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How to make sourdough bread...

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    How to make sourdough bread...

    Last edited by Breadhead; August 2, 2017, 08:18 PM.

    Here is lesson #1. This is Chef Jacob from Stellaculinary.com. He is a friend of mine. He and I have collaborated on developing bread recipes for Meathead.

    I want you to watch this video so you see the exact steps and what the dough should look like and feel like at each step of the process. Mixing, developing gluten structure, shaping, scoring and baking are all critical steps. Pay close attention to Chef Jacob's technique at each and every step. He is a Master bread baker and he will shorten your learning curve greatly. There are three very important things in making a great loaf of sourdough bread they are 1) technique 2) technique and 3) technique!!! How you handle the dough at each and every step is critical. Sourdough recipes are a dime a dozen. Famous baker's become famous because of their mastery of finessing the dough to look beautiful.

    Some recipes are easier to handle than others. That's why I want you to start with a different recipe than what Chef Jacob used in this video. A 70% hydration loaf is a little harder to handle than a 66% hydration dough. Yes a few % of hydration makes a big difference.

    Use this recipe it's a smaller loaf and a good size loaf to learn with.

    500 grams of bread flour = 100%
    200 grams of sourdough starter
    300 grams of water = 66%
    12 grams of salt = 2%

    When you combine the flour and water from the starter. This formula is actually:
    600g of flour=100%
    400g of water=66%
    12g of salt=2%

    Use this recipe but follow Chef Jacob's techniques exactly at each step.

    As far as baking it in a cast iron Dutch oven goes, that's a great method but not everyone has a DO. Creating Steam for the first 2/3s of the baking process is crucial though. I have other methods of creating steam when we get to that step.


    Also be aware... We are making grocery store quality Sourdough Bread off this recipe and these technique's. Later... after you have mixed and baked a few loaves of bread and are very comfortable with the techniques and know what the dough is supposed to look like and how it's supposed to feel at each step of the process... We can move you into REAL Artisan sourdough bread making.
    Last edited by Breadhead; August 26, 2016, 12:09 PM.


    • Steve Vojtek
      Steve Vojtek commented
      Editing a comment
      I like Chef Jacob's technique better too - he put more work into it - it has to be better. I have two dutch ovens so i will try Chef Jacob's way..

    • Breadhead
      Breadhead commented
      Editing a comment
      Chef Jacob makes everything seem easy. He is a great teacher. The Dutch oven method is a great choice. I'm glad you already have some. They are great for trapping the steam and maximizing the oven spring of your boule.

    Lesson #2. This video will be a huge leap forward in your bread making journey. It will put all of those percentages in perspective for you. Baking bread is science and technique. Baker's have their own lingo and once you understand the science and lingo you can quit being a recipe following baker of bread. You will be able to scale any bread recipe up or down and you will be able to create your own recipes.
    Last edited by Breadhead; June 4, 2015, 01:44 PM.


      I do use my Dutch oven for bread baking. I also use this technique indoors and outdoors. You spray your loaf with a misting bottle right before you put it on the pizza stone and then cover it with the stainless steel mixing bowl to trap the steam inside the bowl. The steam keeps the skin of your loaf soft during the oven spring process. It will give your loaf pretty ears too.


        Lesson #3. When do you know when your bread is ready to bake?

        This guy in the video calls it the finger dent test. It is more commonly referred to as the poke test. If you remember in Chef Jacob's basic sourdough video he did it right before he put his dough in the Dutch oven but he didn't explain it in detail. Knowing this detail can save you from over or under proofing a dough you've spent hours developing. You should use the poke test on every loaf of bread you make.
        Last edited by Breadhead; August 26, 2016, 12:15 PM.


          Lesson #4. The real nitty gritty of bread making. This an audio podcast by Chef Jacob about the 4 pillars of bread making. It's good to fully understand how and why all of this works.

          Download This Episode... http://stellaculinary.com/scs18

          In this episode of the Stella Culinary School Podcast we kick off our bread baking lecture series with a lesson on the four ingredients needed to make bread. We discuss the science behind flour, water, yeast and salt and how it will affect your overall bread dough recipe.

          In this episode:

          The baker's percentage and why it's important.

          Gluten and what role it plays in producing a great loaf of bread.

          The difference between cake, active dry and instant dry yeast.

          Salt's effect on gluten networks and yeast.

          The role acidic, alkaline and hard waters play in dough development.

          The different types of flour used for bread baking.
          Last edited by Breadhead; August 26, 2016, 12:16 PM.


            Steve... You mentioned to me earlier that your sourdough starter was taking a long time to rise because of your ambient temperature being 42° F. On days that you're not going to be using it, that's a blessing. You will have less frequent dump and feeds.

            However if you're going to be using it tomorrow say... Feed it late at night before you go to bed and when you add the water use 90°F water. Use an instant read thermometer to know what your water temp is. Place the container of starter in your unheated oven. The pilot flame in there will keep the oven warmer than your ambient room temp. Your starter will fully bloom in much less time.

            Side note: when you mix up you first loaf of dough use the same warm water method when you add your water to the flour. Believe it or not there is a scientific formula to getting your dough to a predetermined temperature at the end of the mixing process to speed up your proofing process. That formula was developed by General Mills, the largest flour producer in the world, when they were selling a new flour to small pizzerias all around the world. Their customers in hot and cold climate were having a hard time making the dough come out right. So... They determined that to get a quick rise the dough needed to be 80°F at the end of the mixing process and published a chart to make that possible in Anchorage, Alaska during a blizzard or Phoenix, Arizona in the hottest part of their summer.

            Here's how it works. With your instant read thermometer...
            1. What is your ambient temperature. Let's say 50°F.
            2. Take the temperature of your flour in its storage bag. Again let's say 50°F.
            3. What is the temperature of your starter in its storage container. Again lets say 50°F.
            4. Now we want to add water that will bring these 3 elements to 80°F to speed up the ferment/proofing process.

            Remember with the above recipe we have 100g of Water that's already in your starter and it's at 50° F too. So we only have 300g of water that we can add to this recipe.

            So 2/3 of our recipe's weight is at 50° F and we are going to use the other 1/3 of the recipe to bring the combined total to 80° F.

            However... We CANNOT have the water over 115°F or we will kill the yeast in our starter.

            Here's the General Mills chart... http://www.generalmillsfoodservice.c...ure-chart.ashx

            If you read the footnote's below the chart GM added 30% for friction factor when the dough is mixed in big commercial high speed mixers. We are doing this by hand and we will have less than 2% friction factor.

            So if I was in a room mixing dough when 2/3 of my ingredients were 50° F I would make my water 110° F I'm figuring the temp of your dough at the end of the mixing process will be pretty close to 80°F.

            Another side note: Once you learn the technique's of working this formula and its methods into achieving really nice looking and tasting loaves of sourdough bread... We will kick it up a notch and get you into REAL Artisan sourdough bread baking.

            We will use the same basic formula: 600g flour
            We will increase the water weight to 70/75% of the weight of the flour
            We we intentionally slow down the fermentation process.
            We will use only 10/25g of starter and increase the flour and water to replace the those elements we eliminate by reducing the starter content.

            Instead of making a loaf of bread in 8 hours. You will make a killer loaf of Artisan sourdough bread that takes 1 1/2 days to get ready to bake.

            Loaves like that... You can't buy anywhere in the world. Those that have the time and know how to create them would go broke trying to sell them.
            Last edited by Breadhead; August 26, 2016, 12:27 PM.


              Thank you so much for this post Breadhead . Really appreciate it . I've read bits and pieces here from your posts but to have it all in one place really helps . Nobody i know bakes sourdough bread . To be learning from you is a privilege for me - I've seen your results. Awesome. The problem is there is a lot of info on the net about sourdough starters (some of it conflicting) and it's hard to make sense of it sometimes. But i have learned a lot in the last three weeks and have more to learn - I will be studying the links you have posted here very carefully in the next few days . As far as the equipment needed a lot of them i already have and the rest i will get. And thinking about controlling the temp of my starter today - I realised i already have the kitchen gadget to do it. I've read somewhere that some people partially submerge the starter container in warm water and check it and replenish hot water as necessary - i thought of sous vide. Sous vide magic and a rice cooker - perfect combination. And checked with my thermapen it is accurate.
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              Mine is in celsius - 27celsius = 80farenheit (apparently a good temp for starter) i can vary as i learn to suit my needs .
              This will give me better control over the starter. Thank you Breadhead and i will keep you posted on my progress .


              • Breadhead
                Breadhead commented
                Editing a comment
                That's a cool method of controlling the temp of your starter. Yeast loves 80° F.
                Last edited by Breadhead; August 26, 2016, 12:29 PM.

              Steve... It's a pleasure to help someone that wants to learn how to make real bread. As I mentioned before, someone did this for me. Until I met him I baked lots of hockey pucks and door stops.

              His first advice to me was to not use all the fancy equipment that I had bought to bake bread, like my Kitchen Aid mixer. His advice to me was you have to feel the dough with your hands and see its development with your eyes. You have to know when the dough is ready for the next step of the process. The only way you can do that is repetition. Making the same recipe over and over again. Your 3rd try will be much easier than your first try because you will know what to look for and what's coming next. By your 10th loaf you will be a pro.

              The most important lesson in this entire thread by far is Chef Jacob's video showing you how to mix the dough, showing you how to handle it at each step of the process. Showing when to autolyse/rest the dough. Showing the slap and fold and the stretch and fold techniques. My advice to you is watch that video many times so the steps are embedded in your mind.

              I can feel your passion to learn this craft. I remember having that feeling myself. As crazy as it may seem I still love learning about baking new types of bread. I learned with sourdough bread. Then moved on to Baguette's, Ciabatta bread, Brioche Hamburger buns and focaccia bread.

              Most beginning bakers don't usually choose sourdough bread as their starting point because it is the most difficult of all bread making. No one told me that. The thought of making a beautiful loaf of bread out of flour, water, starter and salt was fascinating to me. I'm glad I chose SD to start my bread journey because the techniques that you're required to learn make all other bread making seem easy.

              Good luck Steve... It's time to make your first loaf. Take pictures. Feel free to ask me any question you have at any time. I'm here to help.

              It's nice to have a fellow Breadhead here on AmazingRibs.com.
              Last edited by Breadhead; June 5, 2015, 01:23 PM.


                Steve... Here's a loaf I mixed together yesterday and baked today. I used the pre-ferment process where you mix together half of the flour of the recipe with an equal amount of water and 1/4 of the starter. You let that ferment at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. Then you add the rest of the flour, water and salt, but no more starter. The 50 grams of starter I used earlier has increased greatly over the last 12/16 hours. It has enough power to raise the other half of the flour. I mixed it to a shaggy mass and autolyse it for an hour. Then I did slap and folds, stretch and folds and tension tugs then final shape it and put it in the banneton for final proofing.

                In this recipe I only used 50 grams of starter but I added 75 grams of bread flour and 75 grams of water to make up for the starter I left out. I also decided to make it a 70% hydration loaf so I added 20 additional grams of water.

                A low starter, extended fermentation, process will develop more flavor in your bread.

                You can move to this process after you learn the basic steps and techniques.

                Last edited by Breadhead; June 6, 2015, 01:14 AM.


                  This thread is awesome. I have been wanting to learn this for a while, it is on my list for this summer. Thanks again!


                  • Breadhead
                    Breadhead commented
                    Editing a comment
                    @chudzikb... Thanks for your kind comment. I'm using my 5 years of studying sourdough bread making to condense Steve's learning curve.

                    When a person decides he/she wants to learn to make real sourdough bread without direction from someone that knows the craft you can get lost in the ocean of facts and opinions.

                    I've compiled a short list of things for Steve to study. If he follows this thread exactly he will be making nice sourdough loaves this month and by the end of July he will be an accomplished baker of sourdough bread. If he bakes a couple of loaves a week.

                    I personally stumbled around the oceans of facts and opinions for almost a year before I found my sourdough mentor. Before finding him I had baked lots of hockey pucks and door stops. He had me baking good loaves in a month and great loaves in 3 months.

                    When you want to give it try just use this thread and follow the lesson plans as laid out above. Feel free to ask me questions at anytime.

                  Yes it is thanks to Breadhead . Keep an eye on this thread chudzikb if you're interested in baking sourdough - it will be updated with more info as i progress in my journey to great sourdough bread but everything you need to get started is already here - you need a sourdough starter which is easy - just flour and water . You will need some equipment as you'll see in the videos and Breadhead's pics at the top - you may already have some of it. But most of all have fun with it - that's what it's all about...


                  • Breadhead
                    Breadhead commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Well said Steve.

                    It is a fun journey. I'm as addicted to BBQ as much as I am Bread baking. They just happen to be complementary addictions because both require very little hands on time and lots and lots of planning and waiting.

                    I usually bake bread while I'm doing a long low and slow cook. Having fresh bread with your brisket or pork butt adds to a fine meal. Plus your house smells good when you're baking bread.
                    Last edited by Breadhead; June 6, 2015, 09:50 PM.

                  Steve... When do you plan to mix up your first batch of dough?


                    Hi Breadhead - i'm doing it right now . I started as soon as i got home from work . At work i realized that although i have or can improvise most of the equipment needed i didn't have a scraper so i made one up from some thin stainless i had - i saw some on ebay but didn't wanna wait for it to be delivered . I will report back with some more pics and details tomorrow as by the time i'm finished it will be late and i'll be going to bed . Here are some pics of the diy . The dough is doing the first bulk ferment and i'm gonna use the time to do some shopping . I'l report back soon....


                    • Breadhead
                      Breadhead commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Wow... You look like you really know your stuff on metal fabrication. That must be your profession.

                      Glad to see you are mixing your first batch of dough. Everything looks great so far.

                      I'm excited to see your pictures.

                      Have fun!

                    My profession involves a lot of metal fabrication - guess i wasn't smart enough to become a lawyer or doctor LOL but it has it's advantages.. I just pulled the lid off .. Another 30 min's to go ... It will be 2am when it's finished here i will not cut it till tomorrow - will be going to sleep .. another sneak peek : Click image for larger version

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