Higher hydration, more open crumb

Bread

Maybe I should just rename this blog “Sourdough and Kimchi.”  Even though I was pleasantly surprised with the first loaf of sourdough I made using nothing more than flour, water, salt and naturally occurring yeast and bacteria, I was coveting those gorgeous boules with the open, airy insides and all those pockets for trapping extra butter or drizzles of honey.

It seems that one of the secrets to this is increasing the hydration (the ratio of water to flour) of the dough.  I could not read enough good things about the Tartine Country Bread recipe on the internet, and now I know why.  Although it’s time consuming (not counting the time to warm up and resume daily feedings of my starter, about 36 hours from start to finish), the process is pretty simple and most of that time is just waiting for fermentation to do its thing.  And look at the gorgeous crumb of this loaf!

I plan on trying this a few more times before sharing a more thorough write up, but the difference this technique made was so exciting that I couldn’t wait to post this picture.

First Sourdough

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In the last few days I’ve learned that there seem to be as many different techniques and ingredient lists for making sourdough bread from a starter as there are bakers. Everyone has their own way of feeding the starter to get the yeast at their most voracious, their own slightly differing proportions of flour, water, starter and salt, a favorite blend of flours, and a variety of ways to proof, knead and bake the dough. Continue reading

Sourdough Day 3: Bubbles!

IMG_3620It’s alive! I started noticing some bubbles last night, and was tempted to feed my new sourdough pet. But, Chad Robertson (of Tartine Bakery) noted on Food52 that it is important to feed a sourdough starter on a regular schedule, preferably in the morning, to train the yeast to be active and predictable.
Train the yeast! They really are like pets. I waited until this morning and fed my now bubble starter about 15 g each of water and flour (I started with 40g of each).
Starting tomorrow, depending on activity, I’ll discard half of my starter and replenish it with fresh flour and water.  This is Sandor Katz’s advice to maintain vigorous yeast activity. Hopefully my new adorable yeast friends will help me out this weekend with a fresh loaf of bread!

Next up: Sourdough

2015/02/img_36151.jpgNew fermentation pet: sourdough starter. I mixed this up yesterday with a 1:1 ratio of all-purpose flour to filtered water and covered with a square of cheesecloth. This morning I gave it a stir – no activity yet, but will check in on this and feed it every day once I start seeing some bubbles.