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davidg618

I'm still wearing a temporary cast on my left wrist/hand, but an x-ray, Tuesday, revealed no fracture. None the less, although relieved, the doctor prescribed an infernal nylon-velcro cast be worn until the sprained and bruised wrist heals: about three to four weeks. So, I've regained the ability to use the shift-key, but not the bowl scraper. No hand-mixing for me for the duration.


Back to the title:


Some historians argue that St. Patrick was a Welshman, enslaved by pirates, from south Wale's shore, who sold him to a cruel master in 5th century Ireland. He escaped after six years of hard service, returned to his Roman parents in Britain, ultimately returning to Ireland, a Catholic bishop, forgave his former master, chased out the snakes, converted the Irish pagans, and became a sainted national hero.


Loving all things Welsh, I've always felt akin to St. Patrick and Ireland and celebrated St. Patrick's Day--admittedly only in a secular (some would say hedonistic) fashion. This year, much influenced by TFL posts, I made the almost obigatory Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner, and invited a few friends. The Corned Beef was made with the recipe from Charcuterie, a cookbook I would never found were it not for hansjoakim's review http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21880/totally-not-bread-confit-de-canard , and included Sylvia's Irish Soda bread, http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11028/sylvia0395-irish-soda-bread (with a wee bit more whole-wheat flour) which inspired my offering. Dessert was Brambrack (a Googled recipe), a delightfully different fruit cake (made with dried, but not candied fruit):a traditional Irish celebratory cake.


So once again, TFL, thanks!


David G

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davidg618

I routinely make baguettes with a straight dough at 70% hydration, and an overnight ferment at 55°F.  Curious, in yesterday's mix I reduced the hydration to 65%, all other ingredients (KA AP flour and sea salt) and processes were the same: DDT set to 55°F with ice water, and the dough chilled during autolyse, between S&Fs and overnight retarding for 15 hours. I was motivated to try a lower hydration based on a smattering of comments scattered in various TFL threads that argue open crumb isn't only about hydration. This dough, developed an extraordinary strength--I did the 3rd S&F only because I  always do three, it didn't need doing. The crumb is nearly as open as I experience in the 70% dough. However, the dough seemed to have less than the usual elasticity; note the broken surface between the scorings. I detected no apparent difference in flavor.



David G

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davidg618

After two years following the directions and/or advice of Dan DiMuzio, J. Hamelman, a bit of Reinhart, and a lot of TFLers, e.g., dmsnyder, SylviaH, Susan, Debra Wink, proth5, hansjoakim, ehanner, ananda, and a host of others, I'm comfortable that I can consistently bake satisfactory sourdough loaves, reminiscent of Vermont, Norwich, San Jouquin, etc., while at the same time, feel they are subtly my own.


Of late, flavor-wise, I've been leaning more and more into sourdoughs with modest, but noticeable, percentages (15% -- 50%) of Whole Wheat flour. I've been concentrating on developing flavors we like: intensely wheaty, and for me, a sour presence, not overpowering but distinct. My wife prefers those with the in-your-face wheatiness, but much milder tang.


From an enlightening discussion between proth5 and dmsynder, and proth5's replies to a question about holeyness, i.e., open crumb, my own and TFLer Syd's observation about sour development in preferments vis-a-vis bulk fermentation, and just baking and tasting I'm satisfied I'm getting the flavors we want manipulating the levain's building (precentage flour prefermented, build schedule, time, and temperature) and bulk fermentation (time and temperature).


I've also encountered subtle, and not so subtle, changes in the final dough's gluten development seemingly dependent primarily on time and temperature during bulk fermentation. Although the 100% hydrated levain has been 1/3 of the final dough in all cases--30% of the flour (so far, all Whole Wheat) prefermented in the levain builds--bulk fermentation appears to have the dominant influence on two factors: wheaty flavor, and the dough's extensibility. On the other hand, how I develop the levain, especially time between feedings  clearly controls the degree of sourness in the final loaves, irrespective of the time and/or temperature of the bulk fermentation. However, I've not found a noticeable difference in the dough's gluten development whereing three batches were bulk fermented for 3.5 to 4 hours, but the levains were built differently: 1) a single feeding, fermented twelve hours; 2) Three progressive 1:1:1 feedings over twenty four hours; and 3) three progressive 1:1:1 feedings at 8, 8, and 12 hours respectively. All were fermented at 76°F. Flavorwise, the 12 and 28 hour levains had distinct sourness, more in the 28 hour levain; the 24 hour levain was quite mild.


In one case, made with the 24 hour levain,  I retarded half the dough overnight at 55*F (~12 hrs.). The other half I fermented at 76°F for 3.5 hours, and final proofed for 3 hours. That dough was well behaved. yielded good flavor, and modestly open crumb. The retarded dough was extremely slack, and I had considereable difficulty shaping the loaf--shaping is not my strong suit. Final proof took four hours, and I may have still underproofed slightly. Slashed and in the oven, it's oven spring expended itself horizontally. The flavor was excellent with no noticable acidity; the crumb was closed but not dense.


Today I'm building a levain (28 hour schedule) timed to start mixing tomorrow morning at 8 AM. I've changed the levain build flour to a 50/50 KA AP/ KA whole wheat. This halves the whole wheat content in the final dough. Once again, I'm going to retard half of the dough. I'm specifically looking for, if not answers, at least guidance for answering two questions:


Does reducing the amount of Whole Wheat effect the acidity in the levain?


Does halving the amount of Whole Wheat seriously reduce the wheat flavor in the final loaves?


I'm expecting the retarded loaf to have less extensibility' i.e., stronger gluten, because the Whole Wheat content is reduced.


I'm also expecting that the loaves will be edible, even enjoyable, even if all I come away with is more questons.


David G


 


   

 

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davidg618

I've been thinking about the Yukon Gold Rush miner. You'll recall, to preserve his sourdough mother--he called her Maude, after the first girl he'd ever kissed--and caught in a Yukon white-out, miles from camp, weak from having not eaten for four days--he'd boiled the last of his dogs, King, six weeks earlier--he'd kissed Maude one last time, placed her next to his heart, curled his emaciated body around her, and lay down in the lee of a a twelve foot drift. His last thought--really a final hallucination--he was lyin' in a tub, just like the one he'd had his last bath in, seven months past, in San Francisco, the night before he'd boarded the ship, Lily Longstockings, that brought him on the first leg of this, his final journey. The woman scrubbing his back was named Shirley. For a fleeting moment he'd considered changing Maude's name to Shirley, but in the next moment he'd berated himself for being so fickle. The tub, the one in his hallucination, was foaming with sourdough starter--only his knees poked above its writhing, bubbling surface. The  woman scrubbing his back this time, was...yep, Maude, but all growed up, an purty! He died a happy man. And, as we know, Maude survived --his starter, not the girl he'd kissed behind the one room school house they'd attended. She, was still in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the mother of seven children, four girls and three boys--and, rumor has it, Maude, the starter, is still alive today.

I fed my (unnamed) starter yesterday. I keep two versions. Once again I had about 200g of discard. My wife asked me to make biscuits with it. On my first attempt, http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21536/sourdough-biscuits-trying-real-thing ,  I felt the dough was a little dry, could stand more autolyse time, and would benefit from baking in a hotter oven. I tweaked my original recipe.

Here it is. The tweaks are in bold type.

Ingredients:

356g (12.5 oz.; 2 cups) sourdough starter; 100% hydration; refreshed 12 hours earlier, and left to develop in the refrigerator.

76g (2.7 oz.; 1/3 cup) 50/50 mixture butter and lard (yep, lard: probably Cookie's first (only?) choice). Cut in to 1/2" cubes and chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes

275g (9.7 oz; 2-1/4 cups) AP flour

14g (1 tbls) sugar

7g (1 tsp) salt

I mixed the flour, sugar, salt, and butter/lard cubes together with my hand, squeezing the fat cubes between my thumb and fingers until they were all flattened and well coated with flour. I added the sourdough starter, mixed it in, and kneaded the dough in the bowl, until it formed a ball. The dough felt a little dry, but I didn't add any additional liquid.

I rested the dough, covered and chilled in the refrigerator,  for 45 minutes.

I turned the ball out onto an unfloured dough board, and rolled it to about 1 inch thick, folded the dough in half, and rolled it out again. I repeated this three times more. Each time I rolled it out the dough got more flexible, and felt less dry. I was glad I hadn't added additonal liquid.

On the final roll-out I went to 1/2 inch thick, cut out 10, 2-5/8 in. biscuits, arranged them on a Silpat pad lined half-sheet pan, covered them with a dry tea towel, and put them into the proofing box (76°F).

They proofed for 2 and 1/2 hours. They had expanded, but not doubled.

Baked in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes (light golden brown). They more than doubled with oven spring. Lifting the first one to the cooling rack I knew, from its light feel, I had a success.

Reducing the flour amount slighty; caressing the dough, not mauling it; increasing the post-mix rest (autolyse?) three-fold, and baking at a hotter temperaure each contibuted to a lighter, tastier biscuit. I don't see a need to tweak further. I've named this recipe: Biscuts ala Cookie. Truth is however, with my  relience on chilled, shortening and dough, I've moved further away from "the real thing". That said, I'm sticking with this one. If Cookie had had a refrigerator/freezer he would have used them.

David G

An Update:

I've recently developed a new starter, and along with bread bakings decided to give it a try in Biscuits ala Cookie.

I followed my recipe to the letter with three exceptions in procedures.  I developed the levain and rested the dough (autolyse) at room temperature, and I hand-mixed the flour and butter/lard mixture into a finer mixture: sunflower-seed-sized bits. This resulted in less layering than in the earlier tries.

These are the best yet: light, and very flavorful

David

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davidg618

I've been looking for a recipe for buns suitable for hamburger, sausage and peppers, grilled portobello mushrooms, pulled pork, or the like. Indirectly I came across this recipe, Dan Lepard's Soft Baps (Manchester Guardian, Oct. 6, 2007) replying to this TFL posting http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21843/high-percentage-fats-bread .


They feel wonderfully soft, just like my wife wants in a sandwich bun. I'm making turkey burgers with pesto tonight for dinner. Seemed like the time to try these.



This happened during the bake: Kissing Baps; who says our UK friends are reserved?



The mottled surface indicates there will be a few gas bubbles, but I'm expecting a sandwich bread, closed crumb. I'll take a crumb shot tonight when we serve them, and post it later.


The crumb



As expected, closed but not dense, very slightly chewy. Can't say much about flavor; it was swamped by sage, thyme, pepper and turkey. This is a keeper; my wife agrees.


David G


 

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davidg618

There are numerous threads on TFL about the benefits of retarding fermentation and/or final proofing by reducing yeast amounts or, more commonly, refrigerating the dough.  However, other than using higher temperatures to manage production scheduling, and a few posts discussing warm fermentation increasing lactic acid production in sourdoughs there doesn't seem to be an equivalent interest in other benefits (if any exist) warmer temperature fermenting and proofing might bring to our baking. I have read cautions against working at warm temperatures--I think in Hamelman's Bread and Hitz's Baking Artisan Bread--but I don't recall any discussion of benefits. I haven't taken the time to refresh my memory, so if I'm wrong, apologies to the authors, and please point me in the right direction.


As some of you know, I've recently completed building a proofing box, and I've been using it regularly but not, until this morning, at significantly elevated temperatures. Yesterday, I mixed a kilogram of dough to make baguettes. For about six months I've been using the same formula--68% hydrated straight dough. all AP flour, 2% salt--and the same techniques: DDT 55°F (I use ice water in the mix) and begin chilling (55°F) immediately. 1 hour autolyse, 1 round of sixty in-bowl folds after autolyse, and 2 or 3 S&F's at 45 minute intervals. Total retarding time is 15 hours. As usual, this morning I divided the dough into three equal portions, and pre-shaped baguettes. Normally, I let them rest, and warm, at room temperature for an hour, before shaping. Today however, because the house temperature was a chilly 65°F (and I wanted to play with my new toy) I decided to use the proofing box to warm the preshapes, and suubsequently final proof the loaves. I set the thermostat control at 82°F, and warmed the covered pre-shapes in the box for 1 hour. I didn't measure the dough temperature when I removed it, but the box temperature was holding steady at 82°, and the heating lamp was mostly off: an indication the dough is at or near the same temperature. I returned the shaped loaves--couched and covered--to the box. I did a poke test after fifty minutes, and checked the dough's temperature: 80° and a fraction, within the accuracy limits of the thermostat and the Thermopen.  Ten minutes later I loaded the loaves on a pre-heated stone (500°F) and lowered the oven temperature to 450°F; baked 10 mins with steam, and ten minutes without. Except for the elevated warming and proofing temperature everything was the same as numerous times before.


Perceptively, I thought the finished loaves seem to have slightly more oven-spring than usual, but nothing surprising, and my main weakness continues to be inconsistent shaping and scoring. However, when my wife and I cut into one still warm--we have no patience when freshly baked baguettes are cooling--the crumb was clearly more open than usual. This formula and techniques consistently produces an open crumb, but this time noticeably more so.



I can't help wondering if the elevated proofing temperature was the cause, and more to the point, is there something going on here besides just more yeast production. For instance, does the dough's elasticity and extensibility change significantly at this slight temperature change from normal room temperature? And, as always my curiosity kicked in and I am also wondering, are there other phenomena, in-your-face or subtle, we can exploit fermenting and/or proofing at above normal room temperatures?


David G


 

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davidg618

Desired DoughTemperature (DDT), at best only a gross-estimate of the temperature of a dough at the beginning of bulk fermentation (ref.: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11719/ddt-calculation-question-daniel-t-dimuzio ) is too often ignored, or given only a brief word or two of non-specific, and often ambiguous explanation. (See, for example, BBA's Pain a l'Ancienne: this is the best I've found, and still, in my opinion, using ice-water is ambiguous in specificity, and lacks complete explanation, of effects and side-effects.) 


Within the usual range of factors, i.e., the newly mixed dough's temperature, Ph, hydration, and ingredients present; dough temperature, more than any other factor, controls yeast and bacteria activity. Secondly, dough temperature is hard to change, and especially hard to change in a controlled way. Thirdly--and not an issue, but a reality--the home baker has more direct control over temperature than any other factor. (Ingredients is, of course, the second, but you can't turn a brioche into a ciabatta.)


Addressing the latter issue first, having recently built a proofing box, early experiences supported my concern that a dough's initial temperature would dominate the dough's average temperature for hours. Stated differently, the heat energy in a light bulb, or heating pad--typical heat sources in homemade proofing boxes--is low. Furthermore, the transfer of heat into a dough mass (a complex function of the dough's mass, surface area, temperature differences, and its specific heat) is slow.


This is not a bad thing. If the heat source is cranked up too high, undesired side-effects will likely occur; e.g., the dough's surface will dry out, yeast cells at or near the dough's surface will produce gas at a reduced rate. The solution to avoiding both these problems is straight forward: Set the DDT to the temperature desired for bulk fermentation. If your going to proof at 76°F (the most common temperature invoked by bread book formulae), 80*F (Tartine Bread). 82.5°F (Zojurishi bread machine pre-heat, and proof temperature most favorable to yeast growth and activity), or 90°F (best temperature favoring bacterial vs. yeast growth in most sourdough cultures.) adjust the mixes' water temperature to reach a DDT as close as possible to the intended bulk fermenting temperature. Conversely, 40°F if you're going to retard the dough in the refrigerator, and finish proofing at room temperture, or 55°F if your using a wine cooler--my preferred retarding temperature. Then your proofing box (or chiller) is maintaining the dough's initial temperature: a much less energetic job.


The first issue, also stated in a different way: why? What's the reason for a specific DDT? Flavor, Scheduling, or Texture? I can't think of a fourth reason, and texture is the most tenuous.  Nonetheless, know why you've chosen a proofing temperature, and choose accordingly. And, if your writing a breadbook, fully explain why you chose a specificied initial dough temperature, including its benefits and downers.


David G

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davidg618

I've been trying to teach my hands to shape loaves. It's going slowly. There remains a lot more learning.



These two loaves came from the same dough, and were proofed and baked side-by-side. Nonetheless, they've taken on different profiles. The only difference between the two is how taut I drew the loave's surface tension when I shaped them. The good news: I knew when I'd shaped them both that one was tauter then the other. I considered removing the slack one,  on the right, from it's brotform, and tightening its surface. I chose not to.


I read somewhere, students of the baker's school in Paris are required to come early, each day, and shape fifty baguettes before attending classes. Students attend the school for three years: six days each week. That's roughly 50,000 baguettes. I'm beginning to appreciated why.


And when my shaping skills become barely adequate, there is still scoring to learn.


David G

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davidg618

Single-acting baking powder first hit the marketplace in the mid-1850's. The Gold Rush was still rushing, and John Chisum's cattle drives were at their peak, repleat with chuck wagon and cook--always called "Cookie" regardless his origins. Sourdough was a critical supply (ref.: http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/Contents-Of-A-Chuck-Wagon-Cooking-Supply-List/1621894 ) Baking powder isn't mentioned.  Double acting baking powder, began replacing single-acting in the early 1890's, just in time for the Yukon Gold Rush.


So why don't we hear stories about the buckaroo that rode three days straight to the nearest town, crossing miles of desert, evading irate Indians, or roaming banditos just to replace Cookie's Rumford Baking Powder, 'cause he forgot to pack extree? How come we don't quote Robert Service's poem about the cook who was "strung up" by his fellow miners, when he forgot to pack 10 lbs. of baking powder in their supplies? (ref.: http://www.questconnect.org/ak_chilkoot_supplies.htm )


We don't. But our history of rough times and places is peppered with sourdough stories. My favorite is about the frozen miner's corpse found curled around his starter. The miners that found him quickly baked up a batch of Dutch Oven biscuits to make sure his starter hadn't shared his fate. While they sipped coffee, and munched biscuits, the conversation at last got around to what to do with the body. (OK, I just made that up.)


Yesterday, I dutifully fed my starters their weekly ration. I had about 200g of discard starter. The night before, I'd watched True Grit (the real one, with John Wayne) so I was in the mood for some real sourdugh biscuits. As ever, I googled recipes.


Much to my disappointment the first half-a-million recipes I scanned all called for baking powder--from a tsp. to 2 Tbls. Sourdough starter seemed to be almost an afterthought.--1/4 cup to 2 cups. None of them required refreshing. Just stir the starter in, and rely on the baking powder to puff them up. In the second half-a-million recipes--ain't Google grand?--I found one recipe wherein baking powder was optional, but recommended it if you didn't want to wait.


Here's what I did.


Ingredients:


356g (12.5 oz.; 2 cups) sourdough starter; 100% hydration; refreshed 12 hours earlier, and left to develop at 76°F


76g (2.7 oz.; 1/3 cup) 50/50 mixture butter and lard (yep, lard: probably Cookie's first (only?) choice). Cut in to 1/2" cubes and chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes


300g (10.6 oz; 2-1/2 cups) AP flour


14g (1 tbls) sugar


7g (1 tsp) salt


I mixed the flour, sugar, salt, and butter/lard cubes together with my hand, squeezing the fat cubes between my thumb and fingers until they were all flattened and well coated with flour. I added the sourdough starter, mixed it in, and kneaded the dough in the bowl, until it formed a ball. The dough felt a little dry, but I didn't add any additional liquid.


I rested the dough, covered and chilled in the refrigerator,  for 15 minutes.


I turned the ball out onto an unfloured dough board, and rolled it to about 1 inch thick, folded the dough in half, and rolled it out again. I repeated this about six times. Each time I rolled it out the dough got more flexible, and felt less dry. I was glad I hadn't added additonal liquid.


On the final roll-out I went to 1/2 inch thick, cut out 17, 2-1/4" biscuits, arranged them on a Silpat pad lined half-sheet pan, covered them with a dry tea towel, and returned them to the proofing box (76°F).


They proofed for 2 and 1/2 hours. They had expanded, but not doubled.


Baked in a 400°F oven for 14 minutes (light golden brown). They more than doubled with oven spring. Lifting the first one to the cooling rack I knew, from its light feel, I had a success.


The crumb is closed, but not dense; looks like most other baking powder biscuits I've made. However, flavor-wise it is definately sourdough! I ate one cold, with nothing added this AM. Firm mouthfeel, and a lovely tang in the after taste.


I think I overworked the dough a little. Next time--and there will be a next time--I'll only roll them out three or four folds. I will also up the temp to 425°F, and bake them on my baking stone.



I think this is more like what Cookie baked.


David G


 


 

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davidg618

The microwave oven is a fine proofing box. With the door ajar, to keep the light on, its internal temperature is 78°F. Two small, round brotforms, or two oblong ones fit snuggly, but forget baguettes, or family size challah. And if I want 89°F I'm stymied--until now.


I've been working on a proofing box since late summer, but had to put it aside for a couple of months, due more pressing things. However, I finished it last week, tested it, made one modification and really finished this morning with the door pulls. Of course it still needs a coat of stain and varnish, or tung oil, but that's just for its looks. It's functional now.


I considered insulating it, but didn't think it necessary. It's heated by a 75 watt, halogen spot light, and the heated air is circulated by a small fan--normally used for cooling electronic devices.



The light's power is controlled by a plug-in thermostat, on the side of the box, through the power plug emerging from its case. The thermostat's temperature probe penetrates the side of the box, and monitors the return air temperature. With the box empty, the circulating air maintained temperature +/- 2°.  When the box contained three pounds of dough (two loaves) +/- 2°F remained the temperature range. The lower plug powers the fan, which circulates the air regardless of the heating light's power. The fan operates at USB low voltage, so I had to provide a 120 VAC to 5 VDC power supply, the small, black box partially hidden by the light's power cord. The box's top supporting the fan and light box, is removeable, and is replaced by a smooth top; it will serve as a storage box for banneton's and brotforms when not proofing.


The box can accomodate a variety of  proofing basket shapes and numbers, a half-sheet pan, and will be used to couche proof 20" baguettes, the maximum length my oven can accept.



The one modification I had to make was build and attach a diffuser to spread the air delivered by the fan; without it the interior box maintained too large a spatial temperature gradient.



My wife is delighted. Now she can reheat her coffee in the microwave without having to first remove proofing bread, and replace it following, which she's prone to forget.


I'm delighted because I can now proof all the differing shapes I push dough into.


Davd G

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