I’ve been working with my sourdough starter for the last few months and trying to bake at least one loaf a week. Usually I tweak at least one thing every time I make a loaf. Sometimes more than one thing, so the results haven’t been very consistent. But I thought it would be good to come up with a solid baseline loaf and document that so I have something to use as a comparison for future experiments.
I like the flavor from adding some whole wheat to the dough, but it can make the dough a lot heavier. I’ve found that adding more 20% whole wheat flour (as a percentage of total flour) makes it denser than I care for, making it difficult for the nooks and crannies to develop that are found in any decent sourdough loaf. Adding a bit of gluten seems to help.
The main difficulties I’ve had in producing a consistent loaf are a decent rise in the oven, getting those nooks and crannies to form, and getting a deep brown and crispy crust to form. So I’ve been implementing some techniques that seem to be helping in these areas. Continue reading
A few months ago I started an experiment in bread baking. I had been using the basic bread ratio in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio cookbook. It gave consistent results, but it was never quite what I wanted from bread. The texture was a bit too dense, it was low on flavor and it didn’t have any of those nooks and crannies that an artisan loaf should have. No matter how I tweaked the rising times, baking times and oven temperatures I couldn’t get what I was looking for.
So I decided to strike out on my own and see what I could come up with using no recipes and a homemade sourdough starter. The first hurdle was getting the starter. I read quite a few articles saying that it was just mixing flour and water, feeding it every day, and in 3-5 days the starter should be ready to make bread. The first attempt resulted in a pile of paste after 5 days. A few weeks later I tried again, feeding every day and monitoring the temperature where it was sitting. After 3 or 4 days I saw a few bubbles and thought it was on the right track, but after a week it settled down and I assumed whatever had been living there briefly had died. So I went back to the Ruhlman ratio. Continue reading