Happy Holidays to everyone! I have decided that my contribution to large holiday meals this year is going to be artisan sourdough breads made from my own starter. I’m very excited to be embarking on this journey and would love to chat with any of you that have sourdough experience.
I live in Oakland, CA and this whole area is just prime sourdough territory. I mixed my dark rye flour and water for the starter on Thursday. By Sunday, it was bubbly and I scooped out half and fed it for the first time. When I returned from some errands 3 hours later, it had gone from 10 fl. oz. to nearly 24! I was astounded. As Rose said it would, it did collapse down to a near perfect 10-12 oz by evening. So I have fed it again this morning and things are looking good. Can’t wait to start baking. Please send me your thoughts and experiences
Sounds like you are well on your way. I just follow the instructions in the BB and I haven’t run into any trouble. The only thing I do differently is I sometimes double to recipe (the basic sourdough boule is fairly small). Let us know how it turns out.
I was wondering about the finished loaf size too. So if you double the recipe, are you baking twice the amount in one loaf or two loaves? Just wondering how you get those huge sourdough loaves…
I am also curious about the starter process. After I had that huge rise then fall there was no rise in the starter the next day. Did I wait too long to feed it? I went ahead and removed half this morning and fed it so hopefully there will be more action soon. It smells so sour! Wheee!!
Things are going well! I’ve got my French Country Boule rising now. The starter is very active and rising beautifully and the dough has the most pleasant aroma. Can’t wait for the starter to get more complex…pictures to follow…
I have been so busy baking with my new sourdough starter I’ve barely had a chance to respond! I have to say my first loaf, while delicious, was slightly disappointing since the banneton didn’t get completely filled with the dough. It seemed to deflate a bit on turning it out from the basket and then never rose to perfection in the oven. Anyone have any pointers on banneton use? Would a double recipe fare better??
For a party a few days later I made a Sourdough Rye. I don’t even like Rye bread, and I was blown over by this loaf. I served it with Dilled Cream Cheese and Lox and man was it a hit. Dill really tempers the flavor of the caraway seeds.
Over the last 3 days I have been giving the Sourdough Pumpernickel a try for a friend who likes this kind of bread. My schedule didn’t allow for me to wait until the starter doubled so I had to retard it in the fridge then take it out the next day to continue rising. After 12 hours it was scarcely 2.5” high and about 6.5” across. I was so disappointed and thought I had failed. I went ahead and slashed it and baked it. Lo and behold when I flipped it at the halfway point it had shot up to an amazing 4” in height and 7” across! I was stoked. For the first time I got incredible slashes in the finished product. The loaf is so cute and is going to be perfect for my friend. As someone who hasn’t traditionally been a fan of Pumpernickel I had to restrain myself from tearing into the loaf once it came out of the oven. I imagine that the Raisin Pumpernickel variation is delicious. Anyone ever tried it?
I’ve also been saving those little scraps of starter in the fridge. Yesterday, for a dinner I made the Heart of Wheat loaf. I threw in approximately 1/3 cup of the saved (unfed) starter scraps. I didn’t think this bread could get better, but the starter really added a great flavor along side of the Barley Malt syrup I used instead of the honey.
believe it or not, I’ve been thinking about your beautiful loaf…and i’ve got a question
i admire the hemispherical shape, with what looks like quite a bit of oven spring. I made a couple of hearth breads on Saturday that rose well, but were more horizontally spread than vertically, in a hemisphere.
What factors affect the shape in which a loaf rises, and also what contributes to a big oven spring?
I’m taking a crack at making my own sourdough starter. I’m at about day five or six I think, and it’s definitely alive (though perhaps not rising as fast as I’d like). My only question though is the smell. Upthread I can see people describing the smell as pleasant, but I can’t say mine smells so good. It’s got the citrusy aroma, but rather powerfully, and also, kind of a strong cottage cheese smell.
When I began the starter the weather was very cold, and the rye flour/water mixture was very very thick, so I left it an extra day and a half without feeding it, because it just wasn’t looking anything like pancake batter. Now I’m wondering if it built up some waste products sitting the extra day.
Do you think I should coddle it along for a few more days, or toss and start again?
It is rather subjective whether or not you enjoy the smell of a sourdough starter—I don’t think everyone would find it to be a pleasant smell, but the same goes for cheese, etc. I remember mine smelling strong during the first week, but then it mellowed out. I would stick it out a while longer, especially in cold weather.
Thank you very much Matthew - that does help, and I’ll keep at it (though, wouldn’t you know it, yesterday it was fairly frisky and rose up a few inches and fell, just like it’s supposed to do, and today it’s just sitting there.)
Just for the record, my starter seems to have taken off very well now (and is much much less stinky!) Glad I stuck with it.
One more question for those that have a starter: I was rereading the Bread Bible last night and it was a little unclear whether the starter, during the two week maturation period (following the first culturing week), should be refrigerated or kept at room temperature (or maybe I’m just missing something). Also (I guess that’s two questions ), is there any value in feeding the starter a lot more often than three times a week when it’s maturing?