Basic questions about my bread making

doofus

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Hello everyone,

I would like some help with understanding what I am doing wrong when making bread by hand.

I have been making plenty of loaves using my own sourdough starter made from wholemeal rye flour and water. I do everything inside a pyrex bowl, stretch and fold every 45 mins for about 6 hours, place in basket, a few hours to rise, bake inside a pre-heated dutch oven for about 1 hour (30 mins inside dutch oven and 30 mins outside). A few hours later, even left on a rack to cool down completely uncovered, it loses its crunchiness, and the crust goes must softer and thinner. In the past I used to leave it inside a fridge overnight, with no different results.

Because of this, and the effort involved, I now simply knead it inside the bread maker, wait a few hours to rise, then remove the basket and bake it in a hot oven. Much easier, almost automatic. The crust is thinner but stays crunchy for ever and the crumb is more uniform.

I am wondering which step or steps have I been doing wrong when stretching/folding by hand and raising inside a basket? I have watched youtube videos and their dough is much different to mine before placing inside the proofing basket and afterwards. Their dough seems much more stiff, maintains its shape, and when they take it out of the basket it has a certain shape and can be baked as is without flopping flat on the rack. They even score it and it is like scoring a baked cake as it stays together, whereas mine is like a water filled balloon, it flattens as soon as you leave it down, before and after it rises. There was this lady on youtube she was leaving in fridge overnight, and next day baking it inside the oven on a tray, as it maintained its shape with no need to place inside a mould. How is this even possible, my dough is always floppy and would become like a flat pancake almost if I let it sit on a worktop.
 

morning glory

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Firstly, I'm impressed to hear you are making bread from your own sourdough starter. I've virtually nil experience of this as my one and only starter came to a bad end. Not many members here seem to bake sourdough from their own starter. SatNavSaysStraightOn does and Elawin does.

Their dough seems much more stiff, maintains its shape, and when they take it out of the basket it has a certain shape and can be baked as is without flopping flat on the rack.
My experience with the sourdough (white) bread I made was that it was a very slack sticky dough and very difficult to work with. In fact I looked up a number of videos about this and several UK videos demonstrated how to manage that slack dough. I think that is how it is supposed to be. I will try and find a link to the best of those videos.

Having said this, I am talking about white bread. What flours are you using in the bread?

I'm afraid I don't understand the issue with the crust. I find most bread loses its crisp crust after baking. TastyReuben has just acquired a bread box and has made good reports about how it is keeping the bread fresher. I'm not sure if keeping it in a box also helps the crust.
 

doofus

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Firstly, I'm impressed to hear you are making bread from your own sourdough starter. I've virtually nil experience of this as my one and
Hi there, making the sourdough rye starter is very easy once you know what to expect. The most important aspect is time, it may take more than 5 days, depending on so many very random factors, there cannot be a one size fits all approach. Recently I have somehow created a very fast starter, my dough rises within 3-4 hours ready to bake (and it's a bit warmer out which might have something to do).

I use strong white flour and usually mix in 20%-25% wholemeal rye/wheat. There are two types of strong white flour, the normal strong and the extra strong "Canadian", there is a huge difference especially when working it by hand. Canadian is much better holds together and is much more elastic without tearing. I also believe Canadian is GMO and full of chemicals.

If you place the bread inside a plastic bag or container it becomes almost like sliced supermarket bread. I leave mine out and eat it over many days and stays crispy. But the one I make by hand loses the crispyness say 4-5 hours after baking even left to rest on a tray - not enclosed in any container.

I will watch the video now.
 

TastyReuben

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. @TastyReuben has just acquired a bread box and has made good reports about how it is keeping the bread fresher. I'm not sure if keeping it in a box also helps the crust.
Most of my bread is sandwich bread, which has a soft crust by design. However, I'll be making baguettes in the next few days and I'll toss one of those in there and see how it fares. :)
 

doofus

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This was one of the best I found. He is very chatty but also very clear and accurate.

View: https://youtu.be/vmb0wWKITBQ
Many thanks for this, I have watched it and written it all down to try next time. Only thing he does not say is how many hours, left outside uncovered, does the crust maintain its crispyness, which is my main problem. I will try his instructions to the letter and will let you know.
 
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