Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Follow the Sourdough - Day 8: We Bake Bread…Finally!

Here it is, the culmination of a week's worth of work and play. The video is pretty self-explanatory, so there is no need for any long explanations of what you're about to see. I will mention that near the end of the clip, I joke that your sourdough probably didn’t work. This should not be taken as any lack of confidence I have in your ability to follow directions, or your lack of cooking skills. It's from the simple fact that the first time you try to make sourdough, it doesn't come out as well, as the 10th time, if it comes out at all.

The first batch of starter I ever tried looked fine, and yet the sponge sat there stubbornly refusing to grow. Undaunted, I started over and my second batch worked perfectly, and I've been successful ever since. I hope this series of posts and videos has, at the very least, inspired you to give it a try (or two), and experience the joy and taste of homemade sourdough bread. Enjoy!


Regarding your leftover sponge:


In yesterday's post I mentioned to refrigerate the leftover sponge. Now that you have a living, growing sourdough, you can use this to make unlimited batches of new sponge. Simply repeat the feeding step we did each day at the beginning of the series, but you only need to do this once a week.

When you are ready to make bread, let this come to room temp, and repeat the sponge making step. After you use the 2 cups to make the sponge, store the leftovers and so on, and so on. Some bakeries claim to have starters that are decades old. I poke a pin hole in the plastic lid I use to store it, since it produces carbon-dioxide and you don't need any explosions in the fridge. While it's being stored, any dark liquid that forms on your starter (called hooch) can be stirred in or poured off.




76 comments:

hkfreak said...

Can we flick water or brush it on before the "LAST RISE"?. I no have squirt water thing.

Chef John said...

yes, a light brushing would be fine.

Jeff said...

Great looking loaf! This was the first time I've seen starting in a cold oven-great technique.

What was the crumb structure like?

Did your crust shatter?

Chef John said...

Crumb "matrix" was nice. The crust was good, didnt "shatter" though lol,I think that's tough to achieve at home. I'm an average baker at best, but I was very happy with the results.

Connie said...

Mine was laying there looking like a nothingness blog of pancake mix so today I put a 1/4 tsp of yeast and a splash of honey and stirred it up. It is now happy and looking good. I am going to try using it tomorrow to make bread. I think it was starving. I know I cheated but it looked really sad. I will write about how it came out on my blog and put up a picture of it. I bet yours tasted good. It looks beautiful.

Anonymous said...

What does this actually taste like? Is it sour? Is it actually worth the effort to make?

Chef John said...

You should taste some, every major grocery store sells a sourdough. I can't tell if it's worth the effort for you. It is for me.

Chef John said...

cheating is always encouraged by chefs!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. From now on, I'll eat my sourdough with respect, knowing that making it takes a week! Thanks for the info chef!

Anonymous said...

It's the loooongest recipe ever :)
Thanks chef John.

mug said...

Chef?
How can you do this to us? so many days of anticipation, & in the end we don't see you cutting in to this beauty & see her crumb etc.????

Anonymous said...

yeah I was hoping for that too, maybe put some peanut butter on it too :) lol :)

PrimeBrit said...

I love this site Chef. Tonight we had the Chicken Paramesan Bake 'again!' It's delicious. A week to make bread though? I will never have time for it, will buy it from the store, and I am sad because yours looks so good. :(

Prime

Connie said...

I made it today. It tastes so good. I like how the water spray makes the crust shiny and crisp.
I have a picture of my loaves on my blog. Thanks for the wonderful instruction.

Jairus said...

hey good job on that little foodwishes trailer chef! it was rather disturbing but in a gee that beating heart shaped peice of dough looks oddly succulent! kind of way.

Chef John said...

Yes, I should have done a "money shot" of the knife going through the crusty loaf! I was thinking about it, but I didn't feel like waiting for it to cool, and wanted to get the editing started. I'm doing another loaf for About.com, so I will post some sliced shots!

Tracy said...

I followed your directions and my starter worked perfect (I even cheated with a little yeast at the end just to make sure it would work). My bread came out looking beautiful on the ouside but doughy/dense (sp) on the inside (I only cooked it for 33 min because it was looking so dark). So I made it again, I made it into 2 smaller loaves (I even let it rise overnight thinking maybe I hadn't let the other one rise enough) and I had the same problem. I took it out of the oven at 40 min this time and it was still doughy and dense inside so I cooked it for an additional 7 min. So then the outside was hard as a rock and the inside was as stated before. Can you please tell me what I am doing wrong? The starter is foamy and starts to produce bubbles as soon as new flour/water is added, so I know my yeast is fine. It smells right and it looks right.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Chef John said...

It sounds like the loaf wasn't proofed long enough. Once you are sure your dough has at least doubled in size, and then you form the loaf, the loaf itself has to almost double in size. Also, even if the outside is getting dark you have to make sure it cooks long enough. Also this homemade sourdough will not have huge bubbles like store bought. Keep playing! Also, your dough may have too much flour. A stickier, wetter dough will make a less dense texture.

Delma said...

I've been looking for an authentic sourdough starter and bread recipe and I think this is it! I'm on Day 3 and even though I'm impatient to have the bread, I am following the directions. Thanks for the info and the videos. They help so much.

Anonymous said...

i am up to the step where the dough needs to sit before going into the oven. From your video, your dough seems to be a manageable mass but my dough is quite sticky & wet and unmanageable. I tried shaping it into a boule, it is now resting. It is looking like a flat blob. This is the 3rd sourdough have had tried to make this wk to no avail. The 1st two i tried the no knead method and results were the same. I am just afraid the same has happened.

My sponge was bubbly. I needed for 15 min. The dough doubled with those nice stringy strands when i turned it out. I am just afraid that this time, it is once again a disappointing wet blob as usual.

Any tips/help is much appreciated.
thanks

Chef John said...

Cut it in half. Shape half and just let it rise overnight and then bake what ever you get.

Take the other half right now, throw a bunch of flour on the board, roll it thin, and make the best pizza you ever tasted!

BTW, I've never had any luck with no knead. Good luck. Enjoy the sourdough pizza!

Moi The Fuss said...

Hi! I've been looking into sourdough recipes since being told I've got intolerances (NOT allergies) to all grains bar Barley and Rye, though I'm ok with corn rice and potato. I'm also off bakers and brewer's yeast but told to try sourdough. The trick of course is that I'll have to make my own. Do you have any suggestions or advice on where to start? Do you have any other recipes that this starter would work with and/or is it possible to substitute the starter for yeast in "normal" bread or dough recipes? Thank you.

Chef John said...

start with day 1 and make a starter. you can use it in any bread recipe. there is this one, and tons online

A Parsons said...

what other things can you use in place of the corn meal?

Chef John said...

nothing

Anonymous said...

ok, this is my second batch at day 5, the 1st got thrown out due to I went into hospital for 11 days and said I can try again when I am home...now it is day 5 again,,,what do I do on day 6 ? then day 7 I sould make my bread...I can't hardly wait. I hope I get the sponge affect in about 10 hrs from now...this time I made a 2nd batch from the half I was to throw away...just to put in fridge for the next time...by the way do I refridge it before I make the sponge or after?
Appreciate your help.

Ginny said...

I can't find the videos for the rest of the sourdough bread making. Find only day 1 and day 8.
Ginny

Chef John said...

they are all there... use the search box, or bread category

Aaron De La Torre said...

Hi Chef.

The question was asked in October last year as to whether it is better to refrigerate the starter or the sponge but the answer was never given. I started my first day today and plan to keep the one starter to develop my own 'house flavour' to my sourdough (and save a lot of work to make another starter from scratch).

Could you please provide your thoughts so that I can make the best sourdough I can.

Thanks for the information you have provided.

Aaron

Chef John said...

leftover starter/sponge is refrigerated, but when you make it from scratch it stay out at room temp

Yule Tree said...

Hi Chef John,

I just made the bread, and it worked out great! I ended up shaping it and baking it inside the Griswold Dutch oven, I guess because I am leery about handling during the shaping process.

Thanks for your videos. I love your voice, and your deadpan humor. (Though, no doubt, you are quite "ripped.")

This was my first venture outside the bread machine. I figure, since I live in San Francisco, might as well make sourdough. (The starter developed on schedule, no mystery there.)

One question - do you let the dough "rest" before the kneading? Is that important?

Thanks,
Yule

Chef John said...

thanks! u can knead any time

Aaron De La Torre said...

Hi Chef. Me again. I have just used my starter and I am really surprised at how active it is.

I have made the dough, kneaded it (used the mix master with dough hooks for the messy first 5 minutes and finished off by hand, worked great) and am now letting it rise to double it's size. Going to have to leave it overnight tonight and will get back to it first thing tomorrow morning... Didn't you say something about baking at 3 am??? I'm sure I can leave it until I get up (might have to get up when the wife feeds the baby at 4, then I might be ready to bake when I get up later). It sure does take some time to make this but hopefully it will be well worth it.

Thanks for all the information. It is a great resource. Really liking your Vlog.

Aaron

Aaron De La Torre said...

DELICIOUS. Cannot believe how well that turned out. This is the first bread I have ever baked and I was very happy with the results. Definitely going to have to get the timing better so I don't have to get up so damn early.

Aaron

Chef John said...

congrats!!

Apprentice K said...

Hi Chef. Found your vid on Youtube and the bread looks great! To make the sourdough, may I know what water did you use? Is tap water ok or I have to use mineral water that is free of chlorine/flourine? Also, do I have to sterilise the container?

Thanks!

Chef John said...

i used regular tap water and just washed the container.

Anonymous said...

I'm super motivated to make this :) Thanks for the great videos!

Anonymous said...

Chef John, love your soothing voice and your humor. Wish I could bring you home with me. You almost makes me think I can do this sourdough bread myself. With your help of course. Thanks for your site and your knowledge. I have a question about my 5 day starter. I fed it before going to bed on day 5, it bubbled as usual, but later began to smell like one of those foreign beers instead of that nice yeast, fermenting aroma. Is a beer smell ok? Or do I have to toss 5 days of checking, looking, feeding, stiring, hoping, wondering??

Chef John said...

its supposed to smell like beer. it's it still bubbling, that is the important part. So hard to say from here though. Thanks!

Simon said...

So, what is the difference between making the sponge, and a regular feeding of the starter? It seems like they both involve adding flour and water to the active yeast colony, and then waiting.

Is the only difference the volume involved?

Basia said...

Don't throw out your dough if it doesn't rise! While you might need to make a totally new batch of starter for the next attempt, this dough can be rescued - but at the cost of purist pride.

Take 1 tbsp of warm water, throw in a pinch of flour, and add 1/4 tsp of regular instant yeast. Let it bloom for 5 minutes, then work it gradually into your existing dough. Don't add more flour. Put it back into your oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and set aside with an air of exasperation. Leave it over night. Let it feel good and neglected. Check on it the next day! It should be looking much more encouraging. Follow Chef John's instructions from here out. You'll wind up with a tasty loaf that isn't a purist's dream, but at least it's not just a lump for the dog! ;)

June12345 said...

I can't remember what page or who said it, but someone asked about using rye flour for the starter and I believe that Chef John said he did not know because he never used it? I went to the About.com site and the recipe he is using there is for 1/2 rye flour and 1/2 whole wheat... I am confused can someone clarify for me?

June12345 said...

Connie, your loaf of bread really, really looked good. I am a late comer to this blog so I just looked at the picture you posted.

For anyone curious here is the link to the picture of Connie's bread.

http://connieemeraldeyez.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html

angel said...

I'm confused. To reuse the sponge. After 4 days initially, do you add the left over sponge to the fourth day starter?

Chef John said...

the starter is only made once, once u have a sponge, the leftovers are the next starter.

check this out http://video.about.com/breadbaking/Sourdough-Bread.htm

angel said...

Got it, thank you

angel said...

how to refresh the starter so I will have enough for the next round

Chef John said...

just add warm water and flour like you did to make the sponge.

Anonymous said...

Hey chef John I just recently discovered your site. I am a qualified chef In Australia and love my food. Your site and videos are great and have given me plenty of new ideas to play with. Thank you for your dedication and I look forward to baking this beautiful looking bread.

John said...

Chef John, I watched your sourdough video and I watched every other video I could find on the web over the last few weeks and tried many recipes. They are all quite similar except some of the use oil like in your recipe but the major difference that I can tell is that you use almost four times more starter than all the others. After baking many loaves of bread and using your recipe three times I came to the conclusion that your recipe has the best sourdough flavor than all the others. The only thing I did different was that I used a Dutch oven rather than spraying water on it. Every recipe that I tried made good bread but most of the others came out more like a good French bread rather than sourdough.

What do you think would happen to the flavor if I added a little malted barley flour to the dough?

Chef John said...

thanks!! not sure about malted barley flour, never used before

karen said...

Why don't you use a Kitchenaid or similar to knead the dough?

karen said...

Why don't you use a Kitchenaid or similar to knead the dough?

salahhe said...

Hi there, i just discovered your site and now I am excitedly looking at everything. I am nuts about making bread. Problem is, I never use white flower. Does this work with black flower? I mean, I would try it myself and see if it didn't take a fudging week.

Chef John said...

Sorry, never tried!

Tracy said...

Hey Chef John! I have recently started cooking/baking with yeast and came across a recipe with incomplete directions so I found a way to salvage what I started going through blogs, recipe's and video's. I read your blog and I was inspired with your attention to detail and complete instructions with video. I now have 2 starters, one is made with the potato flakes and yours. (haven't named them yet, maybe one will be named John? :) Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you taking the time to put all your knowledge out there on the WWW as it is so helpful to us beginners.
Thanks!!

SY said...

I have a starter that literally *sinks*. I didn't use your sites directions (just found you tonight)but started mine the same way with unbleached white bread flour and tap water. It has bubbled and doubled nicely. I have made sweet sourdough breads and have always loved the smell of the fermentation (the hooch). I have bread dough rising now for the 1st loaf but am a little concerned about the stinky smell of the starter.
I have also put/thrown ice cubes into the bottom of the oven for the crunchy crust that steam provides. (Clean ovens required though!)

Tina said...

I've never been much of a baker, but I really wanted to give sourdough a try as part of a New Year's resolution (take time to smell the flowers, etc). My first two starters didn't work out, and then I found your site. I followed each of the videos careful, expecting failures to learn from. Instead, I got a beautiful loaf of bread cooling as I type. Not sure how it tastes yet, but I'm flying high on accomplishment. Thanks for your video guides. They were terrific.
Tina

perionan said...

Hello Chef John!
I love sourdough bread, but I have a problem. The sourdough I buy at the supermarket just isn't sour enough for me. I remember eating a homemade sourdough when I was a little girl that was so sour it actually made my jaw seize. I want that again, and as a result have dreamed of baking my own sourdough.

How long is too long for letting the sponge sit so it sours? How long do you recommend for a really good and sour sourdough?

Thanks!
Shannon

Chef John said...

Sorry! I really don't know, I'm a SD novice. Id check a sourdough blog or two.

Huff'nPuff said...

I have heard not to use metal spoon/fork/whisk or bowl with the starter but I see you using a metal whisk and putting the sponge into a metal bowl...it must be okay?!

Anonymous said...

do you know why my bread didnt come out brown and crispy ? it was cooked but it was white and and not crunchy

Robbie Tucker said...

John, my dough doesn't seem to rise much the first time and ends up with a crust. When I roll it up for the second rise it seems to do better. What could be going wrong?

CP said...

Hi John, if I want to make extra loaves do I simply double the quantity of ingrediants.

Chef John said...

It's a little confusing and I'm not a baker, so you may have to google for more info, but if you want more you make more when you mix up the sponge. The sponge can be used to make any size dough by adding more flour and letting it rise.

CP said...

Thanks John for your answer...by the way terrific video....I live all the way down under(Australia). When I saw your demo the quantities of ingredients makes one loaf...so I guess if I want to make three loaves I have to triple all of my ingredients...is that what you would do?

Chef John said...

yes!

Chef John said...

yes!

CP said...

Thanks John...I will let you know how it all goes.

Shandley said...

Hello Chef John!

I followed this recipe as closely as possible (I like to do that in order to fine tune to my liking and my equipment later but the original recipe is the best base line). My first loaf I made came out fantastic. Later did I realize that my wonderful girlfriend bought the high gluten flour instead of all purpose. That was the best bread I have ever had.

I followed that up with a second loaf (I had enough starter) using the all-purpose white flour but the loaf, although very edible, was quite hard crusted and dry inside, almost but not quite like a cornbread.

I tried another loaf with the all purpose flour and I got the same results.

Any ideas? The high gluten flour seems to be the only difference. I have more starter just about ready to go (quite active with some hooch on top, feeding daily).

Thanks for the video! Well done!

Chef John said...

Sorry, not sure, but maybe the flour! I've done with both AP and bread flour and had similar results, so who knows?

Renay said...

Ok.. you gave me the "bug" to give it another shot. My first attempt didn't work and I had given up, but since seeing your "step by step" video, decided I will give it another shot. I LOVE sourdough bread and so does my daughter in law. If this works, I will give her part of my starter so she can make some at home. Thank you for the encouragement.

shrimants said...

I used dry active yeast instead of natural yeast. I live in a fairly dry environment, its about 37% humidity at best, 30 at worst. Everything was going fantastic until the actual kneading part. It seemed that my dough ended up very dry feeling (compared to how yours looked on the video) by the time it became elasticy enough.

Also, it rose just fine after kneading, but then kind of fell and deflated. I went ahead and let it sit there for almost 12-15 hours before trying the loaf, as thats just how the timing worked out. Otherwise I would have been starting to make the dough do its "loaf rise" at close to 10PM.

Right now the loaf isnt really rising at all. I keep spritzing with water to make sure the outside doesnt become a hard crusty thing like the first rising, but I'm going to need to cook it soon or scrap the hard work.

tif57t said...

I've just started making SD Bread and am about to try YOUR recipe. Looks better than the several recipes I've used. Thought I'd let you know, even if no one has mentioned this before, I'm Gluten Free (being Gluten Intolerant .. causes medical problems) and have just recently learned that individuals that are Gluten Intolerant can eat Sourdough bread (if they make it themselves). Therefore, that's why I'm on this SD Bread quest. Actually, I've also read that Gluten Intolerant individuals can actually eat French Bread when they are in Paris with no problem, but once returning to States and eating our French bread, all the problems return. What exactly would be the difference in (Paris, France) French Bread and U.S. French Bread? Do you know...I don't?

Melissa M said...

I have made sourdough before and it seemed to be so complicated but your recipe and videos make it so easy. I have made this bread twice already. The first time I didn't add enough flour when kneading and it spread more sideways than up. But the second time I made sure to add more than I though it needed and it worked much better.

Thank you so much for making the process so simple and enjoyable.