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My sourdough starter is 9 days old. Today it doubled in around 6 hours.

Following this recipe, I performed following steps:

  1. I mixed 400g AP Flour, 160g starter, 230g water and 10g salt.
  2. Kneading: I kneaded it for about 20 minutes until I observed window pane effect.
  3. Proofing-1: I left it for proving for around 3 hours. It significantly increased in size, although not doubled.
  4. Shaping: I shaped the bread and put it in a container with tea cloth.
  5. Proofing-2: I left it for proving for around 5 hours. It significantly increased in size, although not doubled.
  6. Baking-1: I preheated the oven at 230°C, kept the dough on tray and put some boiling water on a small container beside the dough. I baked for around 20 minutes.
  7. Baking-2: I removed the water tray and let the rest of the dough heat up for 20 more minutes at 230°C.

First of all, the bread is barely edible. The bread developed a tough layer of crust on the top which is really hard to bite on. The inside is soggy and barely has any bubbles. Also, the exterior colour is blackish instead of brownish.

Also, the crust developed a crack below and expanded around it. It didn't expand around the scar I gave it on the top.

I'm adding some images for enhancing the context:

What can I do to improve my bread?

Inside the bread

Although it looks brownish, really it's very burnt color. enter image description here

The crack that was developed on bottom. enter image description here

EDIT:

According to Chris's recommendation I made following changes:

  1. Baked bread for 230˚C with steam for 20 minutes and then baked the bread for another 20 minutes at 180˚C.
  2. Didn't cut the bread immediately, let it cool for about 1.5 hours.

I did one more thing, kneaded bread for around 40-50 minutes. I think this is a bit too much, but I did this since I couldn't see the window pane effect as described in the video.

Below I'm stating the improvements and lacking's the bread has.

Improvements:

  1. The resulting bread, although on the edge, is edible unlike the earlier one.
  2. The crust is no longer rock hard but it isn't a delight to bite on either.

What it lacks:

  1. The bread didn't expand around the score I gave it.
  2. The crust seems to be a bit disintegrated from the rest of the loaf.
  3. The bread isn't as fluffy as I would like it to be.
  4. The dough developed a huge crack in the bottom after the shaping phase. I think every shaping will have a weak corner, how do I prevent it from opening up? The crack is visible in the bottom image of bread. Same happened before as well.

Observations: The top of the crust still has a burnt texture. To steam, I put a container with boiling water beside my bread. Usually it get split around the bread which might be the reason my bread has a nice colour on the bottom. I think the steam is not reaching the crust. Should I spray the bread for steam creation next time? (So that it reaches crust as well).

I'm attaching pictures for reference:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

^The bottom of the crust can be easily peeled off from the rest of the bread.

  • Not a full answer, but: 40 minutes at 230° C seems a bit too hot? Did you bake on a tray or a stone? – Stephie Oct 15 at 18:15
  • @Stephie I baked it on a tray, it could be seen in the photo (black color). – Laschet Jain Oct 15 at 18:17
  • Oh, and at nine days, your starter is basically a “baby” - it will probably develop its own character more over the next weeks. – Stephie Oct 15 at 20:09
  • Your video link is coming up as unavailable, could you check that you haven't accidentally missed off part of the link or something? Cheers – Spagirl Oct 16 at 16:00
  • @Spagirl I'm really sorry. Have updated the video link now. It's by Patrick Ryan on channel ilovecookingireland. – Laschet Jain Oct 16 at 16:14
5

Mine takes 40 minutes for 500g flour, just under 70% hydration. That's in preheated cast iron, with the lid on (and wetted inside) at 240C for the first 20 minutes, then down to 180. The hard crust seems like too hot to long, possibly too much top heat too.

Did you let it cool (almost) fully before cutting and tasting? If I'm impatient, it seems doughy and underdone. The absolute warmest it should be when you cut it is just warm enough to soften a little butter. The inside looks OK to me - a closer crumb than you might have been aiming for but better for sandwiches. I'm prone to handling mine too much or too roughly and knocking some of the air out as I transfer it to the pan, with this effect

Next time try turning the oven down a bit when you take the water out. To avoid wasting this loaf, if it still seems underdone when cold, toast slices of it (probably leaving the crust) and eat hot with butter.

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    Hi Chris, I'll try the temperature setting tomorrow. I didn't let it cool, cut it just after I took it out. The inside does look OK in the picture but it's not really edible (sticky). Thanks for the last advice, clever! – Laschet Jain Oct 15 at 18:43
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    Once it's cool it should be less sticky, but it takes a couple of hours, during which you have to resist the wonderful smell – Chris H Oct 15 at 19:07
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    I think you are pretty much spot on - falling heat, cooling down to let the starch stabilize. And sourdough is a bit softer and stickier than pure yeast bread because some of the gluten gets broken up by the bacteria during the long raise. – Stephie Oct 15 at 20:07
  • Hello @ChrisH, I tried your suggestion and have posted an update. – Laschet Jain Oct 16 at 17:24
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I make a sourdough with a very similar recipe to you, perhaps fractionally drier. I bake mine at 230C for 25 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered at 200C. On the occasions I forget to turn it down it is verging on burnt.

Mine takes a full 24 hours from mixing to baking, so I think you may be rushing the bread.

If I knead mine at all, barring the bare minimum to render it mixed, I end up with a sticky mess that fails to rise much. That's partly due to how long mine ferments, but you can overdo the gluten development, leading to stickiness. I followed all the tutorials, setting timers to knead for 20 minutes, doing 300 'slap and fold' movements, stretching the dough every 20 minutes... all of them rendered the same overworked mess for me, although they seem to work for others.

Now I generally mix my dough until it is 'shaggy' then cover and leave it for 15 minutes or so and then give it a few turns in the bowl. That is usually all it needs to create a smooth dough, though it is far short of 'windowpane' at that stage. This isn't technically an autolyse, because I have my starter and salt in with the flour and water, so you might want to experiment with a proper autolyse.

I would suggest you read up on 'stretch and fold', but also be prepared to experiment with being more 'hands-off' your dough.

You let it prove for a total of 8 hours. That might be fine, but it might also depend what temperature the space it was proving in was. My kitchen in Northern Scotland tends to the cool side, so my bread always gets left overnight, despite many sources saying you can make sourdough in 4-8 hours I have never found that to work in my circumstances.

This site gives a table of fermentation times by temperature, suggesting 6-12 hours for 'room temperature'. However their 'room temperature range is 21-24C, which is warmer than my kitchen typically is for most of the year, tending to hover at about 19C unless I have the oven on. So be prepared to experiment with both temperature and timings to get the best out of your dough.

and have patience while you wait for your starter to mature and come into its own, it's only a baby yet. My bread was much like yours when my starter was new, but as the starter and I both found our feet the results improved and became more consistent.

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  • +1,more detailed than mine, and interesting. With a similar kitchen temperature to you I can bake after about 9 hours at room temp if I don't fold many times, but 14 hours fridge prove is better. In a month or so lol be back to overnight proving out of the fridge – Chris H Oct 16 at 16:52
  • Thanks for the answer. I'll try baking a less kneaded bread soon. Today I kneaded for about 40 minutes but didn't observe any window pane effect :(. The temperature in my city varies between 27˚C to 35˚C. Today my starter rose to more than double in 3 hours since it was very humid today. – Laschet Jain Oct 16 at 16:53
  • How long will it take for a start to be decently mature? – Laschet Jain Oct 16 at 17:27
  • @Spagirl I've updated the answer with information about my baking session today. – Laschet Jain Oct 16 at 17:28

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