Stella Culinary School Podcast Episode 22| Let's Bake Some Sourdough

SCS 022| Let's Bake Some Sourdough

It is done. Our epic Stella Culinary bread series is now in the history books. What better way to finish than an awesome lesson on sourdough bread baking.

In the Stella Culinary School Podcast Episode 21, you learned how to create pre-ferments and sourdough starters. In this episode, we dive into the sourdough bread making process.

Discussion Segment

In this episode's discussion segment, we get super geeky and discuss how you can control the flavor of your starter based upon what you feed it, and the environment in which it's stored. For the uber geek who wants to take their knowledge even further, I would highly recommend the following article:

Technique Segment

In the technique segment, I take you through the process of making a basic loaf of sourdough bread.

You will learn:

  •     Various strategies for waking up and feeding your starter.
  •     How extended autolyse can give you a better finished product.
  •     My approach to feeding my starter and baking the daily bread served at Stella.
  •     How I control the sourness and flavor balance of my sourdough bread.

Pre-Requisites - Please Don't Skip

This episode covers many advanced level concepts which can only be fully comprehended with a firm foundation in bread baking. Fear not, because if you've just stumbled across this page, the following podcasts episodes will get you up to speed in no time.

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The Stella Culinary School Podcast is our core curriculum and the most effective method to gain knowledge and take your cooking to the next level. You can view and listen to all episodes by visiting the Stella Culinary School Podcast Index.

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There are 45 Comments

jacob burton's picture


How'd you like the video. I know you had a lot of questions on how much starter to use and how to convert recipes over to sourdough. Do you feel like you have a grasp on it now?

@Silver Kat,

Yes, I love the wood burning oven. It's still one of my favorite toys in the kitchen.

jacob burton's picture

That's great to hear. Converting commercial yeast recipes to sourdough, or figuring out how much starter to use, really isn't that hard of a concept once grasped, but it's difficult to explain in an article or as a response to a forum question (for me at least).

When you combine the information covered in the other podcast with the ratios given in that video, you also have the tools to create your own sourdough bread recipes. Ad some flavors here (herbs, seeds, onions, bacon), some delayed fermentation there, and you have a great recipe to test. Doesn't mean it will come out perfect on the first try, but you'll at least be able to pinpoint what went wrong and fix it.

Looking forward to checking out some of your future loaves.

jacob burton's picture

I eventually will do a wood fire baking series, with possibly an audio podcast attached, but it's not my top priority right now. I'd like to move the audio podcast onto other, non-bread subjects for a little while, and finish this damn online boot camp I've been working on for what seems like forever now.

I'll probably look at shooting something like that when winter rolls around.

jacob burton's picture

Right on James. Glad you found Stella Culinary. Let me know how the bread program turns out, and if you need any help.

jacob burton's picture


Thanks so much for the nice comment. I'm glad to hear you're loving the Stella Culinary content. Looking forward to having you as part of our community.

jacob burton's picture

@ Mak,

Most bread recipes are formulated with the assumption of standard room temperature of 70-75F. If your room is colder, fermentation and proofing will slow down, and if your room is hotter, it will speed up.

To deal with this, you can add less yeast (or starter) for a hotter environment, and more if in a colder environment.

But most important, pay attention to the visual cues described in this and other podcast episodes. For bulk fermentation, you're looking for a 1.5-2X increase in volume, and for proofing, about 1.5X increase in volume.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

jacob burton's picture

Question: I have tried a range of flours and I find that they absorb hugely different quantities of water. The same recpie than yeilds different consistency of dough depending on what flour I use. How can I deal with this problem? should I adjust the hydration until I get equivalent consistency?

The more gluten or overall protein a flour has, the more water it will absorb. So assuming your hydration rate stays the same, a 100% whole wheat dough will be stiffer than a dough using 100% bread flour, which in turn will be stiffer than a dough made with 100% All Purpose Flour.

If you have a dough and it seems a little bit too dry or sticky, I'm a big fan of adding additional water or flour by feel.

Question: A lot of the loaves I make which have a high hydration have a crumb that looks partially  translucent. (especially Ciabatta (85% hydration)  Taste is fine but the crumb is more chewy and less fluffy than I was expecting. What are the factors that affect the consistency of the crumb and what should I adjust to get a fluffy white crumb?

The chewy crumb is more typical of a high-hydration dough. I would recommend dropping the hydration to around 70% if you want a more fluffy crumb. If you're looking for a tender crumb as found in sandwich bread, you'll need to add some fat and need a little bit more (along with dropping hydration), as Ed_f suggested.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

jacob burton's picture


Different flours will have different moisture contents depending on how they were milled, stored, shipped from, etc. I think the best thing to do is find one type of flour that works for you and stick with it for a while.

The best time to use a sourdough starter is when it has risen completely, and starts to fall back in on itself. The float test is my favorite method for testing the viability of a starter, as demonstrated in my sourdough videos found on our bread baking page:

jacob burton's picture

@Shella Ouda,

Ed_F hit the nail on the head. I think you would have better luck with the pineapple approach.

With that said, the "vomit" smell is usually a transitional phase in certain environments. There is a whole string of microbes that inhabit your starter in the first seven days, with each one making the environment a little more acidic, until the LAB take over and thrive, kicking the rest of the bad microbes out.

One of the inherent smells of vomit is stomach acid. What that's telling me is your dough is acidifying, but it hasn't selected for the right microbes yet.

A lot of the time, you can simply pour out most of the starter, feed it fresh, and continue feeding for the next few days. In most cases, the LAB will take over, and you'll have a healthy starter. Its just getting through the stinky phase (which usually occurs in the first three days).

jacob burton's picture

Hey THigson, glad you're enjoying the Stella Culinary content. As to your question:

Is there anything this guy doesn't know about cooking?

Obviously yes, there's lots of things about cooking I don't know. The secrete to my growth as a chef has been this website. I truly believe the best way to master something is to teach it. So I research a subject that interests me, develop and test recipes in my kitchen, and then teach it here.

The great thing about cooking is you could devote three lifetimes to it, and still not master everything!

jacob burton's picture

Hey Revan,

Welcome to Stella Culinary. Best of luck to your future endevours.

jacob burton's picture

Hi Jennifer,

Glad you're finding the site and podcasts helpful.

High protein flours like whole wheat and einkorn can absorb more water than their lower protein counterparts, so you'll need to up hydration. Also, the bran from the einkorn will cut and shorten the gluten strands, making the bread a little more dense. Here's my approach:

Sift einkorn flour through a medium grit sieve that allows most of the flour to fall through but traps the larger pieces of bran. Set the bran aside for later.

Take the sifted flour, and sift again, this time through a finer strainer (like a chinoise). All the stuff that falls through, you want to reserve.

Now weigh the stuff that doesn't fall through the fine strainer, and add an equal weight of water, a spike of sourdough starter, and let sit overnight. This will be your preferment, and will also soften the larger portions of the einkorn flour that would normally cut through the gluten strands, yielding a denser loaf.

The next day, add in the finest sifted flour to your preferment, and enough water to bring your total hydration rate to 75%. This is also the time you add your salt.

From here, basically follow my standard sourdough boule process, but instead of kneading, just do 4-5 stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals. After you form the loaf, brush the top with water, and roll in the large pieces of einkorn bran that you reserved form the first sifting. This will incorporate the healthy bran, but since it's on the outside of the loaf, it will give an awesome texture, and not effect the interior density of the loaf.

jacob burton's picture

Hey Westgate,

Sorry for the delayed response. Your question had quite a few variables to it so I decided to give you an audio response. Click on the play button below:

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