Most of these tips I learned through GNOWFGLINS.com – a wonderful website about whole foods and sourdough.
Q. I use whole grains and my bread always turns out dense. Why?
A. Dense bread can be the result of several problems. Here’s a few suggestions:
- go easy on the flour – whole grains take a bit longer to soak up liquids. What may feel or look right at the time of mixing can end up being too thick after several hours of rest. When adding your whole grain flour to a recipe, cut back and let it be a little sticky – to the point it barely cleans the sides of the bowl. Cover it with a towel and let it sit about 15 minutes. Knead/mix for 5 minutes, let it rest again for 5 minutes, and then knead/mix it for 5 minutes again.
- you may want to use a lighter flour like spelt, or my favorite, hard red wheat. Soft red or soft white wheat don’t have enough gluten to rise as well.
- depending on where you live, drier climates may need less flour and wet climates a bit more than the recipe calls for.
- make sure your starter is active. When starter is going good and strong it will rise or dome a few hours after you’ve fed it. If it doesn’t do that make sure you are feeding it every 12 hours and with equal amounts of flour and water (in weight).
Q. Why do my loaves turn out flat?
- using a lighter flour like spelt, or my favorite, hard red wheat. Soft red or soft white wheat do not have enough gluten to rise as well.
- letting your loaves rise in a warmer/cooler location (70-80 degrees F).
- baking it in a non-preheated oven if your bread has not reached peak height. It can finish rising inside the oven as the oven is heating. How do you tell if it’s at peak? Put your ear close to the loaf. If there are popping noises it is still rising. It’s at peak when the popping slows down.
- not to let the loaf rise too long or it will deflate.
Q. I/my family doesn’t like the sour flavor in sourdough bread. Is there a way to diminish it?
A. You can try this:
- make sure you are giving regular feedings every 12 hours.
- a shorter rising time. Go at least 8 hours though or you won’t get the health benefits of sourdough.
- using more starter. It sounds like the opposite would happen, but the sour flavor comes from
- a cooler rising location – though the phytic acid may not be reduced as much.
- add a bit of baking soda – this tempers down the sourness.
- drain the hooch (liquid that sits on top of the starter) before feeding. The hooch is perfectly normal and safe, but tends to add to the sour flavor.
Q. What is the least/most I can feed my starter at one time?
A. The basic rule to feeding is equal amounts of flour and water (in weight) and enough to double your starter (i.e. 1 cup of starter is fed enough to make a total of 2 cups.) However, there may be a time you want to build your starter quickly or slow down how much you’re making. Here is an example of what you can do:
- if you want to build your starter more quickly, you can double (at the most) the amount you usually feed it. So for 1 cup of starter you can add equal amounts of flour and water (in weight) to make 2 cups of ‘food’ for a total of 3 cups of starter.
- if you want to slow down how much you are feeding it, don’t go any less than half of what you would usually feed it. So for 1 cup of starter you can add equal amounts of flour and water (in weight) to make 1/2 cup of ‘food’ for a total of 1 1/2 cups of starter.
Q. How do I convert yeast to sourdough?
A. 1 tablespoon of yeast equals abut 1 c. of starter.
Q. Is there a difference between starter for bread and starter for cakes, muffins, pancakes, etc.
A. Yes, baked goods tend to like a little thicker starter. But it’s not crucial.
Q. How do I know if my starter has gone ‘bad’.
A. Although it’s rare, you can get a moldy starter. If the hooch (liquid that forms on the top of the starter) begins to look pink, toss it. Whole grain hooch can start to look pinkish if it’s not feed regularly when at room temperature, so make sure you are feeding it every 12 hours before deciding if it’s mold or not.
Q. I forgot about my starter in the fridge and now there is black liquid on the top. Did I kill it?
A. The black liquid is the hooch. Take the lid off your jar and smell it. If it has a nice, albeit strong, sourdough smell, it’s still good. You can simply dump the dark hooch down the drain and give your starter a good feeding. Leave it out at room temperature and feed every 12 hours.
In a couple of hours some tiny bubbles may appear. Yay! Keep it at room temperature and feed for another day or so before putting back in the fridge.
Shared with: A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, It’s A Keeper, Momnivore’s Dilemma, Sorta Crunchy, Healthy Home Economist, The Prairie Homestead, Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms, The Girl Creative, Motivate Me Monday, Skip To My Lou, Hartke is Online, Real Food Forager, Blessed With Grace, At Home With K, Cooking Traditional Tuesdays, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Women Living Well, Turning the Clock Back, Frugally Sustainable, Blue Cricket Designs, Raising Homemakers, The Thrifty Home, This Chicks Cooks, Rook No. 17, Time-Warp Wife, Far Above Rubies, Confessions of a Frugal Mind, Vintage Wannabee, Milk & Cuddles, We Are That Family, Nourishing Gourmet, Whipperberry, Life as Mom, Mom Trends, Premeditated Leftovers, Make Your Own Mondays, Food Corner, Chef in Training, The Modest Mom Blog, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Little Natural Cottage, Real Food Freaks, Comfy in the Kitchen, Growing Home, Our Simple Farm, Deep Roots at Home, Our Simple Country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, Food Renegade,