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Rambles' Ramblings

Ramblings, a salve for any hurts

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sourdough

Sourdough bread: Success!

As of today, my starter is a week old. Two days ago I started the process of making bread using it after feeding it and leaving it at room temperature for two days. It is rather vigorous, able to double up within two hours. Hence, the decision to bake using my relatively young starter with no added yeast.

The recipe I got from Breadtopia.com. It is rather to my liking as it is quite simple to make. Making the sponge dough takes 12 hours at room temperature, then the first rise for 24 hours in the fridge and a final rise after shaping for 5 hours at room temperature. The timetable makes it easy to schedule it around the working days and the fact that it does not require a very specific temperature is great in my opinion. Of course, I have my doubts since I am pretty sure that temperature plays a major role in proofing. Nonetheless, without a proofing oven or even a banneton, I would not be able to do much about temperature even if I want to.

I could not resist peeking as the dough rise. I did my sponge dough in the oven as it keeps it covered without fuss. Using the same bowl, I covered it with a large plate and dumped it in the fridge for 24 hours with regular peeking. The last part is the most difficult. After shaping it, I left it on the table to rise covered with a damp towel. First mistake: the towel stuck to the dough, necessitating several minutes of delicate disengagement to prevent deflating the bread.

Second mistake: leaving it on the counter. After 5 hours, the dough has relaxed so much that it is very soft and unwieldy. It proves near impossible to maneuver onto the baking sheet. I deflated the first two loaves before discovering that using a flour covered spatula to slowly remove it from the table top is the best technique to avoid deflating the bread. Even so, oven spring was great and even the deflated loaves turned out with good crumbs.

Of course, I made some adjustments to the recipe I got from Breadtopia.com. It is virtually impossible to get spelt flour in Malaysia and you will have to shell out a pretty buck for rye flour. Hence, instead of those flours, I used only whole wheat flour, bread flour (in lieu of rye) and all purpose flour (in lieu of spelt). My novice mistake: I poured all the water recommended into the flour before realizing that the different flours used may have affected the liquid required. Hindsight is always 20/20. I ended up using nearly 200g extra flour to create a manageable flour. Oh well, at least it is savable.

The bread itself is rather sour, a pleasant surprise considering my starter is quite young. It, of course, lacked slightly in flavour due to the mix of flours used. Nevertheless, I am heartened by it turning out quite well, especially since I read so much about failing he first few loaves of sourdough bread because of a weak starter.

I guess that’s all for my first sourdough experience. One side note, the dough was supposed to be for one boule. My oven is small and will definitely not fit. Therefore I quartered it and still ends up with huge loaves. Next time, I must at least halve the recipe as I really doubt we will be able to finish it before spoiling. Goodnight!

Sourdough starter: Success!

FINALLY! A starter that succeeded. I am so thankful to Breadtopia for their excellent instructions on how to create one and actually explaining why. Second step: add more flour and orange juice and should see activity within 48 hours. 7 hours later, my starter is already bubbling. I fed it another 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 1/2 tablespoon of water and it has gone on bubbling.

It smells excellent, slightly vinegary and yeasty, which was NOT what my last attempt smelled like. My last attempt was rancid by this time and stunk up the entire house. Ugh. Now, with this starter, I can actually see myself baking a loaf of sourdough bread next week. I plan to keep it on the counter and feed it daily for a week before refrigerating it in order for it to mature a bit.

Time to search for sourdough bread recipes I guess. Oh well, I am getting tired of regular bread anyways.

Sourdough starter – the next step

Well well well. It seems there’s some truth to letting your nose guide you. Last time at this stage, my starter smelled so pungent and yucky that I ended up throwing it away one day later. Now, with the orange juice, it just smells VERY sour.

The next step in this starter is to add 2 tablespoons of wholemeal flour and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. However, since my starter has a small layer of liquid above it, I decided to up the amount of flour to 3 tablespoons while maintaining 2 tablespoons of orange juice. The consistency is rather like as shown in the video so I am cautiously optimistic of the outcome.

By tomorrow this time, I should be able to see some growth. So here’s to the yeasty fellas in the starter! Cheers!

Sourdough starter (orange juice as liquid)

After that dismal failure for my first ever sourdough starter, I was not sure whether I would ever make another attempt. See, it is not because it failed (well, maybe a little), but the point is that I don’t like not knowing where and how I failed. Then I came across this awesome site called Breadtopia which is primarily concerned with bread as its name suggests.

Anyway, out of curiosity I checked out the instructional video on making a sourdough starter and found, to my great surprise, a scientific and logical explanation to the chemistry behind a starter. Needless to say, I am intrigued and decided to try again albeit with one minor adjustment: instead of using pineapple juice as recommended, I decided on orange juice.

Both juices are acidic in nature and there has been comments that used orange juice successfully. Right now it has been about 27 hours since I mixed it up. It is smelling rather sour and I hoped with all my might that it will succeed. Fingers crossed all the way!

Sourdough Starter: FAIL!

I threw out my entire container of starter. It had already started to smell really bad and I don’t think it could be saved any more. Aah….. No idea where I went wrong, but I had definitely went wrong somewhere somehow.

I will wait a few days before starting again. If anyone has any good recipe for a starter, I will appreciate it very much. Thank you in advance.

Sourdough Starter: Is it dead?

Ok. I just threw out about 3/4 of my baby starter and started all over again. I have no idea where I went wrong. It was beautifully bubbly the first two days and then quieted down until there was no more bubbles. Clear liquid collected on top and when I stirred it in, nothing happens.

So there’s that. I added more flour and water in. Hopefully it will revived itself.

Sourdough Starter Update: 48 hours

When I checked on my starter this morning, a thin layer of clear liquid had collected on the surface of it and there is very little bubbles. I was a bit worried, but dismissed it when I recalled about the hooch that is mentioned a lot. However, by tonight, when I wanted to feed my starter, there was a layer of clear liquid about 3mm thick.

I told my friend and she googled for me (thanks Steph!). Apparently it meant that my starter was over-hydrated and less water should be used. Hopefully I hadn’t killed my starter by accident! Therefore, when I feed my starter tonight, it is only 75% hydration instead of the 100% hydration I have been using, praying for a ‘normal’ starter by tomorrow morning.

Now that I think of it, could the humidity of the weather affect the starter? It was raining the whole day today and therefore evaporation should not have been too high. Could this be the problem? Should I adjust my hydration ratio according to the weather since the evaporation rates for hot and cold days would be quite different?

What do you think? If any experienced sour bread baker read this, please advised me. I thank you in advance.

First taste of Sour Bread

Uuuuhhhh….. That’s what I sounded like when I tore into a loaf of sour bread this afternoon. It was so tough and hard, almost cloth-like in its texture while it weighed like a brick. I was so very disappointed since I have heard all kinds of good things about sour bread and I want to make sour bread myself. Then my friend set me straight, telling me a good sour bread has a tough crust but ‘fluffy intestines’ and what I had was clearly a failed sour bread.

The taste is not bad. If that is what sour bread taste like, I am all for it. The only issue I have is the toughness of the bread. I am going to try another bakery next week. Hopefully it won’t be that tough again.

In another note, my starter is coming along quite nicely. The smell has lessened from yesterday and bubbles formed almost as soon as I stopped stirring. Does such an active starter means that I will be able to bake a nice sour bread by next week? Please tell me I can.

It is however quite difficult to find a recipe which lists measurements by weigh. Most of what I have found so far uses cups. If anyone have a good recipe for sour bread, would you mind giving it to me? Thanks!

Sourdough Starter Update: 24 hours

It is almost 24 hours to dot when I am writing this. I have already fed and watered my sourdough starter tonight. It is giving off a very pungent smell with lots of bubbles and more than doubling its size. I hope this means that it is health. Can someone with experience tell me?

Below are some photos of my two-day-old starter which are taken using my phone camera.

Side view of pre-fed starter
Side view of pre-fed starter
Sourdough starter after one day
Sourdough starter after one day
Fed and watered starter
Fed and watered starter

Anyway, I don’t have 100g of flour, but only 97 g of flour. I try not to obsess over the missing 3 g and instead mix it in with 97g of water. I am hoping that the yeast would not know the miniscule difference.

One thing I am worried about is that tomorrow night I will be home late, at least one hour and a half past today’s feeding time. I hope that the starter can stand being hungry that long, though I am probably getting all worried over nothing since I have been told time and again that yeast are very resilient and could easily miss a feeding or two. As I am getting a very active starter after one day, I am going to assume that it is much stronger than it seems.

By the way, I just learnt that a mutual friend actually bake sourbread and is likely to have some starter on hand. Ah, if I could have know earlier, I might have just begged some starter to seed my own instead of starting from scratch. Oh well, as my friend said, it is experience worth having.

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