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Thread: getting my bread back

  1. #1
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    getting my bread back

    Haven't made bread in all too long, so got some sourdough started and set to. First retry showed I'd forgotten more than a little and my mojo needed a little practice. Second attempt today was a bit better.

    The two misshapen lumps on the right are what's left of yesterday's run (the rest is gone, hey even not so good bread is still fresh bread). The six on the left are today's run. Looking a wee bit better. Punted on the 100% sourdough since my starter is seeming a bit weak and added some yeast, the fact I didn't have a serious baking stone malfunction today helped a bit as well (that was the cause of the sad fold in the one from yesterday). The grain structure is still a bit dense but they are 100% whole wheat which makes that a bit more challenging, might have to (gasp) cheat more and use 30% or so white bread flour until I get some more practice in (and maybe shift some more bran out..)

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  2. #2
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    Ryan , that looks pretty darn good from here, I never tasted a bad loaf of fresh home baked bread Especially with a glass of wine to accompany it. You're making me hungry.
    I'm supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

  3. #3
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    That looks pretty good from where I sit, Ryan! A hunk of warm bread, some butter, a chunk of very aged extra sharp cheese and a Yingling would make me real happy about now!!!

    I tried the sourdough route a few years ago. Did a ton of research and tried to make starter about three different ways. My problem became patience. In fact, the final try I had so much patience I forgot the starter was in the back of the fridge until it was past its peak and gone. A man should know his limitations!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
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  4. #4
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    Looks delicious
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  5. #5
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    Good eats! I love fresh baked bread. Are you freezing the extra or will it keep long enough to eat?

  6. #6
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    They look great! I started my first sourdough a couple of weeks ago. The starter came out the way the instructions said it would. I just left a bowl of flour and water out in the kitchen, and overnight the sourdough brownies got it working. My first attempt at bread was dense and unpleasant, and didn't rise much. Second try made a much nicer loaf, although it was a bit caky, and sweet because of the amount of sugar the recipe called for. Rising took a total of about 30 hours, but I stuck with it. Now, what should be the consistency of the starter when it is waiting to be used? It seems to get more liquidy as it rests, although when I put it away after feeding, it has the consistency of thick pancake batter. Is that about right? I used the starter to make some sourdough pancakes, which came out very thin, like crepes, but still delicious.

    Anyway, can you help me with what the consistency of the starter should be, and how to get it right? I'm taking mine out of the fridge tonight, and I'm going to feed it tomorrow and try to make another good loaf.

    Oh, one more question, I didn't knead it as long as the recipe called for, as it seemed to be absorbing a lot of flour. Would it have improved the texture if I had kneaded it for the full ten minutes?
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

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  7. #7
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    nice!

    Hmmm, Guess I should get a sourdough starter, started!

    Love sourdough bread...

    Those look great Ryan!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
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  8. #8
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    Thanks guys, its improving anyway The bar is relatively high for bread around here, the second batch came out ok considering its been a couple years since I made much but you know how it is if you have done better.... well..

    I didn't actually show a pic of the part I wasn't happy about - the inside of one of the loaves:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This would be an ok texture for a sandwich loaf, but the structure is much to fine and regular for a rustic loaf like this. A couple of problems cause this, to much fat/oil, dough to dry, insufficient heat in the oven and perhaps underdeveloped dough - aka not enough gluten (still pondering which is was in this case, I believe its a combination of not enough gluten development and maybe a bit dry although the dough seemed pretty floppy so.. yeah). Ideally it would have a more open and irregular structure for this style of bread.

    Hey Roger, welcome to the wonderful world of sourdough. If you run into problems feel free to give me a PM and I can make something up or at least look in one of my books and see if we can figure it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    They look great! I started my first sourdough a couple of weeks ago. The starter came out the way the instructions said it would. I just left a bowl of flour and water out in the kitchen, and overnight the sourdough brownies got it working. My first attempt at bread was dense and unpleasant, and didn't rise much. Second try made a much nicer loaf, although it was a bit caky, and sweet because of the amount of sugar the recipe called for. Rising took a total of about 30 hours, but I stuck with it.
    Sounds like your starter a bit on the little slow side alright. Basically you'll want to encourage more yeast growth - take all but maybe 1C or so and make ?something? out of it[ideas at 1]. Then start feeding it back up. Double it every 12 hours or so and leave it on the counter in between. When you feed it don't be afraid to whip it, whip it good. Yeast grows in the presence of oxygen and so incorporating more into the batter will help it get going. A pinch or two (literally no more) of sugar will also help encourage the yeast some - but may be a bit at the expense of the other bugs that make it sour so that's a tradeoff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    Now, what should be the consistency of the starter when it is waiting to be used? It seems to get more liquidy as it rests, although when I put it away after feeding, it has the consistency of thick pancake batter. Is that about right? I used the starter to make some sourdough pancakes, which came out very thin, like crepes, but still delicious.
    Heh, ask three sourdoughs about that and you'll get three different answers, its almost as contentious as sharpening methods. There are basically two styles: the wet and the dry. I use the wet pretty much exclusively because modern conveniences like refrigerators make it pretty easy to use. The old timers (at least up north) used the dry method and would store the sourdough buried in the bag of flour (which also insulated it and I suspect might have been one of the main reasons).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is supposed to be an animated gif but that don't seem to be working here, you can get a basic idea of about where I keep mine from this anyway. I'll PM you a URL for the animated version. Somewhere around a thick batter to maybe a bit thicker, around a really loose dough seems to work about right for me. When its "growing up" I tend to keep it a bit thinner and then once its in full use I tend to keep it a smidge thicker so I can just take it out and use it as a good chunk of the bread dough. It will get a bit thinner as it hydrates and the various bugs and enzymes eat some of the stuff in the flour and depending on the type of flour you use you'll see that happen more or less. I usually try to feed it a medium to high protein flour (bread flour basically) because that has enough structure to help keep it from breaking down into a thin grool as fast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    Anyway, can you help me with what the consistency of the starter should be, and how to get it right? I'm taking mine out of the fridge tonight, and I'm going to feed it tomorrow and try to make another good loaf.

    Oh, one more question, I didn't knead it as long as the recipe called for, as it seemed to be absorbing a lot of flour. Would it have improved the texture if I had kneaded it for the full ten minutes?
    Kneading longer will definitely help the structure. I'm not to hung up on actual times because there can be a lot of variation in the dough and the kneader themselves. Basically the yeast bubbles act as "seed holes" for the real action in the oven when some of the moisture forms steam and starts pushing them open. If you don't have enough gluten formation the steam will escape through the bread structure and it'll end up not getting "oven bounce" (a lot of the breads will double or even triple in size in the oven from this).

    The best way to tell when you're ready is the "window pane" test. Here's a rather chatty video talking about it (not to bad if you bump youtube up to 2x speed). This video also shows what I'd consider a pretty good texture (moisture content) for a french loaf dough. A sandwich loaf would be a bit stiffer.


    Your unlikely to get quite that far with a sandwich loaf type of bread mix (more fat and possible other enriching things like milk) - but for a french loaf or a rustic loaf you should be able to get pretty close. Whole wheat also makes it more complicated because the bran will cut the gluten some and make it hard to get it to window pane.

    A nice "cheat" is to knead for 3-4 minutes then take a 15 minute break (hey you deserve it, kneading is hard work!). During the break the gluten will hydrate more and do some of the work for you as far as forming gluten strands. Then come back and knead for another 2-3 minutes. You've just cut your actual work time by almost half and gotten about the same amount done.


    [1] Some recipe like things (complete with hand waving about process and amounts)
    Lavosh crackers
    Can't have to many of these. This is pretty close to what I do except I just take the sourdough starter and add appropriate amounts of flour, oil and maybe honey (sometimes skip) to it to make a dough and proceed from there. I don't usually make that big of a batch either maybe more like 1-2C of flour equivalent - they don't keep real well but are amazing fresh. You can use anything to top it (paprika is nice, so is caraway, just plain salt works as well). Once done a nice spreadable cheese and a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika and garlic on top and man there ain't much better: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/lavash-crackers

    Pancakes
    1 1/2C flour
    1 tsp baking pwd (if your sourdough is really sour you can bump the soda to ~3/4 tsp and lower or skip this)
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4C sugar
    1 tsp salt
    mix dry together

    1/2-3/4C of sourdough (depending on thickness)
    1 1/2C milk
    1 egg
    1 tbsp oil
    Mix wet together in a measuring cup - I use a 2C measure and wisk them a bit

    Mix wet into the dry. Its probably to thick and this point so add a little milk if needed. Cook like a pancake.

    Biscuits
    Heat oven to 400-425F
    1 1/2C flour
    1 tsp baking pwd (if your sourdough is really sour you can bump the soda to ~3/4 tsp and lower or skip this)
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    2-3 tbsp sugar (yeah yeah, it makes them brown better)
    mix dry together

    3/4C shortening (lard or unflavored crisco)
    Cut in the shortening to the dry mix, I use the palm of my hand with kind of a smearing motion, others use a food processor (3-4 short pulses works well) or some trick I never learned with butter knives or pinch it in with their fingers. The end result should be the shortening mixed in so that the mix looks like crumbles and has a few stray bits of unmixed in shortening visible here and there.

    1/C sourdough
    3/4C milk
    Mix most of the milk into the sourdough saving 2-3 tbsp off for cleanup

    Pour the milk/sourdough mix into the dry mix in 3-4 batches mixing together with a spoon or a fork as you go. The dough should be moist but not soggy. If needed pick up the last bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl by pouring in some of the reserved milk to make it wet enough to be picked up by the main mass.

    Fold the dough over on itself in the bowl 4-5 times to make sure its more or less evenly mixed.

    Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and pat into a ~1/2" thick layer and then fold it back on itself (this creates a "break point" where its easy to fork the biscuits apart when you serve them). Pat out again until about 3/4" thick. Cut with a glass or biscuit cutter and put on a sheet pan so they are just barely not touching (or just barely touching depending on how you like them).

    Cook for ~20 minutes until brown and delicious. Serve with milk gravy (hey you have 20 minutes to cook some sausages and make gravy there) or sourhgum or blackstrap molasses or honey or jam or .. mmm...

    Alternatives: add ~1/2C of finely shredded cheese to the dry and instead of patting into a layer and cutting just take out heaping tbsp piles of the dough and dropping it on the cookie sheet. Goes darn good with soup!

  9. #9
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    Out of room -

    Basic Slow Bread

    Pretty much all of my breads are some variant of this basic concept (its not mine, I use a couple of books from Peter Reinhart extensively - "All Grain Breads" and "The Breadmakers Apprentice" - errors are of course mine..)

    Soaker
    3C flour
    1 tsp salt
    enough water to make a stiff dough.
    Mix, wrap in plastic wrap and put on the counter overnight.

    Biga (sourdough part)
    1-2C sourdough
    2-3C flour (adjust up/down depending on the amount of sourdough)
    mix and put in the fridge overnight.

    Next day take the above and mix with:
    1 tbsp oil (optional, makes a more closed cell bread)
    2-3 tbsp honey or sugar of some sort (also optional)
    if your sourdough is slow bloom 2tsp yeast and add that
    more flour as needed to make a dough

    Knead well until it window panes.
    Let rise until 1.5 to 2x the original size.

    Heat stones in oven to 450F (takes a while so start this while your shaping and the bread is rising the second time)

    Cut into pieces sized for the type of loaf you want to make. I usually do the baguet shape like I did here or rounds. Occasionally I'll do a regular loaf shape.
    Here's a nice video on shaping loaves of various sorts (also King Arthur is Good Flour! probably my favorite commercial brand, to bad we can't get it here): http://www.kingarthurflour.com/video...aker-4-shaping

    Let the loaves rise for 20 minutes or so.

    Score the tops (a razor knife of some sort works well for this, you don't have to go real deep). Scoring gives the bread more room to "expand" so it'll help them bounce in the oven. Also looks cool.

    I have an old sheet pan I don't like very much that's on the very top shelf and splash it with a cup of water when the bread goes in and then close the oven door quick. This steam cooks the bread for the first 5-10 minutes or so (steam has much higher heat transfer than water so it'll help form that nice outside toothy bit on the loaf).

    After ~15 minutes drop the temperature on the oven to 350F

    Cook until you reach an inside temperature of 290F. If its a large loaf you might need to throw a sheet of tinfoil over it part way through to keep it from getting to brown.

  10. #10
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    Oh that looks sooo good, but bread isn't on the diet right now.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

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