At last, a decent sourdough bread (85% sifted wheat 15% rye)!

Hugo's picture
Sliced, showing the blisters and crust
The 100% rye sponge
The mother culture, Grandma Smith

Now that my sourdough culture is stabilized (it went crazy last week, digesting flour really fast and bubbling out of control), I was able to bake some pretty good bread today. I started with my beloved feral culture (on a wheat+rye mix, because I like things complicated). Built a sponge overnight with 100% hydration on 100% rye flour. The sponge came out just fine, having expanded 2.5x. This starter culture really works. Since it has a nice "green apple" scent, I shall call it Grandma Smith (re the good old granny smith apple).

I mixed 150g of rye sponge with 280 ml water (warm), then mixed it with 440g of sifted wheat flour and 10 ml salt. I think the hydration level is 64% and the starter-flour ratio is 34%. This is half recipe; next time i’ll multiply the amounts by 1.5 or 2. Autolysis 30 minutes, basically the dough was just sitting there.

I kneaded the dough ball delicately on the kitchen counter with very little flour, about 30 folds. Then put it back in the mixing bowl with a tight cover, and folded the dough twice every hour, for 4 hours.

Then, shaped the dough, floured it, and put it in a smaller mixing bowl lined with a table towel. Waited 2 hours while I was cooking a "civet de lapin" (rabbit in red wine) in the oven. (I like cooking a meal right before cooking the bread; it’s efficient!)

Then I delicately dropped the dough on a wood board sprinkled with corn semolina, reshaped a little bit. Slit the dough with my bread knife (which does a wonderful job). Cooked 15 minutes on the pre-heated oven at 475F (with a pan filled with water), then removed the water/stream and lowered temperature to 450F.

Luckily I slit the dough in a cross pattern, but also in diamond, close to the sides. The oven spring was amazing, and the crust didn’t rip open due to the slits. This is a rather small bread, but the end result is about 3x the volume of the initial dough ball. The taste is great: very subtle inside, with marked sourness in the crust. I think the kids will like it. Plus, the blisters are very nice this time.

Overall, Grandma Smith did a great job!

Things to improve:
- I’m still not very good at shaping the dough and I’m waiting for my banneton baskets (ordered them at a store in Montreal)
- Crust is a little overcooked on the underside, to my taste

263 users have voted.


Electricboots 2013 March 15

Congratulations Hugo, beautiful looking loaf  and it always tastes better for making it yourself- I think you are hooked on this hobby now too!

I reckon the tea-towel method is far less nerve-wracking than bannetons, but when they arrive try potato flour dusting on the baskets for a good separation from the baskets as it has no gluten to glue everything together.

Also try turning the bread upside down for last 10 minutes or so to even out cooking of crust.


SlackerJohn 2013 March 15

Excellent bread, Hugo.

Just a question about your starter.  Not picking on you by the way, have been meaning to ask someone for a while.

What is the consistency of the starter?  Given the bubbles all through it, I assume it's fairly liquid.  My starter is 100% hydration but is quite viscous.

Cheers John

Hugo's picture
Hugo 2013 March 16

Hi John,
I don’t have a "wide mouth jar" right now so I’m stuck with medium-sized Mason jars, and stirring the starter is really a pain. That’s why I keep it fairly liquid for now. It was even more liquid last week and this created all sorts of problems (such as extreme bubbling, and the starter eating up all its food really fast). As soon as I can find a better jar I’ll transfer my starter.

I’ll bake my next bread tomorrow, this time 100% siftet wheat flour with 66% hydration, so that I can get bigger blisters and even more volume.


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