Dan.. Oh Dan


I just got my copy of the handmade loaf (I know... I'm a sheep). And let me say I haven't attempted any of the recipes yet, so these questions may be a bit premature.

I notice a few differences to the general trend of recipes at sourdough.com.au Lets compare his 'white leaven bread' recipe with the 'sourdough vienna white' recipe in the recipe section. Firstly, ferment and proofing times. Now I know he does most of his proofing at 16-18C, but does this warrant such longer times (>8 hours total) compared to the 2-3 hours in the vienna white recipe (which is optimized for 30C).

Secondly I notice a lot of our recipes have 45mins worth of 10second kneads. Dan suggests 5 ten sec kneads with increasing gap times up to 1 hour! Basically...why does he suggest this? Dough building?

At the end of the day, does the 27C climate-controlled, shorter proofing produce a different (taste, texture) to the 16C, chilly, long ferments favoured by Mr Lepard?

ps: any thoughts on his use of an 80% starter instead of 100% (which seems to be the norm around here).

also, do you think its worth optimizing the temperature at which the starter is fermenting to try to 'catch it at its peak' for baking?

250 users have voted.


Croc 2006 September 6

starter wise his idea doesn't seem to be bad
my batch of starter based on his book kicked off day quicker than what the book said, on day 3 i was where book was at day 4 and so on and it was way faster the the other method

as for timing starter i been doing some "rude" to one of my starters, i remove what i need for bake and put jar in a fridge BUT i don't refresh till 8-10hours before next bake.
i think our little friends in starter get really hungry or something because since i been doing this my starter is good 30-40% bigger in volume at its peak.
it makes timing so easy for me, and i prefer that than trying to put refreshed starter in a fridge at right time.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 September 6

Secondly I notice a lot of our recipes have 45mins worth of 10second kneads. Dan suggests 5 ten sec kneads with increasing gap times up to 1 hour! Basically...why does he suggest this? Dough building?

The 45 mins (15 mins interval) kneads actually originates from Dan. Not every of his recipe has identical instructions. Some has more kneads, some less. Some even skips the foldings...all depends on what type of bread you're making and from what type of flour. Basically, time is needed to allow gluten to develop. The turn and folds are very effective in distributing the bubbles evenly.

IMHO, there is no correct or wrong timing from the recipes, and one doesn't have to follow strictly every instruction....well, maybe the first time or so. From baking regularly, you'll get the feel of your bread's development. That's why it's important to jot down your experiences.

I know I'm not answering your questions. Just get hands on, and in no time at all, like our friend croc, you'll get great breads..(.psst...he may even get some muffins with big holes...but I wouldn't bet on it).

bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2006 September 6

First of all I agree to all TP's said.
Second, surely, there's a great difference betwenn proving at 27° C for a few hours or 15°C over night in basement or fridge.
Also it's a great difference using rye or wheat at low temperature. there is quite different acid.
Trial and error, learning from mistakes, you will get the right feeling some day.

SourDom 2006 September 6


the temperature for proving makes a huge difference to the time it will take. Dan's book is written with a UK audience in mind, and he tends to be fairly pragmatic in his proofing timings, suggesting that people adjust the time required to the temperature that they are using.

I too (in Melbourne) use timings that are much closer to Dan's than to Bill's accelerated timings. But both work fine, so it depends what works for you. Long cooler ferments potentially make for loaves with more sour flavour.

I don't think that 80% vs 100% makes much difference in terms of flavour development in the loaf, but obviously if you use a different hydration starter to Dan you may need to adjust the water content.

In terms of picking your starter at its peak, my personal opinion is that it probably doesn't matter if your starter is past its peak by a few hours. If it is too early you may have a reduced amount of starter yeasties, and hence rise times will be slower. If you leave the starter too long past its peak, it may intensify the sourness of the loaf, and you will probably also get a drop off in yeast number, leading to slower rise. But I haven't got any evidence to prove this.


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