Rise and oven spring is not very good. Would welcome suggestions.

Sourdough craze


I am new at sourdough baking although I have made a few loaves, one whigh was the first  one with this new starter came out fairly well. The starter is from the Oregon Trnail strand which you can get for free for just sending a self addressed stamped envelope  or a dollar donation. I had no problem getting the starter to bubble or to rise a nice sponge.  But after adding the flour and letting it rise it does not have enough structure. My recipe is  1 cup starter, 1 cup water, mix to combine, 2 cups flour for the sponge. After the sponge has doubled  (about 8 to 10 hours) I add 1/2 cup water and 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt shape the dough into a ball after stretch kneading a few times. Then let it rise in a cast iron pan. This is where it tends to spread out  and not up enough. I use a cast iron Dutch oven to bake for half an hour then remove cover to brown about 15 minutes. I really would like to bake the bread on the cooking stone I have. Pizza pie stone. But I fear the bread will flatten out even more as ther are no side walls. Can anyone help me with this. Or maybe I need a more active starter. I bake at 450 degrees 30 minutes.  
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Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 March 16

Perhaps it would be a good idea to give us some details on how your work the dough, e.g. how you knead, fold and shape your bread. If you don’t knead your bread it will have much less structure; kneading is important, especially if you use all-purpose flour (which is assumed here!) Shaping the dough will accumulate some tension inside the bread, which will help it keep its shape and "spring up" during cooking.

I’m not an expert in sourdough. I’ve been baking my own bread using "commercial" yeast for 3 years now with consistent results, but I’ve only baked 5 sourdough breads. Reading your recipe, a few questions arise. What type of flour do you use? And it seems that the amount of salt is very high (I use 2 teaspoons or 10 ml for a half bread recipe, that is, 3 1/2 cups of flour + 1/2 cup sponge). The sponge-to-flour ratio seems unusually high; perhaps your mix contains too much "digested" flour, which reduces structure?

Sourdough craze 2013 March 16

Hi Hugo

Thanks for your comments. Your right about the salt it was a typo by me  and was suppose to be teaspoons not tablespoons. About the flour I always use bread flour  when making sourdough as I felt sourdough needs more glutten to get the rise. I only use all purpose sometimes when making yeast breads. About the kneading I think you are right that  I have to knead more. I use the fold method as my dough is very sticky. Do you think more flour would help. What is your recipe for a round loaf and do you use a Dutch Oven or a stone. I have both and would love to try it your way. Thanks again for your help and hope I have more success. We both share similar names yours is Hugo and mine Hugh.

Montreal 2013 March 17
Okay. I am not sure if i will be able to answer your question clearly but I will try. Their is 2 ways to do this and you need to choose one way or another not mix a little of one with a little of the other method. DUTCH OVEN METHOD; The night before; If you want to bake in a dutch oven, you need to let your entire receipe ferment all night ( 8 to 12 Hours)NOT IN THE DUTCH OVEN but in a seperate steel bowl or even a plastic bowl. Next morning;You take your dutch oven with the cover and you crank your oven at 450 for 30 minutes to make sure it is nice and super hot. Then dump( your bowl of dough ) on a floured surface and make a Boule or any descent possible shape that will fit in the dutch oven. YES it is indeed very wet dough and it does not want to keep it's shape. Make sure to have a lot of flour handy close by otherwise you will have the dough stick like crazy to your hand. You then take that wet dough without any further rise time or fermentation time and dump in the dutch oven. YES dump in any possible shape you can without burning your hands. Close the lid and let it bake for 30 minutes without even looking at it before 10 minutes.Your oven spring will be amazing. The only drawback if this method is that because you leave the cover of the dutch oven on, the crust will be very thick. However it makes a spectacular bread with an explosion of the crust as this is like baking an underproof bread but for now it's okay. STONE METHOD ( Oven at 500); You build your starter as you did, I use a 3 build method. First build 5 hours, second build(all night) just like you did your (8 to 12 hours) and the next morning a final build of 3 hours before and then add my salt and the rest of the flour. Once all our flour is mixed with your starter, you need to fold it every 50 minutes 3 times to develop the gluten strengh. You will see that the first time you dough will be wet and very difficult to work with but after the first 50 minutes the dough will start getting easier to work with. Repeat this folding process 2 times. The third time you need to shape your dough in a Boule and put in a banneton, plastic basket , steel bowl or anything you want to let it double in size( anywhere from 2h30 to 4 hours depending of your temperature) I use a proofer for consistency. I use a 12 inches bowl for a 2kg miche that i bake.Once ready, you then transfer your dough to a Fridge to firm up the dough otherwise it is very difficult to transfer to your "palette" that will then transfer to your stone. Dont forget to again have a lot of flour on your" palette" as again your dough might stick to your metal our wood palette if you do not have enough flour on it. You score your bread and put a cast iron pan( to create steam< this has nothing to do with a dutch oven) at the bottom you oven and drop a cup of water in order to have enough steam in the oven. because it is a very wet dough, when you put it on the stone, the dough will spread and it will look like a pancake... No worries, the heat from the stone will give you a beautifull rise.. Because it was put in the fridge for about 1 hours, it might take 45 minutes to bake instead of 30 minutes. My oven has top element so after 20 minutes I cover my bread with aluminum foil to avoid burning my crust.That is it... I think. If you have other questions, i will gladly try to clarify a little more. Keep you posted on your results. Dan in Montreal The experimental lab www.natscuisine.com

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