Sourdough Diary - Beginners please ask questions here

Graham's picture
Graham

Please feel free to ask questions or talk about your experiences making your first sourdough.

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73 users have voted.

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COFFIN GIRL's picture
COFFIN GIRL 2006 April 23

fantastic forum for beginners - well done with the idea. I will be a looker (& probably a question asker) constantly. So much to learn about this breadmaking stuff. Bill - my taste testers for my first few dismal attempts could almost have done with stomach pumps when I think about what I made them suffer. Good thing I have some really good friends!!!!

KazaKhan®© 2006 April 23

I started with just flour and water on the 26/03/06 and my starter has a nice wheaty aroma, very far from sour. The bread I make with it has a very distinct honey smell to it and it is particulary strong when sugar is added. Will it stay this way or will it eventually obtain a sour flavour? And I should note that I don't want a sour flavour to my bread I'm happy with the way it's going at the moment but I was just wondering...

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 May 3

[quote]
we ought to just open a forum member bakery somewhere, just do some nice bread!
[/quote]

[quote]
Hmmmm...wish I could go. I can be bizarre if I want to!
[/quote]

A fun option could be to [i]bake by remote control.[/i] It would be a bit of a game where one baker gets to direct another baker's skills for their own purposes. We would need to work out how much freedom the controlling baker has, or it could cross the line that separates bizarre and offensive.

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 May 3

Thanks Teresa, Don and everyone ... for your feedback and encouragement. I actually considered NOT putting the photos up, because the loaf is a bit flat and all ... but then you lot wouldn't be able to critique and help. And that's the whole point of the forum, right?!

And I figure that it's only in Chembake's special corner of the forums that pointing and laughing is allowed!

'Discovering' the wetter dough was a big step for me, an 'Ahah!!!' moment as they say in the classics! And the oiled surface for kneading, too.

All quite obvious to most of the forum members, I'm sure, but quite a discovery to this new bread baker!

I'd encourage all forum members to post their photos ... because learning from your comments about other folk's breads is really helpful.

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2006 May 3

Ok? I think the red has taken it's effect!Or it's a Graham acetic flashback! I think we already have too much information that controls our life today, better we bake for others with whatever nuiance or skill, besides better to have something that is ours by design but defined by nature(science)!

Ta,
Jeremy

Anonymous 2006 May 3

Hi there,
I have been plannig to make my own starter for ages and last weekend I got it going - I had read that you could use grapes to help kick it off. I didn't have any grapes but figured my organic russet apples would do ok. So I used the same recipe - they suddested to leave the grapes in the flour water mixture for around 7-10 days before you start feeding it. My apples lasted two days in the container before the froth overtook it. I have to decant it into a tub. The trouble was it smelt terrible, I left it a day then the next day took out the apples (which were tied in a bag) took a small amount out and fed it with a bit of water and flour and left the rest in the tub for another few days to see what happens to it.

As for the smell do you think that means that the starter is bad - since i fed the little one it smells a bit better - there is now a bit of hooch on top of it - I am waiting to see how it looks tomorrow before I try feeding it again - Any suggestions what to do with it?

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 May 3

Hi Grubdog

It could help to put a photo of your starter in the [url=http://www.sourdough.com.au/gallery]Personal Albums[/url] and from there you can insert it into the forum if you wish.

Without having the entire details it is difficult to comment. However removing any remnants of the rotting apple is likely to help. The fruit-in-sourdough-starter-thing is a romantic concept until we have more data on what actually occurs. There should be enough naturally occuring yeasts in the flour you use.

It is possible that the fruit concept grew out of the baker's uncertainty about natural yeasts occuring in flour: yeast on fruit is clearly visible, whereas on flour it is not. Plus of course there is a history of fermenting fruits for an abundant amount of goods. The actual effect of the fermenting fruit on the flour/water mix (starter) is not completely clear (to you and me, anyway) so remove this variable until it is more understood.

By the way, I am really just reflecting back information that has entered this forum in the last week from other members...so it would pay to have a quick browse of their posts.

You have already started the cycle of discarding exhausted or suspect starter but retaining a small amount to start off a fresh batch. Keep this process up, using just flour and water, and your starter should grow to be healthy.

Keep an eye on [url=http://www.sourdough.com.au/beginners]The Beginner's Page[/url]because I am going to update this soon with more info on starters, including some temperature information.

Graham

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2006 April 24

I remember using a book which was my first by Dan Leader, the bread was nice, most of the time and of course there was the usual I forgot how much of this or that only to be tossed!
Good luck to all!
Jeremy

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 24

Fantastic! Thanks Graham.

OK ... what flour should I purchase to start with.

I have Defiance Bakers Flour ... but I'm quite convinced it's 'lifeless'.

I currently have a 'starter' made according to Bill44's instructions elsewhere in the forums ... it's been there a couple of days and has a couple of little bubbles ... and I know it's been a little cool ... but gee. It's a sad little slop!

I look forward to learning more!

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 24

[quote="SourYumMum"]
I currently have a 'starter' made according to Bill44's instructions elsewhere in the forums ... it's been there a couple of days and has a couple of little bubbles ... and I know it's been a little cool ... but gee. It's a sad little slop!

I look forward to learning more!
[/quote]
Patience, patience, from many a sad little slop many loaves grow.
Keep following the instructions.

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 24

I am trying to be patient ... just don't want to end up A patient!

The 'poor slop' has just been fed and watered. Hopefully great hordes of wildeyeests are stampeding toward it!

I notice, Bill44, that you and KazaKhan have mentioned Bibina for flour ... as they are not very far from my place, what would you suggest I purchase?

(That chocolate room in Bibina should be banned!!!!!!!!!!)

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 24

[quote]
OK ... what flour should I purchase to start with.
[/quote]

Yesterday I went looking for different flour types in the supermarket and came back with the following:

[b]Kialla [/b]
Organic Stoneground Wholemeal Plain Flour
Organic Unbleached Plain Flour
Organic Spelt Flour

White Wings Organic Plain Flour
Tip Top Organic Plain Flour
Woolworths Organic Plain Flour

Unfortunately our health food store was closed, but they would have had more. I was also looking for rye flour and rye grain.

For the starter I was thinking of using the Kialla Wholemeal, possibly with a rye component added.

Graham

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 24

I'm quite fond of Laucke Wallaby unbleached bakers flour from Coles for $7.50/5Kg.
I had a good look at Bibina and had a chat to the boss, they dont stock a bakers flour as such but I did pick up 5Kg of rye for $9.00. As Kaza said, it is quite light in colour compared to my normal organic rye, but that may be just because it is a fine sift. I havent baked with it yet but will do a rye loaf later this week. The rye still works fine for dusting your proofing cloths so at the price it is a good buy as compared to a health food shop price of $3.75/500g.

grubdog 2006 May 4

Thanks Graham I will keep you posted.

I was also looking at the bannetons made in germany available on this website and was thinking about ordering some to play with once I get started.

As I understand it Bannetons are mainly for proving the dough and once proved the dough is tiped onto a hot bakers stone or tray (if baking in a home oven) - let me know if this is wrong.

What sizes do you think are appropiate to get if I have a standard home oven - I'd like to make the loaf as large as possible.

Oh and also trying some other way to get my starters, but I will let you know how they go in a few days.

Latest Fad 2006 April 24

[quote="SourYumMum"]
Fantastic! Thanks Graham.

OK ... what flour should I purchase to start with.

I have Defiance Bakers Flour ... but I'm quite convinced it's 'lifeless'.

I currently have a 'starter' made according to Bill44's instructions elsewhere in the forums ... it's been there a couple of days and has a couple of little bubbles ... and I know it's been a little cool ... but gee. It's a sad little slop!

I look forward to learning more!
[/quote]

I've used Wallaby flour for a starter and was very happy with it (for baking as well). Coles was out of Wallaby this week so I have bought Defiance, I hope I have better results with my baking with it than you are with your starter. Shall let you know.

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 May 4

[quote]
Oh and also trying some other way to get my starters, but I will let you know how they go in a few days.
[/quote] Let me know your about experiences with getting your starter(s) going. I am using input from people on the site to help compile the beginner's page.

[quote]
As I understand it Bannetons are mainly for proving the dough and once proved the dough is tiped onto a hot bakers stone or tray (if baking in a home oven) - let me know if this is wrong.
[/quote]
The bannetons are used as you described. If you want a larger loaf in a domestic oven, I would try the 1.0 kg size...we have had good feedback from that size even though initially I thought they might be too big for home use...it appears they are just fine in most cases. If you are in London they are available, but not ceratin where.

Graham

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 24

LatestFad ... I have found the Defiance to be terrific for simple things like pancakes for the kids, simple pizza dough, etc ... works a treat when you throw yeast in it! But it has been hard to get it inspired with a starter.

That said, I think we can be 99.9% sure that it's 'operator error' at fault here, and not the flour!

Thanks all for the shopping list!

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 April 24

It's really painful reading all these flour talk. You just don't know how deprived we are in this side of the pond.

So...what do I buy when the family go on overseas fun trips?? FLOUR!

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 24

Oh TeckPoh ... maybe the forum members can send you some for your birthday!

I seem to recall (further to Graham's mention of spelt flour), that Neil at Green Grove Organics at Junee is using it to make his licorice!

Maybe someone will send ME some of THAT for MY birthday!

KazaKhan®© 2006 April 24

[quote="Bill44"]
I'm quite fond of Laucke Wallaby unbleached bakers flour from Coles for $7.50/5Kg.
[/quote]
I love the Wallaby flour
[quote="Bill44"]
I had a good look at Bibina and had a chat to the boss, they dont stock a bakers flour as such but I did pick up 5Kg of rye for $9.00
[/quote]
Well he\she should check their stock. They stock Centurion's special white flour at $6.75 for 5Kg bag and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be considered a bakers flour (11.5% protein). I have a bag but haven't tried it yet, I will do a side by side comparison with the Wallaby flour tomorrow if I get the chance...

Latest Fad 2006 April 24

[quote="SourYumMum"]
Fantastic! Thanks Graham.

OK ... what flour should I purchase to start with.

I have Defiance Bakers Flour ... but I'm quite convinced it's 'lifeless'.

I currently have a 'starter' made according to Bill44's instructions elsewhere in the forums ... it's been there a couple of days and has a couple of little bubbles ... and I know it's been a little cool ... but gee. It's a sad little slop!

I look forward to learning more!
[/quote]

Actually, when I really think about it, my starter with Wallaby Flour did have to be threatened after about 7 days - so I intimidated it by starting a new starter from Wholewheat Flour, and guess what, the next day, the Wallaby was working like a beauty, I just hadn't had enough faith and thought it should have been doing more by day 7. So I guess perserverence is the key. Good luck.

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 24

For beginners: the protein level of wheat flour is a good indication of its ability to develop strong gluten membranes to hold the gas from fermentation (the captured gas is what raises bread dough).

A well developed dough from 'strong' flour will produce an elastic dough. Wheat flour with 11.5% protein is considered strong enough to make bread in Australia (as a general standard...bakers may use stronger or weaker flours than this).

The Tip Top and Woolworths organic plain flours are 'cake flour' protein level, being 9.3%, 9.0%. The White wings flour lists at 10.8% and could be tested for use in some breads, but is probably not a reliable all-purpose bread flour. I purchased all these whites to use as starters next week (we once had a white flour that did not ferment well...I want to ferment these against each other to guage any differences). A wholemeal/rye starter will be my main starter next week.

Laucke have some interesting reading here: [url]http://www.laucke.com.au/understanding.html[/url]

Kialla wholemeal lists at 13.1% and Kialla unbleached plain at 11.8%. It is worth keeping in mind that the sandy bran in stoneground flours tends to interfere with gluten membrane development, so behaves differently to a roller milled (flaky bran) flour of the same protein content.

[quote]
SourYumMum:

I am trying to be patient ... just don't want to end up A patient!

The 'poor slop' has just been fed and watered. Hopefully great hordes of wildeyeests are stampeding toward it!
[/quote]

As Bill44 said, do not give up on your existing brew. Last week I uncovered a bowl of partly eaten generic corn flakes from my 6 year old. It was around a day old and was fermenting pleasantly. Makes me wonder about how important nutrient actually is in fermentation.

Graham

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 April 24

[quote="SourYumMum"]
Oh TeckPoh ... maybe the forum members can send you some for your birthday!

[/quote]

SYM...even if it's for my birthday, I think flour is too extravagant a thing to send by mail. The shipping cost would outweigh the price of the flour by tons! You be patient with your yeasties and I'll be patient with my flours...

northwestsourdough's picture
northwestsourdough 2006 April 25

I have been baking with sourdough off and on for many years, at least 25, and almost all of my beginning experiences with sourdough weren't too good because I had some "Alaskan Sourdough" books. They always made their starters with commercial yeast and basically used sourdough as a kind of "buttermilk" ingredient. By that I mean using the acid and flavor but utilizing baking soda and baking powder liberally for the actual leavening. They also recommend feeding the starter with leftovers, and other junk. So my family put up with my trials and felt like they were eating rotting dough.
I finally had to get a hold of Nancy Silverton's "Breads from La Brea Bakery" book to bring me up to date with real sourdough, otherwise I might still be doing "Alaska Sourdough". There are some Alaska style recipes that I still use, like for biscuits, but I have pretty much shied away from most of those kinds of recipes because the real sourdough leaven offers so much more scope for the imagination and tastebuds! Thanks Graham for starting up this interesting topic.
Have a terrific day!
Teresa

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 25

Well I'm pleased to report that my poor slop made with Defiance bakers flour in the rites according to Bill44 has responded to a good feeding and watering. I will give it a little lovin' again this afternoon (and continue to follow Bill's instructions) and see what happens. But I think I'll follow the beginner's diary with Laucke (if I can get some).

Graham - CORN.FLAKES. = OXY.MORON!

Yesterday I found one of my nice clip-top plastic containers filled with purple beans from the vegie patch hidden in one of the kitchen cupboards (4-year old had 'picked them and put them away' for mummy). Only a little smelly, still made last night's stir-fry. But my hubby said, "Oh, I saw them in there yesterday. I thought YOU had put them there! So I left them."

!

I'm off to gaze at my bubbles.

COFFIN GIRL's picture
COFFIN GIRL 2006 April 25

making licorice????? Have always wanted to know how to make it... ANY CLUES??? I know its not sour dough question- but just asking. I worked in a restaurant where we made a licorice dessert (out of this world yum ) but I bought the licorice for this. ANY INFO appreciated, (sorry its not a sourdough question)

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 25

[quote]
CORN.FLAKES. = OXY.MORON!
[/quote]

I know what you mean about corn flakes. In my defence, I should say that I don't buy them or eat them...but they turn up in the cupboard anyway. I can't say any more than that without causing family grief.

SourYumMum and all, I have just set up a 'culturecam' at [url]http://www.sourdough.com.au/culturecam[/url] It is a very basic setup that will evolve over the next few days. The starter shown is a temperature test. A new one will be made for the diary.

Graham

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 25

Hi CG,

No, I don't have a clue! Google Knows All! And when you've made some and it's delicious, share the recipe!?!

Graham - nice culture cam! What's in it? Is it just flour and water? Are you herding wildeyeests?

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 25

Yep. Just Kialla Stoneground Organic Wholemeal, and some bottled spring water. Our house in on tank (rain) water which I would have used but a rat died in the leaf filter several weeks ago so I had to add chlorine.

It is 50 ml water and 25-30 grams of flour (my scales malfuntioned and this is a test only...will be precise with measures for the diary). I will get a digital read out thermometer tomorrow and a container that is easier to view. Plus a loose fitting lid is the way I am used to...but I have noticed some current bakers using more tightly fitting lids.

Graham

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 25

Grew up on tankwater. Know exactly what tends to cark it in it or on it. I filter tapwater. But I would love a tank for the garden and loos, etc. Tankwater is an ideal ... but can be a fairly disgusting ideal! Particularly when I look at some of the wildlife that visits our yard and therefore probably the roof ... doves, cockatoos, butcher birds, magpies, BATS, peewees ... just the thought of some of that ending up in my water is enough to give me giardia!!!

I got hold of some Laucke Wallaby flour today ... so I feel ready to be a REAL baker! It was the last bag and discounted, so I hope this doesn't mean that Coles is ditching it!

grubdog 2006 May 6

I am trying to grow my starters in large glass jars I have them in the window where light comes in. Do you think it better to keep them in a dark place instead?

KazaKhan®© 2006 April 25

[quote="SourYumMum"]
Grew up on tankwater. Know exactly what tends to cark it in it or on it. I filter tapwater. But I would love a tank for the garden and loos, etc. Tankwater is an ideal ... but can be a fairly disgusting ideal! Particularly when I look at some of the wildlife that visits our yard and therefore probably the roof ... doves, cockatoos, butcher birds, magpies, BATS, peewees ... just the thought of some of that ending up in my water is enough to give me giardia!!!
[/quote]
I'm sure you could find all that and more in the dams we drink from. Of course I use a filter for my tapwater as well
[quote="SourYumMum"]
...so I hope this doesn't mean that Coles is ditching it!
[/quote]
I wouldn't think so, seems to sell like hot cakes

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 25

Well folks I hate to be different but I just use water straight from the tap for all my baking. My son is a water treatment operator for the local council and I know our water is chlorinated, flouridated, and has alum and a few other chemicals that I can't even pronounce let alone spell.
Bread seems to turn out fine, and both my starters (Aussie and US) seem happy.
I hope we are not bordering on a myth about water.

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 25

[quote]
...when I look at some of the wildlife that visits our yard and therefore probably the roof ... doves, cockatoos, butcher birds, magpies, BATS, peewees ... just the thought of some of that ending up in my water is enough to give me giardia!!!
[/quote]

Winter is not good for water quality because of all the slow combustion soot landing on the roof. We divert the first 5 minutes of rain when possible, but sometimes a 5 minute rain shower is all we expect so we might shorten the diversion to only 60 seconds or so.

[quote]
I got hold of some Laucke Wallaby flour today ... so I feel ready to be a REAL baker! It was the last bag and discounted, so I hope this doesn't mean that Coles is ditching it!
[/quote]

That flour has lots of supporter so should be fine. One thing we need input on in the Diary is different perspectives on whether or not we should be bothering with high protein flours in starter and leavens. It can't hurt, but is it a benefit to the leaven? How exhausted are the proteins after long and intensive fermentation? How do fermented proteins contribute to gluten development, if at all?

Perhaps questions like that appear to be of little relevance to beginners, but I think the more clarity we can get from the very beginning, the better.

I am mumbling on. That flour should be perfect. My own 'test' starter mixture shows 3mm of separation after 4 hours.

[url]http://www.sourdough.com.au/culturecam[/url]

Will I or wont I stir...?

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 25

The separation situation begs the question, "too much water"?
Each year I try my luck at "catching" new starters, mainly in the hope of snaring a rare magic Lactobaccilus for its flavour. I have found that much more than 166% hydration (1cup water to 1 cup flour) is too thin to hold the flour in suspension, so is the extra water necessary?

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 25

Thanks Bill,

I'm going out for a walk and when I get back will make up a second, thicker brew. Just to be clear...are you suggesting the next brew be equal parts of flour and water, or would you prefer something different?

Graham

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 May 6

Hi grubdog.

That is a very good question: Does light affect the development of sourdough yeast and bacteria?

Can anyone answer this?

Thanks,
Graham

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 25

[quote="Graham"]
[quote].
One thing we need input on in the Diary is different perspectives on whether or not we should be bothering with high protein flours in starter and leavens. It can't hurt, but is it a benefit to the leaven? How exhausted are the proteins after long and intensive fermentation? How do fermented proteins contribute to gluten development, if at all?
[/quote] [/quote]
I don't know anything about the supposed (culture shock) effect of a leaven fed with one type of flour being used to bake with a different type of flour. Apparently a lot of bakers just do their leavens with rye flour for everything.

Personally, my stock starters are fed with white bakers flour and are maintained at 100% hydration. When I want to make a 1/3 rye loaf then I just make a two stage 1/3 rye leaven to suit. If the recipe calls for a different mix of flours or a different hydration level to my stock, then I make a leaven to suit.

I have no idea if this is "By the book", it's just the way I do it.

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 25

[quote="Graham"]
Thanks Bill,

I'm going out for a walk and when I get back will make up a second, thicker brew. Just to be clear...are you suggesting the next brew be equal parts of flour and water, or would you prefer something different?

Graham
[/quote]
Hey mate it's your show, I was just querying the need for so much water.
But now that you have asked, equal [i]volume[/i] flour and water (166% hyd)
[b]Reference[/b]:- 1 cup water = 250g. 1 cup bakers flour = 150g.

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 May 6

Apart from when they are in the fridge all mine are in the light, not direct sunlight of course. All my captures and development are done in light, apart from night time naturally.

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 25

[quote]
But now that you have asked, equal volume flour and water (166% hyd)
Reference:- 1 cup water = 250g. 1 cup bakers flour = 150g.
[/quote]

OK. That is interesting already.

Let us refer to the first test starter as starter No. 1

Ingredients:

50 ml water
30 g flour

Bill you have pointed out that it takes less flour (weight) to fill the same [i]volume.[/i] that water takes up. Water is heavier. You gave the example of 1 cup of water and one cup of flour: each takes up the same amount of space but the water weighs 250g and the flour 150g.

By coincidence, Starter No. 1 is the same [i]volume[/i] of flour as there is water (divide 250 and 150 by 5 and that is 50 and 30 respectively).

The amount of water in a dough is refered to as Hydration. Bakers express this as a percentage. The amount of water (50 ml) to flour (30 g) is what we want to know to find out hydration,

50 / 30 = 1.66

x 100 = 166%

Graham

( I have made a late correction ... sorryy. GP)

SourDom 2006 April 25

To add a dissenting opinion.

I always run my starter at equal weights flour and water (100% hydration).

Apart from anything else it makes the maths easy.

my starter has much more vigour (and a very pleasing aroma) when it is fed a bit of rye as well as white flour.

cheers
Dom

PS Graham the culture cam seems to be Mac-unfriendly, as unless your picture is of a white flour starter in a snowstorm I can't see it.

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 25

No water myths from me! I am a big fan of icy cold mid-winter water straight from the tap! But I also use a couple of filter jugs.

And I can't see the culture cam either, so perhaps Graham's puter has put itself to bed!

Gentlemen, could I please remind you that this is the beginners forum. ie. breadmaking for dummies! I am not too proud to admit that. I want to get to where you all are!

If you are going to start talking 'hydration' etc, please make sure that you dumb it down for us dummies. Now that dummy might only be me, but there you go.

One step (and one maths lesson) at a time, please?

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 April 25

[quote]
I always run my starter at equal weights flour and water (100% hydration).

Apart from anything else it makes the maths easy.
[/quote]

Hi SourDom, and thanks Bill44.

I have now mixed test starter No. 2:

50 ml spring water
50 g Kialla Organic Wholewheat

(will use rye in a starter for the Diary)

50 / 50 = 1
x 100 = 100% hydration

It is much closer in texture to a dough than a paste, which is how No.1 felt. Both starters are now in the culturecam prover at:

[url]http://www.sourdough.com.au/culturecam[/url]

The separated starter on the bottom is No. 1 starter.

Sourdom and SourYumMum the problem with viewing could be that your Java needs updating. My son has a new mac and we don't have a problem on that. Try the link below and let me know if that works...we like macs a lot.

[url]http://www.java.com/getjava[/url]

Graham

KazaKhan®© 2006 April 26

[quote="KazaKhan?®©"]
I started with just flour and water on the 26/03/06 and my starter has a nice wheaty aroma, very far from sour. The bread I make with it has a very distinct honey smell to it and it is particulary strong when sugar is added. [b]Will it stay this way or will it eventually obtain a sour flavour?[/b] And I should note that I don't want a sour flavour to my bread I'm happy with the way it's going at the moment but I was just wondering...
[/quote]
Is anyone going to attempt answering questions from beginners?

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 April 26

[quote="KazaKhan?®©"]
[quote="KazaKhan?®©"]I started with just flour and water on the 26/03/06 and my starter has a nice wheaty aroma, very far from sour. The bread I make with it has a very distinct honey smell to it and it is particulary strong when sugar is added. [b]Will it stay this way or will it eventually obtain a sour flavour?[/b] And I should note that I don't want a sour flavour to my bread I'm happy with the way it's going at the moment but I was just wondering...
[/quote]
Is anyone going to attempt answering questions from beginners?[/quote]
OK, let me say now that any advice that I offer is purely from my own experience and may be completely wrong, I am happy to be corrected by others.
I'm not sure whether I'm jumping the gun on Graham's tutorial but here goes.
There are a lot of things that can effect the sour taste, but basically if you keep your starter well refreshed before baking, using only a little bit of the stock each time, you should only have a mild sour taste. That's a very basic answer and I'm sure Graham will get into the two stage levain process, and I'd rather leave any further answers to him to avoid confusion.

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2006 April 26

Separated starter?

I made my current starter with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water ... and it has been fed and watered twice (refreshed with 1 cup starter, 1 cup water, 1 cup flour) and is due to be done again later this afternoon.

I now have a nice goo ... but it has a lot of 'liquor' on the top.

Is that OK? How much is OK? Do I pour it off, leave it, or mix it in?

Graham ... a glossary for the website?

Carol

donyeokl's picture
donyeokl 2006 May 6

Hi All,

I would like to ask if there's a different in sourness with regards to a wholemeal starter and a white starter. I realised that breads made by my wholemeal starter has got a higher level of sourness compared to the white starter. Both starters are at 100% hydration. Any experiences or information to share is greatly appreciated.

Cheers...

Don

nina 2006 June 15

Hello, forum newbie here. I'm Nina, I live in Denmark and has been baking on and off for years using commercial yeast.

First of all I'd like to say thanks to you all for providing such a great resource - reading the posts in this forum has helped me a lot.

And on to my problem. I started my first sourdough starter last month following the recipe in Dan Lepard's Handmade Loaf. I now have a white and a rye starter and they're both lively and active, I've baked with them several times with tasty results.

Now, I'm really having troubles with baking wheat bread though. This is what happens: The dough starts out sticky but during the first brief kneadings it goes all nice and smooth and relatively easy to handle (with oil anyway). At the end of bulk fermentation is has gone back to extremely(!) sticky and it's impossible for me to shape it. After proving it never holds its shape when I turn it out of the basket because it's so soft.
The bread ends up flat, but very tasty and with a nice crumb and crust. There isn't much ovenspring either.
These are pictures I took when baking yesterday, using Dom's Pane Francese recipe (using a proofing basket instead of teatowels):
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060614_panefran1.jpg[/img]
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060614_panefran2.jpg[/img]

I think the cause of my troubles is the danish flour. Wheat flour is generally low in protein(11,5%) and gluten and there's no such thing as strong flour or bakers flour. Italian or American flour is recommended for strong flour, but it just seems wrong to me to be using imported flour for basic everyday bread...
I've purchased something called Ølands wheat, supposedly very similar to spelt, high in protein(15,5) and gluten. I noticed right away that it absorbs more water but in the end I had the same result: a sticky dough impossible to handle, much less shape.

Today I tried reducing the water in the recipe - the dough is bulk fermenting as I type. But I was hoping to keep the great texture and moistness a wet dough gives the bread.
Does anyone have any advice for this problem?

Thanks in advance, Nina
PS: Just to show off:
Here's the rye bread I made last week, traditional danish style. Tasted very good, even my 3 year-old daughter loved it. And what a great pleasure it gave me to walk right past those bread shelves in the super marked!
[img]http://home20.inet.tele.dk/desdemona/misc/x060602rugbroed11.jpg[/img]

Graham's picture
Graham 2006 June 15

Welcome to the forum Nina.

Good advice is likely to follow from members. Reducing the water content sounds like a worthy first step if you are uncertain about the characteristics of your flour.

The other angle I would take is to find a way to better assess how well mixed your dough is. My guess is that all your yeast dough experience would have given you a lot of knowledge about how a dough feels when it is fully developed.

I suggest you go back to the method used to mix those doughs...which I assume used flour rather than oil to stop the dough from sticking (?). I think that Dan has only introduced oil as an aid for people trying wet doughs for the first time. As you inferred, the oil could be giving the dough a 'smoothness', rather than the smoothness occurring as a result of adequate dough development.

That rye smells absolutely gorgeous!

Do you use water (rather than flour or oil) to stop a wet rye from sticking to the bench when you do the final shaping?

Graham

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