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Whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread

SOURCE: THE PERFECT LOAF

The sourdough bread baking adventure continues. My starter is now well over a month old and is quite vigorous. I keep it in the fridge for part of the week to slow down activity, then bring it out for a few days to make some bread (and pizza dough from the discard).

While maintaining the starter, I’ve learned quite a bit about sourdough bread and maintaining a starter.

Different bread recipes will have different hydration ratios: the ratio of water to flour. This can range from 50% to 90% or more. Lower hydration makes a firmer dough, while higher hydration makes a very loose, sticky dough.

2 loaves of whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread cooling on a wire wrack

2 loaves of whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread

This whole wheat sandwich bread recipe is a very wet dough at 90% hydration… by far the stickiest dough I’ve worked with, but you really just need to get it into a loaf pan. Shaping is less critical.

The crumb is rather tight and quite uniform. Just right for sandwich bread. And it’s nice and moist too. But the top crust got quite dark before the bread was fully cooked inside, so I covered it with aluminum foil to finish baking. Next time, I’ll adjust the baking temperature down by 25ºF.

I’m also starting to get used to my starter and understanding when it peaks, and adjusting the discard and feeding ratios to compensate. Today, my starter peaked well before its next feeding, so I discarded an extra ounce of starter and increased the feeding flour and water accordingly. That should slow it down so that it peaks right around feeding time.

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