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davidg618

I've been wrestling with producing a 50% Whole Wheat sourdough loaf that has good flavor and an open, chewy crumb. I've described my difficulties, and, finally a successful attempt in: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25804/whole-wheat-sunday

I won't repeat the details here, but I'll summarize what I've learned. I believe the comments are relevant to all lean  dough sourdough breads to some extent, but the degree of importance may vary depending on the flours used.

Flavor: Flavor is developed in p1refements, and during bulk fermentation. Retarded bulk fermentation improves flavor. All of my earlier exploration flour prefermented during the levain building ranged from 15% to 25% of the flour, all whole wheat. I also experimented with retarding the doughs' bulk fermentations 0 to 15 hours at 38°F to 56°F. Most recently, I've settled on a formula that preferments 15% of the flour, all whole wheat, and retards bulk fermentation 15 hours, at, nominally, 54°F.

Crumb: Crumb development has many variables: flour types, mixing and kneading, hydration, baking temperatures, steam or no steam, and oven spring, arguably the most probable major contributors. In my 50% Whole Wheat failures I found, with dough hydrations nearly constant between 65% to 68%, the biggest influence was Whole Wheat's effect on a dough's strength. i.e., its shortening effect on gluten development. In early attempts I tried hand-mixing and post-autolyse kneading, followed by periodic S&F; and two-speed machine mixing, without post-autolyse machine kneading, followed by periodic S&F. I subsequently, tried one or two speed mixing, followed by post-autolyse machine kneading followed by periodic S&F. Not until I increased the the machine kneading time to more than twice what I use for white flour sourdoughs did I achieve the crumb we like.

Ultimately, I found mixing all ingredients (including the 2% salt) on speed 1 (Kitchenaid Pro 600, spiral dough hook), followed by a one hour autolyse, then with 7 minutes of machine kneading on speed 2, and subsequently doing 3 S&F at one hour intervals does the trick.There are pictures in the aforementioned post.

However, there is one negative side-effect from building the levain entirely with whole wheat flour. I maintain my refrigerated seed starter with KA bread flour only, and I replace my seed starter entirely every week with fresh levain, scavanged from excess intentionally into my weekly sourdough bake's levain build. Unfortunately, in weeks I build levain with other flours, I also separately build a bread flour levain to replace my seed starter.

This week, wanting to bake 50% Whole Wheat sourdough, I tried something different. I built the levain with 15% of the formula's KA bread flour, and soaked all of the formula's Whole Wheat flour in an equal amount (by weight) of the formula's water for eight hours. Subsequently, I made the dough exactly as described, and replaced my seed starter with the excess levain.

I don't know if the pre-hydrated Whole Wheat flour qualifies as a Soaker, since it was not "hydration neutral", but for lack of a better name that's what I'll call it. Soaker or otherwise, I'm pleased with the results.

Flavorwise, we didn't loose anything, It may even be a bit better than usual, and...

the crumb is everything we ask for.

David G

 

 

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davidg618

During the holidays, and for the first time, we baked 1-lb. loaves, one-third smaller than our usual 1.5-lb loaves. We did this because we gifted a number of family and friends that live alone, reasoning that a larger loaf would likely stale before it was consumed. Furthermore, I can bake three 1-lb per load in my household oven, but only two 1.5-lb loaves otherwise. We  baked more than was needed, so we've been consuming the leftovers. We've realized the smaller loaves serve our needs--there is only two of us--as well, or possibly better than the larger loaves. I'll continue to make larger loaves to share at our frequent community pot-luck dinners, or when we entertain.

I also like simply hand-shaping batards, and proofing the loaves on a couche vis-a-vis bannetons.

This formula is 10/45/45: Whole Rye Flour/KA Bread Flour/KA AP Flour, with  14% of the flour (all Bread Flour) prefermented in the levain build. Hydration is 68%. I retard the dough for 15 hours at 54°F.

David G

David G

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davidg618

Haven't been posting anything lately because we've been busy baking gifts for friends and family. Been sticking to the things I know well: my "go to" sourdough, tried and true biscotti, and Grandma's Welsh cakes. The last of the sixteen mailings of bread and cookies went out the door today. Now it's time to turn to the community cookie swap--we're the only ones who also share bread. Today I baked five loaves of sourdough: two 1-1/2 lb. loaves to restock our bread-empty freezer, and three 1 lb. loaves to share.

I recently purchased a Kitchenaid 600 Pro--6 qt., spiral dough hook. So far, I'm delighted with it. Mixed 6.6 lb (3kg) of 68% hydrated dough today with no difficulty; motor didn't even get warm.  Since my small oven can only accommodate two 1-1/2 lb. loaves, or three 1 lb. loaves at a time, I retarded half the dough an additional two-and-a-half hours while the first loaves proofed and baked. Worked out with ease, and I see no significant difference among the loaves.

Happy Holidays to all,

David G

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davidg618

The families--DNA'ed and extended--loved last year's bread and cookies, so we chose to do it again this year. Pictured is last week's baking. It's not everything but the freezer was chock-a-block, so we're starting shipping today to make more room. We found shipping Priority mail gets fresh or fresh-frozen sourdough--with refresh instructions (375°F oven, 5 mins.)--delivered still palatable and tasty. This year's packages hold a loaf of sourdough or Orange Pecan loaf, a dozen and a half of assorted Biscotti and, of course, a dozen of my rendering of Grandma's Welsh Cakes. This year's Biscotti: Tart Cherry-Pecan, Citron-Macadamia Nut, Almond-Ameretto, and Chocolate-Chocolate chip-Chipotle. Sixteen mailing, and then there is the neighborhood cookie swap, and special friends to gift. We love this time of year!

David G

 

 

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davidg618

I've been homing in on a 50% Whole Wheat sourdough loaf, made with a levain built entirely with Whole Wheat flour. This quest has been ongoing (but relaxed) for about a year, and recently I've been close: flavors are especially to our liking, crumb al dente as we like, and nearly as open as desired, but still room to improve. Today, I think I've hit it.

 

My previous attempts' short-falls were all dough strength related, in two words: slack dough. And slack dough directly led to shaping difficulties, flat loaves, and closed crumbs.

Getting to this point has been evolutionary.

I've only been baking sourdough a little more than two years. For the first six months I religiously mixed and kneaded doughs in my KA mixer, usually following the formulae authors' recommended mixing times and mixer speeds (generally 2 or 3 minutes on speed one, often followed by 1 to 3 minutes on speed 2). Early on, I learned about Stretch-and-Fold; never a fan of hand-kneading I adapted it quickly. I was mostly content with the results, but, prompted by TFLer suggestions, I switched to hand-mixing, and for about a year except for speciality doughs, e.g., Foccacia, Brioche, the mixer gathered dust. I learned how dough "feels" in all its various stages. I also developed a skin rash, on my mixing hand only, that may--and I emphasize "may"; I've not yet seen a dermatologist--be attributable to flours or sourdough.

For the past four months I've returned to mixing doughs in the mixer, and wearing latex gloves when I S&F, or hand manipulate dough. The rash is clearing slowly.

At the same tiime I was in the middle of my quest to bake a satisfactory 50% WW loaf. I'll define satisfactory; these are in priority order:

1. Good, strong wheaty flavor

2. Al dente crumb; i.e., when you mash it, it springs back; when you bite it, there is resistance.

3. Open crumb. Now I'm not looking for gaping holes. I want irregular size aveoles,  the biggest of which occupy no more than the thickness of a good sandwich slice--about 3/8ths of an inch radius. I frequently use sourdough breads for sandwiches. Unquestionably, sandwich-making is its singlemost use. So, I don't want mustard or mayo dribbling on my shirt front. I also think #2 is closely related to #3--if you don't have 3, you don't have 2.

4. Eye-appealing loaves. If I can have 1, 2, and 3 I'm a happy baker; if I can also have 4 I'm an elated baker.

So, back to the evolution.

Two changes from my earlier routine are, I reasoned, the keys to this success.

1. I now machine-knead the dough on speed 2 for 7 minutes, following a 1 hour autolyse. Subsequently, I still S&F 3 or 4 times at 1 hour intervals (3  or 4 depends on the perceived tenacity of the dough).

2. I retard the dough at reduced temperature (54°F) for 15 hours.

Furthermore, I believe these two changes are coupled, meaning it requires both to achieve the desired open crumb. I haven't found a corraborating "expert" reference yet, but I'm certain I perceive a change in dough's attributes occuring between S&F's and the beginning and end of retarded fermentation. I retard dough primarily for flavor development, but I'm convinced, too, it also conditions the doughs' physical behaviors.

I got the idea for this two changes from two TFL members: #1 from TxFarmer's blog, and #2 from an e-discussion with Proth5.

The formula for this bread is simple:

100% hydrated levain  30% (all whole wheat flour except seed starter)

Whole Wheat flour       35%

Bread Flour (KA)         50%

Salt                                    2%

Hydration                     68% 

Preheat: 500°F

Bake: 450°F with steam 15 mins; finish bake 450°F (steam removed)

I've also changed the way I refresh my seed starter. Following Debra Wink's guidance, now, when I build levain for baking I make enough extra to completely replace my seed starter with fresh levain. I normally build levain using bread flour. This time I built the levain using Whole Wheat flour. Consequently, I also built a small amount of levain with bread flour to refresh my seed starter for the week.

As usual, I after mixing the dough, and refreshing my seed starter I still had levain left over. I mixed the two together, fed the mix 1:3:3 with a 50/50 mix of Bread and Whole Wheat flours, and popped it into the refrigerator overnight. This morning, while I worked the bread baking, I let the leftover levain come to room temperature, and work another three hours. While the bread loaves were proofing I made a 50% Whole Wheat version of my Sourdough Biscuits ala Cookie (see http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21536/sourdough-biscuits-trying-real-thing and http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21967/sourdough-biscuits-trying-real-thing-take-2 ).

It's been a fun Whole Wheat Sunday

David G

 

 

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davidg618

It's that time of year: time to think about the upcoming holidays, the New Year, and our 6th Annual open house. Taking a note from the ancient Incas, I thought "chocolate and chili.?

Hmm-m-m-m."

Almost nailed it first try! The chipotle heat shows up late on the back of the throat. One of those, "There can't be chili in this cookie!?" moments.

David G

 

 

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davidg618

A week ago I was touring the Southwest's canyons--Grand, Bryce, and Zion--National Parks. The tour included a half-day visit to Monument Valley, an awesome natural phenomena of towering monolithic rocks, owned, and managed by the Navajo Nation on the largest American Indian reservation: 17,000,000 acres covering parts of four states. Monument Valley was made known to the rest of America, and the planet, when, through the efforts of a trading post owner and manager, the well-known movie director, John Ford, learned of it. He made nine movies there, all during the Great Depression years--most featured John Wayne--subsequently, the site has hosted the production of scores of movies, TV productions, and advertisements benefiting the the Navajos, especially in the lean Depression years.

En-route to Monument Vally we stopped at yet another Trading Post--we'd already visited a sufficiency for me--but I was surprised by its adjacent gallery offerinng some of the finest native crafts I've seen since the 70's, and a rug weaver at work--I photographed just her hands--on two small pieces. She'd just completed a thirteen-month stint doing a larger rug (9 x 12 ?) whose price tag read $60,000.00. It hung is the restaurant where I had a delicious lunch of Chili Verde soup, and a side of Navajo Fry Bread. I was pleasantly surprised by its chewiness (the bread, not the soup) and no hint it had been deep-fat fried.

The trip through the valley, conducted by Navajo guides, was worth braving the dust and heat. We were treated to a running history of Kit Carson's cruelty to the Navajo's, the largess of the Movie Industry, and a reverence for the man, Harry Goulding and his wife "Mike" (Leone), owners of the trading post, who almost single-handedly lured John Ford to "discover" the valley, and provide work for the Navajo during lean years.

Home again, I recalled the Fry Bread, and, curious as ever, googled recipes and history. I won't go into details, but it appears that in the 19th century Fry Bread became, of necessity, a staple in the Navajo diet, when damn little else, other than flour, lard and a little sugar, was available from the government. Blue Bird Flour seems to be the universal Navajos' choice for making Fry Bread, although I couldn't find out why. Cortez Milling, CO is its sole producer, and has only been in business since 1964. (Perhaps, they bought the brand). Here's a newpaper clip from the Navajo Times re Blue Bird flour.

http://navajotimes.com/business/2010/0910/093010bluebird.php

Haven't made it; don't think I will; but enjoyed it, and will order it again given the opportunity. Loved the chili, and the history. It fascinates me that bread, simply bread, has played major roles throughout history; this is yet another example.

David G

 

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davidg618

Back home from my trip to the Grand Canyon. First bake since return (sourdough, of course) is preshaped and resting, coming to room temperature. I promised photos; here is one of the four-hundred I took. At best, a photograph, no matter how good, only triggers the sense memory of awe I felt when I first looked at the Canyon from Mather's Point.

David G

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davidg618

Tomorrow morning, at the ungodly hour of 4AM, I'm heading off to catch an airplane, the first leg of a trip to Sedona,  the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, and Bryce and Zion National Parks. My wife, who suffers from acrophobia, is staying home. My friend of 48 years--we met as Ensigns on a USN destroyer in 1963--is joining me in Phoenix. Two years ago, sharing our Bucket Lists, we discovered neither of us have seen Grand Canyon. We'll be away nine days.

Before leaving, I needed to refresh/replace my seed starter. Following Ms. D. Wink's recommendation, I now maintain a starter by making extra levain each time I bake, and replace my refrigerated seed starter with refreshed ripe levain.  I baked last Sunday, and didn't want to let my starter languish for more than two weeks untouched. I hadn't intended to bake again this week, so yesterday I started to build just enough ripe levain to handle my starter needs. Watching levain builds ripen is in the "watching grass-growing, or paint-drying" fun category, so in the moment I decided to make enough to also bake one loaf.

Back to the trip: Although it's an organized tour, we'll have most hours free to roam as we wish, especially in Sedona and Grand Canyon Village. If any TFLer has favorite sites, sights, diners, drive-ins, dives, brew-pubs or bakeries in those areas to recommend, please do.

Thanks,

David G

 

 

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I haven't made an olive loaf in more than a year; I'd forgotten how delicious olive sourdough is. I checked in both Bread, randMaggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, but found the dough formulae nearly identical to what I bake routinely, so this is just my usual sourdough: 10% Rye and 90% White flours at 68% hydration, with Kalamata olives, halved and pitted. Some of them were as big as walnuts.

David G

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