The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Cooper

So, like an Icarus who flew too high too fast, long before he learned how to build an airplane, last weekend I got too cocky thinking that I could do variations of my own, without having to research proper recipes.  The result was two utterly lifeless loaves, which, albeit still edible, definitely wished they have never been baked at all. 

Since I'm of a firm belief that we can learn just as much - if not more - from failures as we can from successes, I am posting it here as a warning to others like me: "Learn to crawl confidently before you do... well, practically anything else". 

I started with the same simple SD recipe I used a few times before, but decided to split the dough into two parts and make two battards, one with Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and the other with walnuts and figs. After autolyse and final mixing, I allowed the dough to BF for 1 hr. (It was supposed to be 30 min, but it took me much longer than expected to prepare the extra ingredients.)  I then did one set of stretch/fold, divided the dough, flattened each half, spread additional ingredients, and did another couple of stretch/folds. I am not sure where exactly I went wrong, other than I think I loaded waaay to many "extras" into the dough.  Each battard was about 460g of dough, and each received about 70g additional of mixed extras.  As you can see from the photos of the crumb - if you can even call it that - that was definitely too much.

I followed that by my usual stretch/fold every 30 min 3 more times, but the dough, especially one with olives and tomatoes, never became elastic as I expected. I shaped it the best I could, placed into well-floured bannetons for overnight retardation in the fridge, then warmed up for 2 hrs in the morning before attempting to bake. Both loaves stuck to the banneton badly, the one with olives and tomatoes worse than the other one, to the point that both completely ripped when I tried to extract them onto the baking sheet.  I baked with steam for the first 15 min, and they did rise in the oven just a tiny bit, but nowhere close to be called loaves of bread.

I definitely learned my lesson; now I just need to figure out what that lesson was. :-)  Happy baking everyone!

 

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Cooper

Well, Passover is over, and leavened bread is back, with the vengeance. :-) Today's creation: sourdough multi-grain bread with seeds. I wish Internet had the ability to transmit the emotion which crunchy crust elicits whole one tastes a slice with good salted Irish butter. 

I started with same sourdough recipe I blogged before, which works well for me.  The only modifications were: I upped the percentage of whole wheat flour a bit, and also added about 1/2% of water because I figured that all the seeds would need it. The seeds included chia, which I understand likes absorbing water, so I could probably easily go with the whole extra 1% of water.  I'll try it next time.

For the seeds mix I used some arbitrary amounts of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax, chia, white sesame, and rolled oats.  I toasted everything lightly on a dry pan, and let them cool completely before adding into the dough after autolyse phase, together with salt and remaining water.  The total amount of seeds weighed after toasting was 88g.

I also sprinkled some oats inside the banneton before I put the dough inside, and a bit more along the sides of the dough ball, between it and the walls of the banneton.  The advantage turned out to be dual: I got oats stuck to the surface of my bread and baking perfectly crunchy, which is what I wanted.  Those same oats also kept the dough completely from sticking to the form, so it practically fell out on its own while I was inverting the form on the cooking sheet. 

Levain (100% hydration) - 50g starter, 50g warm water, 50g  KA WW flour, mixed in the morning and put in warm place.
Water - 295g + 20g more to dissolve salt
Flour - 400g Wegmans AP unbleached (I didn't have any BF on hand) + 50g  KA WW 
Salt - 10g
Flour total 450+75 (from levain) =525g
Water total 315+75 (from levain) =390g 

Baker's math:
AP flour - 81%
WW flour - 19%
Water - 74%
Salt - 1.9%
Various seeds - 1.7%

 

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Cooper

In a never-ending quest to improve, for the next couple of loaves I decided to make some changes.  The loaf above had the water upped just a bit to 73.5%, because  want to try making an even more airy crumb.  I also had a mix of flours 50/50 of KA bread flour and Wegmans unbleached all-purpose, simply because I ran out of BF. :-) 

Levain (100% hydration) - 50g starter, 50g warm water, 50g  KA WW flour, mixed in the morning and put in warm place.
Water - 290g + 20g for salt
Flour - 200g KA BF + 250g Wegmans AP
Salt - 10g
Flour total 450+75 (from levain) =525
Water total 310+75 (from levain) =385 

Baker's math:
Flour - 100%
Water - 73.3%
Salt - 1.9%

My schedule was thrown off somewhat because we had friends visited, decided to go out, and the dough sat for 2 hrs in a bowl after the first stretch and fold.  Still, I think it recovered fine in the end.

I tried to create a flower when scoring it, hoping it would bloom in the oven like a tulip, but I don't think it worked.  Will try again next time.

I also made the same recipe with some seeds, because I just love breads with "stuff" in them.  it came out perfectly:

I simply added 45g of lightly toasted mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, white sesame, flax, and chia (that's all I had at home).  Mixed it all in when I was adding salt, after the autolyse was done, and baked the same way. In retrospect, I probably should have toasted pumpkin seeds first, and then add the rest, since they still felt a bit raw.

The crumb looked nice, and the taste was wonderful!

 

 

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Cooper

So, my scale finally arrived, and I got a banneton for proofing as well. I've been experimenting a bit, and I think I finally got it. Since all the folks here were so helpful, I figured I could contribute by sharing my results. Would really love to hear your comments too!  You can see the final product in the photo above.

The recipe:

In the morning, take starter from the fridge and feed it 1:1:1, i.e. equal amounts of starter, water, and flour.  Cover and let it sit in a warm place for 6-8 hrs.

Ingredients:
Levain (100% hydration) - 50g starter, 50g warm water, 50g  KA WW four, mixed in the morning and put in warm place.
Water - 280g + 20g for salt = 300g total
Flour - 450g KA BF 
Salt - 10g

Baker's math:
Flour - 100%
Water - 71.5%
Salt - 1.9%

Mix everything (except salt and some water) until all flour is absorbed. Cover and let stand for 60 min, then add salt and remaining water, and mix for 3-4 min. I use stand mixer, but you can use anything you like.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, let rest for 30 min. Take it out on a lightly-floured surface and stretch and fold from 4 sides, then put it back in the bowl. Repeat rest and stretch and fold 3 times (4 times total, cover during rest). BF for 2 hrs. On lightly-floured surface pre-shape, let rest 10-15 min, then final shape. 

Flour the banneton, and the surface of the dough (lightly), place the dough into the banneton and cold proof overnight (10-12 hrs). Next morning, take the dough out of the fridge and let warm up on the counter for 1.5-2 hrs. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500F, then drop the temp to 475F. I baked at first under a "dome".  I have this old cast-aluminum pot, which I preheat in the oven and then invert and cover the dough with it to create hot and steamy environment, similar to a Dutch oven or Cloche. It looks like this:


I am baking right on a cookie sheet, lightly covered with corn meal to prevent dough sticking. Take the dough out of the banneton, dust off any excess flour (I found that I really don't like the taste of the roasted rice flour, which I use in my banneton :-) ), and score the bread.  I scored at a shallow angle, trying to create an "ear".  I think I succeeded.


Bake under the dome for 20 min at 475F, then drop temp to 460F and bake uncovered for 20 min more, rotating once in the middle.  I waited for about 2 hrs before slicing the loaf, and I must admit that was torture! :-)  The crumb looks fine, although I would prefer it a bit more airy.  The taste was wonderful, and the crust was the crunchiest I ever achieved!

Hope this helps someone too!

 

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