Aside from regular sourdough bread, I had been kind of wondering what else to do with my starter. Luckily one of my FB groups are full of cooks and someone shared a sourdough ciabatta recipe they liked. I figured I’d give it go. The original recipe is here: https://breadtopia.com/sourdough-ciabatta/
I didn’t have the requisite 550g of starter ready but had 300g of starter so adjusted the recipe accordingly. When I was transcribing from the internet to a piece of paper (yes I’m still old school and typically don’t just look at a screen for my recipes but actually write them down on paper), I accidentally wrote my 2 so it kinda looked like a 7. So when I was weighing out the water, I accidentally did about 50% more than I had anticipated using. I then had to do a bunch of math to try to even things out. I’m not even going to try putting the actual recipe values on here (just go look at the original recipe). I’ll just go through my process and how it came out.
This is a bit out-of-order. After returning back from Portland a few weekends ago, I had July 4th off from work and decided to make some pizza for the holiday. I also had to feed my sourdough starter so figured I’d make sourdough pizza dough with the discard. I used the below recipe:
Sourdough starter – 80 g (~50% hydration)
AP flour – 350 g
Water – 230 g
Salt – 8 g
Yeast – 2 g
I mixed all the ingredients (above), let it sit for 40 minutes to auto-lyse and then kneaded it for about 15 minutes (slap and fold). I put it in a large mixing bowl and let it bulk ferment for about 50 minutes. It was fairly warm in the kitchen/house so I didn’t have to let it rise as long. I then did 3 stretch and folds separated by 30 minutes. After this I divided the dough into 2 (these ended up being larger balls than I typically work with in the past) and put them individual bowls to proof.
As can be seen above, the dough rose greatly. Since I was making pizza, I wasn’t as concerned if it went slightly over since I was flattening the dough out anyway to make the pizza. I topped the dough with some homemade tomato sauce (I just use canned San Marzano Whole tomatoes that I crush and heat with some basil and garlic), mozzarella, and mushrooms/prosciutto.
Overall I got some good rise in the crust and it did have a slight sourdough taste to it.
I may have to try incorporating more sourdough starter to see if I can’t get more of the sourdough taste to it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to posting about making my own sourdough starter but this week’s bake involved using that homemade starter. Using starter from the fridge does require a bit of advanced preparation as you need to “wake” your starter up and get it up to snuff to bake with. On Thursday I pulled my sourdough starter out of the fridge (it had been in there for about a week). I split it in half, fed one half and let the yeast eat for awhile (i.e. get some bubbles going) and then replaced that back in the fridge. The other half I removed half of the starter and then fed it with 1/4 cup water and just under 1/2 cup of flour. Previously I had been feeding the starter based on weights but decided for this week’s bake I would switch to using volume because it is much quicker using a measuring cup instead of getting the scale out. I continued feeding the starter around every 12 hours for the next 3 days until I had an active bubbly starter.
Sunday morning I fed the starter one more time then waited about 4 hours (I read that is when the starter is most active). I haven’t used the sourdough starter by itself as the only source of yeast so was interested to see how this would turn out. My recipe was as follows:
Sourdough starter (199 g)
Bread flour (500 g)
Water (360 g)
Salt (10 g)
I deliberately kept this recipe simple as I wanted to see how much sourdough flavor I could get from the starter. I mixed all of the above together into a wet mess, let it auto-lyse for 30 minutes and then did the slap and fold method for about 15 minutes. This dough was placed in a clean bowl and allowed to bulk ferment for about 1-1.25 hours. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dough had increased by 1.5-2 x it original size.
After slap & fold
After bulk ferment
I proceeded with 3 stretch and folds (envelope style) separated by around 30 minutes each. I could feel the dough coming together nicely. After the last stretch and fold, I bench rested the dough for 5 minutes, then shaped it creating a nicely tensioned surface. I used a well floured towel in a collander and put the dough in there to proof for the final time. Since I made pizza, the kitchen was warm and after about 40 minutes the dough had proofed to the proper amount. Instead of using a pre-heated dutch oven I free baked the dough on my pizza stone (steel) using some parchment paper to do the transfer. I misted the inside of the oven and baked the bread at 500 F for 10 minutes, then dropped it to 475 for another 10-15 minutes or so. When I saw how much oven spring was present, I realized I hadn’t de-gassed the dough enough during my stretch and folds and forming. Oops! Oh well.
You can see the impossibly large air holes in the dough, which makes it hard to use as a sandwich. The great thing about the bread was that it had that characteristic smell of a sourdough loaf.
Overall this bake was more to see how my sourdough starter would function. I’m happy with the amount of yeast activity present in the starter and also that it does impart some flavor as well. It’s quite amazing that this starter was created using just water and flour. The natural bacteria and yeast from the flour and the environment create this living, breathing organism that can be used to bake bread. Pretty neat!
Quick bread update. I decided to use more of my sourdough starter to make this week’s 50% whole wheat sandwich bread. This week I essentially used the same recipe as last week’s but with the addition of the sourdough.
80g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
300g 100% whole wheat flour
255g bread flour
145g rice milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
5g yeast (cut down the yeast to see if the starter has some oomph to create rise)
I combined all the above ingredients into one giant slurry and let it auto-lyse for 30 minutes. I am always amazed how the dough goes from a ragged mess to a cohesive and firm dough.
After slap & fold kneading
After bulk fermentation
I did the slap & fold kneading for 15 minutes. Each time I do this, I get better and better at sensing/feeling the dough coming together and becoming less sticky. The first time I did this, I had no idea how long I was supposed to knead for and ended up doing the slap & fold for almost an hour.
After I finished the slap & folds, I put the dough in a clean bowl and let it bulk ferment for an hour. As seen above, the dough really formed up very nicely. Following bulk fermentation, I dumped the dough out on my lightly floured countertop and performed a stretch and fold (envelope style) and placed the dough back in the bowl for 20 minutes. Once more I did a stretch and fold followed by the initial shaping. This involved de-gassing the dough and creating a square shape. I then folded the dough down from the top to the middle of the dough and pressed this down. Subsequently I pulled the dough once more to me and pressed down to seal it (essentially creating a log shape). I then bench rested the dough for 5 minutes and then re-shaped into loaf shape. The dough was then placed in a well-greased (butter) 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
I allowed the dough to proof for about 45 minutes (the kitchen was warm because I was also making pizza). As with last week, the dough had risen really well. I did the finger poke test and noted the dough was well proofed.
The bread went into a 425 F oven with water spraying. I let it bake at this temperature for 10 minutes. I dropped the oven to 375 F and baked the bread for another 25 minutes. By this time, the top of the loaf was a nice dark brown color and the internal temp 187.7 F. I read that enriched bread (which this is) is done between 185-190 F and you can let it go until 205 F if you want a really crunchy crust. This time I decided to remove it a littler earlier to see what kind of difference it would make (last week’s was around 195 F).
After slicing, I noted that the bread was just slightly underdone. If you look at the cross-sectional view of the crumb, you’ll notice at the bottom part of the bread, the crumb is a bit collapsed and not well-aerated like the rest of the bread. Next time I’ll probably try to get it closer to 190 F internal temperature.
This bread turned out good, still a little weaker than I’d like for a sandwich bread. I wonder if I toasted it before making my sandwich if it would hold up a little better. The wife said that it is softer than last week’s effort.
In other news, we were able to top our pizza with some homegrown arugula. We decided to try some lettuces this year in our raised vegetable beds. This was a first and out of the 4, the arugula is the only one that grew well. There was a different lettuce that initially grew well then one day was all gone. I am suspicious the local wild turkey came over and chomped it all away.
In a yet to be published post, I am currently creating my own sourdough starter. I felt bad discarding 1/2-2/3 of the starter everyday so started looking up recipes on what I could do with that discarded starter. One thing people recommended was using it for the taste (“sour”) component prior to it being strong enough to act as yeast. Therefore you still had to use some yeast (active dry in my case) to help the dough rise.
So I decided to try my hand at baguettes. I have not attempted this type/shape of dough yet so this was more an experiment than anything.
I found this recipe online and decided to run with it.
Instant yeast 0.36%
Poolish: 33% of the above total.
Poolish (done the night before and allowed to sit overnight at room temp):
60g Sourdough starter (100% hydration)
103g AP flour
58g Room temperature water
In the morning the poolish had spread out and developed the requisite bubbles to let me know it was working well.
To the poolish I added:
267g AP flour
~1.5g Active-dry yeast
I mixed the above with the poolish until it was well incorporated and let it auto-lyse for an hour.
I followed this with slap&fold kneading for about 15 minutes until I obtained a nice formed dough. I let this bulk ferment for another hour and then did 2 stretch and folds separated by 20 minutes.
I divided the dough up into the individual baguette sizes and bench rested them for 15 minutes.
Then I set about shaping the dough. I followed the video as seen here. I definitely need to practice rolling out the dough to get an even product. As you can see below in the final pictures, the baguettes came out a little lopsided.
I don’t currently have a baguette bouche so looked up ways to create a homemade one. What I ended up using was a sheet pan, parchment paper and rolled up table placemats.
I let these proof for 40 minutes and then turned them out onto my baking system (upside down sheet pan with parchment paper). Other options I read include transfer to a pizza peel and putting on pizza stone in oven (I can see myself messing this up) or if you have the metal couche, you can bake directly in those. I scored the baguettes with a sharp razor and did a terrible job of it (I also read that scoring is one of the hardest skills to master).
I placed the baguettes in a 450 F oven, sprayed the inside with my trusty water spray bottle and closed the door. I sprayed the oven walls/bread again at 1 minute and 5 minutes in. After 6 minutes I dropped the oven to 400 F.
I wasn’t sure exactly how long to bake it for as some recipes I read said 12 minutes while others said 24 minutes. I ended up going closer to the 24 minutes. The baguettes never developed the deep brown color I was looking for but they were definitely cooked and done. The wife noted the crust was a bit hard – though from what I read of classic baguettes they are supposed to have a very crispy outside. All in all not a bad effort for a first try.
There was a mild sour taste to it so I may have to increase the amount of starter that I use to get the taste that my wife likes.