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  • Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

    After my bake last week I wanted to go big this time. Did the same sourdough recipe Jay and Faith gave me only I increased it seven fold. I am now way beyond what my Kitchen Aide Pro can handle so I mixed this one by hand in a big storage tub. Pretty darn cool. We had a bunch of people over for a day time pool party/evening pizza party so I had an audience for a lot of this stuff. Everyone thought I was out of my mind when theysaw the size of the dough ball during the bulk fermentation...5500 grams of flour :-)

    I also wanted to try using banetons for all of those loaves as well, but about died when I saw they cost about thirty bucks a piece. So it occurred to me that I might be able to use those plastic baskets you get a burger and fries in at some casual restaurants. So I went to the local Smart & Final restaurant supply place and bought three dozen of those baskets for a buck each. I also bought three ratan baskets like chips would come in at a mexican restaurant. I used cut up pieces of a couple of old t-shirts to line the plastic baskets, and put the loaves directly in the ratan ones. Worked out great. I also did a couple of baguettes for the first time as well. No baneton for those.

    And no blowouts this time! Definitely slashing deeper.

    After pulling the bread out I re-fired the oven for forty-five minutes and we all got in to the act and made a bunch of pizzas. Good fun.

    Here are some pics

    Me slashing loaves with a buddy loading bread...note my one dollar banetons.

    My first ever baguettes and the obligatory chardonay and margarita in the foreground....I'm pretty sure the dog has a plan in mind.

    The sourdough!

    The crumb...

  • #2
    Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

    That looks freakin' awesome!! The baguettes turned out great.

    I can't wait until I am at that stage.

    "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." - Peter Clemenza


    • #3
      Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

      Looks awesome
      can you post the recipe in this thread to keep it all together for searching in the future?

      re bannetons I got cheap Chinese ones from ebay and they are fantastic

      bread basket | eBay


      • #4
        Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

        You continue to get really nice crumb and good color! Good Job! Your loaves were technically underproofed which is evident in the rips across the unslached bands. As staate previously, I am biased to under vs. over but you are arguably on the under side iof under on that batch. But that says almost nothing about how it tasted (more about the appearance). Ideally go bit longer next time IF you have the time.

        WRT Tshirts, you can use less flour (and thus have a less white "crust" if you use linen. SFBI sells linen in bulk at good prices. You can probably get some locally at a fabric store also.

        Now that you have hand mixed will you go back? I think it is easier and tidier to simply do it by hand!

        PS: On baguettes your slashes should be ALMOST lengthwise and should overlap by close to half (say 40 % of one cut should overlap the adjacent one (and the next cut should overlap 40 % of that one! Your "cross cut slashes are why your bagutte looks like a short snake that swallowed a tennis ball!
        Last edited by texassourdough; 06-04-2012, 06:32 AM. Reason: typo


        • #5
          Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!


          As usual, thanks for the tips on slashing baguettes, etc. I really appreciate the willingness of you and others to share your knowledge with beginners.

          As far as underproofing...help me understand what's happening if you could. You said you can tell it's underproofed by the rips...does that mean that because it is underproofed there is still a lot "food" (starch) to digest for the yeasts and you get a spike in CO2 production as they ramp up due to heat (before they are killed) resulting in the tears?...or what? Said another way...how is it that the tears are indicative of underproofing? What's happening when an underproofed loaf goes in the oven. Said yet another way, what happens (on a chemical or bilogical level) when dough is underproofed and why do the loaves tear?

          I will buy some linen ASAP. I knew that cotton was wrong but t-shirts in the closet were all I had.

          As far as the hand mixing...I will not go back to a mixer...no matter what the size of the batch.

          I agree that the hand mixing is tidier...but that is not the main reason why I won't go back to a mixer. While it sounds a bit strange, one of the coolest things about bread baking in my opinion is the physical connection with the process...with the yeast...and to some extent...with the thousands of generations of people who, in making bread, have converted flour, water, and salt into a food which is the foundation for virtually all of human culture.

          Don't get me wrong, learning a new skill and taking on a challenge is fun stuff, but I think those connections with the process and the history are very cool...and flipping the switch on a Kitchen Aide seems to diminish those connections somehow. I honestly enjoyed the activity of hand mixing and stretching and folding. So I think I'm done with my mixer. Besides, my biceps felt pretty pumped after mixing all that dough, and since I was hanging at the pool with the girls that was probably a good thing.

          Tropical Coasting:

          The recipes are at the bottom of this post. As noted above, these are from Faith and Jay. I'm sure they are both great but I have been using Jay's proportions as my guide because he posted in weights. (Faith didn't know I had a scale when she posted hers.) I have been following Faith's ionstructions as to timing. And while I have been using Jay's recipe as my guide, I have been increasing the hydration levels from what is shown in the recipe he posted. (That is a 60% hydration recipe which Jay shared to make it manageable for a beginner. I have been increasing my hydration over the last two bakes. The most recent one was exactly 70%.) Other than that I have followed Jay's propotions exactly, and generally followed Faith's time lines, although not exactly. I have been doing delayed salt introduction with about a twenty to thirty minute wait between mixing and salt.


          Thanks for the compliments. As far as being at "my stage"...I baked my first loaf of bread ever six weeks ago. (Never did anything in the oven prior to that except for those biscuits that come in a roll and you hit on the kitchen counter to open.) Made my first ever attempt at sourdough just three weeks ago. There are experts on this site who are willing to share their knowledge. So get going on a strater and jump in and give it a shot.

          Here's a pic I took yesterday of a nice toasty oven getting ready to bake.

          Faith's Recipe:

          1 cup bread flour
          3/4 cup water
          2 tablespoon starter

          let set for 12 to 16 hours at 70degrees

          5-1/2 cups bread flour
          3/4 cup whole wheat flour
          1-7/8 water
          1 tablespoon salt
          All of your starter build from above

          mix everything together EXCEPT THE SALT just get it mixed to a shaggy mass. Cover and let set for 20 to 60 minutes. Then put in the salt DON'T FORGET THE SALT. Mix in the salt if using a mixer (second speed for 1 to 2 minutes)

          Bulk ferment for 2-1/2 hours keep around 76 degrees

          Fold twice at 50 minute intervals

          divide the dough and shape

          final ferment 2 to 2-1/2 hours at 76 degrees

          In a regular oven bake with steam at 460 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.

          When I do this in my WFO I'm at about 500 to 550 degrees and I shape into a longer loaf then round (like french bread) I bake 15 to 20 minutes. I look for a dark crust but not burnt, and the bottom of the loaf makes thump sound when taped with your finger.

          Jay's recipe:

          Mix the preferment about 8 pm...
          50 grams of starter
          100 grams of water
          100 grams of AP flour (preferably good flour - unbleached for sure - I like King Arthur among the commercial flours)(can also use 50 grams of whole wheat and 50 of AP as an alternate)
          Stir it in a good size bowl until it is pretty well mixed and let it sit overnight. It should be roughly peaking the next morning - more or less...in any event it should be usable. NOTE: My expansion is 4X the weight of the starter. (I am assuming your starter is 100%, i.e. equal weights of water and flour. If wrong it is not a big deal)

          Next morning mix the final dough. Here is where it gets a bit tricky. Wetter is better but assuming you have minimal bread experience that can cause you major grief. So I will shoot for 60 percent hydration of the final dough - i.e. water weight = 60 percent of flour.

          Take the above (250 grams). We will add 1000 grams so final weight will be 1250. The total weight of flour will be 781.25 grams. There is 112.5 grams in the preferment so you need (rounding off) 670 grams of AP flour for the final mix. The total water will be 781.25 *0.6 or 468.75 grams. Again your preferment has 112.5 grams of water so you will need an additional (rounding off) 355 to 360 grams of water for the final dough. I would encourage you to weigh the additional flour and water separately.

          While I like delayed salt addition, you can do it either way. In either case salt should be 2% of the total flour or 15 to 16 grams in this case - about 2 3/4 teaspoons of table salt. If you want to mix it early mix it in the flour before mixing the final dough. If you want to add it late, follow Faith's process.

          Then take a bowl, add the preferment, then the water, stir to mix. Add the flour (with or without the salt). I like to mix my dough a bit more than to the shaggy stage - particularly if I am adding salt early...it will work. In any event, don't forget to add the salt!

          A Google search will show the stretch and fold process. Faith's schedule is a great place to begin. I bake my loaves at 455 or so indoors for a total of about 35 to 45 minutes. You will want to have steam in the oven during the first 15 minutes or so of baking. For a first try, you can simply put ice cubes in an aluminum pie pan in the bottom of the oven. Longer term there are a bunch of better ways to do it. (As I wrote previously I like a cast iron skillet with lava rocks which I preheat with the stone. Then I put an aluminum pie plate with (drilled) holes on top with a cup of ice and let the ice melt/drip onto the lava rocks and cast iron to humidify the oven.)


          • #6
            Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

            thankyou so much
            guess what Im doing this weekend ?


            • #7
              Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

              "A Short Essay on Proofing"

              The goal of this is to demystify what is happening during proofing and to make sense of under- and over- proofing. To do so I will begin by oversimplifying a bit but will acknowledge the simplifications. To make the story relatively complete I will start with a just mixed dough.

              For simplicity let's assume that dough contains a fixed amount of sugar - not true for enzymes continue to break starch into sugar during proofing at a somewhat constant rate during normal proofing (yes it slows on extended retards as the starch is degraded to sludge and it is temperature sensitive, but it is what it is over a proof of 24 hours or so, so let's just pretend it is a fixed amount of sugar...)

              At the beginning of the bulk fermentation we have a relatively small population of yeast and a relatively large supply of food (sugar). The yeast mulitiply, consuming the sugars and producing CO2 and alcohols. In the beginning there are no gas bubbles and the concentration of CO2 is low so both the C02 and the alcohols dissolve in the dough. As CO2 accumulates some of it will come out of solution and create bubbles. While the bubbles contain some alcohol in addition to the CO2 we can mostly ignore that for alcohols dissolve readily in water in high concentrations and don't evaporate real fast.

              As the bulk fermentation proceeds the bubbles grow larger and the dough swells. At some point we degas the dough (get rid of the overly large bubbles and form loaves. Throughout the fermentation and proofing processes alcohols continue to accumulate in the dough. CO2 formed in the processes dissolves in the dough and, along with some of the alcohol, migrates to the bubbles, making them grow. Throughout much of the proofing process the rate of yeast growth and dividing, and eating sugar is rising so the rate of CO2 and alcohol production is rising, leading to faster migration of CO2 to the bubbles, and ultimately to higher rates of leakage of CO2 (and alcohol) to the atmosphere.

              Thus there are three key factors in proofing (concentrating on CO2 which is most important:
              1) the rate of production of CO2 which is primarily a function of yeast activity (which will be IN the dough)
              2) the rate of migration of CO2 to the bubbles (which is primarily a function of CO2 concentration IN the dough
              3) the rate of leakage of CO2 from the loaf (which is a function of all the above plus the quality of the gluten matrix in the dough - a stronger, better gluten matrix will contain the CO2 better).

              Now we get to the under/over proofed point! During the earlier stages of proofing CO2 is accumulating in the dough. As yeast activity peaks and declines (sugars are used up - at least locally) the rate of production of CO2 declines and the concentration of CO2 in the dough will begin to decline. CO2 will continue to migrate to the bubbles for some time. Eventually leakage will have the entire loaf deflating (BADLY overproofed).

              You will see descriptions of underproofed loaves looking as though they "exploded". This occurs when you bake a loaf that has "too much" CO2 in the dough. Heat causes the CO2 to rapidly come out of solution (and some of the alcohols which boil at temps below water) and migrate to the bubbles. The sudden increase in gas in the bubbles causes them to expand very rapidly - faster than the loaf can accommodate (or perhaps more accurately the "skin of the loaf") and the skin tears and often the interior almost erupts. (The loaves will have a good bit of residual sugar and should with proper oven humidification give a golden crust).

              At "perfect proof" the rate of gas production in the dough is in decline and is about equal to the rate of migration to bubbles. We will still get the effect mentioned of CO2 coming out of solution but at a lower rate. The loaf will be able to accommodate it, expand gracefully and not tear so badly - if at all. But there is enough CO2 in solution that you still get a good oven spring. And the slash will open and ideally (IMO) give a little "rip". (By comparison your latest loaves IMO have a "lot" of rip - not way horribly under but maybe 20 to 40 minutes). The crust on a perfect proof should be golden with proper hydration as a result of caramelization of sugars.

              IF you bake late, what will happen is the dough will not have as much CO2, you will get marginal oven spring. And, since all the residual sugars are mostly gone, the color of the loaves will be grayish instead of golden brown even with proper oven humidity!

              The key loss in underproofing is appearance. In theory the bread will be SLIGHTLY sweeter but that can be hard to taste. Texture may be slightly impacted. (Severe underproofing can be a brick but...I will assume we all know that!) To me the "right" proof is a function of the look you like. Most commercial bakers like to go slightly past the "perfect proof". That seems to be a less time critical point and seems to give them a bit more leeway AND the look of slightly over is more consistent that slightly under so loaf variation is lower. In theory you may get slightly more complex flavor from the longer proof but... Badly over is BAD!

              Now...let's say you got a call and had to go pick up your kid at school just before the dough was ready to bake and is badly over when you get home! What to do? I am not a big fan of this but...it works. Put the dough back together, knead it some, reform the loafes and try again. The reworking of the dough will reactivate the enzymes and yeast to some extent and the dough will rise though not typically as well as it did originally. You may have to shorten your proof a bit. NOTE: this works better for yeasted doughs than for sourdough for the acid in the sourdough is a yeast inhibitor which is also slowing yeast activity as proofing progresses.

              And that is proofing in an abbreviated, simplified form!



              • #8
                Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                Also...I agree hand mixing has benefits beyond tidiness! The tactile involvement is to me, and clearly to you too, appealing. For fun (try this in a smaller batch before you do it en masse) mix the flour and water first to a slightly beyond shaggy dough (all flour wet and incorporated) and let it sit for a half hour or so. Then add the yeast or sourdough starter and mix it in. Then add the salt and feel the dough react as the gluten "shudders" from the sting of the salt. NOTE: you can add the yeast and salt at the same time but salt is a yeast inhibitor and you don't want the salt in high concentrations around the yeast. Rather than risk impairing yeast activity, I prefer to add them separately.

                Once you get the touch of proper dough and dough development down you can be much more effective at simply mixing bread on the fly or fixing a botched batch (blown measurements).


                • #9
                  Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                  Thanks for the info. Prior to reading that I had no real idea what was going on with proofing other than that generally yeast were doing their thing and producing CO2.

                  I can see where it would be easy to look at loaves and know if they are badly over proofed (I'm assuming that they'd be getting flatter, less springy, and softer as the loaves lose gas.) Can you look at loaves during their final fermentation and know that they are underproofed?



                  • #10
                    Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                    Bill, LOOKS GREAT! I mean really GREAT! Your progress is outstanding!

                    Jay, Thanks for the essay! I have one question for the total novice (Me). From looking at my dough as it proofs, how do I know when I've hit that optimum proofing stage? Is there an easy way? Or, is it just from experience?


                    • #11
                      Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                      Hi Bill/okn!

                      IMO judging proofness in unbaked loaves is not particularly trivial/easy. The rule of thumb is "Wet a finger and poke the dough, if it springs back quickly it is not proofed, if it rebounds slowly it is ready to bake!" (Wet the finger so it doesn't stick!) While this is "right" the nuance of fast and slow are elusive and hydration and dough development play a role also. Once you get used to a certain dough/feel and you get consistent in your loaf hydration, forming and such it gets easier but that's really not much help for a beginner! I don't know a better way but...it's about all we have.

                      There is a touch component that I think you will recognize rather quickly Bill, based on your fast progress. The dough and loaves should have a "lightness" and a feeling of being alive (this is also true at loaf formation). If the dough is heavy and cold and stiff the loaves are (unless retarded and fresh from the fridge) not ready. This too is simplistic but...when you try to bake on a cold day and you have proofed your loaves at room temp and they are bricks - they aren't ready no matter how long they have proofed (voice of experience!).

                      One last mathematical factoid. The peak amount of gas in the lof will occur around the point of max proofing when the rate of generation equals that of leakage (which is probably shortly after "perfect proof" as I described it before. (for I think leakage lags generation in well developed doughs). By having "most" of the CO2 having migrated to the bubbles, the dough matrix of the loaf has generally expanded to accept the CO2. This contributes to it not "ripping" so badly!

                      Bake on!


                      • #12
                        Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                        Great info Jay.

                        And I think I know what you mean about the loaves/dough feeling alive. There is a certain lightness...maybe even a little bit like a warm balloon...but not tight like a baloon...but light and somewhat inflated like a balloon...that the loaves take on at some point in the process. I don't think I'm describing it well, but at some point in the process you realize they are definitely different (on multiple levels) than they were an hour earlier.



                        • #13
                          Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                          You are on it, Bill. Lightness and touch, alone are not enough to judge proof, but as I indicated neither is time. It is everything together. There are some wonderful dough forming videos (I need to find the right ones!) that shows handling big blobs of dough that are clearly "alive". The dough bounces and sort of shimmies. It doesn't just "plop" onto the work surface in a "splat". At the point of being properly proofed the dough has a somewhat fragile feel (again a function of flour and hydration but...for a given flour/hydration it has delicate quality). One of my favorite breads is Pane Casareccio di Genzano which is made in 8 pound loaves that are literally like a pillow when proofed (about 74 percent hydration BF). (It is so inflated I can only get about a four pound loaf in my regular oven!) It wobbles all over the place as I shift it onto the stone! Crazy!


                          • #14
                            Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                            I've been working on a sourdough country loaf with Spelt and Rye added and running at 80% hydration and at the end of proofing the dough reminds me of jello. It's not over proofed but darn close and I'm a bit in fear of loosing gas. From the dough!..

                            Congrats Bill, very nice.


                            PS Jay thanks for the info about spliting and under proofed. It really clarifyed where the dough is at this point in bread making and how heat, CO2 and the ability of the dough to accept the oven spring or not relate.
                            Last edited by SCChris; 06-05-2012, 08:14 AM.


                            • #15
                              Re: Biggest Sourdough Bake Yet!

                              Thanks, Chris! I knew there would be people who would appreciate it. The "essay" was probably too detailed but...there are a lot of things that fit together if you are to truly understand the process.

                              80% hydration spelt/rye sounds tricky. Not much gluten in there if they are more than minor ingredients! I like spelt. Weird stuff but tasty.

                              Happy baking!