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Old 01-30-2004, 07:37 PM   #1
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Sourdough Surprise

Made another try at sourdough the other day, and got some surprises. Sourdough starter recipes vary so much I find it confusing, so I decided to go with fundimentals. I put a cup of flour in a bowl, added a pkg of active dry yeast, and enough water to make a batter of pancake consistency. Then I covered it and let it sit for 3 days. On the third day its aroma was very strong, and its surface resembles the surface of Mars: full of "craters" and holes. It had risen a lot, then collapsed.

I poured the batter into a mixing bowl, added a tsp of salt and gradually added flour to make a soft dough (about 1-1/2 cups) After Kitchen Aide dough hook kneading for about 10 minutes, I took out the smooth, soft dough, formed it into a ball and put it in a greased bowl to rise. (I was hoping the yeast in the "starter" was still alive and kicking).

Wow! In about 1 1/2 hours it had quadrupled in size, about to spill over the rim of the bowl!

I pressed it down and formed an oval loaf on a cookie sheet. That more than doubled in size in less than half an hour! Talk about "Active" yeast!!

Baked it 40 minutes ina 375 degree oven. It nearly doubled in size again!!

Final result: Good texture (lots of holes), and excellent sourdough flavor!

conclusion

Perhaps making what the italian recipes call a "biga" - a slurry of flour and yeast allowed to stand overnight) will get the yeast going better. I'm trying that now. Stay tuned.

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Old 01-30-2004, 08:46 PM   #2
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wow oldcoot! i've always had problems with my sourdough breads not rising enough--especially the recipes that don't call for any additional yeast other than what's in the starter.
i've got a question for you: about what temperature do you keep your house at? I always keep my house pretty cool (65 deg. or so during the winter) and i've been wondering how much that hurts the starter.
I know it's probably not that difficult, but i have had the hardest time making good sourdough bread. Once i got off that kick and started experimenting with other types of breads i've had pretty decent results.
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Old 01-30-2004, 11:12 PM   #3
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I usdually bake a small (2 cup of flour) loaf about three or four times a week. And, like a darned fool, I experiment with almost every one, so that some are fairly good, some I throw out. But I have fun! :)

This sourdough atttempt really surprised me!

The kitchen at our place is usually 70 or a little above, but I put the dough in the den (on the cold hearth) to rise, to keep from cluttering the kitchen. Temp there gets down into the 50's at night, mid 60's during the day unless I light a fire (whereupon I move the dough, of course.)

Tomorrow I'll try the "biga", using otherwise the exact same method mentioned above. I'll be very interested to see how the yeast reacts. It's possible, too, that overnight won't give the yeast as much time to get in gear as the 3 days did. Dunno!
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Old 01-30-2004, 11:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
And, like a darned fool, I experiment with almost every one, so that some are fairly good, some I throw out. But I have fun! Smile
oldcoot--i don't think there is anything foolish about it - that's exactly what i do! I've been making bread about every 2-3 days or so and i mix up the recipe everytime to see what will make the biggest difference. what i've been doing lately is making 3 very small loaves (instead of 1 or 2 larger loaves) and changing either my process or ingredients with each loaf. I'm almost scientific about it except i don't have a "control group" :D
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Old 01-31-2004, 12:05 AM   #5
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Carnivore, are yoou recording what you do each time, as well as the results? That would be the sensible thing to do, but I don't. I rely on my ever more faulty memory.

Sounds like we're both doing pretty much the same thing. I've told BW that I expect to become a good baker in another ten years or so. :D

It occurred to me that, as we have a number of folks on this site that are chefs, at least one of them should be a competent bread baker, don't you think? And should be kind enough to let us in on the secret.

There's no guarantee I'll be around another 10 years!
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Old 02-02-2004, 12:02 AM   #6
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oldcoot--lol, that WOULD make sense to record everything, wouldn't it? I don't do it either and i don't have the greatest memory, but i mostly remember which things work better than others.
Incidently, i got a KitchenAid mixer from the GF for my birthday! i couldn't believe it. It's Empire Red, and i already went and bought the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for it. I'm going to start grinding my own hamburger and making my own sausages, beef jerky, etc., and i can't wait to try my first loaf of bread with it.
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Old 02-02-2004, 11:36 AM   #7
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There are few appliances that live up to their advertised claims, Carnivore. The Kit chenAid mixer is an exception. I hope you get as much pleasure and use from it as do my BW and I.
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