Blisters! Blisters! Crisp, crackly, blistered crust!

Blisters!

My experiment with sourdough starter feeding ended up with some of the best bread I have made yet. However, it wasn’t as sour/tangy as the last batch where I told you I feed the starter consistantly but at a lower ratio of fresh food to starter. This time I deliberately refreshed at a larger ratio of food to starter twice during the process. This sourdough baking is so much fun. Now I am narrowing down just how to get a great sour, and how to get a terrific crumb, but the crumb and flavor was better with the lower ratio and the crust was a definate winner with the higher ratio. So that means I still need to keep narrowing it down until I get a great mixture of both. That is what we are all shooting for, isn’t it?

Here are some assorted pictures of my basic white sourdough:

 

What more could I say?

Just having fun baking sourdough

Summer’s trying to come to an end… I never REALLY got a Summer though. I think we had a total of maybe four or five days of weather that went above 80 degrees and most of that was during the week I was gone. Anyway, I am really excited! My hubby brought me home a box full of grains from the brewery. Malted and flaked grains and roasted too! So I have a box full of possibilities. I also purchased more flour grains. I got some winter hard red wheat berries, Spring hard red wheat berries(should be higher in protein than the winter variety),white hard wheat berries(the white berries look cool) and some more rye berries, they are all organic. I ground up some of all of them and have them sitting until needed. The hard white wheat berries are like the red berries but they have a white(really a tan color) color to the outer layer instead of a reddish color. I wonder if they can fool the reluctant whole wheat eaters into thinking there is more white flour than there really is. I have already used some of the Rye flakes in my Rye breads and they have really kept the bread moist for much longer. I poured boiling water over them and then used them as part of the preferment to bring out the flavor and break down the fiber.

new grains!

Well for all that I made more basic white sourdough for my last bake two days ago and have another batch ready to go for tomorrow. I have been using the  Electrolux mixer I bought and have found out that it does well if you know exactly how much flour to put in before autolyse( If you add more after it wont mix in). The mixer is pretty gentle on the dough and doesn’t seem to knead it as well as the Blendtec/K-tec mixer which is still my preferred mixer( Blendtec mixer ). I don’t have a Bosch to compare to but I wish I had one just to do the comparison as it has driven me nuts that no one out there will give a side by side comparison and reviews for the different home market mixers , especially someone who has experience with bread dough, especially sourdough (Not just a vendor who runs the motor and watches it spin with nothing in the bowl!). I am planning to purchase a new Blendtec mixer, I have two older K-tec mixers and I have an Electrolux mixer, which might work better for my needs if I got a dough hook for it istead of just the blade and turner which it has now. Hey Blendtec and Bosch… you want to donate one for the cause?? He he he he! I would be happy to do reviews!

Anyway to the important stuff… sourdough. Here are my loaves from two days ago (basic white):

Here is the boule:

White Boule

Closeup of the crust top:

closeup

another loaf

closeup

This one had a one slash down the middle, but it wanted to break out all over!

basic white

crumb taken outside

crumb pic taken inside

The dough was wonderful. It acted like the dough usually does when I make sure I feed the starter consistantly but not too much. It was a slow riser. This kind of feeding seems to slow down the dough for a better sour but it also really “pops” in the oven. The last proofing is not spectacular and you would wonder if you should put it into the oven yet, but you should and POP goes the dough , which fills it full of holes!

Serious Onion Rye Sourdough!

Serious Onion Rye Crust

I am working on a new recipe for Onion Rye Sourdough that I have been calling Serious Onion Rye Sourdough because my hubby asked me to bake up some Onion Rye Sourdough, so I did, using a new technique, and it came out great….but…he claimed it wasn’t oniony enough. So he described in detail HOW much more oniony he wanted it and I increased the dried onion flakes, the granulated onion and I also chopped and carmelized up two large onions which I also added. Here are the results:

Continue reading

Mmmmmm…Sourdough!

Crumb closeup of sourdough crustcloseup of sourdough crust

I had a stellar baking day today. I mixed up a batch of sourdough  yesterday using the Northwest Starter. I mixed up:

  •  2 cups starter at 166 % hydration (like thin pancake batter)
  • 3 & 1/3 cups water
  •  ten cups of flour
  •  1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  •  1/3 cup rye flour
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (put in less for regular salt, about 4 teaspoons)

Mix this up (add salt after autolyse) and let it autolyse for 20 minutes. Then on low, mix dough for about 3 minutes. Let the dough bulk ferment for 4 – 6 hours. Shape. Refrigerate overnight and bake the next morning after it warms up and finishes proofing. Slash, steam, bake as usual at a hot temperature. More specific directions for baking sourdough is on my website. Here are some pictures:

one of three loaves of Northwest sourdoughone of three loaves of Northwest sourdough

two of three loaves of Northwest sourdough bread

three of three loaves of NW sourdough

Closeups of the crust:

crust

closeup of crust

crust

closeup of crust

More pictures of the loaves of basic white:

pictures of NW bread

All three loaves

Crumb:

Crumb

It is sooooo much fun to bake sourdough.  Just persist until you get it. 

Yea, you can bake this kind of bread too, try it!

First Sourdough Bread ! Beginners lessons…

My wonderful nephew, Ray, who is 13, is staying the Summer with us.  Ray decided he wanted to learn how to bake sourdough bread as he saw me baking up a batch during the week. I took out the wonderful Australian starter and refreshed it, then Ray and I had a great day. After we mixed up the dough and it was sitting in the mixer for 1/2 and hour, he came and looked at it and said, “It is not raising.” I told him it would take about six hours and did he ever look surprised. I then expained to him how sourdough works. Here is Ray working on the shaping of the dough:

Ray and dough

shaping dough

shaping dough

three loaves

Finished loaves

Ray with favorite loaf

Here is what the cut loaf looks like:

crumb

Aussie sourdough crumb

The Australian sourdough very good, and has such a different taste than the other sourdoughs. It still amazes me that some people think all starters taste the same. It’s like saying all cheeses taste the same. Jeesh! My husband still likes Australian sourdough the best, as it is a bit milder than some of the other starters, while I like a sharp sourdough. Anyway, as you can see, Ray is very happy with his first try at baking sourdoughs!

Boudin Sourdough….sour???

In the former post, I reviewed  San Luis Sourdough and La Brea Sourdough but could not get a hold of some Boudin Sourdough to use in the review. Well…a wonderful person sent me two loaves of Boudin Sourdough to use on my blog…thankyou Robin! What  a surprise to receive a box containing two boules of Boudin Sourdough…imagine my shock! Here are pictures of the loaves:

Boudin Sourdough

Boudin Sourdough

A closeup of the crust:

Boudin Sourdough

Boudin 1

Boudin 2

The Boudin crumb:

Boudin crumb

empty bag

The Boudin Sourdough bread was very much like the San Luis Sourdough. The taste was pretty good and has a good tangy flavor(yes, it is sour) which really developed with toasting. The crust was a bit leathery and the crumb was somewhat dry and not very chewy. I guess I have to admit to being a little disappointed in what is considered by many to be the best American Sourdough. I think the La Brea was the best all around sourdough of the lot. If I had to buy sourdough…which I don’t 🙂  I would definately buy the La Brea sourdough. I will admit that if I had all three different brands freshly same day baked, there might be a different review. As you all know, sourdough is best on the first day baked after being completely cooled and the sour flavor allowed to develop to it’s fullest. I will try to obtain some sourdough baked at the bakery across the bay from me…they use the Northwest sourdough starter. I haven’t yet tasted sourdough baked by someone else using one of my starters, especially a professional bakery, it should be quite interesting!

A wedding, a trip, and sourdough fun

Well, I had a very intense week last week. On June 23 we celebrated the wedding of our eldest daughter. During the reception, my sister and I had to take our 71 year old mother to the emergency room of the hospital. She had travelled from central California which was a two day drive and had not fared well on the long trip. She has recurrent pleural effusion and was in a lot of pain. We ended up having to leave by Monday to take her home. I stayed two days in California and was able to get a hold of some La Brea Sourdough and some San Luis Sourdough while I was there. I tried to get some Boudin Sourdough from San Francisco but it was too far out of our way… too bad!!

There were nine people at my mom’s house and I gave them all a taste test of the two sourdoughs and asked them to compare. I actually had three loaves of bread. There was a loaf of Rosemary Olive bread baked by La Brea also, but we left it out of the taste test because it was a bit too stale to compete.

Here are some pictures of the San Luis Sourdough:

San Luis Sourdough

San Luis crumb

The San Luis Sourdough was a nice chewy loaf of sourdough. It was made with real sourdough culture and no commercial yeast added. The crust had a glaze and was chewy and thick. It had a great sharp sour. However the crumb was somewhat crumbly, dry with a marginal open texture.

The Ingredients are:

Bleached Flour, Water, Sourdough Starter, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour. It was a 1.5 lb loaf.

Here are the pictures of the La Brea Loaf of Country White Sourdough:

La Brea Country White Sourdough

La Brea Country Crumb

The La Brea Country Sourdough says right on it that is supposed to be mildly sour, it was. However the crust had a slight crunch and the crumb was terrific. It was chewy, soft, springy and had a great chew satisfaction.

The Ingredients are:

Unbleached Flour, Water, Sourdough Starter, Salt, Wheat Germ, Semolina. It was a 14.5 oz loaf.

Here are the pictures of the Rosemary Olive Sourdough:

La Brea Rosemary Olive Bread

La Brea Rosemary Crumb

As stated above, the bread was too stale to compete. I thought you would like to see it though.

Here are all three loaves together:

All three loaves

The Rosemary Olive Loaf is on the left, the Country White is in the middle, and the San Luis Sourdough is on the right.

Now for the results of the taste test:

Seven people liked the La Brea Country White the best. Two people liked the San Luis Sourdough best. I liked the La Brea Country White the best of the two, however, the San Luis sourdough made a better toast. The flavor of the San Luis was better to me, but I like sour bread. The all around appeal and chewy crumb of the La Brea gave it the winning edge and most people agreed it was the winner.

When I got back home, the local Safeway market had put out a line of Artisan bread that really looked great so I bought two loaves to compare them to the bread I had bought in California. I bought a Pugliese Loaf and a Renaissance Grain Bread.

Here are the pictures of the Pugliese Loaf:

Pugliese Loaf

Pugliese crumb

Here are the pictures of the Renaissance Grain Bread:

Renaissance Grain Bread

Renaissance Grain Bread

Both breads scored very high marks for crust and crumb texture. The Pugliese, as you can see in the crumb picture has a terrific open crumb. The Renaissance Grain bread has a great texture for a whole grain type of bread and the crust had a nice slight crunch to it. However, I would say that the Pugliese missed totally on the flavor. There was no development of grain flavor, no bursting out of the wheaty flavor at all. I looked on the package for the ingredients and saw it was just a commercial yeast bread. I really felt that the bread was such a disappointment after how beautiful it looked. Still it was better than most regular bakery loaves. The label “Artisan Bread” can certainly be deceiving if you think it means a sourdough.

The Renaissance Grain Bread also was missing the burst of grain flavor development that comes with the fermenting of the dough and also was just a commercial yeast bread. However it had some whole grains and seeds to at least give it an interesting flavor whereas the Pugliese had almost no flavor at all.

I certainly had an interesting week. Mom is resting comfortably at home and is getting medical care. I am hoping to get some Boudin Sourdough to put on the blog in the future, I hope you found the taste testing interesting, it was a lot of fun for me.

Really Sour San Francisco Sourdough

I mixed up a batch of basic white sourdough with my San Francisco Starter yesterday. I allowed it to bulk ferment for eight hours. I shaped the loaves and put them into the refrigerator overnight for about 12 hours. This morning I took them out and let the dough raise for about 3 more hours. The bread came out great and after several hours of cooling the taste developed into a really sharp sour! I am very happy with this batch. Here are some pictures:

I baked up four loaves, two two pounders and two 1.5 pounders.

San Francisco Sourdough

San Francisco Loaf

San Francisco loaf

San Francisco Loaf

closeup

Here is the crumb of the first loaf:

San Francisco crumb

The San Francisco Starter is at it’s best when you do the long slow proofing and retarding overnight. It is slow, but that is the only way you can get a really good sour. Any proofing too short and you will lose out on flavor.

Morphing Sourdough Starters

Leave it to me to do the unthinkable, morph sourdough starters ! I know it is unconventional, but I can’t help experimenting in any new way I think up. I have for some time morphed together Desem starter and Northwest starter. The results have been very good. The already fermented wheat kept cool in the Desem starter adds a new dimension of flavor to a basic white recipe. The Northwest starter is such a vigorous all around starter that you can do just about anything to it and it keeps on going with gusto. Anyway, with the family wedding bearing down on me in two more weekends, I have been trying to bake more and freeze enough so I don’t have to bake while guests are here. Yesterday I had a marathon bake that lasted from 1:00pm to 7:00pm ! What was incredible is that I had all seven loaves plus a small baguette, that actually held up great all that time waiting their turn in the oven. I started with an overnight ferment using both Desem and Northwest starters. I made up a huge batch of sponge and let it set overnight at outside porch temps in the 50’s. Next morning I brought in the sponge and split it into two batches, mixing up each batch the same in the dough mixer and then putting the two batches together in a large bowl. I ended up with 14 lbs 12.5 ounces of dough! I made up seven loaves of bread at two lbs each and a small baguette at 12.5 oz. Here are some pictures of the dough just docked and weighed (the 12.5 oz dough was on the scale and not in the picture)  :

Wheat white dough docked

Here they are after their first shaping and bench resting , waiting for their second shaping:

wheat white shaped

Here they are proofing, you can see all seven loaves and one baguette:

wheat white proofing

I baked the baguette first, as I was waiting for the full heat of the oven to come up:

wheat white baguette

Here are various pictures of the seven two pound loaves:

wheat white bread

wheat white bread

wheat white bread loaves

Wheat white loaf

Here is a closeup of the first loave’s crumb, as it was one of the first, it was slightly underproofed, a compromise so the last loaf doesn’t fall from overproofing:

wheat white crumb

I was pretty worried about staggering the loaves for baking. I had three loaves in the kitchen proofing, two proofing on the outside porch in the 60’s degrees and two proofing in the refrigerator in the 40’s degrees. I moved the loaves out of the refrigerator and to the porch as the baking proceeded and then into the nicely warm kitchen as the day went on. I had great luck as the last loaf came out terrific and did not overproof at all! The morphing of the two starters turned out some great loaves of bread. I called them Wheatwhite loaves.