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YEAST VS STARTER
Posted: 16 July 2009 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve had so many problems with using too much yeast in my baking that i have gone into using strickly sourdough starter. Now i would like to know how i can use sourdough starter for all the other recipes in The Bible Bread that calls for yeast? I need to know how to figure the proportions.

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Posted: 16 July 2009 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Gingerr, if you want to stick strictly with sourdough starters, I suggest you use recipes that are built that way from the start. There’s no single rule-of-thumb to say how to substitute starter for yeast in a given bread recipe. You’d have to experiment with the hydration level of each and every recipe. It’s certainly possible. Knowing how to work with commercial yeast would help with that process, too.

I wonder if you’d be interested in finding the solution to your original problem, i.e. getting the amount of yeast right in your baking. I say this because a) there may be such a simple answer that would open up a whole world of baking to you without having to make constant adjustments; and b) because sourdough is in fact yeasted. It’s wild yeast as opposed to commercially produced, and it is so much harder to work with for most people than commercial yeast. Your success with sourdough speaks very highly of your baking ability, so why don’t we see if we can help you gain more comfort in both areas? Many wonderful bread recipes by master bakers use sourdough starters plus commercial yeast! Let’s get you into their company.

For starters (no pun intended), might the problem occur in adjusting among the different types of commercial yeast? That is, do you end up using too much yeast because a recipe specifies active dry and you only have instant? Or fresh and you only have active dry? Etc. If so, this is a problem easily solved! There are substitution rules we can give you.

Another possible problem is that you adjust the quantity of ingredients to produce more (or less) bread than the original recipe. But you don’t know how to ensure the correct amount of yeast for the adjusted yield. There is a time-honoured way to work with that issue, too. It’s called “baker’s percentage.”

So tell us. What do YOU think the problem is with using too much yeast in your baking? How does it happen? What are the signs that you’ve used “too much yeast?” How does the bread behave to give you that impression?

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Posted: 16 July 2009 09:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Before discovering sourdough starter/bread I always made 4 loaves of bread using my bosch. In the middle of baking there would always be a strong alcohol aroma. My husband would always get sick whenever he ate the baked bread. The only way he could aleviate the problem was by toasting the slices twice each side. Since i have been making sourdough bread he has not had any problem with the bread. And so that is the reason i wanted to see if i could use the starter in place of yeast. The recipe i use are as follows. I will add as much bread flour until it pulls from the side. Knead for 8 minutes. Toss into pans and allow it to rise. Slice. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
6 cups warm water
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
3T. saf instant yeast
2/3 cup potato flakes
2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup 10 graiin cereal
1/3 cup polenta
1/4 cup millet
6 cups grounded whole wheat flour
8 cups bread flour
1T. salt

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Posted: 16 July 2009 10:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I can’t say for certain. But the problem you’re experiencing with this recipe may be a result of not enough salt. One of the functions of salt in bread is to help control yeast fermentation. Too much salt is one set of problems. But without it, or not enough, the yeast will ferment too quickly. You end up with a dough that doesn’t have good gluten structure to hold the carbon dioxide released as a by-product of yeast fermentation. The dough may also be slack and sticky in texture, work up is more difficult and bread volume may not be as good as you would hope. It could produce that alcohol smell you noticed, too.

You can get away with less salt in sourdough breads because of their acidity. Not sure of the science, but that’s what I’ve been taught. Generally speaking, the salt in bread dough needs to be from 1.8 to 2 % of the recipe based on the flour weight. Your 14 cups of flour would weigh about 4 lb.. so you need about 1.28 oz. salt (64 oz x .02). That’s 2 T or maybe just a touch more.

So here’s what I would recommend—if you’re game, that is. You could try my suggestions with only half the recipe. But whatever you do, I think you’d find a huge improvement from allowing the dough to rise twice—once in the bowl or other container after you’ve kneaded it. Allow to double in bulk. About 2 hours. (Or overnight in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.) Then shape, allow to rise again and bake. There are very few doughs that can get by with one rise. Pizza is the one that springs to mind. Perhaps you do two rises, but it just isn’t listed in your recipe?

Here are my suggestions for the mix: First, try making the recipe as you normally would, but use twice the amount of salt. See if that solves the problem.

Secondly, I’d like to see you presoak some of your ingredients in part of the water. This will give a deeper body to the bread as well as better moisture retention to help it stay fresher longer. It’s common practice but generally a mistake to put unsoaked grains into bread dough. The gritty texture might not bother some. But most people find dry bread unpleasant, and that comes from the dry grains sucking up water needed by the dough.

For the soaker, stir the millet, 10 grain cereal and polenta into one-third of the water and have the water hot. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss. In hot weather, add the salt to the soaker. This helps slow down enzyme activity in the grain. You can leave it for a few hours or even overnight. When you make your bread, remember that one-third of the water has already been used in the soaker. So you’d only need 4 cups water for the full recipe in the final mix. But don’t be afraid to add a little extra, if the dough seems to need it. I’d say even up to 1//2 cup extra for the full recipe.

If you’re still interested in converting this particular recipe to using a starter in place of the yeast, I could take a stab at figuring it out. But try the other first strategies first, ok? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And do post your results. Can’t wait to see!

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Posted: 17 July 2009 02:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Carolita’s suggestions are excellent. I want to just stress one point that she mentioned: Let your dough rise overnight in the refrigerator once, and then again in the loaf pan before you bake it. Bread dough that is allowed to rise rapidly at relatively warm temperatures produces a loaf with more sour, off-tasting notes than a dough that has been allowed a long, cool rise in the refrigerator. See if that helps to decrease the strong alcohol smell.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 03:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think Carolita is correct.  I calculate the salt to be around .7% in this recipe!  Rose’s typical amount is 2.2% but her multi-grain bread is at 2.7% with yeast at 1.1% (your yeast is around 1.2%), so that would certainly account for the yeast taking over.  I think you need to try some good recipes with instant yeast first (from the Bread Bible, for example) before giving up on it altogether. I don’t think you can make everything with sourdough—it just doesn’t work in every style of bread, especially those with more fats or sugar.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 03:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Quite right, Christine. A long, cool rise is a very good technique to use with straight doughs (those employing yeast alone and no starter or preferment of any kind). They can be a little bland and boring otherwise, though it’s hard to imagine that with such an interesting combination of grains as in Gingerr’s recipe. Even so, I think she would find improvements.

The baker’s term for the cool rise technique is retarding the dough. Straight doughs are mixed the day before baking and the dough is then left to mature in the refrigerator overnight. Little time or effort is required the next day to shape, double in bulk and bake. The recipe posted is eminently suited to this approach. If Gingerr decides not to do the cool first rise, then a two-hour first rise at room temperature will help. But a gentle fold after the first hour is advisable. Then she should shape the dough and let it rise again in the pans before baking.

The cool rise technique may also be used with sourdough aka levain breads, but during the second rather than the first rise. This allows commercial bakers to delay the bake for as much as 24 hours, depending on the flavour profile their customers most enjoy. The bread is mixed and allowed to rise for 2-3 hours (less if there is yeast as well as a starter). Then it is divided, shaped and the pans are placed in the fridge or retarder/proofer. The longer these breads are retarded after being shaped, the more acidic they become. Some people like that; others prefer a more subdued flavour. Eight to 12 hours is about right for home fridges. The loaves should go directly from the fridge into a preheated oven.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I don’t have Rose’s Bread Bible handy, Matthew, but that info you posted about her multigrain makes total sense from what I’ve been taught. The figure of 1.8 to 2% salt based on the weight of the flour is a general rule for most breads—at the lower end for sourdough because it gets lots of flavour from the starter but still benefits from salt’s other properties.

When making certain types of sweet yeasted doughs, however, it’s common to see the overall salt content at 2.5% of flour weight. This corrects for flavour with the high proportion of butter, for example with all-butter croissants, danish and brioche. Similarly, when additional seeds and grains are added as in a multigrain bread, extra salt provides a good flavour balance. You can use the 1.8 to 2% rule but apply it to the total weight of the grains, seeds and flour. Alternatively you can use a percentage of just the flour weight somewhere around 2.5 to 2.7, especially with small batches where there aren’t so many ingredients at stake. You don’t want to go too much further in that direction though, because you can end up retarding the yeast to the point where your loaves are sad little doorstops that never had a chance.

In Gingerr’s recipe, the salt needs a boost just to come up to the norm for regular breads. That would undoubtedly help her problem of bread that’s difficult for her husband to digest. Given all the extra grains and such that she’s using, she could take the salt even higher for good flavour balance. The two rises are the other crucial change needed.

With these steps, she’ll get another benefit for her hungry family—about 6 loaves rather than the 4 she reports from the full recipe. That is, if she makes the usual bread pan loaves that use 22 to 24 oz. of dough. Decreased volume is another outcome of the way the current recipe is out of balance. The yeast goes crazy early on producing that characteristic smell, and there’s little oomph left for oven spring. Salt is the great regulator, helping the yeast to pace itself from the time it goes in the mix until all the starch is gelatinized during the bake.

This has been such a good review for me, Gingerr!! Nothing like trying to explain something for understanding it better yourself. Thanks for raising the question. I agree with Matthew wholeheartedly that sourdough is great, but not appropriate for every bread. There’s a whole world of wonderful breads to be made that come within your grasp when you can work with yeast in all its guises. Then there are the unleavened breads. Yum!

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Posted: 17 July 2009 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thank you so very much for all you input. I am taking all into consideration. Since I already made a batch of sourdough bread and they have filled my freezer for the time being I will give the suggestions a shot. I only rise my breads once in the loaf pan because i thought with the saf instant quick rise it their umph is only for a short period. I know i will need to make another batch of bread in the middle of next week. And so I will review all the messages and try to put together all the recommendations using my old recipe.  Also I understand fully it will be difficult to try to use sourdough on all recipes; but it was my wishful thinking.

Being that I was born and raised in the islands i was forced to teach myself making bread and so what i had done was the best i could muster. I am so grateful you are being so caring and helpful.

Thank you once again.
Ginger

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Posted: 17 July 2009 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If you only do a single rise, then the texture will be coarse. The more rises you do—typically 2 to 3—the finer the crumb will be.

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Posted: 17 July 2009 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Matthew,

That is nice to know with 2-3 rise you have a softer crumb. I am looking forward to trying half of my old recipe along with all the suggestions intact.

I like to make breads using a good portion of whole wheat flour are there any recipes you can recommend me trying from the Bread Bible? I realize i will need to alter the recipe using more whole wheat.

Ginger

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Posted: 17 July 2009 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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No need to apologize for being self-taught, Ginger. As I said above, what you’ve accomplished with sourdough is terrific. Anyway, most of us learn more from our mistakes than when everything goes well. smile The main difference with instant yeast is that it’s had more of the moisture removed, so you can use less and add it right in with your dry ingredients. No need to mix it in with water, as you must with active dry. It’s not a mistake to mix it with water. But if you do, make sure the water’s not any higher than 100 degrees F or you’ll kill it off. Instant is very convenient where a supply of fresh, compressed yeast is not available or the baker doesn’t want to deal with rehydration or worry as much about storage and shelf life issues.

Great idea to try some recipes from the Bread Bible. Do you have it? If not yet, have a look at the recipes on Rose’s blog. You can get there any time you like by clicking on the words <Rose’s Blog> in the upper left corner of the forum pages. Then scroll down the first page of the blog until you come to her recipe section on the left-hand side.

Here’s a link to the bread recipe section. There’s a recipe for a whole wheat sandwich loaf about halfway down.
http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/recipes/bread/

Happy baking! Carolita

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Posted: 18 July 2009 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Carolita, I had no idea you knew so much about bread! Thanks for sharing all that information!

My husband is the bread baker in the family. I’d post his “multigrain bread” recipe, but he does most of it “by eye.” He uses instant yeast all the time with no problem.

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Posted: 18 July 2009 06:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks, Barbara! I went to baking school for a year, and we did three rotations among seven areas: bread, sweet yeasted products, quick breads, pie & puff pastry, fancy cakes/pastries, bake-off (ovens) and bakery management. I loved them all, but my two biggest passions are cakes and bread. With the bread, I’ve been most drawn to artisanal types and especially working with rye, barley and other grains. Also breads from around the world.

So many culinary adventures beckoning…so little time…. smile

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Posted: 20 July 2009 04:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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If everything goes well I would like to try Carolitta’s suggestion. It is my understanding to do only half the recipe. I should put in whatever grains and 1 T. salt I have in my cupboard with 1 cup of water. That should be 1/3 cup water and 2/3 cups of hot water. Cover with saran wrap and allow to soak overnight. Next morning, I will toss i2 cups warm water and the flours and knead. Put in refrigerator for a night’s rising. Fold after one hour. In the morning i should let it thaw and shape into pans. Allow to rise and then bake. I do not know if i have the patience to wait that long.

Please let me know if i missed the instructions.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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You’ve almost got it, Gingerr. There were so many tips in several messages. Good idea to review them point by point in a single post! Luckily, the process involves a lot less time than it might have seemed from the earlier discussion.

All the following instructions are for half your recipe. I suggested half only because this is an experiment. If it doesn’t produce a result to your liking, you won’t have wasted too many ingredients. If it does produce a bread that you and your family enjoy, subsequent batches can be double or triple or however much you decide to make. Here goes:

1. 8 to 12 hours before mixing, put 1/4 cup each of the 10 grain cereal and millet plus 2 1/2 T polenta in with 1 cup of hot water to soak. Do this step in the a.m. if you plan on mixing the dough at night and retarding overnight for the first rise. Or make the soaker at night, if you’re going to mix the next morning and let your dough rise twice at room temperature.

Basically the timing is entirely governed by whether you want to try the cool dough method. Christine is right that it imparts extra flavour. Being able to retard the dough also gives us some flexibility in our busy lives. And btw, if you ever forget to soak the grains ahead of time and really need to make this bread, just give them a short soak in hot water. Even an hour will help. Add a little extra water to the final dough, too, up to 1/2 cup for the full recipe.

2.  Cover the soaker with plastic wrap so you don’t lose too much moisture to evaporation. And yes, if the weather is quite hot right now where you live, throw 1 T of salt in with the grains. (You could even add a little bit more—maybe 1/2 tsp to balance the strong flavours of all those grains.) At other times of year, you could hold the salt back until you mix. Or put some of the total amount in with the soaker and the rest in with the dough.

3. When you’re ready to mix, add your soaker to the other ingredients along with the remaining 2 cups of water. I’d probably use room temperature water. For half the recipe, that would be 3 cups ww flour, 4 cups bread flour, 1/3 cup each of vital wht gluten and potato flakes and last but not least, 1 3/4 tsp of the dry instant yeast.

When I looked more closely at your recipe just now, I realized you were using 3 T instant yeast in the full recipe, not 3 tsp which is what I thought I saw on first reading. Both the salt and the yeast were out of balance. No wonder you noticed a strong yeasty smell during the bake! Try 1 T plus 1/2 tsp yeast when you make your full recipe again, but just 1 3/4 tsp for the half batch.

4. If you’ve soaked the grains overnight and plan to bake the next morning without retarding the dough, all you have to do then is let your dough rise until double in bulk. That will take about 2 hours. Do a fold at the one hour mark. (Folding helps gluten formation, equalizes the temperature within the dough, and it’s a gentle degassing to get rid of excess carbon dioxide.) At the end of the 2 hours, divide, shape, cover and let rise a second time until almost double in bulk. About 1 hour. Bake and enjoy.

5. If you’re retarding the dough overnight with plans to bake the next morning, just knead it a couple of times after the mix to get a nice shape, cover it and put it in the fridge. I use a tupperware box with a lid, greasing the inside lightly first with some canola oil. No need to do a fold after one hour; that’s part of the process if baking the same day.

Take it out of the fridge the next morning, shape into loaves, cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour at room temp). You’ll get 2 to 3 loaves depending on the size of your pans. Mine are 8.5x4.5x3” and I scale the dough at 22 oz. each to get 3 loaves from roughly that amount of flour & grains.

There’s no need to let the dough come to room temperature before starting to work with it. Just degass it gently, divide and shape. I always do a preshape with my loaves now because that’s what I was taught. That is, I take each dough portion, gently knead it into a round shape and set it aside. Once I’ve done that with all the dough portions, I cover them with a plastic bag so they don’t dry out and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s amazing how much more mellow and workable the dough is, when you give the gluten a little rest. Shaping the rounds into loaves is a breeze! You might find this technique especially helpful with cold, retarded dough.

Let us know how you get on. Happy baking!

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