Testing the Sourdough Cold Proof Again

My Latest Overnight Cold Proofed Sourdough

I’m going to do something out of character for me – I’m going to do a short post (I think!).  Reason is that I’m soon on my way to Eugene for some more followup surgery on my bad eye – that’s a three day affair, and the followup always seems to be more frenetic than relaxing.  So, who knows when I’ll have another opportunity.

I’ve not been doing any food photos recently, and you fellow food bloggers know that we really can’t post if we don’t have pics to add – sorry – my mind’s been elsewhere.  But I did manage to do another overnight, cold proofed sourdough loaf –here’s the first one– but this newest one was accompanied by a few changes- and I thought that’d make a decent post.

I put Mick Hartley’s standard white sourdough recipe (what he calls, Pain de Campagne) back to work with a few adjustments.  When I first made this loaf, I thought it was a bit dry, so I added about 20 ml of water to this one – next time I may cut that to 10 ml, as I really didn’t see any enlargement of crumb, and with Mick’s regular baking time, I thought it was a little too wet – Whatever, I’m not yet convinced that his suggested amount of water isn’t right on.  Or it may well be that a smaller adjustment is needed – we’ll see.

Another adjustment I felt I needed to make was for timing’s sake; I didn’t give this loaf a room temp fermentation rest.  After following Mick’s kneading/stretching schedule, I slipped the dough into the fridge for an 8 hour fermentation – then at about 8pm, I pulled it out, shaped a loaf, and put it into a proofing basket – then I covered it well and put it out into my weather-proof BBQ grill on the deck.  Outside temp that night was about 40 degrees, so pretty much like a fridge.

Not So Good Open Crumb On This One

Next morning, I pulled the loaf out of my faux proofer, and was greeted by one of the most beautiful perfumes in the world, the bewitching aroma created by the marriage of the yeasts and bacteria at work – it really is delightful, and I consider it just another of the many rewards of home baking.  Admittedly, it’s not reserved for sourdough breads, since the very first time I experienced it was with the very first Jim Lahey slow-rise yeast loaf I made years ago.  Do I do think the sourdough version is better.

But in the euphoria of the moment, I made my first ill-planned adjustment – instead of bringing the loaf inside immediately prior to slipping it into the oven, I brought it in early, thinking it may profit from a hour at room temp.  Nope.  I shall endeavor to remember (not easy these days) that the best timing is to only bring the loaf inside when the oven is fully heated and ready for baking.  That’s the time when the cold loaf is most ready for scoring as well.  Do you have problems scoring?  Scoring a cold proofed loaf is heaven – my mistake was to let the scored loaf sit at room temp for an hour ‘after’ scoring – not a good move.  The result of doing that was that as the loaf warmed, the scores allowed it to spread sideways – exactly what we didn’t want it to do.

Nice Interior Crumb Shine - Always a Good Sign

I made a third error as well – in the activity of getting the loaf into the hot oven, and pouring the cup of boiling water into the equally hot pan on the bottom of the oven, I forgot to set the timer – only later did I adjust by ‘guessing’ at how much time the bread had already baked.  One would think after years of doing these same tasks that somehow they would become habits – Nope!

My guess was reinforced by the color of the loaf, which in this case was a deep brown – but color is not a baker’s best indicator of doneness – and my first bite of this bread immediately gave me an impression that it could have well gone another 5 minutes at least – it simply was too wet.  And that impression may well have been reinforced by the fact that when I lifted the cooled loaf to the cutting board, I sensed that it was too heavy for its size; a baker’s first clue to a problem loaf.

As with many of you -I’m sure- I am my bread’s harshest critic.  But with this loaf, this is a fully deserved criticism – I made several obvious, but easily corrected errors.  However, the process of the overnight cold proof was in no way injured or thrown into question by my self imposed errors, and I shall soon be up on that same horse again – hopefully a wiser baker for the experience.

Not As Much Spring As I Had Hoped For

Wishing you all good baking.


About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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24 Responses to Testing the Sourdough Cold Proof Again

  1. Frances Quinn says:

    Hi, Dr. No comments on the bread issue. Your bread always looks great to me and I don’t know enough about bread baking to ask questions or to question the process. I just want to wish you well on your excursion and hope this takes care of your eye problem for good.

    • drfugawe says:

      Much apology Frances – looks like I missed your comment first time around. I’m going to blame having my thoughts elsewhere, and the sudden scurry of activity in my life right now. I appreciate your thoughts – all went well, and healing is occurring as we speak – many thanks.

  2. Jayson says:

    Great looking loaf and well explained instructions Dr. Interesting idea on the outside BBQ stay, how many would ever think of that?
    Best of luck on your next round of eye surgery, I feel your pain (literally.) In my first week of recovery from eye muscle (strabismus) surgery, both eyes, and finding it unusually hard to bounce back. Not to mention bake bread!

  3. I often weigh my bread when it comes out of the oven. If it hasn’t lost 10% of its starting weight, I’ll pop it back in for a further 10 minutes or so. Hope your eye is ok soon, Doc!

    • drfugawe says:

      That’s the best idea I’ve heard in quite awhile! I’m only disappointed that I didn’t think of that – And the eye is healing well too. many thanks for all.

  4. I always lift up that loaf from first coming out of the oven with a a little nervousness. Will it be a heavy lead balloon or will it be a lovely light loaf? I hadn’t thought of weighing it like Celia does.
    Those slashes look perfect.

  5. Really hope this round of surgery sorts everything out for you Doc. It’s always great to read your breadly thoughts.

    I rely on feel a lot, and I do a lot of knocking and listening to the bread, I like to think I can distinguish the truly hollow thud from the dull thud, and there is always the probe thermometer, though I find that even if that says it’s ‘cooked’ it’s not cooked enough for me.

    We almost ran out of bread today. I found a quarter of a loaf tucked in the freezer for supper (scrambled eggs and mushrooms on toast – a light supper as I was going to a class). The bread consumer was not amused, he said he blamed the baker. Such a burden of responsibility I carry 🙂 I will have to bake tomorrow I guess. Take care. Joanna

    • drfugawe says:

      Oh, so you’re a thumper! I’ve spent my life trying to master the art of watermelon thumping, and I ain’t there yet – and I’m not sure it even works with bread – I do know that you can’t depend on the instant read; I don’t do that anymore. I’ll try Celia’s idea for awhile.

  6. Mariana says:

    I’m not talking bread today. I can well relate to your eye woes. Two weeks ago, I gave my right eye a really good jab; it’s still recovering, I think. Or it’s done something sinister and my sight is wavering. I’ve been sailing swimmingly with my multifocals for about six months now, thinking this ain’t so bad. And now, I’m all stuffed up again. It’s quite depressing actually. I’ve given myself till early next week to see if it recifies itself or I’ll have to pop off for the dreaded latest. Good luck with your surgery. Seriously. Good luck. mariana

    • drfugawe says:

      Thanks for your good wishes, Mariana – and I’m sending back more of the same to you.

      I’ve always heard that the eye has more nerve endings per sq inch than anywhere else on the body – and getting hit in the eye kinda reinforces that idea – but my eye surgeon told me that at the side of the eye, where they go in with the probe, has almost no nerve endings! I’m still very appreciative all the same that they use a local anesthetic for the job.

  7. Mary Smiley says:

    How is your eye doing Doc? I hope you’re doing better. I haven’t been following but I’m not sure why you had to go back for more surgery. Anyway, I hope things are going well and you’ll be back in good shape soon. I’ll be heading north to pick morels in PA in another week or so.

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi Mary,
      My macular hole in the left eye has been very resistent to close back up – and so now they are using a silicone oil rather than the gas that didn’t work well. If this doesn’t work, that’s it! But what that means is that my ablility to see fine detail will be quite limited for that eye – but in that case, the right eye will take over doing that work – however, I’d have really lousy depth discrimination.

      Thanks for the good wishes – we’ve got fingers crossed. Hope you get a few buckets of morels.

  8. Pingback: Sourdough whole wheat naan recipe « Calogero Mira, Food and Recipes

  9. Tupper says:

    Geesh Doc, I take a few days off (Spring Break) and you end up in the hospital. Hope all is well- take it easy old man! 🙂

    • drfugawe says:

      Hey Tup,
      Not really hospital, just some outpatient ‘pretend’ stuff. I think you can judge the serious nature of surgery today by whether they make you take your shirt, pants and shoes off beforehand. How serious can surgery be when you still have your street shoes on? However, that won’t stop ’em from charging the better part of $5 grand for the effort.

      ‘easy’ is my middle name, my friend. Enjoy spring.

      • Tupper says:

        Well Doc-Spring has sort of sprung here. Most of the snow is gone, we’ve had one day where it hit 70, the rest in the 30’s and 40’s. Today was sunny and cool. We got a ways to go.

        I had surgery a couple of years ago-spinal fusion due to carrying around too many big rocks during my summer landscaping job. All I requested was to wear my socks and underwear under the Johnny Gown. I figured, if it’s my neck they’re operating on, why should I have to be butt naked. The nurse said no problem. That was a big deal, believe it or not. As Kramer said on Seinfeld, “My Boy’s gotta have a house!”

        Well that’s paraphrased, I’m certain, but you get the idea!

  10. Jayson says:

    Good to hear you’re coming along with you healing doc. But five grand for one eye? Ouch! That had to hurt in more ways than one.
    You need to move here I think.
    I too went through day surgery but had to have full sedation so no clothes or street shoes for me. Had a great hospital, great specialists, great nurses, couldn’t have asked for better treatment anywhere, and not a penny had to be paid out of my pocket because of our countries medical coverage. I thank my lucky stars for that many many times!

    • drfugawe says:

      My quote on the cost was just hyperbole – but whatever it was was too much. I take it you’re not a U.S. citizen, given those facts and your satisfaction – unfortunately, our electorate is not intelligent enough to recognize their own best interests.


  11. I have a post coming this weekend all about water and different flours you might be interested in. I’ve spent the last week baking the same sourdough recipe with 5 different flours.

    I used the strongest protein flour as the bench mark against the other 4 lower protein flours to compare results. So I always made, folded and baked two loaves side by side to compare…one always being the high protein flour.

    Very interesting results, surprised me. Now yesterday and today I’ve baked that high protein flour using two different amounts of water from the recipe, yesterday’s loaf result was what I thought might happen and still haven’t baked today’s…will know tomorrow when cut into it.

    You talking about adding the amount of water made me think you’ll find the post interesting.

  12. By the way hope your eye is ok!

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi Azelia,
      The water in a dough would seem on the surface to be a simple matter – but in practice, it is anything but. I shall await with interest your weekend post.

      Sadly, the eye is not healing as it should – however, that’s not the end of the world, since I was born with two, and the second is good at making up for the failings of the bad one. I’ll be fine – thanks for the good wishes.

  13. Sorry to hear that, take care of yourself!

    I was going to say, look after yourself but then that would just become a joke about the eye..which was not the intent! 🙂

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