Category Archives for "Sourdough Baking"

Desem…doing good.

My Desem starter is doing really good and performing reliably. I mixed up the preferment yesterday and baked one large loaf today. I had a three pound loaf come out of the batch. I have been having trouble with getting any good pictures inside. When I had some sun outside I did okay, but I guess I need better lighting. I did an experiment a couple of days ago with putting a roasting lid over my bread as it baked, to hold the steam closer to the dough. It was a very interesting experiment, kind of like baking in a pot, but not.

I also got pictures of those loaves but I am disappointed with the quality of the pictures, because you can’t really see what I am trying to show you. The loaves that came out from under the lid, were thin crispy crackly crusted loaves, the one that I didn’t put the lid over, came out looking nicer, but the crust wasn’t as nice. However the crispy crackly loaves, seemed to want to almost tear apart all over the crust and didn’t rise as high as the loaf not baked under the roasting lid. It was an interesting toss up.

Here is the Desem bread from today. It needed a little bit more proofing, but I had to go out and just couldn’t give it the time it needed:

Desem loaf

Desem crumb

As for the experimental loaves baked under the roasting pan lid. I will show you the loaf not baked under the roasting lid first:

experimental loaf

This was a variation of the Basic White Recipe with some Rye, Wheat and added cornmeal. The cornmeal slowed down the proof considerably so I had a five hour final proofing. Anyway, here is the loaf baked under the roasting lid:

under the lid loaf

Here is a closeup of the same loaf:


You can see the fissures and stretching of the crust. The pictures aren’t good but this happened all over the crust of both loaves baked in this way. Here is the other loaf, it was done as a boule:

boule loaf

This next picture is a bit closer but shows the great color and crispiness of the crust:

crispy crust

Here is the crumb of the regular baked loaf, it had a higher oven spring than the other two loaves:


Here is the crumb pic of the loaf baked under the roasting lid:

crumb# 2

I’ve got two Rosemary, Calamato Olive loaves to bake tomorrow.

They are setting in the fridge cooling down right now.

Getting the dough into the pot.

I was askd how I got the dough into the hot pot without flattening it. I took the suggestion of SourDom at the Australian forum, he suggested using a flexible plastic mat like those flexible cutting mats to turn the dough onto and then curving up the mat on either side of the dough and sliding it down into the pot gently. It worked really nice.

San Francisco Sourdough baked in a Pot

Well, I am a convert to Pot baking, I just wish I had a bigger pot, the size of my oven to be exact. The crust comes out incredible, with the crispy, crusty texture and crunch that one is after in a sourdough crust. I mixed up a batch of San Francisco Sourdough using the SF starter, it was slow to bulk ferment because I let it go 24 hours with no refreshment to build up the sour producing bacteria. I shaped the dough into boule shapes this time and proofed overnight in baskets:

shaped dough

baskets for boules

I let the dough proof overnight and you wouldn’t believe it but it took a little over four hours to proof, the dough was that slow. It is a good way to get a decent sour however.

I have been trying the dough baking in a cast iron pot. The last bread I tried was the Desem bread which came out pretty nice. This time it was a white bread, so the outcome was more dramatic…and was not disappointing! This was the first loaf of the batch to be baked:

First loaf

This was the second loaf to be baked:

Second loaf

This was the third loaf to be baked and I believe it was perfectly proofed and the oven was thoroughly heated, as I also used stones besides the pot:

Third loaf

Here is the same loaf while still in the pot:

In the pot

All three loaves together:

All three loaves

Here is the crumb of the first loaf:

first loaf crumb

As you can see the pot baking is a tremendous success. I feel the heavy pot and the lid keeps the heat wrapped around the loaf, and provides for it’s own steam. The third loaf’s crust came out the best, I sprayed that loaf with water just before I popped on the lid.

With the long proofing, the bread came out with a very nice tangy sour. All around a great baking day!

San Francisco Sourdough with Motherdough too

Yesterday I mixed up a stiff sponge with San Francisco Starter, flour, water and some motherdough starter (aged dough). I left it overnight in a 50 degree pantry. The sponge was very nice and bubbly by this morning:


I added the rest of the ingredients this morning and let it ferment for five hours. When it was done I poured it out on a lightly floured surface. The dough was very active and lively.

dough poured out

I shaped the dough into two loaves weighing 2 lbs and one weighing almost 1.5 lbs.

dough in bannetons

I put the loaves into the banneton and let them proof for two hours. They baked up with the motherdough signature reddish hue:

baked loaves

baked loaves all three

Basic White Variation with San Francisco Starter

I am still using the San Francisco Starter after I brought it out of it’s sleep from my refrigerator. The sour is somewhat more pronounced but not yet up to potential. I think sour sourdoughs like to have an active starter with the refreshment not being a huge amount of the starter. In other words don’t dump out most of your starter and refresh it with a lot of water/flour and expect it to be sour and if you have refrigerated your starter or reconstituted it from a dry state, expect it to take a little while to build up it’s sour producing bacteria.

This batch of dough was a higher hydration than the last one and it was a bit harder to handle. My recipe was a variation of the White Basic:

3 cups starter

3 cups water

2 Tablespoons oil

4 teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon Malt Syrup

2 Tablespoons cornmeal

1/4 cup Rye flour

9.5 cups Bread flour

The yeast is very vigorous in the starter which was refreshed about 18 hours before using. The bulk fermentation took only 3.5 hours, which is too fast for a good sour.

bulk fermentation

I divided the dough into three pieces which were all about one ounce shy of being two pounds.

Here they are roughly shaped and resting before their final shaping:

resting for shaping

I put them in the refrigerator overnight and gave them 2 hours to proof. Here are all three loaves:

three loaves

They all came out wonderful with a nice holey crumb.

Here are some closeups:


more closeups


Here is the crumb:


We will see if the sour is more pronounced as time goes by. I know the Northwest Sourdough would make a nice sour if I used it right now, but it has been active and used for quite a while without being refrigerated like the San Francisco starter.

Super San Francisco Sourdough!!

I took my San Francisco Starter out of the refrigerator a few days ago and have been refreshing it to bring it back up to vigour. Yesterday afternoon, I mixed up a new recipe for Super San Francisco Sourdough.

dough mixed

This is such a nice starter, it proofed wonderfully in four hours.

proofed dough

  I made enough for two large loaves of just over 2lbs each. I also made the dough a lower hydration than I usually work with. The dough felt wonderful, bubbly, alive and smelled great. Here are the two dough boules:


The flecks in the dough are cracked wheat. I waited five minutes and rounded up the boules by using a twisting motion with my two hands and slight pressure. Here is what a twisted boule looked like after you put it in it’s basket:

twisted boule

I refrigerated these boules overnight and for many hours the next day. I didn’t bake them until about 12:30 pm. I wanted a very long cool proofing. Then it took only  1 -1/2 hours to warm them up and get them proofed enough to bake. Here is one of them slashed and ready to bake:

slashed boule

The bread came out absolutely wonderful! Here is the first loaf:

first loaf

Here is the second loaf:

second loaf

Both loaves:

two loaves

Here is a closeup of the blistered crust:


Here are some crumb pictures:



The bread was still slightly warm so I couldn’t tell how sour it was, as the sour comes on after it has completely cooled and set. It was already mildly tangy though. The crust is terrific and I would say it was a very successful baking day!

Diablo Sourdough

I have a funny blog today. I was running out of bread and with Thanksgiving today, I needed some for Turkey sandwiches! So on Tuesday night I made up a Rye sponge with  Starter, water and Rye flour:


I let this set overnight.  Next morning I added the rest of the ingredients to the sponge and bulk fermented the dough for five hours. This was a Rye starter but the majority of the flour added was bread flour.

The dough was sticky from the Rye:


dough poured out

I made up two loaves weighing just shy of 2.5 lbs. and put them into bannetons:


They proofed nicely in two hours and I preheated the oven to 500 degrees. I was trying to compensate for the heat loss when you load the dough and spray  for the first five minutes or so. You would know it…. I loaded both loaves… sprayed and steamed for the first five minutes, then I set my timer and forgot to turn down the oven!!! Boy was I surprised when my timer went off and it was time for me to turn the loaves and they were practically burnt! Diablo Bread! I was certainly shocked. Not that I haven’t made that mistake before, I have, but I had two huge loaves in the oven and they were awesomely dark. I turned them around anyway, and knew that they still needed to bake in the center, so I covered them with foil and turned the oven down to 350 degrees. They came out very dark, but not actually burnt. I guess I could call them specialty Artisan Diablo Loaves! Ha! I got raves on the flavor! Wouldn’t you know! Make a mistake and people rave, do a great job, and no one comments. Here are my Diablo Loaves, the first one :

first loaf

The second loaf:

second loaf

two loaves

Well they will probably dry out sooner than usual, but slathered with mayonnaise and lots of Turkey, they will be gone soon anyway. Here is the crumb:


Anyway, next time you forget to turn down the oven after the initial five minutes, tell everyone they are Diablo Loaves 🙂

Asiago Cracked Pepper Loaf

My new recipe is called Asiago Cracked Pepper Loaf. So far, the raves have been for the outstanding flavor of this sourdough bread. I added cracked cornmeal and some Rye flour to this dough and the bulk proofing was pretty fast at 3.5 hours. So I decided to make it a one day bread, hoping with such fermentation that it would still have a good sour. It does! I could have made two large loaves, but decided to make three smaller loaves instead. The recipe made a smaller amount of dough than my usual recipes. I mixed up the dough and had it bulk fermenting by 1:00 pm. I could tell it was raising fast. I knew it would reach the top of the bowl when it was overproofed so I mixed it down and poured it out:

dough poured out

I kneaded it just a little and rolled it into a ball:


Then I cut it into three pieces:

cut dough

I got some cracked Black Pepper and Asiago cheese ready:

black pepper

asiago cheese

I saved a small piece of the cheese for grating on top of the finished loaves. I should have bought more cheese though. This was about 6 oz of cheese and I think 12 oz would have made  cheesier loaves. The dough pieces were resting and so I took them and stretched them  into a rectangular shape and pressed in the cheese and pepper.

preparing the loaf

I then shaped the dough into loaves and put them into bannetons:

dough in bannetons

I sprinkled some of the coarse cracked cornmeal around the dough. I could see the cheese and pepper peeking through the dough. I let the dough proof for two hours at room temperature and then popped the first loaf into the oven, here it is:

first loaf

With the second loaf I sprinkled the topping cheese on when it was still in the oven instead of afterwards like I did for the first loaf:

second loaf

Here is the third loaf:

third loaf

All three loaves:

three loaves

The bread sat up high and has a great crust. Here is the crumb:


This bread has an incredibly good flavor, its amazing used for sandwiches and awesome as toast. This recipe will be available in the Special Recipes folder.

Sour Vienna White?

Yesterday I got up early and mixed up a batch of Vienna White bread. It is so terrific tasting especially when you use motherdough in the dough. I added 1/2 cup of Rye flour to the batch, as you by now know my inclination towards using a bit of Rye here and there. I have the recipe for this Vienna White posted on the Recipe section of the forum: 

I have posted a blog about doing up this Vienna White before. Anyway Vienna White is a great loaf to do as a one day sourdough. Here is the dough already bulk fermented and ready to pour out:

Proofed dough

I divided the 5 lbs 12 oz of dough amongst four loaves and put them into the couche:

in the couche

They proofed for two hours and the first two loaves went into the oven. The oven was preheated for over an hour so the stone was pretty hot. However the first two loaves were slightly underproofed and needed more like 2.5 hours to be perfect. They presented a disappointing picture as the dough was mottled colored, the slashes gave way and didn’t become defined, and they were somewhat flattish.

Here they are:

first two

The second two loaves came out great, the color was well developed and the loaves sit up high and the slashes are well defined. The pictures don’t show these attributes too well, the breads look somewhat similar in pictures and the lighting isn’t good. Here are the second two loaves:

second two loaves

The baking time was the same and the temperatures were the same for both sets of bread. I am bringing this to your attention because it has happened often before especially with dough that is all proofed at the same time so that the first two loaves are always proofed less and you can see the difference with the loaves that are proofed correctly compare to those that are even slightly underproofed.

Here are all four loaves, the first baked are on the left:

all four loaves

all four loaves


Vienna White usually comes out with a soft fine crumb and is mild flavored, however, with the added Rye flour, the crumb was chewy, holey and has a pronounced sour tang, even for a one day bread!

Something the Same Something Different

Today I bake up something the same… Basic White Sourdough… and something different…but we will get to that later. I mixed up some Basic White Sourdough yesterday and meant to shape the loaves and put them into the refrigerator. But sometimes things happen! I got too busy and couldn’t get to the shaping, so I put the dough into a large bowl and out on the enclosed cold porch. It was around 50 degrees. I didn’t have enough room in the refrigerator. Next morning the dough was looking nice! :

Basic White Dough

I made up enough dough for three loaves, however, for Breakfast I decided to do something different. I took one third of the dough and using 3 oz pieces of the dough, I made “Fried Bread”. Now it isn’t really fried bread because you don’t fry it, you griddle it. My husband’s mother would often make this bread from a batch of dough she had proofing. She would pull off pieces of dough, pull and stretch out the dough in irregular sizes and throw them on the griddle. I have been asked several times if I would try to make up some with my sourdough. So I did. Here are the dough pieces cooking on the griddle:

Dough on griddle

I griddled them at around 375 degrees. I didn’t pay any attention to how long they took as I put them on one by one as I pulled them into flat shapes. I watched them and turned them as they got brown. They smelled wonderful cooking. They are not thin like pancakes, and you don’t roll them out, so they have thin areas, and thick areas. They puff up and cook pretty quickly, it doesn’t take too long. These would be great for camping! Here are some on a plate:

Fry Bread

They are crispy in some spots and chewey in other spots. Fry Bread is wonderful with lots of butter, jelly, honey or cream cheese. You ought to try some next time you mix up a batch of Basic White Sourdough! YuMMMMMY! My husband declared that they tasted better than the yeasted ones and that they were lighter and fluffier in texture, with nice sized bubbles.

Oh yea, I almost forgot the “Something Same”…. I baked up the Basic White Bread later in the morning. Here it is:

Basic White loaf 1

Basic White loaf 2

Sorry about the dark pictures. We have had a lot of rain and storms and not much sun. When I try to take pictures indoors, I have a hard time with the lighting. I probably need a lighting box!