Well, I’ve done it again. It took months before I had the ambition to take another stab at sourdough bread (remember my oven fire fiasco?), and now that I have, I’ve produced more brick-like loaves, darn it. But I have hope! A wise friend has given me her recipe and suggested I get a kitchen scale. Surely that was all that was keeping me from sourdough greatness. I’ll reveal my friend’s identity if and when I get this right, and then she will be the new hero of the Kitchen Kop blog, I tell ya.
In the meantime, I’ve found just the way to use these lovely loaves:
Seasoned Sourdough Breadcrumbs
It’s nice to have these on hand for meatloaf, meatballs, or stuffed mushrooms.
- 1 dry heavy, brick-like, stick-in-your throat loaf of failedsourdough bread
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon seasoned salt
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- Use a food processor to grind into small crumbs. Add more or less seasonings if you’d like. Store in the freezer.
- I’m really not a food snob.
- Starting to think about DIETING in the new year?
- Do you love Chinese food?
- Do you have a Family Favorites Meal List? Read why this is very helpful.
When I made my first natural sourdough, my first 5 loaves were brick-bats. The loaves became lighter the older the sourdough got. (I fed and saved half of the starter each time I baked bread.) Now I get light, bubbly, crispy loaves that have become more flavorful with time. I think this why families preserve their sourdough cultures for generations. Now they have a sour/sweet/earthy taste but I NEVER add sugar. I only use flour salt and water plus the remaining sourdough from the previous baking.
Yay, the more the merrier, we’ll all defeat the sourdough beast together. 🙂
Pamela @ Seeds of Nutrition says
I love your last comment left…….”Oh, I’m going to master this if it kill me”……… may I ditto that!!!!!!!! I’m still working to get a loaf of sourdough that is truly edible. I’ve got to start all over with a starter. My starter even though I haven’t gotten perfectly good loaf yet had a lovely robust flavor. It died! I had a funeral for it! Down the drain it went. It suddenly got a bad awful mold on it that didn’t smell good – it had been doing so well :(, sigh.
My very first tries with sour dough were so good – though the loaves could have been lighter ( a wee bit heavy but oh so good to eat ), later it was heavier loaves one after another and I didn’t do anything different. 2 loaves were worse than door stops, how I wish they were as you say for making bread crumbs “1 dry, heavy, brick-like, stick-in-your throat loaf of failed sourdough bread” but they were more like giant hockey pucks that couldn’t even be sliced – knife wouldn’t even begin to cut. It would have taken a hatchet, maybe dynamite they were that bad. I think they could have been used as weapons, they were that heavy.
So I join you dear…..to Conquer the magic of Sourdough!
Oh, I’m going to master this if it kills me.
[email protected] says
I am right there with you, Kelly. Bricks have become equivalent to yeast bread baking in our house. First I thought it was the yeast – dead or alive? Alive, I’m afraid. Then it must be the oven. Nope, calibrated just fine. OK, instead of whole grain flour, I’ll give it the ol’ all-purpose try. Still heavy and doughy in the middle. Ah ha! It must be the pan. Silicone? Pyrex? Metal? I give up. Well, actually, not quite yet. I just made two loaves from the Healthy Bread in Five…and they are edible! Granted, they weren’t sourdough, but I am determined to succeed. Sorry I have no words of wisdom for you – but I’m grateful for the others’ feedback here, and look forward to hearing when you’ve mastered the mother (as in starter;-) also!
Katie- thanks for that. I’ll pour off that water and hope for the best!
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship says
I read and found to be true that the thicker your starter, the less sour it will be. I pour off the dark gray water anytime it shows up, and I feed it just flour about 4 days in a row until I can hardly stir, and then I’ll add a little water too, non-chlorinated (sit out to let evaporate if you have city water).
I second (or third) the notion about mature starter, and I wonder if when I fed it all rye for a time if that made a difference? I’ve been feeding whole wheat recently and this last batch wasn’t as light…but I also stuck the starter in the fridge until one feeding before baking, so I bet having the starter well-fed and at room temp for at least a few days makes a difference too.
You shouldn’t have to waste flour in your starter – just do a few Tbs per day and use it in bread or crackers, or give some away to a friend. Just feed it less when you bake bread if you’re getting too much in there!
Sarah – you rock out on the sourdough as always. 🙂 What do you think about the scale? I kind of think that since you’re adding flour at random while kneading to keep it from being toooo sticky, that a scale wouldn’t be as important here as it would in other kinds of recipes. Then again, I’ve only had one or two good batches of bread in my LIFE, so who am I to talk?!
Now I’m getting excited to post on sourdough in January. I’ll bookmark this post for the great links you all have left in the comments!
Man, you guys are good! My starter is looking a bit more bubbly today, I’m going to go feed it more like Sarah suggested…
Chanelle, I like sourdough, but this was disgusting. I don’t know how else to describe the taste! But the heaviness and brick-like texture probably makes it seem worse that it would be if it was a lighter loaf.
Elizabeth from The Nourished Life says
Wow, Sara, thanks for the in-depth tips! I am officially going to try sourdough again when we’re ready to start using more grains again! Thank you!
I sympathize with you, Kelly! I found a very helpful website/forum on making sourdough/artisan/naturally leaven breads. Mostly with store bought flours, not home ground but there are many techniques and videos I have found extremely helpful (and I’ve been making bread for 20 years):
Also, I get better loaves if my grinder is making very fine, soft flour. I’ve got a motorized Country Living Mill and it is more adjustable than yours, imho. So I’m not sure how fine you can go.
And if you want simple, try the New York Times No Knead recipe…..substitute 1/4-1/2 cup of buttermilk or whey for the water. The “stretch & fold” techniques from The Fresh Loaf website make it even better.
Brick texture aside, Kelly…how did it taste? My (wonderful) husband said, “That bread is so sour it makes me want to gag.” I don’t know if it’s because he watched it sit out for a week or because I didn’t add any sweeteners…How ’bout yours? Is it “sour” sourdough?
I USED to keep two starters, a whole wheat and a white (unbleached, AP) flour starter and I admit, I only really feed one now, the white one. It always rises better and faster than the wheat. When using my WW starter I’d have to wait hours, often overnight, for just the first rise! And with the white, it’s only a little longer than yeast. Also, it sounds (and looks) like your starter might be a bit weak. I rarely throw away starter, but if you want to get it raring, I’d suggest feeding it two or three small “meals” a day for two or three days, using some of it for something simple (like pancakes) to reduce it after the second day, then feeding it small meals again for a few days (when I say small meals, I mean two tablespoons flour plus two tablespoons water – not much.) It doesn’t look like you had any oven rise at all, which would indicate a weak starter.
I frequently use the white starter in whole grain breads with no problems. Also keep in mind that the more fully whole grain the flour you’re using (versus a half and half recipe) the longer it will take to rise. You have to be patient and let the bread rise as long as it needs. Also, whole grain breads rarely ever rise to “double their size.” Look for maybe half the original size for your first rise. If you’re trying to make a fully whole grain bread with weakish starter, you’ll definitely end up with bricks.
And, I have to admit, it’s been hard to find a perfect sandwich bread. We’re so used to having soft, squishy, whole grain bread from the store (that is full of softeners and chemical preservatives) that it is very, very difficult to reproduce that at home. If you get it, it only lasts two or three days because there is no preservatives, or it ends up a bit heavier or denser. Just remember, the more fats and extras you add to a bread recipe (milk, honey, eggs, butter) generally, the softer the bread. The wetter/slacker the dough, the more holes you’ll have in the baked bread (which, even with whole grain which produces smaller holes, it will make a softer loaf.) I’ve taken to kneading the bread on a wet counter with wet hands and almost pour it in the loaf pans.
I hope this helps! Sourdough takes a while to master, and when you think you have, the next loaf you make will be a dud. Which, I agree, makes fantastic bread crumbs! I have a gallon-sized bag of them in my fridge right now! Good Luck!
Elizabeth from The Nourished Life says
Thank goodness someone else has made brick loaves. I thought I was the only one. 🙂
That’s a really good point about letting the starter mature. I think most people get discouraged after the first “brick” and give up (like I did). These comments make me want to try again.
After I start making grain-foods again, that is. 🙂
[email protected] Food for Less Money says
When I first started making sourdough I made bricks too. But I kept at it and after 3 or 4 weeks of making bricks (weekly) they finally became less brick like and much closer to actual bread. Now my loaves turn out very nice and perfect for sandwiches. I really think that the more mature the starter is the better. My starter is only wholewheat flour and filtered water. I did just recently change my flour brand so I expect I’ll have a ‘curve’ where my bread acts differently. Also, I not only make bread weekly (4 loaves at a time) but I also make pizza, crackers, tortillas and pancakes on occasion. I do think that using it keeps it fresh and helps it mature. My starter gets quite bubbly if Ieave it out on the counter and smells like a good microbrew (beer). I did a post on my bread method. Maybe it could give you some ideas to help with yours.
Got lemons? Make lemonade! ; ) Good going there with the bread crumbs, Kelly! In January sometime, I’m getting with my bro who is wise in the ways of bread making and is willing to help give me some pointers. I’ll be happy to pass them on : ). (I tend to over-knead due to my past profession as a potter).
Thanks for the kitchen scale tips! I’ll pull mine down and dust it off.
HAH! I knew it, so the kitchen scale IS all that’s keeping me from sourdough greatness! 🙂 Thanks for that good explanation.
About my starter…it’s bubbly, but not a lot, and it smells nice and fermented. It’s never come close to bubbling OVER or anything though, so how do I GET it to be more mature? Do I just keep dumping some each day and feeding it more and more flour and water for days until it’s almost bubbling over? It doesn’t feel right to keep wasting all that flour…
Also, do you sourdough smarties suggest I use rye flour or unbleached white to feed it???
Re the scale–in Cookwise by Shirley Corriher she says she knows of at least three ways to measure flours by the cup and each method results in a different amount of flour in the cup. So use a scale and weighed recipes unless you have a recipe that your grandmother and your mother and you have used for years and you all measure flour the same way.
Cups are a volumetic measurement, you are filling a calibrated amount of space with a particular ingredient. Grams are a mass measurement and will give you a more accurate measurement of a dry ingredient because it doesn’t matter how much air is trapped between the individual grains of a dry ingredient.
Regarding your sourdough starter. It should bubble happily very soon after you feed it if it is mature.
I just checked in my brand new never yet been used Healthy Bread In Five Minutes A Day and they say you CAN use scales and provide charts but that wasn’t one of the items that they really emphasize for success. I JUST ordered a digital pressure cooker to expedite my healthy cooking quest; not sure SO is going to want me to NEED a scale as well! 😉
Katie, I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t look like it in the picture, but they’re just normal sized bread pans…and they’re the size I need for sandwiches IF I ever get a decent “sandwich-worthy” loaf.
Leah, I certainly hope that once my starter “grows up” like yours has, that it will behave and act like an adult! It’s maturing again now, in my oven with the light on.
Kal, she suggested a kitchen scale so that I can weigh in grams, which an experienced bread baker told her was important, because somehow measuring in cups isn’t as accurate…?
Kelli, my first loaves looked exactly like that but as I make more, they are getting better and better…it seems like my starter needed time to “mature” or something. Don’t give up! The last loaf I made was almost like my regular sandwich bread recipe.
The first recipe I tried just called for starter, flour and salt. I switched to a recipe that also includes oil and honey and I like it a lot more. Also, I use a little unbleached white flour to lighten up the loaves just a tad.
May I ask why your friend thinks a kitchen scale is the answer? I have been weighing 🙂 whether or not I NEED a kitchen scale and your answer may tip the scale to my decision. OK; definitely need coffee before I speak again!
Good idea. The last time I attempted sourdough bread I ended up with doorstops. I will remember your idea next time my loaves turn to brick.
Oh boy, I can really relate! I have turned so many failed loaves into breadcrumbs that I have an overabundance of them.
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship says
Here you go again, my dear, admitting your weaknesses. Do you want to get a lot of comments on this post, or what? 😉
A thought after seeing your loaves – the width of your pans may be an issue. I have some lovely narrow glass pans that help the bread rise just a tad bit nicer. It’s still a dense bread, but delicious in its own right. I have made a brick or two, rye sourdough in fact, and we went with tooth-crackin’ croutons! 🙂
We have to keep trying the sourdough, as it seems to be the very healthiest way to get our grains!