Fun with Sourdough

plllog

Most of my sourdough experience is in making weird bread. My recipes are idiosyncratic, require a lot of different ingredients, and are not necessarily reproducible. So I went looking for a basic recipe for basic white sourdough bread. They're ridiculously hard to find. Most of the ones I've read are really loosey goosey with their measurements, or don't specify the composition of the starters, or are otherwise odd. I found an interesting one for "Vienna bread" on Sourdough.com. I think the author is donyoekl (that name is on it. I'm just not sure if that means the author). I ended up wandering away from the method for getting that specific kind of bread, and just made bread. The combination of kneading and stretch and folds developed the bread nicely, without the wait and hope business of a lot of high hydration breads.


Like most sourdough breads, this takes all day. You can start the preferment late the prior evening if you'll be ready to start working with it first thing in the morning. I spent a total of about 12 hours, from preferment to loaf out of the oven, but your times will vary depending on your own starter and environment.

Before you start, make sure your starter is strong and will double in size within 8 hours and hold its rise for at least 12 hours. Mine will double within 5 hours and hold its rise for 24 hours. Without a strong starter, your bread may never rise. You can also augment with a little commercial yeast, but at that point, you could just let your starter mature and just make commercial yeast bread.


This recipe should work with King Arthur unbleached All Purpose flour (11.7% protein), or bread flour. My flour is rated at 11.5% protein and has malt (you can't tell the protein content by the nutrition label which makes them all the same due to rounding error.) If you only have a weaker AP, you may have to knead a lot more and wait longer to get sufficient gluten development. You don't need malt, but if you have some and want to add it, try a teaspoon or two.

Here is my version of the recipe:


Small Sourdough Loaf "Escape From Vienna"


Preferment:

· 1 Tbsp Starter

[Mine is 70% hydration, originally KA AP, fed once with CM AC and once with CM AC+. I stuck the tablespoon into well risen starter and pulled out a heap. By eye it looked like minus the air it was about a tablespoonful.]

· 100 g water
[I used previously carbonated spring water that had gone flat. Non-chlorinated is best.]

· 100 g bread flour
[I used Central Milling Artisan Craft Plus, which has a similar protein content (gluten underpinnings) to KA All Purpose, but also has malted barley, which many white flours have, but I think KA does not. The malt improves the rise]


Dough:

·100 g cool water [same as above]

·200 g bread flour [same as above]

·1 tsp salt [I used Morton’s iodized table salt]

·oil
[I used EVOO that was wholly underwhelming, and which I want to use up, for kneading, and spray sunflower oil for the bowl. You can use any oil that tastes like something you’d want to taste on your bread (i.e. peanut and sesame are not great choices).]


Directions

1. Make the preferment. Put the starter in a small bowl, stir in the water with a small scraper or similar, until the starter is dissolved, then stir in the flour. Cover, and wait until it’s well risen and bubbly all over (5-10 hours.)





2. Make the bread dough: Stir the salt into the flour in a larger bowl. Add the preferment and water and mix. It’s probably easiest to use your hands. [I tried my Danish dough whisk, but had to finish with my hands.]


3. Spread a little oil on a clean, non-porous work surface. A Silpat or pizza pan or cookie sheet, are good choices. Some people like to work right on their counters. Use your hands to spread the oil thinly, meanwhile oiling your hands so they don’t draw water out of the dough, and don’t stick while you knead (and your hands will feel great after).


4. Move the dough to the oiled work surface and make sure all the flour is incorporated (squish with your fingers).

  • Knead for 10 seconds, return dough to bowl, cover, wait 15 minutes.
  • Knead for 10 seconds, return dough to bowl, cover, wait 15 minutes.
  • Knead for 10 seconds, return dough to bowl, cover, wait 15 minutes.
  • Stretch and fold with dough in bowl, turn, cover, wait 1 hour.
  • Stretch and fold with dough in bowl, turn, cover, wait 1 hour.
  • Stretch and fold with dough in bowl, turn, cover, wait 1 hour.


Each time you stretch and fold, the dough should feel a little tighter and stronger.

I love this method. The initial dough is doughy enough to handle and knead, not goop. Kneading is wonderful! I’ve never heard of this 10 second knead before, but it works. At about the ten second point, you can feel the dough stiffening. It loosens up during the wait, then tightens again at the next knead.


Stretch and fold methods:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz9CO1PJ0sM time 3:12


This is the first video that comes up when I google ‘stretch and fold dough”. (I wasn't about to try to film a demo myself!). For those who have never done it, it’s a very good explanation. The video is a whole big experiment for different techniques, which is interesting, but not necessary for this recipe. The stretching and folding starts at the time in, above, if you want to skip to it. He shows three ways of doing it. I do the normal, two handed version. Some depends on the size of your hands and your ability to control the dough.

5. Preheat oven to 440° F. Put a light layer of flour on a cookie sheet, quarter sheet

pan, pizza pan, or whatever you have with no tall sides. Shape your loaf and place it in the middle of the pan. Cover with a tea towel dampened with warm water (it’ll soon be cold and clammy, but it’s nicer if it starts warm). Let rise to about double. Your loaf may spread more than it rises.


6. Have a pan of water ready to put on the lower shelf in your oven, or a dish of water to put beside your bread pan if you only have one shelf (or use your favorite crusty baking method). If you want a crunchy crust, heat the water pan while you heat the oven, and put warm water in it when you put your loaf in.

Slash your loaf, and put the bread in its pan, and the pan of water in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes or until done. (The loaf should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, or have an internal temperature over 195° F.)





I forgot to slash my bread, so it cracked, like it's supposed to, and got a good oven spring.





This kind of holey crumb is technically a flaw. It means that there was too much water, and/or not strong enough gluten. In this case, the crumb is very moist, but firm and springy, and in the oven it sprang up rather than spreading, so I think it was too much water....But that's the point of high hydration bread. People like the big holes. I won't by tweaking the hydration.


The crust has body and texture, but is not crunchy nor hard, which is the point of putting the water pan in with the bread, rather than having it already hot and steamy. I like this. You may prefer something different.





You can see the bite out of it in the picture. :) It tastes great! Very flavorful. Not really sour, just super tasty. I could want to eat this bread all the time. The crumb is moist and elastic, and the crust has thickness and chew. I ate the whole heel, tearing out some of the crumb to check separately. To me, great bread doesn't need anything on it. This, therefore, is great bread. :)


It's not a lot of work, but a lot of don't leave the vicinity time (after the preferment) with all the stop and messing with it. It's easy to set the timer and do plenty of other things during all the handling. My shaped rise, btw, took an hour, but I checked it after half an hour. I don't think this bread will scale. Given enough bowls, however, one could make two or three loaves in parallel then bake them together.

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plllog

So. Having finished the sourdough bread a good ways past midnight, I was contemplating the starter. As one does, when I started contemplating the
new loaf, I pulled the white starter out of the fridge to warm up and get fed
after at least four months of neglect. Instead of the KA AP it was used to, I
gave it the new CM Artisan Craft. It’s pretty similar. As always when feeding a
new flour, the poor little thing whimpered and took a nap. After a good lie-in, however, it popped right up and was shouting through the airtight lid that it wanted to dance. Next feeding I divided, fed and put away the first 100g, then weighed and fed the rest equally, figuring I needed to feed it up for baking bread. Then I found the 1 TBSP recipe--which is so great because you don’t have to worry about matching hydration—and I had a cup (2 as risen) of lovely starter left. IIRC, 205g. Mind you, my discard jar was full and I have not one inch to spare in the fridge just now for storing extra wet flour.

So, at something like half past two or a morning, I had the brilliant notion that I should make up some pizza dough. People make sourdough pizza all the time. But I sure didn’t have enough awaketitude to go looking up recipes. Instead, I got out the pizza recipe from Taste of Home that I’ve been using for my flour experiments. That and the 00 flour I’d yet to try.

You pretty much have to use your experience and instinct to know how much yeast you have in your sourdough starter. You use the evidence of how easily and fast it springs up, and how long it holds up, and your previous experience using it, but without a microscope or something, you can’t know. I knew my just o’starter was good to go, plus it had just done a splendied job rising the bread.

That just leaves the flour and water. This is why one measures. I knew that of 170g, 100g was flour and 70g was water—70% hydration. The rest is just arithmetic. At 3:00 a.m. I just looked at my measuring up of starter, and the pizza recipe and weighed the 00 flour (really heavy), and figured what the heck, and just dished out some flour and water and the starter--salt and oil per the recipe, and just kind of eyeballed everything. When it came time to knead, it felt right. Yippee, right?

So then I’m supposed to wait half an hour for the kneaded dough to settle itself before putting it in the fridge. Snore. Not really, but nearly.

So, next morning, I’m looking in the fridge, a little worried because the original recipe calls for a whole packet of commercial yeast, and rose all over the place. I didn’t even know how much yeast was in the starter. Sure enough, the dough has spread and risen just a bit. Well, duh, think I! The fridge is to retard the rise. Sourdough is slow. I wouldn’t have wanted to leave it out overnight, but it’s a new day. Let’s take it out and maybe we’ll have pizza for dinner.

About 8 hours later. The top of the tape is a smidge above the edge of where the dough was against the side of the jug, and somewhat below the dome. I always mark this way, which is just about right on for the level it would be if flat. Impressive, huh? The rise, that is. That’s double, if I ever saw it. 😊



So, I divided in three, and started stretching. Um… Mind you, this is the next day after plenty of rest… I totally forgot the things I’d learned the previous two times through this recipe. While it need to warm up from the fridge before you can stretch it, the dough handles much better chilled. That when it’s warm, it suctions to surfaces, beyond anything cornmeal or flour can help, underneath. I used plenty of cornmeal, so it was shedding in the eating, but there was no sliding the made up pizza. The two peel method didn’t work because the dough was so soft, but I finally got it unstuck and shoved onto the stone, though it looked like a Dalí clock. 😊



It baked differently than the AC+ or Tony G. flour. There’s a good puff up of the edges, compared to where they were, the center of the dough also puffed up, but it didn’t have the big bubbles. There was a lot of weight on it—globs of a whole spicy Italian turkey sausage, a huge amount of mozzarella, and little baby spinach leaves for décor. I love the bit of crunch. 😊 What’s different about the flour –I assume, though perhaps it was the fermentation--is that the edges took longer to brown. That’s a good thing, in that I wanted to cook a little longer to make sure the sausage was cooked through. I was trying to replicate the sausage from the local restaurant when I was a kid, which was soooo good. The flavor was there, and I flattened the gobs for the cooking, rather than the little pyramids I remember, but the fat melted all over. It wasn’t dried out, but wasn’t the kind of texture that was so good. Which might have been the turkey instead of pork. The flavor of the crust was more like the AC+ (meh), but I used AC+ in the so good sourdough bread, so I’m letting the rest of the dough age awhile in the fridge to see if that brings up more flavor. That was a lot of starter, I used for the pizza, and more starter=less flavor. Longer wait=more flavor, so we’ll see. 😊



Proof of concept, however. The sourdough will raise the pizza dough, including in the oven. As to the 00 flour, it’s still not as silky as Caputo, but it’s close. I need to make pasta, because that’s where it should really shine.

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plllog

This morning I was really hungry for breakfast. Too much so to bother with an artichoke, and I don't have any salads made up. So, in the interests of science, I made a basic sandwich with the sourdough bread from the top post. The cut edge was still very moist in the beeswax, and it was cut yesterday at lunch time. I cut it thin but not super thin for the sandwich. 3/16"-1/4", probably. Just basic mustard and mayonnaise on opposite sides, a slice of smoked gouda and a stack of Applegate sliced chicken (deli style, but real chicken). Yes, this is the opposite of vegetables, but plenty of protein. I'll get the green stuff later.

Really good sandwich. Like the Tony G. loaf in the Fun with Flour thread, the crumb is springy and the crust is yielding, making for a pleasant sandwich which doesn't squirt out the sides. Still tastes excellent.

I had been getting worried that I was going to regret the AC+ flour, which had been pretty meh before. Where it shines is in the sourdough. Danged perfect. :)

Oh, and having had it's big rising fun yesterday, the deflated pizza dough, which was left to ruminate in the fridge, is looking all bubbly and rise-ish.

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ritaweeda

Pillog, please excuse my ignorance, but what in the world is it that you refer to as "CM AC and once with CM AC+"? I am clueless about how to go about making the starter.

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2ManyDiversions

I can't keep up with you! Ha! I just made a blueberry clafoutis, which was perfect for a couple breakfasts for us, and now you've moved on to sourdough! Oh gosh that looks divine, and I love the holes! Perfect pockets for melting butter, holding a good mustard or a nice aoli. I haven't had good sourdough in so long... I can barely remember the taste. Beautiful.

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plllog

I'm sorry, Ritaweeda. That's a continuation of my experimentation with new flour (Fun with Flour thread). I was getting ready to buy their flo CM=Central Milling (the brand), AC=Organic Artisan Baker's Craft (their flour that's particularly designed for artisan breads and sourdough, and has a comparable protein content to King Arthur All Purpose). AC+ = Organic Artisan Baker's Craft Plus (similar to the AC but with the addition of malt, "The addition of malt increases enzymatic activity during fermentation. This yields bread with greater volume without diminishing the integrity of the open crumb. It also increases the depth of color in your crust." Tony G. is a Central Milling 00 grind blended specifically for a pizza mogul. It isn't organic, but it makes fab pizza and bread. I got a sample of that, and also of their regular 00. I've been doing tests with the AC to see if I can substitute it for AP. I like the organic unbleached part, and it's a fine texture. I don't like baking with KA AP. This seems better. I'm still trying it out. I like the way Plus bakes, but haven't liked the baked texture and flavor until I made the sourdough. I think the malt gives that extra oomph to the rise that sourdough needs. The sourdough is so good, however, that I'm not regretting a thing.


I'm thinking of trying to increase the size of the loaf. If I add another 100g of flour, a third to the preferment, and 2/3 to the bread, it might be able to take it. Scale the other ingredients, too. It might not take it well though. I think part of the astounding success is that it's small.


If you don't already have a sourdough starter, you can get a known good one, like the one from Friends of Carl, or you can make one. Making one to a good level for reliable baking takes regular feeding (a lot of flour, most of which can be used in other things as wet flour, if you're baking anyway), and patience. There are any number of ways of catching wild yeast. The easiest is to start with ryeberries, or even rye flour. Or start with a little commercial yeast, and let it do its thing. It will likely eventually be taken over by wild yeast unless you're particularly careful, but so long as it raises your bread, who cares, right?


I was determined to get my wild yeast from wheatberries, but it was difficult and silly. You can more easily catch it from grapes, or even raisins. You know that white film they get? The "must"? That's yeast.


I wrote up the whole process for Jerzeegirl awhile back, I don't think I can improve on it. Maybe take a look, and ask questions here?:

https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/4757320/sourdough-starter-for-dummies


From what you said in the other thread, I thought you'd had a starter and just needed a successful loaf of bread. This one I posted is the least reliant on magic that I've ever seen. I didn't use any special skills to make it, though I have enough experience to understand why the steps were working. You bake other breads, so I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have any problem with it. Catching the yeast is harder. Friends of Carl is free with an SASE, though they encourage a dollar donation. I could also try drying and mailing you a starter, but Carl's Oregon Trail Starter is well known and reliable. Linda posted an interesting article from Modernist Cuisine that says that what you feed it is going to say more about your starter than anything. That Carl's colony has been around forever isn't the point, though the romance of it is great. It's a known, reliable, strong starter, however, and a lot easier than worrying over a new pet and feeding it, and cleaning its bed and nursing it through the baby illnesses. If you have the time, patience, flour and inclination, however, it can be fun.


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plllog

Thanks for the encomnia, 2Many! I saw your clafoutis whiz by! The whole blueberry farm, huh? :D It looks lovely! I have bananas and blueberries. I should make something...

So this loaf isn't sour. I love proper California sourdough that's sour. For that, it would need a much longer preferment. The tablespoon is good (btw, the other great thing about the tablespoon, if I didn't highlight it above, is it doesn't matter what the hydration of your starter is). The rule of thumb for sourdough is less starter, longer fermentation, sourer bread. Maybe also retard the bread dough for a day, i.e,. put in the fridge. Even though the 12-18 hours for this loaf sounds like a long time, it's the bare minimum for wild yeast baking. It goes in its own time.

If you, 2Many and Ritaweeda, and whoever else comes by, want to get starters going we can make a little club. :) But you have to have enough flour and be willing to use it. Someone did a mini-starter to start with to save flour. That should work fine, except if you have die off, there's nothing left. :)

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plllog

When I get tired I get long-winded. :D

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foodonastump

You must be exhausted. 😛

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foodonastump

But in all seriousness, these threads leave me in a mix of inspired and overwhelmed. With a slight leaning towards the latter I suppose, as you’ve not seen me bake any bread yet!

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plllog

Oh, dear! I'm sorry, FOAS! It's my way of coping stuck at home. Testing out all my flour and everything.

Please understand, I'm talking about a loaf of bread per week, here. or two if you count it when there's pizza. I also have a growing basket of hard ends for crumbs. :) And I've been baking since childhood and it comes naturally.

The last thing I want to do is intimidate anybody!! I try to report my failures honestly. There's nothing to be learned from perfection.

I hope you will bake some bread. You've been making pizza. It's mostly the same thing.

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foodonastump

Oh it’s not you, plllog, I get frazzled whenever I read this stuff, from anyone. I should just jump in.

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plllog

Yep. Just jump in. Do yourself a favor and choose a recipe that goes by weight. Also be careful with new yeast, which can rise much faster than some recipes expect. Bread is a pretty basic thing, but it's rare that a new to you recipe comes out perfectly the first time (and the one I posted here wasn't me following the recipe--it was the happy accident when I started following a recipe, went astray, did my own thing and got a really pleasant surprise that I think can be replicated). There are a lot of variables that are particular about your supplies and environment. Figure out what flaws you perceive, even very nitpicky ones, and post them, and we can help you figure out what tweaks to make next time.

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plllog

I tried thin and crisp on parchment by letting the sourdough crust, which did rise again in the fridge, but was smelling winey (i.e., beginning die off), warm up and rise. Then I stretched it on parchment, on the little peel, and put it, right on the peel, into the fridge drawer. Then I let it warm up again, but not as warm as when it gets soft enough to shape. Just tomato sauce, lots of rubbery mozz (rest of the container), and sausage. Not the pyramids of lucious of my youth, but closer. This was cooked on the steel, and I used commercial style salad tongs on the paper to move it around. The paper and steel conspired to keep the crust soft, but there was no way to get this one onto the stone. The edges puffed, the center cooked, but the porous stone was needed for crisp. The flavor of the crust stayed the same with the long ferment. Next trial, pan.


Cheesy edge of cut side:


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plllog

I used up the last piece of pizza dough. I'd read about using a deep dish pan for regular pizza. Mine is ceramic, unglazed, and makes a lovely crust. Um... No. Deep dish, yes, but all the liquid from the cheese and sausage ran out the sides and got underneath and boiled the crust. Edible. The toppings are good. The edges weren't bad. the middle of the crust, cooked, but a soggy mess. :)

Next up sourdough pretzles.

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plllog

Pretzels. I was all set to start them yesterday. I'd read through a recipe which sounded interesting, but had been a little uneasy about it. I think I've used one of her recipes before. It took actually starting the mise en place that I figured it out! It was supposed to be "sourdough" and used a goodly measure of starter, but it was really sourdough flavor, or maybe just a use up discard recipe. I also called for 2 tsp. yeast (a packet is 2 1/4 tsp.)! So then I found a different well written recipe, but it called for active starter, so I had to do a quick feed and wait for it to bubble. The recipe is actually similar in many ways to the bread recipe in the top post.

It calls for shaping the pretzels while the dough is cold. I did my best, but there was a point beyond which they wouldn't stretch. I have lots of experience making long ropes of bread dough, but the chill, and the tightness of the gluten just wouldn't go beyond a certain length without bouncing back. So these aren't likely to stack on a dowel. :) I loved the idea, from both, of decorating with seeds. I also have some pretzel salt, so will use a little. Right now they're "warming up" before the soda bath and bake.

Something very interesting happened to the starter. I had done the previous feeding with the AC+. For the point where it was divided off my Whole Wheat starter, years ago, I've feed the white starter mostly with KA AP (except when I was out). One, I say 1, feeding with AC+ and it was a totally different texture. This is cold from the fridge, but still with height from the last feeding. No spongelkie holes! No wonder I couldn't find them in the risen dough that was going to be Vienna bread, which is what sent me off in my own bake off the dough adventure. Not only was there a lack of lace in the loft, it was thick and putty like, and tore rather than separated. There's something strange and magical about that flour!

I'll be back after the boiling. :)


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plllog

Here are the pictures—I did straighten the parchment. As you can see, they squished together. Even with oil on parchment, they were stuck—probably too warmed up. By the time I lifted them to go in the soda boil, they were lumps, and the pretty twists were gone. All have judicious sprinkles of pretzel salt, half have poppy seeds, half have sesame seeds, and a few have both. These are after boiling, eggwhite wash and sprinkling.


The recipe says best right out of the oven, so I ate the tester right away. It tasted good, but my first impression was gummy, sourdoughy center. This is high hydration, so it hadn't steamed out. Halfway through—it was half a dozen small bites—I started tasting that distinctive pretzelly taste, and by the end, it wasn't gummy. More after they cool.

Cooled, it tastes very pretzel, especially the bottom, where it got good and crunchy. The crumb is high hydration sourdough, however, with well risen large hole structure, not the kind of ropy, highly directional, pretzel crumb. Still, it tastes great.


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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

That pizza with the basil looks delicious.

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plllog

Thank-you! You mean the one with the spinach? It was good, but the really delicious pizza was made with a different flour, the Tony G., posted in Fun with Flour (the first one). That pizza did prove, however, that wild yeast starter, with no commercial yeast, can successfully give a rise for pizza, even though its rise and recover times are extended.

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