Friday, May 21, 2010

Sourdough Densaster

Isn't it gorgeous? Golden brown, crackled crust, beautiful lip. I've never made a bread that looked this close to the loaves I see in bakeries. Too bad its outer beauty is deceiving.

So, I mentioned the other day that I brought home some of my friend's sourdough starter. since hers has been going for awhile now. I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing, so I decided to try out this recipe. After dinner, I took out my starter and fed it. About four hours later it was bubbly, which allegedly meant that it was active and ready to use. So I whipped up the dough and set it to rise for 2 1/2 hours. It barely rose at all. I soldiered on, shaped it, let it sit for 1 1/2 hours and then put it in the fridge overnight. Again, it barely rose at all. As you can see, it got some decent oven spring. It has a great taste, but is insanely dense and doesn't have the light and airy crumb as shown on the recipe page. I don't know what I did wrong, but I suspect it has much to do with my starter not being dealt with properly.

Before I leave you with some food porn, let me ask a few questions. How do you prepare your refrigerated starter to bake bread? When do you take it out and feed it? Do you always make a sponge? How do you know it is ready to be mixed into a dough?


mom said...

i'm sooooooo sad

S. said...

Mom...shouldn't you be, I don't know, working?

Gourmande said...

Well, for the bread dough, if I let it in the fridge overnight, I take it out. I shape it in tennis ball shape. I let it at room temp.
30 minutes later, I give it its shape. I let it on top of my oven that is getting heated (that's a "warm place") about 30~40 minutes. Usually, it has doubled of volume for white bread, inscreased 30% for "campagne bread". Then I cut and bake...
But for a baguette style bread, I always add "instant yeast" (maybe 25 to 30% of normal amount) to the dough made with sourdough. I find it raises more slowly with only sourdough, and as that shape of bread is baked quicker... that doesn't work well. For big round loafs, only sourdough works well.

Then (I answer at reverse...) when I use sourdough, it's my granny's style. One day, you prepare bread from yeast, you keep half of the dough to use 3 days later without yeast (just adding half of other ingredients). You can continue that way, twice a week... or keep only a jam jar of dough + water + flour and let it bubble the whole week. Then you use half of the jar content to make 500 g of dough, feed the surdough left in the jar.
So, I don't feed my surdough when I make the bread. I take 1/2 of sourdough from the jar, mix it to water (or milk), I add that to the flour... I prepare my bread, with or without adding yeast.
I feed the other half of sourdough before storing it, I add half flour, half water to compensate the volume I have taken from the jar.

I hope it helps.

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