newbie question on sourdough
Posted: 16 December 2010 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I just registered, and am in search of some good basic sourdough recipes.  I am not a novice at sourdough, use to do it all the time, but I am looking for new techniques and better results.  I have sworn off the no knead system for natural yeast and would love a reliable no knead sourdough recipe, but also am interested in anything that is widely regarded to be the best.  Thanks for any suggestions.

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Posted: 16 December 2010 09:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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bblackmore - 17 December 2010 12:39 AM

I just registered, and am in search of some good basic sourdough recipes.  I am not a novice at sourdough, use to do it all the time, but I am looking for new techniques and better results.  I have sworn off the no knead system for natural yeast and would love a reliable no knead sourdough recipe, but also am interested in anything that is widely regarded to be the best.  Thanks for any suggestions.

Nancy Silverton is one of the industry’s preeminent natural-yeast bakers and she has a book “Breads from the La Brea Bakery” which is highly regarded.  She only makes natural yeast bread.  Another recent book that has caused a stir is “Tartine Bread”, and the author goes into excruciating detail about he makes his unique, natural yeast bread.  Those who have followed the process say it’s wonderful, but demanding.

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Posted: 17 December 2010 09:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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thank you CharlesT.  I am quite familiar with La Brea, and used to follow it religiously.  But I forgot the shortcuts I figured out to do the basic boule, and therefore have been looking for another basic recipe.  It is hard to imagine a procedure more demanding than La Brea!  My original culture was homemade using organic raisins soaked in water etc.  This might have been from La Brea or from one of Carol Field’s books.  To simplify life, I ordered a SF sourdough culture from sourdough int., and right now I am trying their SF sourdough recipe.  It is a dryer dough than what I am used to, but I try to remain open to new or different techniques.  Tomorrow we’ll know how it works. 

Am I correct that there is no truly perfected no knead, all sourdough bread out there?  Everyone talks about how their loaves “slump”, and that is what has happened to me too.  I tried a version, and got a brick.  Tasty, but too dense for me.  Thanks for the suggestions, I will Google Tartine Bread.  BB

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Posted: 17 December 2010 09:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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bblackmore - 18 December 2010 01:19 AM

Am I correct that there is no truly perfected no knead, all sourdough bread out there?

I don’t follow the no-knead market very much, but I’ve never heard that sourdough is a problem.  I just googled around on the subject and the web pages didn’t mention any issues.  One video shows a guy making one of the La Brea breads using the no-knead method and the resulting crumb looks good:

http://www.breadtopia.com/no-knead-recipe-variations/

My own sourdough culture was started using Nancy Silverton’s method, which uses grapes.  I had tried Peter Reinhart’s method before, but wasn’t able to get anything going.  The grapes did the trick. The most demanding part of her regimen is the three feedings per day, which I am completely unable to do.  I generally follow Reinhart’s recommendations regarding maintaining the culture, which involves keeping it in the refrigerator and just waking it up the day before using it.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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thx CharlesT.  I watched the sourdough no knead video, and it looks eminently doable.  Imagine my surprise when at first I thought the guy looked a lot like a friend of mine, and then I realized that it is a friend of mine who did the videos.  I knew he had some online business related to baking, but that was it, and I had forgotten.  Small world!  I am going to compare the SF sourdough recipe that I have in the oven right now to this no knead version next time around.  I ruined the electronics in my oven with steam years ago, and the discovery of baking bread in a closed container was great.  Not sure why I missed this in my own google searches, but your assistance is much appreciated.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Let us know how it goes.

BTW, Cook’s Illustrated took a look at no-knead bread a while back.  They observed that the loaves varied widely from baker to baker.  They thought that the 85% hydration was the problem and backed it off to 70%, while throwing in 15 seconds of kneading at the very end.  The consistency and structure of the loafs improved immensely.  Still, the author thought that overall, the taste of the no-knead breads didn’t compare to true artisan loaves made the old-fashioned way.  He ended up adding a quarter cup of Budweiser to the dough and noticed a big improvement.

Although they weren’t looking at sourdough breads, perhaps there is something in the above technique that might help fix your issue if it occurs again.

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Posted: 20 December 2010 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I am pleased to report “mission accomplished”.  Today I baked a gorgeous and very tasty loaf of no knead sourdough, thus proving proving to myself that not only can it be done, but it is easy.  The keys seem to be using a thick starter, somewhere between liquid and levain dough, and slightly less water than the original no knead recipe.  The oven spring was dramatic, better than I have ever gotten with yeast.  For anyone who is looking as I was for a good recipe, look no further than http://www.breadtopia.com/no-knead-recipe-variations/

I thickened up my starter by adding 1 c. of flour to 1/2 c. of water, rather than the usual equal volumes.  The above URL has an olive and parmesan variation that I plan to do for Xmas dinner.  I come from a family of home bakers, so it has to be good if I am going to submit my work to the whole group.  My great great grandfather was a baker in Bavaria in the 19th century who moved his family to Michigan to avoid conscription into the Kaiser’s army for his sons.  I’d be interested in his evaluation of the current state of home baking in the US.  Thanks to Eric of Breadtopia for his excellent video instructions.

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Posted: 20 December 2010 11:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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bblackmore - 20 December 2010 10:24 PM

I am pleased to report “mission accomplished”.

Great!  Thanks for reporting back.

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