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post #1 of 5
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I made sourdough bread for the first time, including the starter, and the crust is like concrete. The bread inside is fine and tastes great. When I let it rise for the second time on a cookie sheet, it got kind of flattened. I think that was because I didn't knead in enough flour and it was too moist. Could that also account for the boiler plate crust? When I tested the dough with my finger to see if it had risen, it didn't come back up at all and the bread inside is nice and bubbly. It's just that crust! I was seriously thinking of using a jig saw to slice it. I think it ruined my bread knife! Also, I baked it in an unpreheated oven for 45 min. at 350 deg. Did I bake it too long?
post #2 of 5
Could be. There are other factors at work too. Most good bakers allow sourdough three rather than two rises. The amount of rise -- not in time, but in volume -- is important also. Bread that rises too much is very soft and gravity collapses it.

Most of all, I'd like to know how you formed your loaf. That and too much rise were the most likely culprits. However, if it happens again (and it will!) just tell people you were baking a ciabatta (slipper-shaped loaf) instead of a batard (torpedo shaped loaf).

For some reason, people think bread dough should be dry. Most bread doughs, including French white bread doughs (which is what a sourdough bread is) should not. Should not! Exclamation point! Darn it! It should ride the border between sticky and dry. Just dry enough so it prefers to stick to itself rather than your hands or the board. If you could knead the bread without it sticking to the board, it probably wasn't too wet. On the other hand, sourdoughs act wetter than other doughs -- you want to stay a little under 65% hydration (if you know what that means).

No. The most likely culprits are the cold start and the amount of baking time.

By nice and bubbly, do you mean the bread inside had an "open texture." That is there were a lot of holes, the bread itself had a coarse, light texture, and not a fine, tight texture like cake or biscuits. If so, that means your starter was nice and active, and you did a good job of kneading.

Probably too long, and certainly too wrong. Without knowing how big your loaf was it's hard to give you a time estimate. Sourdough is typically baked in a hot oven -- like 425F -- for a shorter time, and with lots of water-spritzing to get some crackle on the crust.

Congratulations on getting your sourdough culture to work at all. It makes a lot of people nuts.

post #3 of 5
I can bake all kinds of bread even the elusive baget. But I have been trying to make sour dough bread for 9mo and have yet to accomplish the task. I finaly get the culture growing. Then I tryed to bake a loaf and the same thing
happen the crust was like a brick but the pith was really good. I am so tempted to mix sour dough culture with yeast bread dough. This sour daough
is driving me nuts.
post #4 of 5
I got a sourdough culture going to make pizza dough with, and I was expecting that my pizza dough taste would go from good to excellent. What I found out was that a nice long rise with just a pinch of active dry yeast brought out a lot of similar characteristics of sourdough. Not to say that it was exactly the same because the sourdough was better and tangier, but probably not so much better that it was worth the hassle to keep the culture going.
post #5 of 5
Sounds like you're almost working with a poolish. You might want to try a poolish or a biga to get more consistent results. Especially a poolish plus altus.

If you like protracted pizza dough, you could take a look at Peter Reinhart's methods.

If you're commercial and/or really don't mind going to a lot of trouble, try a stiff bagel dough with a poolish/altus. Great tang, great chew. I'm pretty sure that's the technique from Abbot's Habit in Venice, CA.

Like you said, you can get a lot of sour into a loaf without going to the mess of keeping a true starter. If you want to see how a modified altus/poolish works take a look at this pumpernickel recipe:

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