About 2 months ago, I had an over ripe kiwifruit I decided to turn into a sourdough starter. I basically followed the same steps I did with my apple sourdough starter from 2005. This is how it looked a week after being blended with some honey and water. The large amount of bubbles showed good signs of fermentation, and this is the time to start feeding it flour and water.
The first week I started feeding it with flour and water, it wasn’t really showing a lot of life. There were some bubbles in the starter, but it was not doubling in size like my apple starter would after a feed. I persisted anyway, and two weeks later it came to life.
My apple starter is kept by feeding with white flour. With the kiwifruit one, I decided to feed with wholemeal flour. At the moment it’s definitely still smelling a hint of over ripened kiwifruit, whereas the apple one, after so many years of feeding with flour, just smells of yeasty sourness without any hint of apples.
Last week I finally got a chance to bake two loaves of sourdough bread side by side, one using the apple starter, and the other with the kiwifruit starter, for comparison.
I mixed up the dough on the evening before the day I baked. Each loaf used:
- 4 cups of flour (600g)
- 1/2 cup of sourdough starter (around 80% hydration)
- 2 cups of water (480g)
- 1+1/2 teaspoon of salt
For the apple sourdough loaf, I used 1 cup of wholemeal flour instead of white bread flour. Last time I had pretty good success making holey bread using the no knead method, so that’s what I did this time too:
- Around 7pm, I mixed up each dough until just everything is combined. The dough were lumpy and sticky after mixing. I covered up both lots and left them sit.
- On the morning, the dough hardly did anything. They did rise, but not by much. It’s been cold here and the temperature in my kitchen at night is probably not much higher than the fridge so I wasn’t really surprised.
- Finally around 5pm (22 hours after they were mixed), they looked very bubbly and the volume had about tripled. So I shaped* them into two logs/batons. (See note below for how I shaped them if you are not familiar with the process.)
- I left them to rise until they are puffed and “proved”. This took about 3 hours for the weather I was having. The apple sourdough loaf looked significantly fatter than the kiwifruit loaf. This was to my surprise because the apple loaf was the one with wholemeal flour in it. I guess the kiwifruit starter needed longer proving time.
- The apple starter loaf seemed to be “well-proved” because the dough slowly bounced back when I pressed it with a finger. The kiwifruit one bounced back faster, showing it was “under-proved” but I know many people actually prefer this because it’ll puff up more while in the oven, which is called the oven spring.
- I rolled each loaf from the kitchen cloth to my lightly flour-dusted pizza paddle. Then I slashed each loaf and loaded them into Big Bill my clay oven at around 230C.
- I sprayed and misted the oven with a garden hose to create plenty of steam then shut the door.
- In 30 minutes, Wallah! They look golden and sounded hollow when tapped so I took them out of the oven.
I would have liked more “oven spring” from both loaves, but well, it can’t exactly be controlled like an electric oven temperature dial, eh?!
I’m pretty happy with how they came out nevertheless! The apple sourdough bread is overall more airy, and the wholemeal flour didn’t make it heavy at all, which I’m very happy with because I like some wholemeal in my bread. The kiwifruit loaf has a wonderful aroma, and a more obvious sour tang because, I guess, the sourdough starter is still pretty young. The bread was definitely “under-proved”, but I quite like the texture anyway. It has big holes as well as lots of tight crumbs, which is just wonderful to chew~, and chew~, and chew away! Without even needing any toppings!
I have been baking with sourdough starter for years, but only recently started baking the more “rustic” holey breads. I find this type of baking requires a lot more “feeling” the dough because holey bread requires high hydration level, making the dough pretty wet and sticky. Therefore this kind of dough does not really take any real hands-on kneading, and “hands-on” is usually how I “feel” my dough.
I’m still learning heaps as I go, and from lots of bread gurus all over the globe. I’m already formulating my next bread experiment, and you are most welcome to join me! 🙂 It’d be lovely to hear your comments, ideas, advices, or just saying hi! 🙂
*Note: this is what I do when I shape dough into batons:
- After first rise, I practically poured the dough onto heavily flour-dusted bench top, and with well floured hands, gently press and spread the dough out into a rough rectangle.
- Then I folded the left third of the dough into the middle, followed by the right, then also top and bottom.
- Then I press the dough out slightly again, and by folding a third length-wise into the centre again, follow by the other third, the dough is shaped into fat logs/batons.
- Then I pinched and pressed the seams together, and put them seam side up on heavily flour-coated kitchen clothes.
If you find your dough really “soupy” and impossible to shape, it probably had “over-proved”. Just pop it into a tin to finish the final proof then bake in the tin. Next time try to shorten the time for the first proof and see if it becomes easier to handle.