The Fresh Loaf

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It has been a while since I posted, although I have been baking regularly.  For New Years I made a few breads and thought I would add my voice to those who have had wonderful success with David's posting of the SFBI Miche on TFL.  When I first started baking sourdough breads I was totally intrigued by the photo of a large miche on the cover of Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice.  I spent months trying to master it, with only moderate success.  But an attraction to the miche loaf has stayed with me, and I really enjoy making these large loaves.

Since David posted the SFBI recipe, I have made it half a dozen times.  The picture of a miche that I have in my head, though, is something a bit flatter and more spread out.  I thought I might be able to attain this look by increasing the hydration above the 73.4% in the recipe.  Over my last three bakes, I have worked the hydration up to 78%, and I'm pretty sure it can take even more water.  Still, the 78% results are worth sharing, so here are some photos.  I will continue to try for the flatter loaf, but in the meantime I'm happy to enjoy these.

Like David, I keep Central Milling's Type-85 high extraction flour in my pantry just for the miche.  I made a batch of 3.6 kg of dough that required a 4 hour bulk ferment, keeping the temperature at 75˚F.  I did a total of 4 stretch & folds at 30, 60, 90 and 150 min.  It was divided and shaped into two ~1000 gm batards (see below for a variation) and one 1550 gm boule and proofed at RT for one hour.  One batard and the miche were refrigerated overnight (about 18 hours) and baked on a stone directly from the refrigerator the next day.

The crumb on the loaf is light, airy and transparent.

The flavor is tangy, wheaty, even a little earthy.  The crust had a good chew and the crumb was somewhat soft but with a good mouth feel.

There was one other variation that I made.  Varda's post describing fig and anise bread, with links to several other posts, made me want to try another attempt at a fig bread.  My earlier attempts were not that successful, and I also wanted to add nuts to the bread in place of the anise.  I felt that this dough would lend itself to this so after the first 30 min. of the BF I divided off 1000 gm of dough and folded in 20% each of soaked dry figs and toasted pecans.  Phil made a similar loaf, so I borrowed his technique of final proof in the refrigerator for 3 hours rather than an overnight retard.  The results were quite respectable.  The crumb is not as open, unsurprisingly, which gave the bread a nice chew.  Perfect as a base for a bit of soft cheese.

 

Happy New Year everyone!

-Brad

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A few weeks ago I wrote about this formula, and after many suggestions from readers out there, I followed up with two bakes.  This post shows the outcome when including all the flours in the long autolyse, based on suggestions from Khalid and David.  Essentially the method was the same as previous with these two exceptions: for bake 2, the autolyse included all the water and all the flours as listed plus 3 gm salt, and for bake 3 the salt was eliminated in the autolyse and the overall hydration was increased to 75%. 

Bake 2, I included the small amount of salt as a hedge against overactive enzymatic activity of the rye (and possibly the spelt) flour.  The autolysed dough was maintained at 74˚F for a little more than 11 hours, the same time to allow for the final levain build to mature. It was more hydrated than the original version, and the autolysed flours already had a nutty aroma.  Here are the final bakes:

 

The loaves seemed more flavorful than the last time (but it may be wishful thinking), and the crumb was definitely moister.  Sorry, no crumb shot, but it was very similar to the one below.

For Bake 3, I eliminated the salt altogether from the autolyse, and increased the overall dough hydration to 75% from about 72.5%.  I also made a double batch, which turned out to be a bit problematic as I am not really equipped to handle over 4 kg of dough.  It also turned out to be an unusually hot week in San Francisco, so the bulk fermentation got a bit out of hand and I probably went too long.  This made the dough a bit sticky and more difficult to shape.  Still, the breads turned out fine, although the bloom was not as large as usual for this bread.  The crumb, again, ws quite moist, even moreso than the previous bake due to the added hydration.

    

As mentioned, the crumb was moist and airy.

A few of folks have mentioned the boule scoring, so here are some photos. This boule was 1500 gm of dough, which is the largest I've done with this score.

The flavors of both bakes were quite close, with good nuttiness and noticible tang that increased over the next few days.  Bake 3 was a bit bolder, in part to compensate for the added hydration, and had nice singing and cracks are seen throughout the loaves.  It was also more sour, presumably due to the increased fermentation from the higher ambient temperature.

I don't really have a conclusion on whether the salt was necessary for the autolyse, but I think it is not.  The autolysed flours for bake 3 were softer, but that was more likely due to the increased hydration rather than omission of salt. 

Another thing I learned: the wheat germ absorbs a lot of water, much more than I expected.  Since it was the only ingredient other than the salt added when mixing the final dough, and I held back a small amount of water for the add, it was easy to see that all the water went straight to the wheat germ.  Next time, maybe include the wheat germ in the autolyse - has anyone ever done that?

Have fun baking!

-Brad

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Just a short note to share some recent bakes.  We love Hamelman's 5-grain levain - it's flavorful, moist, healthy, and it freezes well.  We always keep a loaf in the freezer, sliced and ready to toast for spreading with (choose your topping: cream cheese, yogurt cheese, jams) for breakfast.  It also makes a great sandwich bread.  I follow the basic recipe from Bread (1st edition - I don't know how it compares to the recent release), with just a few small additions.  First, I add 100 gm of toasted pumpkin seeds, and second, I substutute yogurt whey for the water in the final dough.

     

Another recent bake is Horiatiko Psomi, which is based on this recipe.  David (dmsnyder) also made a version of it here.  I tried the batard version that is coated with sesame seeds.  It had a fairly closed crumb with a few larger holes.  But the crumb was creamy and it had a soft, chewy crust, it is also quite tasty with a hint of tang.  Unfortunately, I have no crumb shot because it was brought to a friend for dinner.

    

Have fun baking!

-Brad

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There has been lots of discussion here and elsewhere (notably Ken Forkish in FWSY and Ian in his Ars Pistorica blog) on the benefits of long autolyse.  I thought I would do a side by side comparison to see what the difference in taste is, since, after all, that's the main reason we all bake so much.  Just for fun, I also wanted to try a more complex levain.  I have been using a simple straight wheat levain that I maintain at around 100% hydration.  After reading posts by Tom (Toad.de.b) and MC (Farine) on the mixed flour blend used by Gérard Rubaud, it seemed this would be a place to start in order to get a better flavor.  I adjusted the levain flour blend to the same as in the final dough. For the autolyse, I used only the wheat flours (AP, bread and whole wheat), mixing in the rye and spelt together with the levain because I am not sure if the additional enzymatic activity would make the dough too slack (aha, another experiment!).

The loaves baked very much like other levain loaves that i have made with similar hydrations (about 72-73%) with nice blooms and singing crusts. 

The comparison loaves were made with the same formula except for using a 30 min. autolyse instead of the overnight refrigerated autolyse, and I did deviate slightly by shaping them into 500g loaves instead of the 1000g ones above.

The flavor was definitely more intense on the loaves that were autolysed for around 16 hours.  Compared to breads I made in the past using a straight wheat levain with the same flour blend, the flavors were  more nutty and wheaty.  Also, the texture was much more creamy on the longer autolysed loaves and the crumb highly gelatinized (the photo doesn't do it justice). 

This is all consistent with what others have been saying.  I've been just a little slow on the uptake here.

The formula, which is scaled to two 1000g loaves after baking, is below:

I'm very happy with these loaves, and I plan to try them again upping the hydration to around 78%.  The other questions that still need to be answered are whether long autolyse with rye and spelt negatively affect the dough, and what is the difference between the refrigerated and room temperature autolyse used as an enzymatic preferment.

-Brad

 [Edit: Replace formula panel because some lines in Method were incomplete.]

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What can I say, I like big loaves.  I have made the Tartine Country bread a number of times in all sizes, from 500 gm to 2 kg, and am always happy with the results.  I refreshed my starter when I returned from a week away with the intention of trying the whole wheat loaf as well.  On my last visit to Central Milling I picked up a 5# bag of Acme Organic Whole Wheat flour, so what better bread to test it on.  I pretty much followed the method in the book, with a small deviation because I forgot to hold back the required 50 gm of water to add with the salt after the autolyse, so I had to add some extra water.  The formula was supposed to be 80% hydration, and the extra water took it up to 83%.  The formula is quite basic:

Levain          200 gm    20%

Water           830 gm    83%

WW flour    700 gm     70%

AP flour       300 gm     30%

Salt                  20 gm      2%

I made a double batch and shaped them into 1 miche at 1950 gm and three smaller boules at around 700 gm each.  The bulk ferment was about 4 hours at a controlled 74˚F with S&F at 30, 60, 90, 120 and 180 min.  After shaping, I retarded the miche and one smaller loaf overnight (about 16 hours), and continued proofing two of the smaller loaves for 3 hours.  Baking was on a stone heated to 500˚F which was reduced to 460˚ when the boules were peeled into the oven.  Steam for 15 min. then turn on the convection to 425˚ for 20 min. more, rotating as necessary.  For the miche, the convection temperature was 415˚ and the convection bake time was 35 min. 

The loaves showed lovely bloom and grigne.  I have been playing with different scoring lately, and I like the effect using two interlocking half-circles.  A bit cumbersome to do on the large loaf, but it's a nice look.  I think the bake times could have been a bit longer.  Though the loaves registered over 205˚ and were left in a cooling oven with the door cracked open for 10 min., I didn't get the nice singing and crackling crust like I do on the Country Loaf, which I suppose is due to the higher hydration dough and not being baked out completely. 

The crumb on this bread is sublime - airy and with a fairly soft chew.  The flavor is nutty and wheaty with a distinct tang on the retarded loaves (I didn't get to try the others).  Curiously, the 2% salt seemed a little on the light side.  This photo is the crumb of the smaller loaf - I'll post the miche once I cut it.  The final size of the miche was about 10 inch diameter and 4 inch tall at the dome.

-Brad

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I baked a few sourdough loaves for last-minute gifts today.  Using the basic 1-2-3 sourdough recipe, my 100% hydration starter, and a mixture of 70% T-70 (from Central Milling), 15% whole wheat (BRM), 10% whole spelt and 5% rye for the final dough, the final hydration is a bit over 71%. Each loaf was scaled at about 600 gm for a final loaf weighing 500 gm.  The shaped loaves were retarded about 20 hours in the refrigerator and final proofed at room temperature for 2 hours before peeling into an oven heated to 500˚F.  They were baked at 440˚F with steam for 15 minutes, then 420˚F convection for another 20 min.

Happy New Year to all.

-Brad

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A while ago, I tried to make a loaf that resembled one of my favorites, Della Fattoria's Rosemary-Meyer Lemon bread.  It turned out pretty well, although it didn't exactly measure up to my memory of the bread.  On my last flour run to Central Milling in Petaluma, I decided to make a slight detour and stop at the Della Fattoria bakery to remind myself what it tasted like before I attempted to make it again.

It was a disappointment.  My memory was probably clouded, but it was nothing like I remembered it.  The crust was soft, the crumb was dense as if it had little oven spring, and the taste was generally flat.  It seemed as if they tried to squeeze in just one more bake in their WFO before it cooled too much, but the timing was off.  Or maybe, now that I am more happy with my own bread baking, I just like the taste of what I make better. One thing that I learned, though, was that their bread included olive oil, something that I missed the first time.

I decided to make another attempt at a Rosemary-Meyer Lemon bread of my own.  I modified the sourdough recipe I have been using lately (already a modification of David's SFSD).  Instead of spelt flour, I used 10% rye.  The addition of 4% extra virgin olive oil changes the flavor to something reminiscent of a focaccia, but the crumb is more sourdough-like.  The results were pretty satisfying.

My standard starter is 100% hydration, wheat only starter.  It is fed with Central Milling Artisan Baker's Craft (ABC) flour and is refrigerated between bakes.  Before use it is warmed to RT and fed at least twice in 24 hours until very active.  For the final build I used about 11.5B-% rye and kept the hydration at 77%.  The overall hydration is 67%.  Just after scoring I sprinkled some Maldon salt (the flakey kind) into the spreading scores and peeled into the oven.

It has a nice sourdough tang, and the flavors of the rosemary and the lemon are evident but not overpowering.  The crust is dark golden and chewy.  I tried to avoid a very bold bake by slightly lowering the temperature because it might overwhelm the lemon.  The formula for this bread is:

I have become fond of using bran instead of corn meal or semolina on the peel to transfer loaves into the oven after learning about it for Genzano Country Bread in Local Breads by Daniel Leader.

Here are some photos of the crumb.  The loaf was very airy and much less dense than it seemed considering the size of bread.  The mouth feel was a bit less creamy than I was looking for, and the sourdough tang was too much for the other flavors, so no doubt there will be another iteration.

 

 

San Francisco is having a very warm fall this year.  After the rains in the early part of the week, it has been warm and sunny.  When I went to pick the lemons for the bread, the buzzing of bees was all around, no doubt responding to the wonderful fragrance of the blossoms.  I managed to capture one of our fertilizing friends starting the 2013 crop of lemons.

Thanks for reading.

-Brad

 

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If you haven't tried David Snyder's SF Sourdough bread technique yet, you really should.  It is a crusty, tasty bread that is very forgiving to make.  I have made it a number of times, and have been making some small adjustments to fit my schedule and my tastes.  In the last two weeks, I baked it twice and thought I would share some photos.

I like adding a small amount of whole spelt flour (about 10%) because of the flavor it imparts.  This loaf used David's 50% hydration starter that I made with 5% spelt in place of the rye that he lists.  I also wanted to try to shape it into a fendu, which I have never tried before.  The loaf was shaped and retarded overnight (about 18 hours) directly in a floured banneton.  In the morning it was proofed an hour at 85˚F and two additional hours at room temperature, about 68˚.  The results were quite good.

Sorry, I don't have a crumb picture because I took the bread for a dinner party and didn't have a chance to take one.  There is a very strong sour flavor to this bread, and it has a crispy-chewy crust and creamy crumb.

I baked a second set of batards the following week.  Again I used 10% whole spelt, but instead of the 50% hydration starter, I used a 75% hydration starter to try to reduce the acidity.  There have been some discussions on whether the starter hydration affects acidity recently, and I wanted to see what happens to my loaves.

The technique was mostly the same.  The main difference was that I proofed the loaf in linen lined baskets for 90 minutes after shaping and then retarded them overnight.  In the morning I finished proofing at 85˚ for an hour, then another 45 minutes at room temperature.  To my taste, the second bake (75%H starter) seemed less tart than the first (50%H starter), but of course it is highly subjective.  Both bakes gain acidity after sitting for a day or two.

Thanks again David for a great bread formula.

-Brad

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Greetings all.  After returning from a few weeks traveling (pleasure and business), I have been waking up my starter from a prolonged hybernation.  I was looking through some very old recipes for a straight dough bread to make in the meantime, and I found this recipe in an ancient archive.  In fact, I'm guessing it is one of the first (if not the first) yeasted bread I ever made oh so many years ago.  It is Cottage Cheese Onion Dill, and is very tasty and makes a nice sandwich loaf with its tight crumb.  It uses very little water with cottage cheese and an egg supplying most of the liquid.  Sometimes it is nice to have bread in only 3 hours. The recipe follows the photos.  Hope you enjoy it!

-Brad

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Every once in a while, things don't go exactly as planned, but the result is really good anyway.  This is one of those times - a happy accident.

I promised to bring some bread to a dinner party with friends.  I made a delicious loaf of David's San Francisco sourdough, and I wanted to make a durum flour loaf, like Leader's Pane di Altamura.  I also wanted to try a loaf shaping technique that I saw in this video.  [I think the original reference to the video was posted recently on TFL, but I can't find it, so my thanks to the poster and my humble apologies for not being able to give credit.]  Having never tried either the recipe or the technique, and reading some posts on TFL about some problems with Leader's formula, at the last minute I decided to bail and modify the recipe to one I felt a little more comfortable with. 

I had already built the levain in three stages and was ready to mix the dough.  I started with my stock 100% hydration starter, and converted part of it to an 81% H using whole wheat durum as the first refreshment (formula below in the "Method" section).  A second refreshment was done after fermenting overnight, and the final build was mixed after 13 hours and left to ferment again overnight.  I found the whole wheat durum peaked too quickly (6-7 hours), so for the final build I switched to Extra Fancy durum.  This was beautifully peaked and full of gas bubbles the next morning (sorry, no pics).

After looking at some past Altamura-type loaves that I had baked in the past, I decided on a 40% AP flour/60% Durum blend for the final dough.  It turned out to be fairly easy to work with, even though the final hydration was in excess of 70%.  The dough had excellent structure, but when it came time to score the loaves, I found that it was too wet a dough to score like in the video and the result is the top loaf in the photo below. It was scored with the baker's knife, but the dough was too wet to coax up the corners into the desired peaks.  The second loaf was scored with a lame.

The oven spring was so huge you can barely see the score in the bottom loaf.  It was also underproofed, but overall look didn't suffer too badly.  The crumb was extremely moist and chewy with lots of irregular sized holes.  The crust was also chewy, perhaps a bit too soft for my tastes, but the overall flavor was very good. 

Here's the formula and method. [Note: this formula is revised based on discussion below.]

I think that in order to be able to shape as in the video, the hydration needs to be in the 60-65% range.  I will definitely try this again.

-Brad

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