I have been gone for the last ten days or so. My mother who, for those of you following this blog, was ill early in the Summer, had surgery and I went to California to be with her and help out. I brought along my sourdough baking equipment (Blentec mixer, bannetons, linen proofing cloths, premixes, timer,starters, etc) and besides helping out, we all had a great time baking up sourdough. My sister in law, Michelle, was the first one to take some sourdough lessons and her batch turned out fantastic. She had never baked bread at all before so she was a little nervous about the whole thing. Her husband, my brother, has gluten intolerance and she was hoping to be able to bake sourdough so he could eat some bread once in a while. I had baked up two batches before we started doing lessons and my brother ate the sourdough without any of his usual discomfort. He was really happy to be able to eat some bread without distress.
Here are some pictures of her bread:
Next my sister Mary baked up a batch. Unfortunately we burnt the first loaf because we forgot to reset the timer during baking and so overbaked the bread (you can blame the teacher!). However, the second loaf turned out awesome! Here she is with some pictures of her loaf:
The overbaked loaf wasn’t actually black but just overdone to a dark brownish color. It was eaten quickly with no complaints, so we did okay after all, however we didn’t want to take pictures of that one!
I had brought premixes which are what we used for all of the baking. The premixes were premeasured amounts of flours, Kosher salt and other ingredients that are easily added to the water and starter in the dough mixer. I have had really great results using these premixes and they are really easy to use, especially for beginning sourdough bakers. I am thinking of adding them to the sourdough store or some of the gift sets for the convenience they offer. We had just a few premixes left so Mary decided we should bake up some Sourdough Cinnamon rolls. We added some sugar and vanilla to the dough and they turned out delicious!
Our mother is doing great after surgery and is bouncing back to her usual sweet self:
Haven’t been posting for a while. I became a grandma for the first time last week and I was the labor coach! I held my new grandson within minutes of his birth! 🙂 As far as sourdough goes, I have been using my new Blendtec mixer, and I like it better…way better than the old K-tec. I was hesitant to buy a new one because I very much loved having the tough but flexible bowl and in the pictures of the new one, it looked stiff not flexible. However it is flexible and just as nice, even nicer than the older model with lots of great new features. It has an auto knead which is good for bread dough, but not for sourdough, as it auto detects when the gluten is fully developed, and as you experts out there on sourdough know, sourdough is ruined by that time! Not to worry, it also has manual speed and a timer which is a great feature. YOu set the timer and then set the speed and it will count down to the second and turn off. Anyway, I am liking it lots! Here is a pic of it :
As for sourdough baking. I have been working with a new starter from Austria and it has a tale to tell. I had it for sometime and finally brought it out to try. For the first three days….peeewwwwww!!! It stunk bad! I went ahead and tested it to see how long it took to proof because it didn’t seem to be doing anything. So on the fourth day, I mixed up a batch of starter at 100% hydration and it just sat there all day doing nothing…nothing! So I waited another day and it actually started smelling pretty good. I mixed up a batch of 80% hydration dough and it took 25 hours but it more than tripled in size in the jar!
I made up a batch of bread and let it proof over two nights and one day and then let it warm up the final morning and bake. The loaves turned out terrific! You would have thought the dough would have turned a ghostly white from fermenting for so long but the color was terrific. I can’t seem to find pictures of them so I don’t know if I actually took any. The reason for the long ferment(and maybe no pictures) was that was the day the baby came and I couldn’t get to the bread until the following day. Anyway, that bread was quickly gone as the lady next door has been twisting my arm for some bread and insists on paying me for at least a loaf per week(don’t tell my other neighbors as I have turned down offers all over the neighborhood for selling bread) and if word gets out….I will be forced to open a bakery! Anyway, onto the story… my husband commented that I should do another test of the starter as it was performing better and smelling great…so I did another test and this time it doubled in five hours, more like a regular starter. So I will test it once again after it has been brewing for at least two plus weeks and see how it performs.
The moral of the story is, don’t despair if your reconstituted starter takes a bit of time to come up to snuff, or smells rotten at first, or won’t raise a good loaf of bread right away. Give it some time and feeding. A two week reconstituted starter will perform differently than a one week starter. Patience is the name of the game for sourdough for sure, no patience, no great bread!
Onto the interesting stuff. I baked another batch of Austrian bread because I am putting together a sourdough premix and needed to test ratios and weigh everything. The idea behind this is to have a premix which you can just pour into the mixer without having to weigh anything. You must have a good fermenting starter already going, and some good water, then add the premix and you should be able to bake up two nice sized loaves of bread from that one batch. I am hoping to add it to the baking kit available on the store page of my site. So the first batch I made up needed a hydration change and I ended up making three loaves instead of two. Here is how the Austrian sourdough turned out:
The week before, I was working on a batch of San Francisco Sourdough with the same premix in mind and I ended up with this:
I was hoping to have the premix for those who have worked hard at getting a good sourdough loaf to turn out and just can’t figure out if it is the flour or what that keeps them from getting a great loaf. I know this flour mix combination works as it is just a variation of what I do for regular basic white and is my main recipe for my basic sourdough which I bake several times a week.
This little bun was in the oven eleven days too long:
Can you believe I have gotten so far behind? There are some sourdough’s you won’t ever see as they have fallen into the past. I am still working on my book, revamping my website, which is a huge undertaking, writing out recipes, testing new dough mixers and starting homeschooling with my children next week. So you can see why I am behind!
This batch of sourdough bread was done with a new (to me) Bosch mixer. I have been wanting to get the different mixers to compare them. I usually use one for several weeks/months to get a really good idea of how it works. However, I could tell right away that mixing the dough in the Bosch mixer was going to take less time and be more tricky. It mixes too fast for good sourdough. It is probably fine for regular bread, but sourdough needs less mixing and more gentle mixing than regular bread doughs. The mixing for ingredients has the dough already getting too mixed, so after autolyse, I just mixed for one minute. Anyone out there with a Bosch doing sourdough should be more careful about mixing or I should say overmixing. I think if you get to know it really well, it can serve fine for sourdough though. You need a bigger batch than with the K-tec to work the dough well. You can even do a one loaf batch in the K-tec and up to about 6 -7 lbs of dough. You can do more dough with the Bosch and actually have to do more dough or the hooks might not do a good enough job (on a smaller batch). I will have to use it longer to let you know. I have also been trying the Electrolux mixer and have some opinions abou that mixer too. Anyway….
Here are the pictures of the last two batches I made up, in the picture at the top and the ones below:
This batch of bread was made up using the Northwest Starter.
It is a basic white recipe like the one used on my website.
The loaves weighed in at 1 lb 10.5 oz each.
A batch I made up earlier in the week is called Honey Roasted Malt Sourdough. I used some honey roasted malt berries that my husband brought me from the brewery shop and ground up the berries coarsely. I added them to a basic white recipe and also added some milk to the recipe. This batch was made up using San Francisco Sourdough starter:
This bread was really delicious with the added honey roasted malt berries it also smelled heavenly. I made sure to add the ground berries to some boiling water and then cool before adding to the dough, or the malt would have completely broken down the dough’s gluten, as there was a whole cup of the malted berries added.
I am using the San Francisco Sourdough Starter to bake up this batch. I refreshed the starter twice, morning and evening and then used it next day. I was trying to build up the yeast to make a more mild sourdough and one that didn’t take as long to proof as the San Francisco starter usually does. It worked great but when time permits, I do prefer the sharper tang of a really good sour. Time does not always permit when you have a large family or other commitments so speeding up the starter helps but the tradeoff is less of a sour flavor. Of course I could control that better too with a proofing box and warmer temperatures, just more variables possible with sourdough baking!
Here is what I got:
Boy do I feel sorry for those of you who never bake sourdough, look at what your missing…sourdough sandwiches!
Well the last batch of onion sourdough I called Serious Onion because I thought it was pretty intense….WRONG! According to my sons, it needed… more! So I baked up a batch of Super-serious Onion Rye Sourdough on Saturday. I made up a preferment on Friday night, putting all of my whole grains and whole flours into the preferment (sponge). I like to preferment any whole grains or flours because they handle better in the dough, they break down more so you get more flavor, so you can digest them better, and because they don’t steal hydration from the dough later on making dry bread.
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:
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.
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:
Closeup of the crust top:
This one had a one slash down the middle, but it wanted to break out all over!
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!
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:
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:
Closeups of the crust:
More pictures of the loaves of basic white:
It is sooooo much fun to bake sourdough. Just persist until you get it.
It is just too satisfying to toast up a nice sour, thick, chewy piece of sourdough bread in the morning with coffee! It is my favorite breakfast. I baked up a batch of Onion Rye Sourdough yesterday and made two large loaves using the new Danish Rye starter (which is finally available on my site at http://www.northwestsourdough.com/starter.html)