All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Everyday Bread #30 - Making Bread with the Sourdough Discard

Making Bread with the Sourdough Discard

Since beginning to refresh my mother starter again, I've been faced with the familiar dilemma of what to do with the sourdough discard.  Must be the Scotch in me, but I really hate throwing this stuff out.  It seems like such a waste!  So I did a quick search of the bread blogs this morning to see what others are doing with their discard.  Seems like others are making pancakes with it.  But I want bread, dammit!

I did find one recipe for a 'Sourdough Discard Bread' (from the blogger of 'Bread and Whine').  I decided to try that.  It combines the spent sourdough with some commercial yeast, to make an 'acceptable' hybrid bread.  The recipe calls for all purpose flour.  I decided to make it the way the recipe is written before modifying it for whole grains, but that already has one strike against it in my book.

There is another idea that I like better on principle.  This is the 'No Discard Bread Recipe', which uses only 2 TBSP of the starter from the fridge -- a starter that gets refreshed once a week only, and used up via this 2 TBSP subtraction method.  This comes from the recipe section of the site, ''

1.  The Sourdough Discard Bread is the quicker of the two recipes.

Here is the recipe card I made up, from the Bread & Whine site:
unrefreshed sourdough starter    1 cup
rye flour 50 g ( 1/2 cup )
all purpose flour 450 g ( 4 cups )
instant yeast  1/2 tsp
lukewarm water 1 1/2 cups
fine sea salt  2 tsp

Add rye to starter and yeast, and mix
Add water and salt.
Add 3 cups of the AP flour.
Add more until the dough is moist and tacky but not sticky.
Knead 5-7 minutes. 
Set to rise until doubled (3-4 hours).
Loosely shape into batard shape.
Rest 15 min.
Perform final shaping.
Set on parchment gently.
Rise until proofed.
Bake 425 F on baking stone, 20-30 minutes with steam.

    Because of the commercial yeast, no doubt, the mixture rose to double just at the right time, at the 4 hour mark.  But it was then that I realized I had not yet kneaded the dough at all.  Too late?  I did try the spatula scoop, pull and fold method within the bowl, but the dough was really very wet. 

    I am thinking that my starter's hydration is not what the recipe calls for: I could have used much more flour.  I should have added some at this point.  But I did not.

    It did not rise after the 15 minute mark.  I thought perhaps it still would, so I set it to proof for an hour on some parchment paper, under the inverted bowl.  About 30 minutes later, I intended to preheat the oven and baking stone, and noticed that the dough was spilling out the sides.

    There was only one thing to do -- and it likely wouldn't save the bread.  I had to scrape it into a pan.
    I did so, but tossed it in the oven when it was preheated, without further proofing, thinking the bread was now hopeless to save anyway.

    After 30 minutes at 425 degrees F, I removed the pan.  The dough had risen in the oven, and it had ripped in several areas while doing it.  Once out of the pan, I set it back in the oven on the hot stone and cooling oven for 10 minutes.  This is a bread failure, of course.

The crumb looks like it wanted to develop; on the other hand, there is a soft gooey spot on the bottom edge of the loaf.  The bread smells a little sour, but it doesn't taste that way.  When you toast it, the crust is quite nice.  If it weren't for that one undercooked area, this bread might have turned out okay, despite all the other problems I had with it.

Notes to Myself:
  • Bake this one at a hotter oven temperature: e.g. 475 degrees F.
  • Knead it when it calls for it!
  • Try the same amount of flour, but use whole wheat, in the hopes that it will soak up some more of the dough moisture.

2. The No Discard Method of Bread Baking takes a lot longer

Here is the recipe card I made up, from information gleaned on the '' web site.

1. 2 TSP cold starter
   dissolve in 1/2 c water
   add 1/2 c flour
   cover 10-14 hrs.
2. Add 1 c water
   1 1/2 c flour
   cover 10-14 hrs
3. Whisk 2 1/2 c flour, 1 tsp salt
   Add to mixture, but don't knead.
   cover 10-14 hrs
4. Knead and form dough.
   Loosely cover, let rise, bake.

If you start on Day 1 in am, you will bake next evening.
If you start on Day 1 in pm, you bake in 2 days in morning.

I mixed up 2 TBSP of the spent Rye Starter, but I added some all purpose flour (to compare this loaf with the one I made yesterday with spent starter).

After 10 hours, this starter and flour and water mix actually separated; no rising had occurred. I mixed up the second part of the recipe.

After another 10 hours, this hadn't risen more than a millimeter or two.  But it did look a little foamy.  I mixed up the third part of the recipe.  This time, the resultant mixture was a lot firmer.

After 10 hours this time, I see some real rising of dough (although it still hasn't quite doubled).  It is of dough consistency now, though.  It seems a bit wet still to me, but I can knead it and shape it.  The heat of my hands was making it too tacky, though. 

I folded it quickly and put it in a pan.  I proofed it 45 minutes under a towel, then preheated the oven.  When the oven was heated, I stuck it in for 475 degrees F for 30 minutes, with a wet top but no steam.

I think it could have proofed a bit longer, but I had to get to sleep to get up for work the next day, I had to act or lose the loaf timing entirely. So there wasn't much oven spring, but it cracked open along my score line nicely. This loaf still has a faint sourdough scent to it, but not as much as the other loaf.

The crumb of this loaf is fairly dense.  There are strange pockets of space riddled through it, mostly toward the top where some rapid expansion took place.  I suspect that this is a symptom of uneven leavening, a telltale sign that my wild yeast needed more time to do its job.  I only let it work 10 hours each stage, which was the minimal amount of time.  I really ought to try this recipe again with more active wild yeast, from a more thriving yeast community in my original sourdough mother starter -- and with the longer fermentation stages.

I also think that this loaf could have benefited from a longer proofing.  And a lower temperature but longer baking time.  This recipe had no times or temperatures given, so I had to guess or use other recipes times and temperatures.  I just guessed, but now I would guess that sourdough will bake better on lower temperatures and longer times.  I need to research this idea.

Despite the way the interior of those expansion bubbles, this loaf appears completely baked, though, unlike the earlier 'discard bread'.  But I find the crust of this one more rubbery in texture, and I'm not keen on that. It might have benefited from steam in the oven, rather than just wetting the surface with water.  It also looks kind of blonde, with an amateurish sourdough bread colour and texture to the crust.  I have seen sourdough breads that do not have this amateurish look to them, and that would be my ideal that I would work toward.

Verdict: both of these loaves deserve another try, once I get organized with my sourdough starter.

Notes to Myself:
  • Look up how long, and at what temperature, sourdough loaves are thought best to bake.
  • Research crusts of sourdoughs, and how the pros get beyond their amateurish blondie colour and sourdough crust textures.

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