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Feb 21, 2008 04:35 PM

loooooong rise sourdough

I have been making a lot of sourdough lately.

I have a great starter going and the bread I've been making has been turning out mostly good ( a couple of disasters, but I'm experimenting).

Most recently, I've been using the recipe for Suburban Bread in the Cheeseboard Collective book. The recipe calls for very little besides flour, water, and starter. The first rise happens after the bread is kneaded (I use a KitchenAid) for 12 minutes or so and goes on overnight. Then the loaves are assembled and the second rise goes on for about 5 hours. Then you bake, and you sort of have to be around for the baking process to mind the crust.

I really like the way this method has been working for me, but the timing is hard for me. The first rise is no problem, I put the dough together and leave it over night- easy peasy. The second rise is a problem though. Five hours means that if I put the loaves together first thing in the morning (for me, that would be around 8:30, or 9:00 if I drink my coffee first- which is much preferred) they are ready to go in the oven until around 2:00.

I am just not guaranteed to be home at 2:00 on a Saturday or Sunday. AND ideally I would like to have a way to make bread during the week.

So that loooooong story leads up to my short questions about looooong rises. Can I let the loaves rise longer than five hours? Can I put the loaves together in the morning and bake them at night?


I have heard of breads that only have one super long rise (like 18 hours). I've seen the no-knead recipe, but that's not a sourdough. Can I do it as a sourdough (I want to use only starter, no commercial yeast)? If so, any idea how much starter to use?

My household thanks you for your advice!

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  1. Sourdough or not, the key is to manage the rising (time, environment) so that your dough has risen enough, while the culture/yeasts have not had multiplied so much they started drowning in their own by-products (alcohol?), or that the dough has not dried up or fallen back on itself because it has risen too much.

    I have cheated with extra, unattended long rises before with sourdough (but I'm the kind who never follow recipes and happily lives with the less-than-perfect results anyway). What I did was to leave the dough in the fridge (or simply somewhere less warm). To make sure the extra-long wait does not leave the dough dried, I covered the bowl containing the dough with a damp towel and then tightly with cling wrap.

    My experience is, it took me about twice the amount of time to rise in the fridge, but I think you'll need to experiment.

    From what I read, slow rising is supposed to make the bread even more flavourful (add more to the already more flavourful sourdough!)

    2 Replies
    1. re: tarteaucitron

      I read in the Cheeseboard book that I could put the dough in the fridge to slow the rise, and then let it rise for a couple of hours once it was taken out.

      Did you put the bread in the oven right out of the fridge, or let it come to room temp? And did it still rise a bit in the fridge?

      1. re: erns53

        Putting the bread in the fridge to proof will double the length of time needed, but it also gives you a bigger window to play with. Depending on how much flour you add to the dough, you might be able to let it proof at room temperature and still get a proper oven-spring. I have seen sourdoughs that are proofed for 18-24 hours, so you might be able to do it on the counter. The bread will still be flavorful, but it will be very dense, if you let the time go too far.

        Bread should always be brought to room temp if you proof/ferment in the fridge'.

    2. Sourdough does just fine if you follow procedures to turn the dough or fold the dough instead of kneading it. I did mine in stages though, with some of the ingredients added the evening before and then added the remainder the next day (I never really follow recipes). I've found that cooking the loaf in my dutch oven as has become popular works well, though I use parchment paper to get the dough into the hot oven. The crust is great, the flavor is good, the chew is wonderful, but my dutch oven gets fairly browned inside.

      Uh, I used about a quarter cup of my starter to raise one round loaf, starting the day before I planned to bake. I'm not big into super sour, though. Mine tastes more like regular bread, and not pucker sour, even though the yeast is wild (a genuine flour and water only starter).

      2 Replies
      1. re: saltwater

        Why don't you google 'no-knead sourdough'? You'll find a number of interesting ideas. And I wouldn't worry about whether a recipe calls for a firm or liquid starter. As long as the total amount of flour and water are right, the dough will perform as expected.

        1. re: bcc

          Okay, this is all good advice.

          It sounds like there is still some need to experiment. Kelli2006 says "Bread should always be brought to room temp if you proof/ferment in the fridge." Which makes really good sense, but then I'm looking at some of googled recipes (of course, bcc, why didn't I just do that?) and they go in the oven still cold (an hour out of the fridge or less) So I'll try both ways.

          Also, as for what saltwater said about adding ingredients in two parts- I did use a method that called for that at one point (straight from the source- Joy of Cooking) but the rises were shorter (first rise over night, second rise a mere 2 hours) and I wasn't impressed with the bread. It was good for sandwiches, but I want those big holes.

          I'm going to try this:

          found through google, one rise and baked an hour out of the fridge. I'll let y'all know!

      2. I also find this the biggest problem with making sourdough bread. I've experimented with retarding the loaves (i.e. putting them in the fridge, which 'retards' their development), but I've never found the loaves as good as those I didn't retard. The exception to this are recipes where you are told to retard the dough and/or formed loaves; Nancy Silverton does this quite a bit.

        One idea I've had, inspired by the preferment recipes of James McGuire and Jeffrey Hamelman, is to incorporate a larger percentage of my final dough in the last build of the sourdough, 12-16 hours before the final build of the bread dough. But I suspect this will be a trial and error series of experiments, based on room temp and the relative strength of my sourdough starter.

        Good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gooseberry

          Fridge vote here. It works well for me.

        2. Have you looked at the newest fad 'Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day'? It's getting a lot of enthusiastic posts.

          The author does a long pre-ferment, then stores it in the fridge, and removes a loaf's worth daily to bake. Mix once a week, bake often. The second link is the authors recipe for a low yeast version, similar to sourdough, and he indicates that the final fermentation prior to baking takes longer this way. I didn't buy the book, but I think I've captured the idea correctly. Kind of a next generation no-knead.

          Another take on long proofing and schedule management.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Leucadian

            I've tried this and the finished product is very salty, and I adore salt. It was just too much, but the balance of salt is important to the recipe, so I have no idea what to do with it.

          2. My procedure is similar to Saltwater's. I use about 1 tbl of vigorous dough starter for each 5 ounces (cup by scoop and scrape) of flour in the dough, 1/2 teaspoon of salt per each 5 ounces of flour, and water at the rate of 75% of the weight of the flour. I usually mix around six in the evening, but I do not knead. I fold the dough at 9 or so. I fold it again when I get up in the morning, and about 3 hours later fold it and shape a boule. Handle it lightly. Sourdough is not as elastic as yeasted dough because of the acid in it. Long rises work well at lower temperatures. But lower temperatures also favor yeast reproduction over lactobacillus. But most kitchen environmental temperature works pretty well. In the summer in DC, however, when it can get warm, I may cut a number of hours off the full schedule. Note, you don't have to let it go 18 hours. 12 hours works quite well.