More sourdough experimentation

IMG_1082.JPGWhen my beloved saw that I wasn’t happy with how my sourdough turned out, and that I wasn’t sure if it was the flour or if I’d over-proofed, he came up with the Scientist’s Answer: run an A-B test.

So this morning we went to Bee Sustainable and got some freshly-milled whole wheat, which is what I used the first time; and we also went and bought a thin rubber sleeping mat to insulate the cardboard box I had been using (because we don’t own an esky and I’m not sure what size I would need to fit boxes or bowls).

Now, I have made two bread mixes. One, in a container originally used for plain flour, using the Laucke bread; the other, in the SR container, using the wholemeal. I already expect there to be a slight difference because I used the same recipe for both, and white flour needs less water than wholemeal – but I used the same amount anyway. I figured it was a trade-off for the experiment: different flour AND different recipe, or just different flour? It might have an impact on the rise, I’m not sure; we’ll see.

Because I am not great at visually estimating size, I’ve also got the tape measure out, as you can see. I took measurements when I first put the doughs in; I plan to measure every 30 minutes to see what happens.


Update 1: 


Update 2:

The white flour mix continues to get bigger faster, but the wholemeal is still getting bigger also. The question here is when to cook… I think I’ll go for the two hours, rather than three, since they are definitely getting bigger.

Update 3:

Pretty sure they’ve both stopped rising. I’m going to give them a little longer, to get to two hours, and then I’ll be shaping them.

Update 4:

As I suspected when I made the doughs, this is going to be a failure of an experiment because I used the same recipe for the white flour. It’s incredibly gooey and while I did put it in a banneton, I was unable to even shape it because of how liquid-y it was. So we’ll see how it goes after baking. My prediction is that it will take a lot longer to cook, and will probably be hard to get out of the banneton because it will have got into the basket grooves as a stick mess. Guess we’ll find out in a couple of hours.

Update 5:

Sometimes, when one is particularly thick, or focussed on one way of doing things… well, one misses the obvious. There was no way that white flour mixture was going to turn out of the banneton. But of course, I also have a loaf tin. So I’ve just decanted it. Which means that any rising it has done has been ruined, I think; but I think I will still cook it at the same time as the wholemeal. Or maybe I’ll tag team them. I’ll decide at 3.30…

Update 6:

I’ve decided to cook them separately; that seems most sensible. Although I forgot to check the tension of the wholemeal dough before putting it on to the pizza stone, and I have a feeling it wasn’t actually quite ready. Oh well. Le sigh.

Update 7:

Feeling disheartened. I don’t think the cob loaf – the wholemeal dough – has turned out very well either. The crust doesn’t seem to have come away, so that’s positive, but I have a feeling it might turn out to be doughy inside.

IMG_1084Update 8:

Yeh. Not sure about these. The white loaf did at least cook, which is good, but I had to put it back in for a while so the middle wasn’t gooey (I remembered I have skewers for this very reason!). Not sure about the wholemeal cob; it may be gooey (… because I didn’t remember I had skewers when I was trying to figure out if it was ready).

Overall I am feeling grumpy. Final update to come: when I cut into the things and check them. Later.

Update 9 and you will not believe it:


Look at that! They both came out ok! Well, the wholemeal one has a gaping hole but it doesn’t separate the crust from the loaf, so that’s an improvement! And they both tasted good! … which is weird. Exciting, but weird.

I believe the result here is that more experimentation is going to be required. Darn it.

11 thoughts on “More sourdough experimentation

  1. I use a glass bowl for proofing. To help with the estimation of “that’s about doubled”, I used a Sharpie marker to mark volume lines on the bowl. Add a cup (or 1/2 cup or whatever) water to the bowl, mark a line. Repeat. The lines wear off, but it’s easy enough to redo the lines.


    1. Interesting! The dude whose course I did said no glass bowls because they’re not insulated; do you do something to keep it warm? Because this does seem like an easy way to judge whether it’s doubled. (He also said, and I’ve noticed, that sourdough doesn’t double… the starter works differently from baker’s yeast or something?)


      1. I live in the desert the temperature in the kitchen is around 80F degrees. I put the dough in the room temperature oven to keep the dogs from being tempted. In the winter, I turn on the oven light to slightly warm the oven.

        I have two starters and they are very different from one another. One will double a batch of bread in about 2 hours time and goes “crazy” when I first put it in the oven. I have to only “1-1/2” (instead of doubling) to keep the bread loaf from blowing apart.

        The other starter takes much longer–start the rise in the afternoon and it will be ready to bake the next morning. Bread from this starter just “sits there” when I first put it in the oven, so, if I don’t let it rise as much as possible, I get brick-bread. I think this will double the dough…if not, it’s close.


  2. I live in the desert and summer time kitchen temperatures are around 80F degrees. Winter time kitchen temperatures are around 70F degrees.

    Because I have two dogs that have given me the, “Who? Us? We would never..” look when I’ve found the dough missing from the counter, I put the dough in the room temperature oven. In the winter, I turn on the oven light a hour or two before using it as a “proofing box”.

    I have two different starters and I have to treat them very differently. I made a lot of bird food bread while I figured them out. And even now, sometimes I’m not smarter than a sourdough starter.:-)

    One starter’s bread goes crazy right after I put it in the oven and if I let it rise more than a couple of hours, I get the blown apart looking loaves. I guess it only “1-1/2s” instead of doubles.

    The other starter’s bread doesn’t do anything when I put it in the oven, so I have to let it rise as much as it can and it takes *forever*. The rise starts in the early afternoon and it might be ready to bake by mid morning.


    1. How interesting! How do you know when the second starter’s bread is ready to go? When it’s noticeably risen?
      I have an electric oven so no-go with the oven in winter, I think… and I don’t have thieving dogs either 😛


  3. I just “go with it” and bake it when I get around to it in the morning. Usually it has noticably risen…but nowhere near doubled.

    The bread is slightly dense and VERY sour.


  4. I must have forgot I posted….It was hectic here yesterday.

    With the slower starter–I put it in the oven after an 18 hour “plus or minus an hour or two” 2nd rise. It seems to work….

    The fast starter; I used it yesterday. The first rise was about 2 hours, the 2nd rise was just over an hour. It may be faster than regular yeast bread.


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