So many possible reasons, but with sourdough baking you always need to use the recipe as a starting point and then make adjustments to your own environment. If you aren’t getting a rise in your fridge it might be that your fridge is a good bit colder than Eric’s was - the colder it is the more it slows down fermentation. Or your starter might not be as active as Eric’s was. In both cases, you would just need to give it longer in the fridge and/or leave it out of the fridge in a warmer temp a bit longer.
Getting a more open crumb is kind of a grail quest in whole grain sourdough baking, so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. There are, as you say, a lot of variables involved and mastering them takes a long time.
If really serious about your quest, you might want to get a copy of Trevor J. Wilson’s “Open Crumb Mastery” e-book:
A lot of times, whether you see bubbles or not on top of the starter is due to how stiff / liquidy your starter is (i.e. what the ratio of flour and water is in there). If you see a lot of rise but no bubbles make it to the top, that happens with a relatively stiff starter. Which is fine; it’s the rise that matters. But if you want to see bubbles, try increasing the amount of water in your starter so it is a bit more liquidy and you will probably see bubbles (and there will then be less rising in the starter itself because the bubbles will be bubbling up and out instead of pushing the starter up - this is also fine because when you introduce the starter into a stiffer bread dough, the bubbles will again be trapped and push up the dough - i.e. “rise”).
Thanks, peevee. It seems I’m not the only one with this problem!! Thanks for the suggestion of the e-book.
I just had a piece of this bread tonight, and might I say it was simply wonderful! Taste and texture, soul satisfying! A must do again. Thanks
This bread gets better every time I make it. It is the best bread I have ever made. If you haven’t made this, I recommend you try it. It will quickly become your favorite recipe.
I just made this recipe for the first time this weekend (photo attached). Your instructions and videos are a huge help; so clear and informative. I’ve only just started making bread with a homemade sourdough starter that I recently made, and your recipe was the second time using it. I did have a couple of questions about dough hydration levels that are mentioned on your recipe page: what is it, why is it important, how do you change the level, and what happens if you do change they hydration level?
Hydration level is the weight of water in the recipe as a percentage of the weight of flour. 1000g of flour and 700g water = 70% hydration level. Increase or decrease the moisture level to change the hydration.
Someone could probably write a book about hydration. Here’s one thing: higher hydration creates a more open crumb (bigger holes). That’s partly why the wet no knead recipes are popular. Too wet, though, and the loaf tends to flatten out during baking, unlike your loaf.
Thanks, Eric. So, the calculation itself is simple: this recipe is 741 grams of flour and 474 grams of water = 64% hydration, correct? On this attempt, I ended up with an interior that is pretty uniform with small voids (is that called a closed crumb?).
If I desire an interior with a more open crumb, I add more water to get a dough with higher hydration; is there a rule of thumb to anticipate the change more water might influence a dough, or is it just a trial & error process?
Yes, that’s closed crumb. But the more whole wheat in a recipe the tighter the crumb is also a reliable corollary. This crumb will open up more with a higher hydration but nothing close to what you’d likely see with white flour. There are other factors that come into play with all this too. How the dough is handled along the way and especially during shaping, proofing times and no doubt other stuff. Trial and error definitely helps with getting so you feel you know how one thing affects another.
Does anyone sift their whole grains before baking bread with them? I’ve got white sourdough down very well and want to make whole grain, but don’t like the effect of bran on dough. I have a 60 gauge sieve and my own stone mill. Has anyone made this loaf with all sifter flours?
Is there a big difference between white flour and whole grain flour that’s had the bran / germ sifted out of it? Are you thinking to only sift out part of it? In which case it may be easier to combine whole grain flour with bread or all-purpose white flour.
It’s not white flour at all. The stone-milled flour that has been sifted is still light brown, has most of the germ and very tiny bits of bran Best of all, it is FRESH. But MUCH of the bran sifts out, and I can use it later, sprinkle on top, or dust the peel with it instead of semolina. I’m just wondering if anyone has used sifted, or bolted whole grain flour for sourdough, and if so, any adjustments? Thanks
I have read that yeast (all yeast) goes dormant at 40 degrees F. So if your refrigerator is that cold, perhaps it is too cold?
Sure, I (and many people) use bolted flour for sourdough bread baking all the time. Its performance is mid-way between white flour and whole grain. So you might adjust your hydration down some from a whole grain recipe, or up some from a white flour recipe. All other things equal, you will likely see a crumb structure that is in between that of white flour (more open) and whole grain (more closed).
I have a mill and some different sifters (40, 50, 60) and I have sifted my fresh milled flour. From a flavor standpoint (and probably also nutritionally) it is really nice using fresh-milled flour, but I have found that sifting is kind of a pain in the butt and also messy (dusty). I know that Breadtopia mills in small batches for freshness so lately, when I’ve wanted to use bolted flour, I’ve bought theirs. But also lately, I have been on a real whole grain kick and so for the last several months, I’ve really pretty much only baked with fresh-milled, 100% whole grain flour and I doubt I’ll turn back from that at this point.
Thanks, Paul. I didn’t call it bolted because I wanted to be sure everyone knew what I meant I sort of like sifting…slow food. I tried a wild sourdough loaf yesterday and let the bolted WW flour sit in the water while the barm warmed up a bit. Did need more water. The loaf turned out very nicely. I think I’ll just try experimenting - adding more bolted WW or other flours until I don’t like the loaf! I’m not ready for whole whole grain yet.
Best words ever uttered in connection with baking bread!
Every loaf is an edible science experiment plus some measure of grail quest. That’s the best part of bread baking for me.
The experimenting is the best for me too. I rarely follow a recipe. I think that’s why I had ll these bread books but it wasn’t until Bread Baker’s Apprentice that I really got hooked. And now I just bought the 15 yr anniversary edition because it’s got METRIC. Yes. I am a Breadhead.
Nice meeting you!
Hello, I live in Western NSW, Australia and am teaching myself how to make sourdough and prior to following Eric’s video for this sourdough recipe I had only had one real success after 3 previous loaves. I put this down to my house being too cold, not really understanding the terminology and also handling techniques. The video was such a great support for me and I loved that i had Eric by my side explaining as I went through the steps…thank you…I baked my bread in a large pre-heated chasseur cast iron round pot. My loaf was beautiful and it rose well, it had a thin and crisp crust and the crumb was soft, springy and just gorgeous with butter - I checked the temp after removing and it was cooked. One thing i noticed is my starter even though very active, has lost its sourness which i really enjoyed and thought that was one of the identifying characteristics of sourdough. I noticed this after the third loaf. I have read where a long proofing in the fridge would help with this, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference. Previously I had my starter in the fridge as I only get to bake once a week if that. I have since moved it to the kitchen bench and today measured out 60g of starter and added in 60 bread flour and 60g filtered water. Appreciate any advice on how to bring the sourness back. Kind regards and really appreciate the help this forum provides. Regards, Ann
I baked this loaf recently, and it was once again great. It remains one of our very favorites – as you can tell by the small hand reaching for it here.
Interestingly, this loaf is one where my rather non-sour starter pretty regularly results in a more sour flavor. Presumably, the different rates at which grain or flour types ferment (e.g. rye vs. white flour) could foster more or less sourness in the final product. What’s surprising, though, is that I regularly make a rye bread using a 50/50 blend of whole grain rye and white flour, and the flavor doesn’t normally end up on the sour side. Given how “aggressively” rye ferments, I’d expect a higher amount of acetic acid to develop in the dough – which may be the case, but if so, I don’t taste it (whether or not I cold-proof the dough). In this “whole grain sourdough” loaf, the sourness is typically more obvious, and in a good way.
Would this fit in the Breadtopia oval clay baker (and the related proofing basket)? I don’t yet have a round cloche.
Also, if kneading with a stand mixer (Kitchenaid Artisan), roughly how long should I let it run?