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Sourdough Starters

When I first decided to get into sourdough baking, I wanted to be sure that the starter I used had all the correct amounts of wild yeast and good bacteria.  After doing a little research online, I found that Amazon had a couple options to choose from.  Based on customer reviews, I went with the Breadtopia starter.  As I was building up that starter to use for the first time, I also got my own sourdough starter going using some whole wheat flour and distilled water.  I usually pull some starter out of each one and combine for my bread, but I also did a side-by-side comparison of the two in a recipe below.  My home-grown starter has much more subtle tartness than the Breadtopia version.  I may have to play around with creating a third starter using some ground up malted wheat or barley, which contain lactobacillus on the husks that might increase the tartness of that starter.


Breadtopia (from Amazon) Ė Started 9/20/2020

-          Built up using instructions from website and used on my first loaves

-          Definitely produces a tart loaf.  The first loaf I made with this starter was almost too tart for me, but I have since come to appreciate the flavor.


Home-Grown Starter #1 Ė 9/23/2020

-          https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/sourdough-starter-recipe

-          Used 1 cup Hy-Vee Wheat Flour to start with Ĺ cup distilled/bottled water

-          Fed with 1 cup Hy-Vee Bleached AP Flour each time with Ĺ cup distilled/bottled water for 3-4 cycles, and discarded half or more of the starter each time.

-          Fed & put in fridge on 9/28




Basic Bread & Sourdough Recipe

Link:  https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/crusty-homemade-bread/


I use the rustic crusty bread recipe listed above & below for the majority of my standard loaves.  I may sub different flours (wheat, rye, etc) in for a portion of the total and adjust flour & water based on how much sourdough starter I'm using for a particular batch, but the ratios are pretty solid for a wetter dough.


Recipe (4 small loaves or two larger loaves)

- 6.5 cups bread flour

- 1.5 TB salt

- 3 cups warm water

- Sourdough starter (adjust water & flour above depending on how much starter is used and how wet or stiff it is)

         - OR 1.5 TB instant yeast if making standard bread (reduce bulk rise & proofing times)



Mix flour & salt together in large mixing bowl. Mix warm water & sourdough starter in a separate smaller bowl and add to dry ingredients.  Mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough comes together.  It will seem a little wet compared to dough that is kneeded to develop gluten, so don't worry if it's a little sticky.  Sprinkle a little flour on top, cover, and let rest until it's doubled in size.  This will take a few to several hours depending on room temp and how active your starter is.


When the dough has doubled, pour it onto a floured counter and cut in half (or fourths if making smaller loaves).  Form into balls and put into floured proofing baskets coated liberally with rice flour.  Cover and let the dough rise on the counter for a couple hours at room temp or in the fridge overnight.


Preheat oven with dutch oven(s) inside to 450 degrees.  Right before you're ready to bake, sprinkle some cornmeal on top of the proofed dough in the baskets and turn out onto a piece of parchment paper.  Putting the parchment paper on a cutting board and then flipping that way helps to avoid a mess.  Cut some handles on the longer ends of the parchment paper around the loaves to make handles for dropping into the dutch oven.  Score the loaves in whatever pattern you'd like. Drop the dough into the bottom of the dutch ovens using your parchment sling and put on the lid.  Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on.  After 20 minutes, remove the lid, lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.  Check the loaves after 15-20 minutes to make sure the tops don't start to burn.  You can tell your loaves are done by inserting a digital thermometer in the center of the loaf, and it should ready 205 degrees or slightly higher.  Once baked, let the loaves cool on a cooling rack for at least 2-3 hours before cutting to avoid a gummy crumb.





Batch #1 - Rustic Sourdough - 9/20/2020




Recipe:  Similar to this one, which is my standard recipe https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/crusty-homemade-bread/



-          Add flour & salt to bowl and mix to combine

-          Mix in Ĺ cup fed sourdough starter (Breadtopia first use) & 1.5 cups warm water together and add to dry ingredients

-          Stir to combine into wet dough, cover, and leave on counter overnight for bulk rise

-          Next Morning: Shape dough into 2 balls, add to floured proofing baskets, and let rise for a few hours until doubled in size

-          Bake at 450 degrees on backing stones for 20 minutes or until top is brown

o   Use ban below stones to add water/steam to in order to make more crunchy crust

-          Let cool before cutting


Overall Impression:  These loaves were pretty tart overall! Much more tart than I was expecting, but Rachel really liked them with Kerrygold butter. I would like a but less tartness, so I will look into methods of getting less tang.



Discard Sourdough - 9/27/2020



Recipe:  Similar to rustic bread above that Iíve been baking for the past 6 months or so

-          Use slightly less water to account for liquid in fed starter



-          Use 1 Cup discarded Mike #1 SD Starter mixed with 1.5 cups warm water to combine

-          Add flour, salt, and Ĺ tsp instant yeast to bowl, combine, and mix in liquid to form a somewhat wet dough

-          Let rise on the counter for 3 hours

-          Split dough & form balls and place into floured baskets (no liner this time)

-          Let rise for 2 hours

-          Bake one at 450 for 22 minutes using standard method

-          Bake the other in pre-heated Dutch oven (lower loaf into pot with parchment, put on lid, and cook

o   20 minutes with lid at 450 degrees & another 10-15 minutes uncovered at 425 until the crust is slightly brown but not burnt


Overall Impression:  The dutch oven process did provide a bit more rise in the dough during baking, and I also got a bit of an ear on the slice I made on the bottom side of the loaf before baking.  I will play around with this method a bit more and see what I come up with.




Wheat Loaves with Overnight Cold Rest - 10/6/2020




-          3.5-4 cups Samís Club Bread Flour

-          ĺ cup Hy-Vee Whole Wheat Flour

-          2 cups warm water

-          2 tsp salt

-          Mixed SD Starter (wet, around 2 cups)


-          Let both SD Starters (Breadtopia & Mike) sit on the counter overnight to ferment out of the fridge. In the morning, I scooped out all but Ĺ cup of each starter and put discard in a bowl. Fed both starters along with the discard with around ĺ cup of AP flour & 1/3 cup water. Let the discard ferment on the counter for 3 hours until it was bubbly and then mixed it in with the other ingredients in the Kitchenaid mixer. Mixed until a wet dough formed. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes, and then mixed for 30 seconds or so on medium-high to build gluten. Repeated another 2 more times at 20-minute intervals, and then I let it sit to bulk ferment unattended for another 5 hours. Split dough in half, formed into balls, and added to floured (rice flour) proofing baskets. Covered the baskets with plastic wrap & basket liners on top and put in the fridge to cold proof overnight.  Took one loaf out of the oven about an hour before the bake to warm up. This loaf ended up spreading out a bit when I flipped it onto the parchment.  There were more large holes in the crumb of this loaf than the one that was put directly into the dutch oven from the fridge.


Overall Impression:

-           Firm tartness in this batch, and everything turned out great! I will continue this method of using the discard from each of my starters and then building that up to make bread or other recipes.





Cold Dutch Oven vs. Hot - 11/13/2020




Basic recipe listed above but cut roughly in half.



The dough was bulk fermented together and split & formed into two proofing baskets for an overnight rest in the fridge.  On the day of the bake, I pulled one of the baskets out of the fridge, dumped it onto parchment paper, and lowered it into a cold dutch oven and put on the lid.  At that point, I started preheating the oven to 450 degrees.  After the oven was preheated, I performed the same steps to drop the other loaf into the hot dutch oven and put on the lid.  I ended up baking both at this point for 20 minutes and then removing the lids & dropping the temp to 425.  After another 14-20 minutes, I removed the loaves from the pans and let them cool on the rack.

Overall Impression:

The flavor was the same on both of these loaves, but I was really interested in what would happen with the oven spring and rise of the loaves.  The cold oven loaf didn't seem to get quitethe same amount of oven spring as the preheated loaf, and the ear was not quite as pronounced.  Overall, there wasn't a ton of difference between the look and crumb of each loaf, but this ezperiment confirmed that the preheated ductch oven is the way I want to continue going moving forward.



Sourdough Starter Comparison - Mike vs. Breadtopia - 12/14/2020



Recipe & Process: 

-        Used basic recipe and process above to make two larger loaves.  Replaced 1.5 cups of bread flour with Hy-Vee whole wheat flour.  Proofed overnight in fridge in baskets.  Baked both loaves in pre-heated dutch ovens.


Overall Impression:

-        Both loaves were very good, but the Breadtopia had a much more pronounced sourness than my Mike starter.  The Mike batch still had a subtle sourness, but about half or so as much as the Breadtopia batch.  I may try making another sourdough starter in the future using some ground up malted wheat or barley based on a suggestion by a fellow brewer since malted grain naturally has lactobacillus on the outside of the kernels.



Maggi Sourdough - 1/4/2020



Recipe & Process: 

Used standard recipe but replaced 1 cup of the bread flour with Hy-Vee whole wheat and made two larger loaves.  Also added 1TB of Maggi seasoning to the dough prior to mixing.  I meant to reduce the amount of salt since Maggi is kind of salty, but I forgot.  Overnight proof in fridge. Baked in preheated dutch ovens.


Overall Impression:

I tried a small slice of the heal at room temperature after cooling, and I didnít really pick up any of the Maggi flavor or aroma.  I decided to toast a slice to have with butter, and that really brought out the aroma!  The flavor was also increased after toasting.  Overall, I think the 1TB amount per two larger loaves was about right. It would still be fine to eat this bread with other savory spreads or with meals without the Maggi totally overwhelming the overall sourdough and grain flavor.  I think Iím going to try something similar with some Premium soy sauce I got at the Asian market thatís a bit too salty to use on its own.  I will need to make a note to reduce or remove the salt addition for that batch though.



Feed Mike SD Starter with Crushed Malted Wheat - 4/4/2021

Info:  I had a friend suggest adding some crushed malted wheat malt to my homemade starter to increase acidity since it's a bit on the mild side.  I never thought of this before, but it totally makes sense considering malted grain has a bunch of lactobacillus on it naturally.  So I blitzed around 1 cup of wheat malt in my coffee grinder until it was medium-fine in texture. I added that to my Mike SD starter along with a bit of water, mixed, and put into the fridge until I want to use it again. I thought about keeping the starter at room temp for another day, but I really didn't need to bake again this week, so I put it in the fridge along with the Breadtopia starter to wait until I bake again.  I plan on building up the starter maybe a couple times and then do another side-by-side comparison between the two starters and see if my Mike SD starter has increased in acidity at all.



































Contact Information:  MikeYoungHB at gmail.com

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