Need help with Sour Dough Bread

Discussion in 'Egg, Chicken, & Other Favorite Recipes' started by VT Chick-lit, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. VT Chick-lit

    VT Chick-lit Out Of The Brooder

    Today I made my first loaf of sour dough bread. I started making my starter 4 days ago and didnt think it would work. It did, sort of.

    My starter did proof and bubble. It had a great sour / beery smell and it did make a good sponge. It seemed ok when I added flour and did the first kneeding of the dough. I have made yeast bread many times and this dough seemed a little softer, even though I added 1 cup more flour than the recipe said. The first rise was good, it took about 4 hours to get a good rise. I turned out the dough and did a second kneed adding still more flour because the dough didnt seem to want to hold a round loaf shape. I finally got it to have a deicent loaf shape, but the dough still seemed a little soft. Rose the loaf again. The loaf lost its shape during this rise and spread across the cookie sheet like a 3 inch thick pancake. I gave up at that point and baked it any way. It smells good, now that it out of the oven and we will see how it tasts, but it sure is the oddest looking loaf of bread that I have made.

    Does anyone have any ideas why this bread spread out instead of up as it rose?
  2. thunder123

    thunder123 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2008
    East Feliciana (Jackson)
    when we cook we can add this or that or skip this or that, but when baking you HAVE TO FOLLOW THE RECIPIE ! You can't fool around with it. I'ts like Martha Stewart....when baking always read the directions and alllow for the weather conditions . I don't get good bread here in the summer.
  3. peeplessinNC

    peeplessinNC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2008
    NC Piedmont
    Sounds to me as if there are several possiblities here:

    ~ your hydration of your starter was way up, i.e. there was a lot more water in your starter than is usual

    ~ perhaps you did not knead sufficiently long enough to develop the gluten in the dough? Bread dough should be kneaded until the dough is no longer a shaggy mass, but holds together in a ball that springs back when poked with your finger. You may need to put this sourdough recipe into a pan to contain it and help it to rise up rather than out.

    ~ Did you slash the top of your loaf after it had risen on the baking sheet? Making diagonal slashes down the center of the loaf also helps it to rise up rather than spreading out.

    ~ Did you feed your starter with equal parts of flour and water and let it sit to work for a couple of hours before you took out 1 cup of starter to make your recipe? Did you use all the starter in the recipe that you made? That could be the problem; usually some starter is kept back to make dough again in a few days or a week.

    Without knowing your recipe, it is hard to pinpoint the problem.
  4. VT Chick-lit

    VT Chick-lit Out Of The Brooder

    peeplessinNC, I slashed my loaf and I used 1 cup of starter and had about 1 cup left over. I had alot of the liquer on the top of the starter that I just stirred in to the starter. Since this is the first time that I have tried to make sour dough starter and sour dough bread, I am not sure when to stir the liquer on the top of the starter in and when to drain some off. The recipe says that when your starter is to loose, you can pour off some of the liquer. I guess this might have been part of the problem. I am not sure how thick the starter should be. I started the starter with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and fed it each day a 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 water and removed an equal amount from the jar. I did this until the starter started to "work". The thickness of the starter landed up being like a medium cream.
  5. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    If I let my dough rise too long on the 2nd rise, it'll spread out rather than rise. It poofs up in the kitchen but doesn't get as tall.
  6. peeplessinNC

    peeplessinNC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2008
    NC Piedmont
    Vt Chick - Sounds like you are doing the right thing! The liquer on top is commonly called "hooch." When I have about an inch or more of hooch, I pour off most of it, then feed the starter with flour and water.

    Starters can be fairly liquid or more firm. I've heard that a more firm starter can actually add more of a sourdough flavor. But I usually keep mine (I have two strains) more on the liquid side.

    You say you used one cup of starter in your bread recipe? How much flour did the recipe call for? If only 3 cups or less to make one loaf, then 1 cup starter was definitely too much and the resulting dough was very slack, as you saw. I usually feed my starter with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water, but you can feed 1/4 cup flour and 2 TB water if you want to have a firmer starter. I only keep about 1 cup starter remaining in the jar as it is not necessary to keep lots of starter on hand.

    FWIW, mixing bread dough is one of those things where "adding a little more" and less than precise measuring can be fine. The temperature and humidity of the kitchen and the weather can be a factor as well as the energy and expertise of the baker when kneading. Also, where the wheat was grown, when, and the weather conditions are all variables that we can't control.

    I've kept a sourdough starter (Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail) going for 3 years now. I also got Sourdough Jack's starter from a friend on another forum. Let me know if you want either of those two cultures - I can dry some for you and mail it.
  7. VT Chick-lit

    VT Chick-lit Out Of The Brooder

    peeplessinNC You say you used one cup of starter in your bread recipe? How much flour did the recipe call for? If only 3 cups or less to make one loaf, then 1 cup starter was definitely too much and the resulting dough was very slack, as you saw.

    The recipe for my bread did call for 1 cup of starter and 3 cups of flour. I landed up useing about 4 1/2 cups of flour by the time the bread was in the oven to bake. I guess making sour dough bread has a learning curve! It took me a while to learn how to make yeast raised bread so what did I expect?

    I am interested in the starter and have PM ed you regarding this. I am interested in knowing how you dry starter and still keep the native yeasts viable and how do you reconstitute them?

    I will be trying another loaf next week on Wednesday. Wish me luck! [​IMG]
  8. Rosalind

    Rosalind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
    Are you using all purpose flour or bread flour? Every once in a while--not always, just once in a while when I use store brand flour instead of the good stuff, if it's all-purpose flour, it doesn't quite have enough gluten in it to make a good high loaf.

    Other than that, yeah, try kneading a loooong time, way more than you'd knead regular bread. Also, I wouldn't do more than two rises, after that you're kinda exhausting the sugar in the bread and the yeast won't poof as good.
  9. miss_jayne

    miss_jayne Lady_Jayne

    Jun 26, 2008
    Columbiaville, MI
    Quote:i second this! it will flatten out and the surface will look too smooth. it looks like a square and not a pretty top.

    sometimes, the humidity is the factor. more flour is needed when humid. it will flatten out then also.
  10. VT Chick-lit

    VT Chick-lit Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks everyone for all the hints. I am using all purpose flour but I will now add a little extra gluten. I also my not have kneeded it long enough. I am going to try again tomorrow ( the last loaf has been eaten). We'll see what happens!

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