Starting Simple with Breadmaking

I’ve dabbled in breadmaking in the past but not with any real attempt to improve on my ability. Well, this is going to change. After going to all the trouble of making a sourdough starter from scratch, it makes sense for me to at least try to learn the ins and outs and frustrations of dough as well as learn to make decent bread. So yes, this post is once again about sourdough!

I tried making crumpets with my sourdough starter. They turned out okay but I wasn’t very happy with them. They should have “poofed” more I thought. They also had an interesting grayish-brown color to their edges. Not very attractive. So that is definitely something I have to try again. My starter was still “young” though so that may have been part of the problem.

Last week, I tried making sourdough pizza dough with my starter. Once again, I was not very happy with how it turned out. I wanted a thick, chewy crust, but ended up with a thin, crispy crust, the complete opposite. So that is another thing I will have to try again. I think it is possible my yeast was getting old and I did not knead the dough long enough.

Today, I used the discard from feeding my starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread in my bread machine. It actually turned out decent. I’m still looking for the chewy texture though. I used a new package of yeast to make this loaf so hopefully, that will help with some of the problems I have been having.

This loaf actually looks decent. The sourdough "tang" is very subtle still though. I think I might need to age my starter before I get that "tang."
This loaf actually looks decent. The sourdough “tang” is still very subtle though. I think I might need to age my starter before I get that “tang.”
I used a basic sourdough recipe at allrecipes.com. I did have to add about a 1/4 cup of water ten minutes into the bread machine cycle because the dough looked very dry. This recipe uses commercial yeast as well. I am not brave enough yet to try and bake sourdough without adding that in.

The bread's crumb. I was hoping for a little bit of a different texture but the bread still tastes good, especially with home-whipped butter!
The bread’s crumb. I was hoping for a little bit of a different texture but the bread still tastes good, especially with home-whipped butter!
On Friday, I might try to make a sourdough loaf by conventional methods. I want to see if there is a difference in texture and also if the loaf even comes out right. At least I know I will get a good arm workout that day!

I am approaching breadmaking as a puzzle for me to solve. I once spent three days solving this thing…

A disentanglement puzzle. I think it's called the double bypass. I really annoyed Josh with the constant "tink, tink" from messing with it.
A disentanglement puzzle. I think it’s called the double bypass. I really annoyed Josh with the constant “tink, tink” from messing with it. He still wasn’t quite as happy as I was when I did solve it.
Breadmaking is definitely more difficult for me! So I will be spending a lot longer than three days trying to figure it out.

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8 thoughts on “Starting Simple with Breadmaking

  1. Your sourdough loaf looks beautiful. I wish I had crumb like that without the addition of commercial yeast in my loaves. 🙂

    I spent over 2 months of summer vacation (I supply teach) starting and experimenting with a sourdough starter. I couldn’t quite manage a loaf made entirely with the starter for leavening that had the rise and texture I wanted but with additional yeast they were very good. I’ve used starter discard for pancakes (even did crumpets) and bread/pizza dough … all purpose and whole wheat. I finally closed down my ‘laboratory’ this week with a 2nd starter which I only kept going for about 10 days to see if my first try was a fluke. I have starter in the freezer and some dried starter in a jar in my pantry. I’m all set for next summer.

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    1. I still have to add commercial yeast to my loaves. I think I might have to wait a month or two before I attempt to make a loaf without it! Just today, I got out my starters that were in the fridge to feed them. I have one reserve starter and one main starter. I have to throw out my main starter though since a gnat got into it somehow. Yuck! So this week I will be feeding my reserve starter to build it back up. Hopefully, it won’t mind the cooler weather this week too much! Thanks so much for commenting! I took a look at your blog and loved it! So you have a new follower 🙂

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      1. I’m still vague on the ‘active’ part of active starter which makes it sturdy enough to leaven and support a loaf of bread. And you have to add enough flour so it will mound on your spoon when you add it to your flour/salt/water mixture.

        Thank you for following. I’ve subscribed to your blog as well. Mine is fairly recent in origin. I had/have a livejournal, which is a glorfied food diary, that I’ve maintained for a number of years. Only recently (Dec 2012) have I had a camera so I could take and post pictures of the food I make. Sometimes my posts are just picspam … no recipes. 🙂 I’m pretty eclectic in the types of food I make and play with various nationalities’ cuisines. I’m trying to do more Korean as I have a tub of gochujang in my fridge to use up.

        http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/

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      2. NO pressure. I’ll drop in and comment if I have something relevant to say. I usually make adjustments to the recipes I find in cookbooks or on line so I rewrite them to reflect those changes. And to be a memory aid for the future. 🙂

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  2. Have you tried no-knead bread? I don’t know if it works for whole grain, but I’ve had some luck with white bread. It really is relatively easy. You just have to allow lots of time. I use my regular bread recipe, but reduce the instant yeast to 1/4 tsp per 1 cup water. Mix it, cover it, wait overnight until it’s doubled. Then make bread or pizza as usual. When using sourdough, I use a tsp. of very stiff starter instead of the yeast, and allow even more time, starting in the morning the day before I want to have bread for dinner. It comes out nice and sour.

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    1. I will have to try the pizza dough this way! I started my dough the morning of the day. I should have realized it probably wasn’t long enough. Is it a tsp of starter per 1 cup of water?

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