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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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davidg618

I recently made Hamelman's Vermont sourdough, and especially liked the flavor layer contributed by the ten-percent whole rye flour. However, my favorite bread in this genre remains Dan DiMuzio's Pain au levain formula. I think the stiff levain and the ten-percent whole wheat flour create a more complex flavor profile. So I took what I like from both, and baked a couple of loaves yesterday.


The formula:


480g ripe starter (67% Hydration)


Final dough weight: 1700g


Hydration: 67%


KA Bread Flour: 90% (we like a chewy crumb and crust)


Hodgson Mill Whole Rye Flour 10%


H2O: 67%


Salt: 2%


I ripened the starter, using my usual 3-build method, over the 24 hours before making the dough: 4 minutes, speed 1; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; 3 minutes speed 2 (Kitchenaid stand mixer)


Bulk proof: 2 hours and 15 minutes with S&F at 45 and 90 minutes.


Pre-shaped two boules, 750g and 925g--I have two different size brotforms--rested 15 minutes, final shaped.


Final proof: large boule, 1 hour 45 minutes, small boule 2 hours 15 minutes--I baked them serially; I need a bigger baking stone:-(


Initial temperatute. 500°F; 10 minutes with steam, lowered temperature at 5 minutes to 450*F; at 10 minutes vented oven, baked 18 minutes and 15 minutes more respectively.


I also used dmsynder's before and after steaming procedure see Sourdough bread: Good results with a new tweak of my steaming method


The results: We like it! The difference between this and a pain au levain true to DiMuzio's formula is subtle, a slightly more accented note from the rye flour than whole wheat flour, and the stiffer levain lends its more complex flavor profile.



and the crumb...



David G

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davidg618

We enjoy sandwich breads--soft crust, close crumb--a buttermilk white straight dough, the dough for three loaves made in our bread machine and oven baked,  or a whole wheat variation has been our mainstay for six or seven years. My favorite is the whole wheat version. Recently, I've made a sourdough variation a couple of times, with enjoyable results. It was natural I'd turn to this favorite for my first go at making pain de mie--Pullman bread. This is a poolish started version. The final dough contains 25% whole wheat, and is firm (60% hydration). As expected, the crumb is close and soft, and the crust slight. The bread has a sweeter flavor than the straight dough version. I suspect this come from the poolish which makes up 25% of the final dough weight.


I think I overfilled the bread-pan slightly. There is a slight compression of the crumb just inside the crust (although that could also be due the way I fit the dough log into the pan). Jeffery Hamelman, in Bread, recommends 2.25 lbs. of dough for a 13"x4"x4" Pullman bread pan. My dough weighed four ounces more. Next time I'll follow his guidance to the fraction of an ounce.




the crumb.


On the last day of class at King Arthur we baked Fougasse and pizza in the center's magnificent Le Panyol wood-fired oven. Here's a picture of our classes' youngest member, Michael who attended with his mother, loading his pizza into the oven, and another of my Fougasse. At 650°F it only takes a few minutes to bake, and because the fire was still burning in the rear of the oven we had to keep turning our breads frequently. It was fun, but it also made me appreciate my home's modern convection oven.




This bread was delicious when eaten immediately warm, but the next day it was rock hard, good for croutons or bread crumbs, but not much more.

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davidg618

Four afternoons of hands-on baking--that's Hands-on with a capital H. We started with first steps for making croissants, and sourdough levain, went on to bake lavash, classic baguettes (poolish),  sunflower sourdough bread, rye fougasse (w/preferment), miche, and pizza. The latter two were baked in a wood fired oven; all our other dough were baked in the KA Bakery oven.


The class uses a simple format: one of the teaching bakers demonstrates what's to be done; immediately following the students do what they observed, with guidance and critique by the roving teachers. Short lectures, followed by Q's and A's round out the teaching. The ratio of doing to demonstration and talking was roughly 7 to 1.


Two, sometimes three doughs were in various degrees of completion at any moment. For example, on day one we were given a small portion of sourdough seed starter, which we fed and set aside to be fed again the next day. We had just finished making the croissant's dough and butter block, which were chilling overnight.
We also made the poolish for the baguettes, and finished the day making whole wheat lavash--a spicy, whole-wheat version, peppered with mixed whole seeds, and salt. We got our first exposure to the commercial oven baking the lavash.


Day two was devoted to baguettes, but first we completed "le beurrage" rolling out the croissant dough, encasing the butter block in the dough, shaping the first tri-fold, and returning our efforts to chill overnight again. Following, we made our baguette dough, hand kneaded and stretched-and-folded once. While our baguette doughs proofed, Sharon O'Leary, the baker responsible for KA Bakery's daily output of baguettes demonstrated the preshaping and final shaping of baguettes. The school bakers had prepared a large batch of baguette dough for our practice. Consequently, we each got to form three baguettes--the first one or two directly under Sharon's guidance, and and the balance on our own--before shaping our own doughs.  Our baguettes proofed, while we listened to a short lecture on scoring, then off to the oven where we scored and baked both the practice and our own baguettes.


On day three we completed our croissants, tri-folding twice more, and book-folding once; fifty-four laminations resulted. Micheal, the youngest student, a teen attending the class with his mother did the math. After chilling we each rolled out a sheet adequate to create eight shapes of either croissants, bear claws, or pinwheels. Chocolate batons and almond cream were provided. We also did some freeform shapes with the scrapes, and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. Properly baked croissants finish with a much darker color than the many insipid faux croissants offered in supermarket bakeries. We finished the day making the fougasse preferment.


Each day, we aslo fed our sourdough starters, discarding half each time. The Vermont weather was unusuallly hot and humid, so our teachers kindly fed our starters during the hours we were absent.


Day four we finished our sourdoughs: pain au levain-like with sunflower seeds. The teachers demonstrated forming boules and batards, tightening the dough's outer surface relying on the friction between the dough and the unfloured butcherblock table. Susan Miller, our sourdough instructor, beginning the day before making a stiff levain, made a large batch of miche dough--enough that each student shaped and scored a 3.5 pound loaf, later baked in the bakery's oven. We finshed the day hand-tending our fougasse, and then pizzas (the teachers made the pizza dough) in the school's large, wood-fired oven. I shared a bottle of my home vinted 2007 Pinot Noir with my classmates.


Although, some of us were disappointed Jeffrey Hamelman, King Arthur's Bakery and Education Center Director, neither taught nor made an appearance, the bakers, Jessica Meyers, Michelle Kupiec, and the previously mentioned Sharon and Susan were superb. Collectively, they share over sixty years of experience baking artisanal breads. The atmoshphere was informal, and relaxed.


I bake alone like, I presume, many other TFL members. There is no one, neither home baker or professional near at hand I can learn with, share ideas with, nor smell, taste, poke or squeeze their doughs and breads. This class, a birthday gift from my wife, helped fill that void.

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davidg618

Folliwing Dan DiMuzio's guidance (and others) re creating a more sour levain I prepared a 500g, 50% hydration levain, and then fed it every 12 hours for two and a half days. I maintained it at 55°F, in our wine closet, thoroughout. Subsequently, I used DiMuzio's Pain au Levain (firm starter: 480g, 60%) formula with two changes. 1. The aforementioned 50% hydrated levain vs. the formula's 60% levain; and, 2. I encreased the whole-wheat flour percentage to 20% vs. the formula's 10%. Yes, I knew the increased whole wheat flour content would alter the flavor, but I reasoned the whole-wheat alteration wouldn't effect the sour component of the finished bread. My objectives were threefold. Maintain the same excellent ovenspring with the stiffer levain as I've been experiencing with the 60% hydrated levain. Increase the perceived sourness in the flavor profile. Finally, I wanted to practice batard shaping and scoring, a shape I haven't made very often. Except for the batard shaping, as nearly as possible, I replicated all the mixing, bulk fementation, final proof, and baking steps I've used before baking the basic formula.


Just for fun, while the stiff levain was fermenting after its final feeding, I used the 250g of levain that would otherwise been discarded to make a single, all white flower batard.


The results of both bakes are shown in the photos.


As hoped for, the pain au levain is distinctively sour, but not to the extent of many of the commercial San Francisco sourdoughs I've tasted. The ovenspring was preserved, and I'm satisfied with my batard shaping and scoring.



The leftover starter loaf.



and its crumb--closed more than usual.



David G

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davidg618

This bread is fast becoming a favorite with us.



I won't have a crumb shot for these, because they are both marked for neighborhood dinner parties. Although I've not been disappointed in past bakes,I got more ovenspiring with these two loaves, baked individually, then ever before. The past three times I've baked this formula I've retarded the dough overnight. This time I scheduled the formula-ready levain to peak early in the morning, and proceeded from there to make the dough, autolyse, bulk ferment, shape, and proof. I proofed the left-hand loaf at room temperature, and retarded the final proof of the right hand loaf at 55*F. I did this only to bake the loaves individually. They are different weights (left:750g, right:1000g). I like to use a different temperature schedule for the each: 480*F for 10 mins. with steam for both; finish baking the smaller at 450*F, and the larger at 440*F. Both loaves had excellent oven spring, but the smaller, room temperature proofed loaf had the most.


David G


 


 

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davidg618

Before today I'd never tasted nor baked Brioche. Yesterday I began by making the dough,  and today I made two tries baking it.


First Try



The crumb, and flavor, seem to be what I should expect, from this dough, so for a first time, ever, I'm pleased, especially after reading all the cautions--offered by the author, and elsewhere--about making high fat percentage doughs; but as you can see I have a long way to go learning to construct these rascals correctly. I've nicknamed the one in the upper left corner Nearly Headless Nick (Harry Potter fans will recognize the name.)


The formula is from "Baking Artisan Bread" by Ciril Hitz, and I followed it and the author's instructions to the letter, except constructing the individual rolls.  The ones shown were constructed using the little-ball-on-top-of-the-bigger ball approach. Additionally, the intructions called for 90g of dough for each mold, and I thought my molds were the same size as those shown in the author's pictures. They weren't.  One head slipped off entirely. The oven spring in this dough made them look more like popovers than brioche in my forms.


So I tried again. using some of the reserved dough--thus the 1 and 1/2 tries--with three changes. First I reduced the quantity for each mold to 65g, secondly, I'd baked the first four at 345°F on the oven's convection mode, as recommended by the author; the 1 and 1/2 try I used the recommended 265°F thermal mode setting, and lastly, I used the author's novel shaping. Here's an attempt to explain it in words. Starting with the dough pre-shaped into a ball, by pressing and rolling with one finger two balls--one large, one small--connected by a thin neck of dough is created. Then, the neck is stretched to three fingers width, the larger ball is turned into a doughnut shape, and the smaller ball--neck intact--is passed through the doughnut hole, and the doughnut shape is gently coaxed to collapse around the now curved neck. (I  hope readers can visualize this. I couldn't have done it with out the author's pictures.)


Try 1 and 1/2



Photo says it for me. Far from perfect, but OK.


David G

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davidg618

I think one of the biggest differences between commercial artisan bakeries, that bake every day, and the amateur that bakes once or even twice a week is how each handles levain day-to-day. From my reading I've gleaned the commercial baker keeps his or her levain (starter) at room temperature, and feeds it on a periodic schedule every 8 or 12 hours. (I'm an amateur, so, experts, please correct me if I'm terribly wrong). on the other hand, most amateurs keep thier starters at refrigerator temperature (~40°F), and feed them once weekly, or less often.


I am less certain how commercial bakers maintain their starters' hydration, I assume, however, that perhaps as little as one day earlier they prepare a chosen amount of their maintained starter by feeding it an amount of flour and water that adjusts its hydration to the target for a days baking. Amateurs keep their maintained starters at a fixed hydration, and, although some amateurs maintain their starters very dry (50%-60%), or very wet (~200%), the usual maintenance hydration is ~100% to ~125%.


The challenge for us amteurs is, "How do I convert an alive, but nearly dormant, relatively cold starter to a formula ready starter, i.e., the correct formula specified starter weight and hydration?"; one might also add, in a reasonably short time.


Some recipes intruct a single feeding, without changing the starter's hydration, followed by a fermentation period--usually 12 hours--and adjusts the dough's flour and water weights to achieve the desired dough hydration. Some amateur bakers convert their maintained starter in one feeding to the target starter weight and hydration, and then feed it an additional one to nine times over a period of one or more days. Both these approaches work, and each have subtle secondary consequences, usually effecting the final bread's flavor. It's not my intent judge the merit of those consequences, merely note they occur.


What I want to do is describe the process I use, explain why I use it, and show some results.


First of all, I have two primary goals for creating formula-ready starters the way I do. One is related to the final dough. I want to achieve a very active starter, strong enough to produce two strong proofs, in moderately short time, i.e., 2-3 hours each; and with sufficient reserve to provide strong oven spring. And, I want to build this formula-ready starter in no more than 24 hours.


The second goal: I want to maintain only a barely necessary amount of starter, e.g., around 200g, 100% hyddration, and fed every two or three weeks.


I've succeeded in reaching both goals using a 3-build approach that triples the amount of starter with each build, and adjusts the hydration by one-third of the difference between the maintained starter's hydration and the formula specified starter hydration.


A couple of definitions, and a little math:


seed starter: the weight of maintained starter that when tripled 3 times yields the formula-specified starter weight.


Intermediate starter: the building starter, i.e. the starter at any time between the beginning of Build 1 and the end of Build 3.


formula-ready starter weight = seed starter weight x (3x3x3) = seed starter weight x 27; therefore:


seed starter weight = formula-ready starter weight/27. But, I always lose some--it sticks to the stirrer, and the its container's walls, so I add a little more, e.g. 20g.


intermediate starter hydration = seed starter hydration +(formula-ready starter hydration - seed starter ready hydration)/3 x # of last build.


An example:


Formula specified starter: 480g, 60% Hydration


Seed starter hydration: 100%


Added to make up loss: 20g


Hence:


Seed starter weight = (480 + 20)/27 = 19g (rounded to nearest whole number)


Intermediate starter's hydration = 100 +(60 - 100)/3 x 1 or 2 or 3 = 100 + (-40)/3 therefore:


during Build 1 the Intermediate starters hydration = 86.7; during build 2 73.3%, and during build 3 60%.


Intermediate starter weights are: Build 1, 55g, Build 2, 167g, and Build 3, 500. (all are rounded to nearest whole gram.)


Now, I'm not going to do the Baker's math to calculate the flour and water weights added each build. I built a spreadsheet to do that for me, but it is possible by hand using Baker's math, and the intermediate starter weights and hydrations.


The results: Below are a series of five photographs that visually document the example above.


Why do it this way?


I reasoned that adding more than twice the weight of the seed starter (or the intermediate starter weights)  would dilute the density of the yeast critters beyond a "strong" density, i.e. each build should peak within eight hours or less, Yeast have little or no motility, so after a time, they are surrounded by their waste products: carbon dioxide and alcohol, not food, so production slows down or stops. Stirring , kneading dough, etc. all redistribute yeast, by-products, and food, but I don't want to be burdened with stirring. Furthermore, my goals focus on yeast production, not bacterial growth. (There are other things one can do to develop flavor contributing starters.)


1. Seed Starter: 19g of my refrigerator maintained starter.



 


2. Build 2. at its peak 16 hours after starting. I didn't photograph build 1, even at its peak it didn't cover the bottom of the container.



 


3. Build 3 at zero hour, I'd just added its flour and water additions and spread it out in its container.



 


4. Build three after only 3 hours (19 hours from the beginning); I consider its growth a good subjective indicator of its strength.



 


5. Build 3 after 7 hours (23 hours from beginning). You can see evidence it's peaked by the slight deflation around the edges. Immediately after taking this photo I made the dough...



 


...for this bread. This is D. DiMuzio's San Francisco Sourdough au Levain (firm starter) formula, but I used it for a Thyme-Feta Cheese-Toasted Chestnut vehicle, so it probably doesn't exhibit all the oven spring it might have in an uncluttered dough. Nonetheless, I think it stands a good example of my goal.



Crumb


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davidg618

My wife makes three loaves of light whole wheat bread, alternating every other week with an all-white flour version of the same recipe. Two of the loaves are our "daily bread", the third routinely goes to a neighbor. She uses our bread machine, a Zo, on the "Dough" setting, and does a 2nd bulk fermentation, panning and proofing, and baking outside the machine. The machine does a one hour bulk proof; her second bulk proof is usually 2 to 2-1/2 hours depending on the dough's behavior. The long bulk proofings allow the doughs, expecially the whole wheat version, a chance to develop good flavors.


Curious if I could convert the recipe to a sourdough, i scaled it to produce the same dough weight and hydration as the original recipe, but replaced some of the white flour and water with 240g of active sourdough starter at 60% hydration, built using the 3-build approach I use for all my sourdough formula.



The photo answers my curiousty with a firm yes.


However, the experiement taught me the question I should have asked: "Is it worth the additional time and effort?"


This bread is all one would ask for in a sandwich bread: excellent flavor; closed, but light and slightly chewy crumb; and a soft crust--even before I brushed them with butter. But I can say the same things about my wife's bread. Here's a photo of her all-white version I took a couple of weeks ago.



From my point-of-view we're going to stay with the tried and true Yvonne has baked for the last six years. Doing the sourdough was fun, and we will certainly enjoy eating the result.


Sometime in the future I'm going to see if I can be successful baking a single sourdough loaf entirely in the Zo. I think it's possible, in the programmable mode, using a very active starter, and removing the paddles after the knead step. This will allow up to a four hour bulk fermentation step. But that's for another day.

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davidg618

I'd planned to do yet another bake of classic baguettes ala Hitz' formula, but after seeing and reading Pamela's blog entry a week ago, and after comparing Dan's formula with what I've been doing--they are very similar except for the liquid levain--I gave into my temptation and made the DiMuzio formula. The only change I made was to scale the formula to 1000g final dough weight (four 250g small baguettes) which isn't really a change, merely a diminuation. The DiMuzio formula calls for instant yeast, in addition to the liquid levain. I considered not using it, ultimately deciding to be faithful to the formula.


I prepared the liquid levain from my starter cache, using the 3-Build process I've made my own, over a nineteen hour interval. I mixed all ingredients together in my stand mixer for five minutes--bread hook, on lowest speed--then 3 minutes on second lowest speed, rested the dough 30 minutes, did a stretch & fold, and started to chill the dough for overnight retarded bulk fermation. I did two more S&F at 45 minute intervals before I was satisfied with the dough's development. Left to ferment overnight in the fridge, approximately 12 hours. Next morning, I divided the dough, and returned half to the refrigerator. I let the dough rest for thirty minutes. It didn't reach room temperature, but it had doubled in volume so I divided it again in two,  preshaped, rested 20 minutes, shaped, and proofed for an hour. Baked for 10 minutes, with steam, at 480*F, cleared the steam as much as possible, dropped the temperature to 450°F and baked further to 208°F internal temperature. I had decided to do the bake in two two-loaf batches. The one time I baked four baguettes simultaneously, despite the convection oven, I experienced uneven baking among the loaves.


Meanwhile, I'd removed the remaining dough from the refrigerator.


I was pleased, with the first batch's oven-spring, but one of the two loaves had a minor blowout. I'm still not confident my shaping and slashing is what it should be, and the visual results of the first two loaves didn't boast my confidence even an iota. I prepared and baked the second two loaves like the first batch with two planned changes--and one mistake. Planned: I allowed the shaped loaves to proof 15 minutes longer, and I slashed approximately 1/4 of an inch deeper than the first batch. Unplanned: In a senior moment, I forgot to lower the temperature to 450°F after the first ten minutes.  I think this only effected the crust thickness and color. The second two loaves are on the right in the picture below. I removed the loaves, like the first two, at 208°F internal temperature.


The crumb is all I could ask for, and the flavor, in my perspective, not surprisingly, is better than the poolish initiated baguettes I've been baking. Let me hasten to add, I love their flavor as well, but the sourdough levain adds complexity absent in the classic baguettes. I especially like the crust's nutty flavor bursts, and the chewier crumb. Furthermore, the flavor is only mildly sour.


So, I'll claim a conditioned success: Taste: A, Visual: C. Procedures: C+; I got a lot of them right, but not all of them. I've watched shaping and slashing video's and read shaping and slashing instructions ad nauseum, but my hands haven't yet developed the muscle memory to be able to do it rightly, without thinking about it. More practice, practice, practice. At least I've got lots of mouths that love to eat my bread, regardless of how it looks. I did, however, see one neighbor close her eyes while chewing a mouthful. I had assumed it was a gesture of ecstasy, and felt flattered, but maybe, that wasn't the real reason!


 



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davidg618

Woke up this morning wanting to bake something, but also wanted a rest from building starters, poolishes, or sponges; weighing flour and water and salt and dough; and seemingly endlessly setting the timer. So I did nothing.


Until, chatting with Yvonne about 11 o'clock, she mentioned sticky buns: it had been a long time since I'd made them, "distracted as you were by sourdough, and sourdough, and did I mention sourdough?"


Three hours later they were...



... oven ready.


and, about forty-five minutes later...



...they had cooled enough.


These are from a King Arthur recipe I've been making for about ten years--a straight dough. I never turned the scale on; volume measurements all the way. Ahh-h-h-h, it was fun.


Yeah, I'm learning some new habits, but they've got to be comfortable living side-by-side with old ones; they ain't gonna die.


David G.

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