Basic Sourdough Bread – Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge #30

Oh sourdough, how sweet and lovely you are. From sandwiches to french toast, from Alaska to California. Some bakeries can even trace their starter back over 100 hundred years. Which brings me to my starter and the next bread in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.

The starter process was really easy actually, and takes nothing more than time. Starting with rye flour and water, you slowly build up (and remove) a portion of the starter until the bacteria is running wild. Here are a few pictures of the process.

With the starter smelling good, I figured it was time to make the barm in preparation for the bread. The barm is like a big feeding for the starter, and after it bubbles away on the counter you can refrigerate this pile of goop for 3 days (after which you need to rebuild the barm). The sourdough recipe is nothing more than salt, flour, water and barm which makes it simple as pie. Simple as pie in the minimal sense of ingredients, but you need that wild yeast to do a heck of a lot. And for me, it didn’t do much. After what seemed like forever (better part of two day), I wasn’t getting my dough to rise and figured I would just shove it in the oven. With no oven spring, the bread required quite the bake time to get 205 in the center. After the required cool down, I sliced the first piece and things looked ok..unfortunately the next piece showed the disaster I’d already assumed would be there.

First Slice

Oh No!

Taste wise it was good. There was a nicely developed sour profile which makes it even more of shame, as this wreck probably has more to do with my starter than the actual process and recipe. *shrug* So there we go, my first bomb in the challenge..hopefully the last.

5 thoughts on “Basic Sourdough Bread – Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge #30

  1. Oh, well. You can’t win ’em all. I think you already realize that this recipe is worth trying again (and again). When I made my first starter, I baked PR’s basic sourdough recipe every weekend for several months, until I really had it down pat and consistently got great results.

    Your starter may have been too young to leaven your bread. Keep feeding it and try again. You’ll get much better results.

  2. Hey Chris,

    Don’t fret, just remember that you’ll learn more from your bombs than from your hits. Every baker conjures up the occasional hockey puck loaf. So give this one another try sometime soon. Or maybe even the Hamelman Vermont – lots of people do that one so you can find plenty of posts about it.

    If your starter’s age is as shown on the tape, yeah, you may have been mislead by the “false rise” and the starter wasn’t actually ready to go anywhere. So keep developing it and when it gets to the point that it doubles or triples in a few hours consistently, then it can proof your bread. It may need to get to 6 or 7 days old (or more) before it really starts going dependably, then another couple weeks of twice-daily feeds to start developing its own character. But it will get there, don’t stress. And it *will* raise your bread properly.

    Keep at it!


  3. Hey guys, thanks for the kind words.

    Are you both saying I shouldn’t have moved to a barm? Should I have kept the starter going and going? I’m a little confused with all the wild yeast steps.

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