I need step by step help to bake bread, please

OK, I just made my first starter in years. Born last July 4th weekend, 2014, and it's very active. I've made two loaves of bread with it but it's far far too sour/sharp for me. It has a serious bite to it. It is not smooth and mild.

Anyway, I need a step by step instructional on how I should bake a loaf of bread. Here's what I do.

1. Remove starter from fridge to let it come to room temp.

2. I feed it. When it peeks or bubbles up to max height, I use what I need.

3. Then feed it again to replace what's been used then put it back in the fridge til next time.

Is this the correct procedure?

Thanks,

 

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

26 comments

Hello thegrindre,

First off, I recommend that you read and follow SourDom's beginners Blogs on this site.  There is a link at the top right of the page.  This takes you through pretty much everything from getting and maintaining your starter through to making your bread.

There is also this pictorial that might go some way to giving you an idea of how things proceed and what to look for.

http://sourdough.com/blog/one-way-make-loaf-bread

The main thing is to persist and practice.  It would be rare for a loaf to be inedible and once you get a feel for things it is amazing how things suddenly 'come right' and you wonder what all the fuss was about.

Other than that, it is a bit hard to comment further without more details of the recipe and method that you have used.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

I've read all this stuff and much more and am still confused. There doesn't seem to be any one standard way to do it.

I just want to make a simple one pound loaf of sourdough sandwich bread.

Question is, after removing the culture from the fridge to let it warm up and feed it, do I feed it a second time after using it then put it back in the fridge?

Thanks,

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hello thegrinde,

Firstly, I think one of the beauties of working with sourdough is that there is no 'one' way to achieve the result of a great loaf of bread.  You can chose the method that best suits you, your equipment and your lifestyle.  It is often not helpful to slavishly follow the timings given in a method because the time required can depend on a number of factors, not least of which is the temperature that you are working at but it can also be affected by the activity of your starter culture.  If your lifestyle does not favour doing it all in one go you can use varying degrees of retardation (slowing down - not stopping) in the fridge or you can speed thing up by providing a warmer than normal environment.

The evening before I plan to make bread, I remove my starter stock from the fridge and extract 90g into a Pyrex (500ml) jug.  I mix into that 45g bread flour and 45g water and cover with GladWrap and leave on the bench overnight.  I add 45 g flour (7g rye and 38g bread) and 45g water to my stock, mix and return it to the fridge.

In the morning, I weigh 50g wholemeal and 450g white bread flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and transfer the risen starter from the jug and add 320g of water.  I use a chopstick to disperse the starter into the water and gradually incorporate the flour to make a ragged mass.  Then scrape the bowl and incorporate the scrapings and any dry flour into the mass, sprinkle 10g of salt over the dough and leave covered for a time (autolyse - 20 to 30 minutes).  Using the bowl scraper, incorporate the salt by lifting, folding and cutting for a few minutes and then leave to rest for another 10 or so minutes.

Turn out onto the bench and then stretch the dough out into a sheet (about A3 size) and fold as shown in my pictorial.  Return to the bowl and leave for an hour.  Repeat three more times.  You will find that the dough will resist stretching and will spring back to some extent after being stretched and can be drawn into really thin films without breaking.

When you reach this stage and after the final folding let the dough rest for a while (20 minutes or so) and then (divide if required) shape into a ball and form a tight skin by rotating the dough on the bench top between your hands forcing the edge in contact with the bench under with the edge of your hands.

Leave to rest for another 15-20 minutes.  How you proceed from here depends on how you plan to bake your loaf in terms of whether it is tinned or free form.  If the latter whether it is to be a boule, batarde , baguette or whatever.  So I will leave it there for the time being.  However, after shaping, there is another four or more hours for the loaf to prove before baking and, note, this is with a room temperature of 18-20C.

The main thing is to be flexible and be observant.  In the early days, it is a good idea to make notes of what you do and what you observe - even take pictures to remind yourself and to compare with others.

Good luck with your projects and let us know how you go.

Farinam

Ooooooooooooh, I see, you're splitting your culture into two parts, one for baking and one for putting back to 'bed'.

So, the answer to my question is, yes. it gets two feedings. That makes sense and that's what I've been doing.

I try to handle the dough as little as possible. Everything goes into a bread machine on the dough cycle. When done, I shape it into a small, one pound loaf, 8x5 bread pan.

It takes about 8-10 hours to rise, tho.

 

OK, thanks,

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hi Rick,

Perhaps your could try something a bit different and after you have taken it out of the bread machine, you could leave it in a bowl (covered) for about half of that time (pre-ferment) and then turn it out and shape it to put it into your tin.  You might actually find that it rises even more and give you a lighter loaf.  I am assuming that by the dough cycle you mean that all the machine does is develop (knead) the dough. 

The time that you give of 8-10 hours corresponds with the total time that the procedure that I gave, it's just that the first half in mine is taken up with the development of the dough with the stretch and fold combined with what is often called the pre-ferment stage.  In your technique, energy is put in through the bread machine to develop the dough.

I'm still a bit confused about what you mean by two feedings.  Fundamentally it doesn't matter what you do provided that you have an active culture but what you want is to have enough to make your loaf and enough to keep in stock for the next time.  Ideally, that stock should have had some fresh feed added before it goes back into the fridge and a common way of doing that is to split your stock into what I will call remainder and starter and feed each section.  The starter is doubled by adding flour and water and left out.  The remainder has sufficient flour and water added to replace the amount of starter taken out and is put back into the fridge.

Of course there are many other ways that you could achieve the same result.  It is what suits you and what keeps your stock of starter alive and well.  And a mature starter is a remarkably robust creature and can stand a fair bit of 'neglect' and 'abuse' and provided that it has no been too severe can be brought back to a long and happy life by no more than a few feeds and some TLC.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

 

Yup, all ingredients go into the bread machine to be mixed and kneaded. When done, It's removed and shaped into a bread pan or onto my cast iron pan for other types of bread shapes or sticks or buns or whatever.

I can't get a decent rise with less then 8 hours. It takes at least that long for the dough to top the bread pan. If I add store bought yeast it only takes about 40 minutes and looses all its flavor.

I call it double feeding cuz it gets two feedings. Once to revive it from the fridge then again when put back into the fridge.

I don't let mine sit out in a separate container to sponge. I do that in its own jar. I feed it and when it peeks I pour some off into the bread machine with all the other ingredients. I then feed back what I poured off again and back into the fridge it goes. I see it as two feedings cuz they both go into the same jar a few hours apart.

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hello thegrindre,

I agree with the comment that the quicker the prove the less sour it will be. I have found the that as the starter matures the dough will prove quicker. Personaly i use the sponge method. Start the night before, half the flour, all the water (warm) & the required ammount of starter, straight out of the fridge, mix the starter in the water & then add to flour. I use a large pottery bowl, warmed with hot water (in the cooler weather) cover & leave somwhere warm overnight. next morning add the rest of flour etc. At this stage the starter is fed & then goes back in the fridge. My dough proves in 2-3hours.

brian......


brian m

Hi Rick,

I'd still try giving the pre-ferment before shaping a try.

In terms of the sourness that you mentioned first off.  There are a couple of factors that can have an effect.  One is the amount of starter that you begin with, which affects the amount of 'acid' that comes in with the starter, and it also affects the time that the process takes to some degree and time is what allows the acid concentration to build up.  It's a bit hard to judge as you haven't given any idea of proportions in your recipe.

And that leads to the second factor, which is temperature which has a big effect on time required, and so you might produce a less sour result if you do your proving at a slightly higher temperature.  An oven with the light on (if you have it the bread proving setting) or on top of a fridge or a drying cupboard or over a tub of hot water (wrapped and covered with towels to reduce heat loss) or on top of your TV or computer are some possibilities that are available.  You'll just have to be on the ball and not let the process go too far and over-prove the dough until you get a feel for the changed timing as a result.  It could come down to three or four hours.

Let us know how you go.

Farinam

I use my oven with the light on to rise my dough. Gets to about 100° F in there.

My recipe calls for 2 cups flour to make a one pound loaf of bread. I put 1/2 cup starter in it. It takes a minimum of 8 hours for the dough to peek over the top of the bread pan while rising in my 100° F oven.

I'm going to add a little baking soda to help reduce the rise time and hopefully reduce the bitter bite my sourdough has. I'm baking later this afternoon. My starter is sitting on the fridge warming up, now.

I found this helpful site;

http://www.sourdoughlibrary.org/less-sour-sourdough/

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hi Rick,

Eight hours at 100F sounds like a long time - perhaps that is where your problem is coming from.  At that temperature, the yeasts would be suffering a bit from heat exhaustion while the bacteria that make the acids would be still chugging along merrily.

Perhaps you could try somewhere a little less tropical or bake the loaf a bit sooner.  On the latter case, you say that you wait till the dough rises to the top of the tin but maybe you don't have to use that as a criterion because there can be a trade off between rise during proving and oven-spring and you end up with a similar result in terms of loaf volume after baking.  The other thing is, if your tin happens to be 'over-sized' for your dough then leaving it till it 'fills' the tin amounts to overproving.  Have you noticed any tendency for the top crust to collapse or to stay poorly browned after baking?

As for adding baking soda (I assume that you mean bicarbonate of soda) there are two possibilities.  First, that it will react with the acids in the dough creating gas that will assist with the rise or second, that it will only break down with the heat of the oven and increase the oven-spring.  You might or might not end up being better off and some people report that they are able to 'taste' the presence of the extra sodium even at quite low levels.

Anyhow, just some more thoughts.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

I haven't seen any oven spring using starter but my 'normal' bread has miles of oven spring using yeast. My crusts are very nice and brown with no top sinking or swaybacked. My dough fills the pan about half way up.

I just popped the dough and pan into my oven to rise. I'll check it in 2 hours.

I've herd the same thing about using soda. IF it is a problem this time, I'll try yeast next time to help decrease the rise time and tone down the sourdough bite

I'm working on it, one step at a time. :-)

Thanks,

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Well, after 6 hours of rising time my dough hasn't moved an inch. It's a complete absolute failure this time.

Will have to try the extra yeast on the next attempt.

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hi Rick,

I assume that your starter was nice and active (full of bubbles and mousse like) when you started to make your dough.

How much bicarb soda did you add?  It is hard to imagine that this was what caused the problem.  I am thinking you would have added only a quarter teaspoon (at most).

Is there anything else that you did differently from your normal procedure?

If your starter is good and active, then I would be thinking of making your standard recipe and try leaving it to prove at room temperature and see what happen in that case.

Keep on bakin'

Farinam

I stirred my bubbly starter down then poured it into the machine. It was the first time I did that. I usually pour the active starter, bubbles and all, into the machine.

I used a 1/2 teaspoon soda. I didn't think that would be too much.

Since I'm trying to do two things at once, I'm going to add yeast and leave the soda out next time. This should give me a faster rise and a milder sourdough.

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

I took that flopped out brick of dough and threw it back into my bread machine, tossed in 1 teaspoon of machine yeast then hit the dough cycle again. When that was done, into my 100° F oven it went, and one hour later I had a fantastic rise, so I turned the oven on and, BINGO, major oven spring! 35 minutes later, I had a great loaf of bread. Well, maybe not a great loaf but an editable one, none the less. The crumb is very soft and light and very much like the texture of Wonder Bread. I do taste the soda as well. It has a slight yeasty taste with a hint of salt and very little sour to it. It really isn't all that bad though.

I think my next loaf will be perfect. I learned a lot with these 3 loaves.

Trying to adapt sourdough to a plain bread recipe is a bit of a challenge, I see.

.

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hello Rick,

It seems as if your sourdough was not working for some reason and adding the yeast got you there in the end.

When you feed your starter for the first time, how long does it take (at room temperature) from the feeding to when you take your sample for the loaf?

I am also thinking that half a cup of a well risen starter probably doesn't weigh very much and you could be a bit short on 'yeast' in your dough to start with.  Perhaps you could try making your loaf with a larger amount of starter (perhaps twice or even three times as much).  For my one kilogram recipe I use 180g of starter and that can represent up to a couple of (metric) cups when fully risen (in it's pyrex jug) so I would think at least a cup full for yours.

When I have converted yeast recipes to sourdough my rule of thumb is to substitute my 180g of starter for 7g of instant yeast or 20g of bakers yeast.  Obviously the liquid and flour quantities need a bit of adjustment to allow for the flour and water in the starter to maintain the final hydration of the dough.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Takes about 4 hours to peek.

Actually, I started out using one cup of starter at first. Somebody else suggested I reduce it back to a half a cup. Using a whole cup of starter still induced an 8 hour rise and a much stronger bite.

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hello Rick,

You say that it only takes four hours at room temperature for your starter to reach its peak rise and yet you are 'needing' eight hours at 100F to prove the loaf.

In my experience, the time to peak the starter at a particular temperature is the sort of processing time that you should be looking at so I would have expected that at your room temperature you should be getting at least something happening (if not a nearly full rise) after four hours.

Why don't you try a loaf with just starter, flour water and salt (normal recipe) and let it rise at RT and see what happens.

By the way, how much salt do you add?  And how long does the 'dough cycle' on your machine take?

Keep on bakin'

Farinam

My first loaf was made with flour, water and salt. It took 8 hours to rise with 1 cup starter added. It had a nasty bite to it and was a bit flat to the taste using 1 teaspoon salt for this recipe.

I have since cut the starter by half and added butter and sugar to try to kill some of that hard sourdough bite and to give it a little taste.

My dough cycle is 1.5 hours long. The first 20 minutes of it is the mixing and kneading part the rest is punching and rising.

I will try a room temp rise next time. I still have a half loaf to eat. :-)

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Why don'y you try taking it out of the machine as soon as the mixing cycle is finished.  The rest of the cycle is really only adding to your 'acid' development time.

You shouldn't need butter and sugar.  I make sourdough and you wouldn't know it was sourdough Unless you knew it was sourdough partocularly when it is fresh.  A bit of sour does come through as it ages (after several days).

As an aside, there are some out there who are trying just as desperately to get a real 'sour'dough taste to their bread.  Can't satisfy everybody :)

Farinam

Hi Farinam,

OK, started a new loaf a few hours ago. Changes I made were increasing the starter back to a full 8oz. again. I also removed the dough from the machine after the mixing cycle was completed, (20 minutes).

I'm letting it rise at room temperature this time, too, but I did add 1/4 teaspoon machine yeast. Looks like my rising time has really been shortened down to about 2 hours or so. My dough just peeked the top of the pan after one hour. I want it to rise a couple inches more, though.

I had to leave the sugar and butter in the recipe for taste and flavor. I just don't care for plain flat tasting flour and water and salt only.

I'll try to post photos...

 

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

 Here's the dough I popped into the oven after a two hour rise.

 

Look at that oven spring! (350F for 35 minutes)

 

All buttered up nicely and cooling down.

 

It's a very fine crumb just like store bought bread with a little hint of sour.

 

It's very good and very soft and mild.

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hello Rick,

Good to hear that you have got a satisfactory result at last.  It's not necessarily one that I would have been aiming for but, just as there are as many ways to make a loaf of bread as there are bakers, there are probably just as many tastes as well.

Good luck with your projects and keep us posted on how you go.

Farinam

Well, it was some of your suggestions and ideas that put me back on the right track to making a soft mild sourdough sandwich loaf and I thank you very much for it. :-)

I now need to perfect it with a tweak here and there.

 

I have another question,  What will using milk, in the recipe instead of water, do to the outcome?

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...

Hi Rick,

As I understand it using milk has a couple of effects.  The first depends a bit on the type of milk that you use (full fat or de-fatted) and the fat gives you the softer crumb and better keeping qualities (simlar to butter or oil really).

The second is that raw milk has an enzyme or some-such that affects the gluten strength and can affect the ability of the dough to rise and to spring in the oven.  The secret is to scald the milk first (just below boiling - 190F - when it forms that sort of wrinkly skin on the surface is my guide) and then let it cool to at least luke warm before using.  This denatures the protein involved and you should get good gluten strength..

This might be subjective on my part, but I think it gives you a 'whiter' crumb.

Keep on bakin'

Farinam

I don't care for milk in this recipe. I'll go back to water.

On a second note, I poured off the hooch 2 or 3 times at each feeding and my sour is much milder now. That severe bite it had is now gone.

I'm also adding about 20% whole wheat flour, and so far, this recipe is turning into a fantastic sandwich bread.

Just tried out some French Toast but the sour doesn't go with all the butter and powdered sugar. I won't try that again. It wasn't very good.

Thanks, again, Farinam,

Rick

Rick

Don't fry bacon in the nude...