View Full Version : Sourdough
04-24-2007, 04:01 AM
I've been baking bread for several years now, but until Sunday had never actually got around to starting a sourdough. As I am somewhat entering new territory with this, I figured I might as well start a thread to log my progress and hopefully get some advice/feedback along the way.
I don't actually have a single recipe that I'm following, just getting bits of information from here and there, so who knows what I'll end up with!
So, to start, I soaked some organic raisins in water for a couple of hours before mixing one cup of the soaking water with one cup of organic white strong flour. The idea of the raisins is to try and get some of the natural yeast from the skins into the starter to give it a bit of a kick start.
After 24hrs, the mixture was starting to smell slightly sweet, with one or two fine bubbles. I fed it with a further 1/2 cup each of flour and water, and left it overnight.
I checked it this morning and hooray! I've created life! Lots of bubbles and a nice creamy yeasty smell. I've discarded a cup of the mixture and fed it with a cup of 50/50 flour-water mixture. So far, so good...
You may be working too hard, Stu. The natural yeasts are in the flour and the air, not the raisins and they really don't need any feeding aside from what is available in the flour. But it sounds like things are working for you. If it stays stable for 5 or 6 days, try making up a loaf and then replacing the sponge that you used with a flour/water mixture. My sponges always needed about 3 weeks to truly stabilize but 5 days are enough to create it. Once stabilized, it will be amazingly hearty and require just an occasional feeding if you don't use it often. Don't forget, the fermentation of the dough takes many hours, not many minutes like it does with baker's yeast.
04-24-2007, 06:41 AM
Cheers Fred. I wasn't aware that the sponge would need that much time to stabilise. I'm aiming to make my first loaf this weekend, which should hopefully give it some time to settle down.
(and just to clarify: I used the rasins for the very first lot of water only: subsequent feedings have been with plain filtered water. I'm not one to do more work than is needed!)
04-24-2007, 10:27 AM
This is intriguing. I am looking forward to the progress reports. My Mother kept a sourdough starter which she used to make the most wonderful pancakes ever!
I'll bet they were great. I would imagine they tasted like super buttermilk pancakes. I've made Belgian waffles with yeast fermented batter but never pancakes. I've never used a sourdough sponge in the batter either. Sounds really good!
04-24-2007, 02:20 PM
Quick update: It's starting to look really good now. Just given it another feed.
04-29-2007, 05:12 AM
OK! Baking completed.
The process started on Saturday morning with the making of the sponge, which consisted of mixing 3/4 of a cup of starter, 1 cup of water and 1 1/4 cup of flour. This was then left in a warm place for about 6 hours until it looked likes this:
The next step was to form the dough. I was after a 1Kg loaf with around 70% hydration, so I made a few estimates of how much flour and water were in my sponge and added enough flour and water to get to the final proportion (360g and 70g respectively).
I then kneaded the dough for a good 5 mins, left it for 30 minutes, added the salt, then kneaded it again for a further 8 minutes. This process is based on the one described on egullet (http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=27634).
I left the dough to prove for around 2 1/2 hours, before shaping it into a smooth ball and placing it into a floured banneton:
I then left it in the fridge overnight (again, from the egullet process).
First thing this morning, I put the oven on to preheat. Now, at this point I deviated a bit from the normal processes. If anyone remembers the no-knead bread recipe that was doing the rounds on the internet a few months ago, it required the use of a cast iron cocotte to bake the bread in. As our oven is absolutely terrible, I decided to try this for my sourdough. So, our trusty 24cm Staub went into the oven to preheat as well.
Once we were up to temp, I popped the dough (straight from the fridge) into the cocotte, slashed the top a few times, put the lid on the cocotte and put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, I removed the lid and baked it for another 10 minutes.
And here it is, straight from the oven:
It's currently cooling, so I'll post another pic shortly once I've cut into it...
04-29-2007, 07:36 AM
...And here it is:
The crumb is really quite good: the picture doesn't show it that well, mainly because the cut isn't very clean (I need a better breadknife), but the hole size is on average quite small, but bigger towards the bottom of the loaf. The texture is very good - just the right amount of chewiness, with a pleasant slightly sour taste.
I imagine that that I will be able to get bigger holes throughout with a slightly wetter dough, but I'm pretty pleased with this first attempt.
 Here is a better pic from a few slices in:
Outstanding. I'll bet it tastes as good as it looks.
04-30-2007, 06:34 PM
Fred, they were great, the best pan cakes ever.
The pictures are not working for me but it sounds very nice.
05-04-2007, 10:26 AM
Classy looking loaf !! Hole size is very similar to mine, but you are likely closer to water and higher humidity (like San Francisco?) than my high desert locale.
05-25-2007, 02:09 AM
A link that I was looking at yesterday:
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