Author Topic: Sourdough  (Read 1652 times)

Offline flbrewer

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Sourdough
« on: April 03, 2016, 11:16:33 AM »
I wanted to give a go at baking some sourdough bread. As I read various (non home brewing) websites on how best to make a starter I had to check in here.

It seems many people try and make/ maintain wild starters with so so results. Would a commercial lacto starter be a better way to go?

Offline pete b

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2016, 12:03:41 PM »
The best way to get a starter is if you have a local bakery whose bread you really like ask them for some starter. A starter that has been doing well in your area will likely keep its character. People send away for starters from San Francisco because of their famous sourdough but over time local microflora become dominant.
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Offline flbrewer

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2016, 02:16:13 PM »
^well that was easy! Now that I can get some free starter, do the same sanitation rules apply?

Offline pete b

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2016, 03:04:51 PM »
^well that was easy! Now that I can get some free starter, do the same sanitation rules apply?
Not really, you don't really need to be super sanitary. A sourdough starter is just going to get local microbes and microbes from the flour its fed with. It is essentially a community of local microbes. Chances are that what is in the air that could land in it is already there. You may find that the character of your starter will change quite a bit as you use it a few times and then stabilize.   
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Online jimmykx250

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2016, 03:45:01 PM »
I bought a starter from king Arthur and it was cheap. Its supposed to be from a real old culture. I did quite a few loafs with it and kept it going for quite a long time in my fridge. In the end i ended up going back to standard yeast and breads because its simpler and the kids don't like sourdough. It was a lot of fun but patience is required. Making good bread is really rewarding (like making good beer) and when gifted to friends you can see the appreciation on their faces.
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Offline denny

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2016, 04:02:37 PM »
A guy in our cluib gave me a starter maybe 10 years ago that I've been using.  But since I've been baking so infrequently and not feeding it in between, I think I'm gonna start a new one.  I'll use rye flour for the first step.  I'll also add some unsweetened pineapple juice to the first stage to keep bacteria down.  The method comes from Peter Reinhart in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".  http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/peter_reinhart/2006/07/sourdough_start.html
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Offline pete b

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2016, 04:45:18 PM »
A guy in our cluib gave me a starter maybe 10 years ago that I've been using.  But since I've been baking so infrequently and not feeding it in between, I think I'm gonna start a new one.  I'll use rye flour for the first step.  I'll also add some unsweetened pineapple juice to the first stage to keep bacteria down.  The method comes from Peter Reinhart in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".  http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/peter_reinhart/2006/07/sourdough_start.html
A great book if you want to really get into bread baking.
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Offline denny

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2016, 05:23:51 PM »
A guy in our cluib gave me a starter maybe 10 years ago that I've been using.  But since I've been baking so infrequently and not feeding it in between, I think I'm gonna start a new one.  I'll use rye flour for the first step.  I'll also add some unsweetened pineapple juice to the first stage to keep bacteria down.  The method comes from Peter Reinhart in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".  http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/peter_reinhart/2006/07/sourdough_start.html
A great book if you want to really get into bread baking.

Yep. The other one is "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast" by Ken Forkish.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2016, 06:54:38 PM »
I bought a starter from king Arthur and it was cheap. Its supposed to be from a real old culture. I did quite a few loafs with it and kept it going for quite a long time in my fridge. In the end i ended up going back to standard yeast and breads because its simpler and the kids don't like sourdough. It was a lot of fun but patience is required. Making good bread is really rewarding (like making good beer) and when gifted to friends you can see the appreciation on their faces.

we were recently gifted a scion of this starter from a friend. it's been doing really well so far. you do have to stay on top of it and feed it at least weekly but you can keep it in the fridge and feed weekly which really only takes ten minutes.
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Offline Erik_Mog

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2016, 05:06:03 PM »
At my last job, I had the good fortune of being able to use a 30+ year old starter.  Unfortunately, that starter is now 1500 miles away.  If I had the room to take some of it with me when I moved, I would still have it.  I'm going to have to make a new one at some point.  Have to find my old notes and get a good one going.
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Offline stpug

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2016, 06:50:25 PM »
I wanted to give a go at baking some sourdough bread. As I read various (non home brewing) websites on how best to make a starter I had to check in here.

It seems many people try and make/ maintain wild starters with so so results. Would a commercial lacto starter be a better way to go?

I'm sure there's a little carryover from beerbrewing lacto cultures and those found in sourdough starters, but not enough to warrant it use, IMO. Not to mention, a sourdough starter contains some wild yeast (candida typically) too, not just the several species of lactobacillus.  It's a mixed culture.

The process of creating a sourdough starter from scratch is quite simple using rye flour (Hodgson Mills, Bobs Red Mill, etc).  Mix equal weight rye flour and water (say 25g each). Wait 12 hours, remove half, add 25g each rye flour and water (not you have 75g total; 25s+25f+25w). Repeat process every 12 hours for about 9 days. By about day 7-9 you will have a starter that should leaven a loaf of bread, and that was created completely from scratch using nothing more than flour, water, and time (it's pretty cool actually!).

Following this process, you'll find that the starter bubbles up quickly within 24-48 hours and will smell clean, maybe a little fruity, and of wet flour.  Then a day later it does nothing for 1-2 days, and starts to smell of garbage and rotting grossness. Then after that, it will begin bubbling up again but more slowly; as time goes by, it will happen more and more quickly. The smell will move from garbage to more vinegary as the days go on. At this point, about day 7-9, it's ready for baking.

From that point (day 9ish), you want to really help the starter to become strong and stabilize (of course, you can be baking with it throughout this entire time).  This just means maintaining a 12 or 24hour feeding regime for a little while longer (9-14 days more).  Once you've established a strong, reliable, and resilient starter then you can look at refrigerating it to minimize the feeding effort. Often times, a refrigerated starter can go anywhere from a couple weeks to few months between feedings depending on varying specifics and treatment.

To help push the starter into a 24 hour cycle instead of the 12hr cycle you're on, you need to give it more food and make a thicker environment for it to work.  This is accomplished by using a different ratio of starter, flour, and water.  You've been doing 25 starter, 25 water, and 25 flour (1 to 1 to 1 or 1:1:1).  What I've done is move to a 1:3:4 ratio, which makes a thicker starter with less initial innoculant (therefore, fewer initial bugs and more food means it takes longer to eat it all). Also, instead of moving UP in ingredients, I scaled back. For instance, 5g starter, 15g water, 20g flour (5:15:20 = 1:3:4) so I'm only maintaining 40g of starter at all times.  When I'm ready to make some bread, I use a portion of this to build a larger "levain" (starter) in a different container that will be used for the bread, all the while maintaining my original starter in it's original little container.

You can convert the starter to an all white starter too if you find that easier, but the feedings in the fridge won't last as long; and the conversion needs to take place gradually (over the course of a week or two) to avoid shocking the mixed culture.

When I made a new starter a few months back, after a many-year hiatus, I baked a loaf using my Day 8 starter and it worked out very well. The pineapple juice, mentioned above in Denny's post, just helps to avoid the garbage/gross phase by preacidifying the starter. It doesn't necessarily get you to a ready starter any sooner, nor does it produce a starter that has different character.

Edit: Added some extra info on ratio feeding.

These are the two starters I maintain:
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 07:17:49 PM by stpug »

Offline pete b

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2016, 08:00:35 PM »
There's some about to go in the oven at work right now:


The bannetons really help with the wet dough that is needed for a good sourdough.
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Offline stpug

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2016, 05:37:59 AM »
What kind of seeds are those? black sesame? Those are nice looking boules. Do you have an after-bake shot?

Offline pete b

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2016, 11:29:22 AM »
Forgot to take a shot when they were done. My team makes some pretty good bread but I want to work sourdough into our system and one of the cooks who was really into it did an internship at a really great bakery. I'm having her work the different methods into our system and do a workshop for the whole team.
Those are flax seeds. I think she must of toasted them unless the light was just crappy.
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Offline denny

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Re: Sourdough
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2016, 02:12:49 PM »
FWIW, I'm a believer in using pineapple juice rather than water for the first step of a starter...well, really the seed culture as Reinhart calls it.  It reduces the chance of picking up leuconostoc bacteria, which can look like the yeast is working when it really isn't.
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