New to Sourdough

New to SourdoughNew to Sourdough

I am new to sourdough baking but have been baking ‘yeast’ bread for 10+ years. I followed Sourdom’s recipe for my starter using white organic flour and rye flour (70:30) in a 100% hydrated starter. After 14 days I was ready to try my first loaf. My ‘old’ baking recipe was 1200 g mixed-grain flour and 600g water plus yeast and a good quantity of seeds and grains so I thought I would stick to this proportion as a familiar starting point. I took 200g of my starter and added 200g flour and 200g filtered rainwater to make a pre-ferment. After about 8 hours I added 900g flour and 300g water and 2 g salt. Mixed in the Kenwood mixer with the dough hook on the slowest setting for a total of about 10 minutes. It seemed very dry and heavy so another 30 grams of water was added and mixed some more. It was turned into a large bowl, oiled and covered with cling wrap to prove for about 10 hours (overnight). In the morning the dough had risen perhaps doubling in volume. It was divided into two and each piece was folded and stretched about 5 times and then places in a container to form. The example shown was formed in a colander lined with well floured linen cloth. After proving for about 7 hours the loaf was turned onto a steel baking tray and placed in the electric oven preheated to 250C with a tray of water underneath and sprayed with water. After 15 minutes the temp was dropped to 200C and sprayed again. Tested after 30 minutes and given another 5 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack. The crust is nice and crusty, with what looks like good colour to me, the aroma is great and the flavour “just like a bought one”. Oven spring was OK, BUT the loaf has not risen as it should and is quite heavy. Help.

 

6 comments

Hello HCL5041,

Welcome to sourdough world.

First on your recipe.  According to the weights that you have given your dough hydration was only 48% even with the extra water.  You probably should be working closer to 70%.  That would have required 575g water for that weight of flour.  A good rule of thumb for a 100% hydration starter is 1:2:3 - one part starter, two parts water flour and three parts flour water. A common recipe for a good sized loaf is 180g starter, 320g water and 500g flour.

In terms of your method, the times seem a bit long unless your room temperature was very low (you did not mention whether the bulk ferment was in the fridge or not).  For working at room temperature and as a rough guide, the time that it takes for your levain ( the freshly fed starter that goes to make up your dough) to peak is the sort of time that your dough/loaf preparation should take.  About half for dough development and bulk fermentation and the rest for proving after shaping.  You should also try to become familiar with the 'window' test for dough development and the 'poke' test for loaf proof. You should adjust your timing accordingly as it will vary with temperature and the ingredients over and above the basics of levain, flour water and salt.

Hope this helps and good luck with your projects.

Farinam

 Thanks for you helpful comments.  I interpret that apart from hydration levels, the main problem was that the dough was over-proved.  I would guess that under the conditions at the time the levain would have been at its peak after about 7-8 hours and I should aim to have my loaves in the oven by that stage. Adelaide last week was high teens low twenties over night and warmer during the day. As for hydration, I will try the 1:2:3 ratio you mentioned and use some of SourDoms timing and methgodology.  Cheers

So glad to find such a wealth of information about baking SD breads. I've been baking for over thirty years (breads and confections) but have gone strictly to SD breads for the past five because of the health benefits. Up to now, I've converted my long-time favorite recipes into SD's easily enough. I've also gone to baking almost exclusively 100% fresh-ground kamut loaves which we have found make the best 100% whole grain loaves. But even with all this experience and all this success, I have a ton of questions after looking through the SC website.

Up to now, I've always used the by-guish-by-gosh method for measuring. I start with my sourdough and my liquids and add enough flour to get the dough to the point I want it to be. For a while I tried going more by sourdough recipes that produced a slack and sticky loaf, but it was not what I was use to handling, so I always added more flour than the recipe called for. But today, after reading through all the tutorials, I pulled out my little home-school Chemistry gram scale and obediently and respectfully measured out the ingredients to make the Easy Pita Bread recipe on your site. So here is my first question based on the following:

Farinam wrote - According to the weights that you have given your dough hydration was only 48% even with the extra water.  You probably should be working closer to 70%.  That would have required 575g water for that weight of flour.  A good rule of thumb for a 100% hydration starter is 1:2:3 - one part starter, two parts water flour and three parts flour water.

I had never even heard of hydration ratios for SD breads before. How was HCL5041's ratios at only 48% hydration? And how does the 1:2:3 ratio above calculate into 100% hydration? (Guess that's two questions.)

Farinam also wrote - A common recipe for a good sized loaf is 180g starter, 320g water and 500g flour.

Is that the recipe for the starter? or the ratios to make a loaf of bread?

I thank you for your patience and your help in my transition into a SD purist.

Hello mpbusyb,

Hydration is just the mass of water compared to the mass of flour expressed as a percentage.  Unfortunately some expressions of hydration do not take into account the flour and water in the starter and this can cause some confusion.

So a 100% hydration starter consists of equal amounts of flour and water.

Using the 1:2:3 rule you would have (say) 100g of starter (50flour/50water), 200g water (total water 250g) and 300g new flour (total flour 350g).  This gives the ratio of water to flour (250/350) of 71.4 (% hydration).

Using these masses would result in a medium sized loaf of bread.  The other masses that I quoted for a bread recipe would give a largish loaf or two small loaves with a slightly different dough hydration.

I have given links to a couple of spreadsheets for calculation and converting hydration in some of my early blogs.

Good luck with your projects,

Farinam

 The ratio should be one part 100% hydration starter, 2 parts water, and 3 parts flour.  This gives about 70% hydration, and should work well for a basic sourdough recipe, whereas switching the water and flour would make things a bit loose at 140%.

I'm sure you would have caught it, but thought I'd pipe up.

Good baking...

Thanks Chazzone,

One of those senior moments.  I will edit the original post just in case somebody doesn't read your correction.

Keep on bakin'

Farinam