not at all sour, since I quadrupled my starter in the beginning.

I don't have the book you're using, Neill, so I don't know what your starter recipe is. If you're worried about sour, be sure you dilute the starter culture enough before you begin. Apparently the yeast will multiply faster than the bacteria (from whence the sour comes) and that will take the sour off.

My next batch will be just doubled to see how sour it is. But I'm still going to spike it a smidge. I don't think it's as active as it should be yet to make it on it's own. And I'd really rather not have to re-knead adding yeast, flour and water to it again! One can, however, achieve decent results that way if it's necessary...

BTW my husband thinks we're all engaged in what he terms "bread porn" with all these pictures of finished loaves! Figures. He likes flat bread wrapper thingys for his sandwiches...
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:43 AM
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Default Re: adventures in sourdough or how to nearly kill your bread without actually doing i

I'm impressed with how round and full your loaves are. I bake sourdough all the time but I make mine so wet that I have to put it in loaf pans to keep it from spreading out all over the place. It rises wonderfully, tastes great and is nice and chewy but I'd like to make loaves that I can use as soup bowls and I'm afraid to add too much flour to firm it up thinking it may not be as chewy. I love the crusty outside I get with the wetter bread. Can any of you experts comment on this please? Karen
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