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Another look at converting regular to sourdough recipes

In another page we talked about three ways to convert regular yeasted recipes to use sourdough. And it all seemed pretty straight-forward. But, the world, and recipes, sometimes refuse to be categorized. What if.... what if... your regular yeasted recipe doesn't use water? What if it uses buttermilk?

And that's what happened. I started with Beatrice Ojakangas Christmas Pumpernickel bread from her "Great Whole Grain Breads" book. It's an attractive recipe that has a Christmas cookie on top of the load of orange flavored pumpernickel bread.

The recipe started out as follows:
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cups Water (to dissolve yeast)
3 cups White Flour
2 cups Medium Rye Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Dark Molasses
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 cups White flour, for final kneading
1 tbsp yeast

The recipe called for all the ingredients to be mixed, and refrigerated overnight. The next morning the last 1/2 cup of flour is kneaded in, and then the loaves are formed and baked.

My first shot at changing the recipe was to use 1 cup of starter in place of the yeast, and then replaced the buttermilk with water and Saco buttermilk powder. The recipe turned out like this:
1 cup starter
1 11/16 cups Water (or 1 3/4 cups less 1 tablespoon)
2 1/8 cups White Flour
2 cups Rye Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Dark Molasses
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
8 Tbsp Saco Instant buttermilk
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 cups White flour, for final kneading

The dough worked nicely, but when it was baked, there were big lumps of uncooked dough in it. After thinking about it, it seemed that the buttermilk wasn't needed. It adds acidity, and the sourdough starter already does that. So, I omitted the Saco buttermilk Powder. (Note - it's good stuff, but it just isn't needed in this recipe.) The results were better, but not good enough. At this point, I decided that the all-purpose white flour just wasn't putting enough gluten into the dough. So, I switched to bread flour, and things improved. But there were still some little lumps of unbaked dough in the bread.

My next thought was that refrigerating the dough just wasn't necessary for sourdough. So, I eliminated the overnight refrigeration. And viola! - it worked! The full recipe is rather large, so instead of repeating it here, I'll ask you to look here.