Author Topic: newbie to sourdough  (Read 11468 times)

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Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2006, 11:10:43 AM »
1 Starter vs Sponge

I think most people maintain starters rather than sponges. Wouldn't keeping them as sponges be a terrible waste of dough? Its cheap, i know, but still seems like a lot of work too.

2 Containers
I use Small jars, of about a pint in size. Wide mouthed makes for easier cleaning. Mine ar doing just fine with metal lids. Quart will be ok if you have room in your fridge.

3
I kept mine in a warm place to get them going, like on top of the fridge. Your heating pad might be good for the first few days. I think as you bake with them you will develop a knowledge of how long breads or pizza need to proof for. I just work with room temp.


Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2006, 10:49:28 PM »
1) It's my understanding that a sponge and a starter are the same thing except for the hydration %. For example, if you took some starter and mixed in flour so it was somewhat dry, it would produce a sponge. However, if you took that same sponge and let it sit in the fridge for a long time, you would be back to a "runny" consistency starter as the food source was consumed by the yeast. I am not a expert on the terminology so correct me if I am wrong. The reason most recipes call for a "sponge" is because you took the time to feed the yeast and make sure it was actively growing well prior to putting it in your dough and made sure it wasn't in a "dormant" state. Once in the fridge for a long time, the yeast will enter into a lag growth phase and not be very active.  That is why you typically don't use a starter right from the fridge into your dough, because you will get less activity out of it.

2) Use whatever container you can get your hands on, I don't know about metal. Something to be mindful of is contamination. Some cultures are fairly fragile ecosystems and they are easily contaminated with other strains. If you are growing more than one culture, be very clean in your technique so you don't contaminate one culture with another. (I would use a separate utensil for each.) that sort of thing. If you use small amounts of starter while growing in the container, don't overfeed them. You need to let the culture grow to gain size, before you add more flour to it. (Another reason for making a sponge.) Be sure to store some of your culture in a small little vial which has never been fed. This way if you contaminate a starter, you can start over and innoculate again. I have read of some people dehydrating a sheet of starter so they can permanently store it. I have never tried this but it seems like the viability would be low. In the lab, we store cultures @ -80C with 20% glycerol in the cells so they don't pop from freezing.

3) Even in the fridge, the culture will grow, albeit VERY slowly. I would try your seedling mat to get some warmth there. If that doesn't work, try a heating pad on low. I believe this is more critical when you actually go to make the bread or the pizza. If you don't get a proper rise before the dough dries out, you will be left with a tortilla! I would also cover it to keep the humidity in there. You might have to proof your sponges longer than normal if the weather is really cold. However for the actual dough rise, you need to find a warm solution.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2006, 11:02:32 PM »
I believe a sponge consists of a cup of active starter, a cup of flour, and a cup of water. Mix this and let sit for about 4 hours before adding a cup or a little more of this sponge to your dough ingredients. IMO a sponge ensures that you have an active culture before making your dough. If this sponge doesn't froth and bubble away in the 4 hours then you have a problem. Better to find out at that stage than at your dough stage, because then you just wasted 3+ cups of flour. Thought...I added this excess sponge back into my jar of starter but since the yeast (in the sponge) have consumed a large amount of sugars in the flour there really is no point of adding this sponge back to the starter, at least that's how I feel.

I'm actually in the process tonight of making a sourdough bread. Well, I'm making the dough tonight, retard in the fridge for ~16 hours and then bake it tomorrow after work. I started the sponge or 'refresher' at 5:30 this evening. Right now it's sitting at around 80F for about 2 hours.

I'm following this guy's method...http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=27634. His bread looks absolutely amazing. Now that I received The Bread Bible in the mail today I'll be using that exclusively.

Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #43 on: October 18, 2006, 08:09:29 AM »
Is this your first Kidder?

Nice link too.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 08:13:38 AM by ernestrome »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #44 on: October 18, 2006, 08:19:55 AM »
Yeah this is my first sourdough bread. I found it incredibly sticky to work with but I hear they are notorious for that. I ended up letting it warm rise for 3 hours and it should be cold rising for around 16 hours. I'm not expecting much being my first time so we'll see how it turns out tonight.

Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #45 on: October 18, 2006, 08:52:13 AM »
Gonna take and post pics?

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #46 on: October 18, 2006, 09:02:16 AM »
I'll take some tonight. I didn't take any photos of the mixing stages but I'll take some of what the dough looks like before and after the oven, plus soem slices. Don't expect great looking bread from me though.

Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #47 on: October 18, 2006, 09:10:40 AM »
Thanks for the input, everyone, just what I was looking for.  Makes sense now.

 ;D
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
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Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2006, 11:17:14 AM »
Dan, i found the starter i froze lost the taste but not the spring, so i assumed the yeast survived the freezing but not the lactobillus.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2006, 12:00:24 PM »
Forgot to mention that I made 2 pizzas last night as well that were made with the sourdough starter and just a pinch of IDY. I probably should've given them another day or two in the fridge because they were a little tough and flat. They tasted good though, topping got way too hot and the cheese was way too done. There was a slight sourdough 'twang' to the crust though which was good.

The dough was in the fridge for two days, maybe I should've used more sourdough starter. Hydration was way too high as well, and since I'm not baking at 800F I should probably make it drier. The dough pretty much just felt apart and I had to knead it again.


Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #50 on: October 18, 2006, 08:57:09 PM »
BEWARE OF STRANGE LOOKING BREAD BELOW!

It smells realy good right now as I wait for it to cool. But I'm resisting the temptation. Yes it looks odd. When I tightened the dough before putting in the fridge overnight, by folding the sides to the bottom-middle of the dough, I must've not pinched them together good enough. How should I have 'sealed' the bottom of the loaf? It was 1:30am when I pinched it together so I was about half asleep when I did it. Hey, you gotta make some mistakes to learn from.

The crust is nice and hard, which I absolutely love in a sourdough bread. I'll take some pictures of the internals shortly when it's cooled.

I know it's not the prettiest thing, I just hope it tastes good.....

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #51 on: October 18, 2006, 09:44:11 PM »
Here are couple pics of the 'horn' growing out of the bottom of the bread. I decided to cut that first and my god is it tasty. It is at the perfect sourness and I think it'll be airy enough for me; for me sourdough is all about air pockets. Pretty strong but not overkill and definitely not mild. My fiance and cats like it quite a bit. I'll take some more photos of the real stuff soon. I cannot believe I created this bread from scratch....good stuff...

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #52 on: October 18, 2006, 10:44:25 PM »
Few more pics of the actual 'meat' of the bread. Maybe could've baked this another 5-10 minutes but it sure tastes good and definitely not dried out. I'm really surprised how airy this turned out, lot of air pockets....yummy.....

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #53 on: October 19, 2006, 09:11:53 AM »
Another comment, this was entirely hand-kneaded for about 5 minutes before the autolyse. I then added the salt after the autolyse and kneaded for 10 minutes, again by hand. I continuously had to dust my hands with flour to keep from sticking.

Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #54 on: October 19, 2006, 11:04:36 AM »
Maybe not slashed heavily enough on top, so the expansion forced out the bottom?

Looks pretty good though. I must make up a banneton.

BTW i think bakers call 'crumb' what you call 'meat'  ;D
« Last Edit: October 19, 2006, 11:21:13 AM by ernestrome »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #55 on: October 19, 2006, 11:30:55 AM »
I didn't think about the slashes. I still think I should've sealed the bottom better than I did. Maybe if the dough was wetter I could've pinched it better. I know I should've cut them a little deeper but I had a really dull knife and no razor blades to work with. Should really invest in a lame if I plan on making bread on a regular basis.

Instead of a banneton I used a colander with a thin towel in it. Did the job just fine but I think I over-dusted the towel prior to placing the dough. I didn't want the dough to stick at all to the towel.



Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #56 on: October 19, 2006, 12:33:27 PM »
WOW Kidder that is some impressive bread for your first attempt! Good job! Any pics of the sourdough pizza?

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #57 on: October 19, 2006, 12:45:34 PM »
No pictures of the pizza. It was just not worthy of pictures. Extremely subpar, one of my worst pizzas to date, right up there with my 'no-salt' pizza.

Thanks for the complement. There are a couple things I can improve on the next time. It really has a nice sour taste to it so I plan on keeping the starter around for a very long time. I can't believe I have quality airborne yeast in my kitchen. I didn't expect for it to be as airy as it is, a very good thing indeed.

Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #58 on: October 23, 2006, 10:55:59 AM »
Well, I activated my first wild yeast this weekend, the Italian (Camaldoli).  Will activate the Ischia and French sourdough cultures later.  I remember folks here using the Ischia for their pizzas, just curious why the Camaldoli wasn't used...

As for the process, the seedling heating mat worked to perfection.  Wood's description of the starter at 24 hours was what I had within about 6 hours.  I used carbon-filtered water microwaved to 85F, bread flour, and the mat kept the contents rocking at about 80F all weekend.  Now feeding every 6-12 hours.  I'm not sure when I should stick it in the fridge, but it looks doggone robust to me.  I just want to be sure. 

Some observations:

  • The first feeding I poured the water in, and as it broke the surface there was a huge upwelling of whitish bubbles, that I assume was CO2 trapped under the surface. 
  • The smell has been uniform throughout.  Mrs. Finny thinks it smells like my feet, but I would compare it to sweet rotting hay and maybe some overtones of Oktoberfest beers.  I like it!  It's funky, but I like it!
  • The visual has been one of consistent surface activity and bubbling, some pockets of liquid, but a look of a dense pancake batter.  At one time, it was growing really fast, so I "punched it down" with a clean whisk, and it reduced by about 75% volume.  In successive feedings and stirrings, it hasn't lost any volume, and is now thick and rich.  Overnight last night, it did separate for the first time into about 3/4" flour sediment, 3/4" liquid in the middle, and 3/4" foamy good stuff on top. 
  • I really need a digital camera to document.
  • Am thinking about splitting this activation, taking some off and drying it to preserve a backup.  If all looks good tomorrow, I may refrigerate (4 days total, Saturday-Tuesday).  It just seems that active.
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #59 on: October 23, 2006, 11:23:38 AM »
I remember folks here using the Ischia for their pizzas, just curious why the Camaldoli wasn't used...

I use Camaldoli for pizzas - it has such a great flavor. In fact, I made a batch of baguettes with the Camaldoli last week and they were so good, I may switch to it for baguettes. I do think I have neglected the Ischia and should experiment more with it. One of the many dilemmas in getting to know your starters is that the conditions that produce the best flavor don't necessarily produce the best rise and texture. The French pissaladiera that I made yesterday (and is described in the "other pizza types" section)  was just a one-day bread. I think the texture could have benefited from a multi-day retard, but that flavor was just sensational  In my experience, Ischia with a multi-day rise had a great texture, but not nearly as fine a flavor as the one-day rise. Something to work on, but I'm convinced each starter has one or more sweetspots in which the flavor and texture are maximized.

Bill/SFNM


 

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