The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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davidg618

This is Challah formula from Ciril Hitz's, Baking Artisan Bread. It's tonight's dessert with cream cheese and jam, and tomorrow morning's French Toast.



David G

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davidg618

I recently baked, for the third time, two sourdough boules, which besides the primary purpose: Eating, tested the effects of slashing, and steaming methods, and the behavior of a new starter. The latter is posted elswhere (Purchased Dried Starter Reactivation Survey).


These loaves were slashed identically, placed in the oven simultaneously, and swapped position after 15 minutes of steaming. The ovenspring realized is shown here,



and from this placement the loaves look acceptably identical. But...



...this is the position they were initially placed in the oven. (Note the asymmetric ovenspring outside-to-center of both loaves. 


I normally create steam with a towel-lined half-sheet pan, wetted with boiling water, and placed below the baking stone. This time, thinking I could direct the steam more toward the edges of the stone and, therefore, better direct the maximum volume of the steam upward toward the loaves, I rolled two small towels and placed them on the extreme ends of the half-sheet pan. 


Two of our regular problem analysts, David and Eric, have argued steam condensing on the bottom of a baking stone causes the stone's surface to cool, and effects ovenspring. I've been a bit skeptical, but I am no longer. It is evident that the rolled towels did focus the steam's rise. but the seventeen-inch pan, below a twenty-inch baking stone created an asymmetric cooled surface on the stone, as is evidenced by the lesser ovenspring on the left and right sides of the left and right loaf respectively. 


Subsequently, I tried placing the pan above the loaves (I've tried it before), rather than below the stone (and the loaves), but I'm still disappointed with the results. I've returned to steaming from below, using a half-sheet pan fully-lined with wetted towels. The ovenspring is again uniform across the loaves, but I suspect reduced from what it could be, due cooling from condensing steam across the entire bottom of the baking stone.


I'm once again rethinking my steaming process. I like the control the wetted towel vs. lava rocks gives me--I can remove the pan safely when steaming time is completed, but I don't want the stone cooling effect. I'm thinking of fabricating and placing two narrow aluminum troughs in the spaces between the stone and the oven's wall, and filling them with wetted towels five or six minutes before loading the loaves. This, of course, will interrupt the heat convection paths on the sides of the stone, but I'm not certain, nor can I guess, how that will effect the baking.


Stay tuned;-)


David G.



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davidg618

I've made old-fashioned ginger beer, and root beer using champagne yeast, but I'd never heard of bacterially fermented soda. Does anyone on the TFL make it? If so, can you point me at your favorite websites, or recipes. I want to try this, especially when peaches from our northern neighbor, Georgia, ripen.


David G.

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davidg618

A few of you may recall a short thread I posted last week describing, with photos, the difference between upward oven spring, and overall expansiion of two loaves made from the same batch of dough, baked coincedentally, wherein the only differences were the slashing patterns used, the loaves positions on the baking stone, and one loaf was loaded approximately one minute, or less after the first.


Today I baked two boules of sourdough, made from the same formula as last week, and, of course, from one batch. I did everything as close as possible to what I did last week. I did use a different starter, but that shouldn't and doesn't effect the outcome.


I made two changes: 1) I loaded the loaves simultaneously, and 2) I slashed the same pattern on both loaves.


The concerns voiced last week were what other things might cause the dramatic difference in oven spring? Uneven oven heat distribution? The first loaf "robbing" heat from the baking stone? uneven steam distribution?


Based on what I experienced today I think last weeks differences were due, for the most part, to the slashing pattern difference. The only slight difference I think today's loaves experienced were minor differences in the slashings' depths and lengths, and I believe the skin on the slightly smaller loaf was drawn tighter than the other loaf. I'm still working on my shaping and slashing skills, but I did the best I could.


Here's the photos, including the before loading pics asked for. I'm satisfied my oven and steaming method are both working fine. I welcome any comments.





David G.

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davidg618

When I started this quest to improve my baking skills, about one year ago, my goals weren't very specific. "Get better at bread baking" was about the best I could do. And "find help" was about as refined as I could codify my approach. Fortunately, I stumbled upon The Fresh Loaf early in my search for that help. I feel I've come a long way in that one year. TFL's members and guests are my inspriation, the helping hand I reach to first, the friends who share my best looking loaves and worst mistakes. I also search far-afield, but my roots are here, still shallow, but growing.


Moreover, I hadn't given a thought beyond, "We'll eat them." to wondering what I'd do with the products of my quest. Since then I've made many more loaves than just the two of us could consume (without becoming well-bloomed, and "doughy" ourselves). I started taking my bread (the best looking loaves) to neighborhood potlucks--our community does a lot of them.  I shared other extras (the second-best-looking loaves) with select neighbors and friends. In the following months, the numbers of loaves shared and neighbors and friends in receipt grew. At Christmas I mailed sourdough loaves, Priority Mail, to select family who whould be honest with me if the bread arrived stale, or was not to their liking. This year i"ll gift loaves to all the family, and some far-distant friends. I'm relied on by neighborhood potluck hosts to bring bread.


Perhaps, the best early advice I received from TFLer's was "Pick a recipe, and practice, practice, practice, and...practice." To date, I'm confident I've got a basic sourdough bread and baguette formulae I trust my new skills to produce reliably and consistently, although I'm still working on shaping and scoring. At the moment, I bake each of them every week or ten days, and I'm working on a third: Jewish Rye. I've shared one loaf, so far, with a close, trusted couple; they rushed out and bought pastrami.


"Practice, practice, practice" has become my mantra.


I've got a slightly more specific goal now, "Build a repertoire of breads I can reliably and consistently produce.". I've got 2 and 1/2  so far. I have more than enough people eager for the output. (Yvonne and I will eat the worse-looking loaves, and the outright mistakes.) I'm havin' fun!


And I can now succinctly state how I might reach that goal: practice, practice, practice.


David G


 

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davidg618

These two loaves were treated identically through bulk proofing. They were divided into exactly equally portions (737g)  both Preshaped, within 30 secs, rested 15 minutes, shaped, proofed, slashed, and loaded into the oven within one minute of each other.  They were Baked, rotating the loaves positons in the oven--after steaming--and removed within a few seconds of each other.


As you can see in the photographs there is a significant difference in the oven spring realized in each loaf. Three things may have effected the difference.


1. I may have tightened the surface skin on one tighter than the other.


2. I turn off the convection mode during steaming; consequently one side of the oven may be hotter than the opposite side.


3. The different slashing patterns restrain or encourage the oven spring upward.


I'm going to repeat this event, as best I can. (This is our weekly, go-to sourdough bread). I will repeat the different slashings, and reverse the loaves' positions in the oven. Otherwise, I will keep all things identical as best I can.


I've had a recent experience with crust bursting on another bread (entirely different, Jewish Rye); it sensitized me to the effects of slashing, although I've wondered about it in past baking, but I've never experienced such a side-by-side difference.




I'll post the results when I do it again.


David G

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davidg618

Saturday using Rye Sour excess from an earlier baking--3 or 4 days ago--I built more Rye sour, flollowing Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker; I did stage 3 feeding late Saturday evening, and refrigerated the refreshed sour intending an early Sunday morning bake.


Sunday; early AM: I let the sour come to room temperature (it had nearly doubled overnight, and risen more in the 1 hour warmup. I'd measured 25 oz. of Rye Sour into my hand-mixing bowl, and put the remaining cup of sour in the refrigerator, for another day. I'd previously weighed out the dough's First Clear flour, salt, and yeast.  I was about to pour the dough's water addition into the sour when the phone rang. Five minutes later I was out the door, heading for a local carriage driving show; it's organizer had called and asked my assistance. I couldn't say no. I spent five minutes covering the Rye Sour with plastic wrap, and putting it back in the refrigerator. The rest of the mise en place was left where it sat.


I came home late afternoon, sunburned of face, dusty, weary, and pleased with the day's work. However, I was in no mood to bake bread.


Monday (today) I picked up where I left off. Mixed the dough, and baked two loaves.


Minor differences: obviously the extra twenty-four hours retarding the sour; I restored the salt to the original recipe (I'd reduced it slightly when I made it the first time.), and I made the starch glaze with arrowroot starch instead of corn starch. I use arrowroot starch in lieu of corn startch in most cooking recipes. I find its silkier consistency more to my liking.


The first time I baked Jewish Rye, I had a couple of crust blowouts: unwanted blowouts. (see


Unwanted crust cracks and bursts; any ideas why? )

I got some good suggestions from other TFLer's, on how to prevent them. I incorporated all (or most) of their suggestions processsing this dough. I scored deeper, and (my idea; a variant of another's suggestion to make them longitudinal) I angled the slashes slightly from being square with the loaves' long axes; and I final proofed until I was certain any further would be over-proofed.


Here's the results, no Grand Canyon bursts!



I am, of course, delighted with the result. I'm certain the crumb will be consistent with the first bake. Thanks again to all those who helped me avoid unwanted crust bursts with this bake--and, hopefully future ones.


There is only one small doubt in my head: did the unplanned retardation influence the absence of unwanted cracking? D**m, I'll just have to bake this formula again, and eliminate the extra 24 hours. Tough, but somebody's got to do it.


David G


 

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davidg618

Inspired by Shiao-Ping and David (dmsnyder) I decided to try out my new bannetons (bought from SFBI) with two 1-kilo loaves made ala Gerard Rubaud. Rather than copy/scale either of their formulae, I went to the source http://www.farine-mc.com/ and did my own adaptation of Msr. Rubaud's formula. In a phrase...


I messed up!


I made up a quantity of his whole-grain flour mix--10% rye, 30% spelt, 60% Whole Wheat-according to plan; noted his comment he mixed his levain in the same ratio as his final dough: 30% flour mix, 70% All purpose, and proceeded to make my levain entirely fed with the whole-grain flour mix, except for the 18g of seed starter that got it going. Wrong!


The levain contributed 25% of the total flour. Of course it was essentially all whole grain, not the 30/70 split with AP intended. To further exacerbate the error I diligently added 5% more of the flour mix so that now my final dough was 30% whole grain. At 78% hydration the final dough was decidely slack. Applying a zillion French folds, I believe the dough's gluten developed good strength, probably as much as possible, but the dough remained extremely extensible. Nonetheless, I proofed my two basketed boules, and baked them.


And, it was about midway through the early steam cycle my mistake hit me. I went back to the source, and reread Master Baker Gerard's interview. Yep, I'd got it wrong. Bigtime!




The Good News. This bread is tasty! The prefermented rye, spelt, and whole wheat combination lend a distinct flavor unlike anything I've tasted before, but reminiscent of each of them: nutty like spelt, a wheaty base note throughout, and a gentle bite to it all from the rye. I'm going to do it again, rightly, following Shiao-Ping to the letter. But I'm also going to keep this mistake in my formula ecard-file.


David G


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davidg618

I finally invested in a new baking stone, one that fills an oven shelf with only a couple of inches to spare. Now I can make baguettes that approach 18" to 20" in place of the stubby ones I baked before. Consequently, along with sourdough, sticky buns, foccacia, and getting familiar with spelt, I've been baking my own baguette formula that has borrowed heavily from Anis Bouabsa's formula and especially his process, and, in the most recent batch, Peter Reinhart's pain a' l'ancienne procedures. I've made this formula three times, tweaking a little each time, not the ingredients, the procedures. I've nicknamed them "Overnight Baguettes.


Formula for 1000 g finished dough


              All purpose flour    575g    100%


              Water                   414g      72%


              Salt                        12g        2%


              Instant Yeast         1/4 tsp.   ???


I mix all the dry ingredients together in a wide bowl, and add the water. Using a plastic dough scraper I incorporate the water into the dry mix, cover and rest it for one-half hour.I turn the dough out onto a very lightly dusted board and French fold until dough passes the window pane test. Chill (details follow: I tweaked here.). Remove from chiller. Bring to room temperature (details follow: tweak #2). Preshape, rest, shape, and final proof. Preheat oven to 500°F. Pre-steam oven. Load slashed loaves reduce temperature to 450°F immediately. After ten minutes remove steam source (if you can do it safely), vent oven and finish baking.


I did all my mixing with ingredients at room temperature (low seventies-ish) for the first two batches. For the first batch, ala Bouabsa, I left the dough in the refrigerator 21 hours @ 38°F. For the second batch I placed it in our wine closet @ 55°F for seventeen hours. For both batches I did two stretch-and-folds after the first 50 and 100 minutes. These two S&F's leave the dough very elastic and smooth (I think it feels "silky").


In both cases, after I turned out the chilled dough (again, following Bouabsa) I immediately divided the dough into three equal amounts, preshaped, and let the dough rest for one hour.


The first batch's dough increased about one-and-a-half its original volume in the refrigerator. Despite dividing and resting the dough was still chilled when I final-shaped it, and final proofing took two hours and fifeteen minutes.


The second batch's volume tripled in the wine closet (I worried about losing any chance of oven-spring). The dough was particulary puffy after resting an hour (more oven-spring worry). Final proofing took 90 mins. My worries were dispelled in the first ten minutes in the oven. Both batches exhibited good oven-spring, but the flavor of batch #1 was distinctly more bland then batch #2. The crumb of both batches was open, light, and slighty chewy.


I was generally happy with both batches, but the second batch's flavor won out. Whatever flavoring chemistry goes on in retarded dough appeared to work harder at the wine closet's elevated temperature.


Despite the oven-spring experienced in batch #2, I was still worried I was setting myself up for future failures letting the dough triple in volume during its retarded proof at 55°F. I recently broke down and bought Peter Reinhart's  "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". His anecdote about capturing the hearts and minds of his more reluctant students when they are first introduced to pain a' l'acienne dough pushed me to skip to its formula. I was intrigued by his "shock retardation" using ice water to mix the dough.


I mixed the third batch's dough with ice water, and also placed it in the wine closet during its autolyse rest. I checked the dough a couple of times after performing the two S&F, and was a little worried by almost no apparent action. Encouraged by the few little bubbles I could see through the bottom of the plastic container I went to bed, but set the alarm to remove the dough after fifeteen hours chilling. The dough was just short of doubled when removed.  Following Reinhart's directions I let the dough sit, undivided at room temperature (high sixties-ish) for two hours. When I got out of bed the second time the dough was well doubled and the top of the dough was stretched in a couple of places by large gas bubbles. I liked what I saw, and felt.


I divided the dough, preshaped, and let it rest twenty minutes. Following, I shaped, and final-proofed for ninety minutes (I use a poke test to decide proofing status, but I keep track of time too.) Baking proceeded as described above.


The results:



We are delighted with the flavor, and crumb! This is going to be our "go to" baguettes: no more tweaking. 


David G


 


 


 

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davidg618

I've been baking artisanal bread only eight months. TFL has been my primary mentor, and inspiration. Prior, I baked bread, weekly, in our Zojirushi bread machine, dutifully turning out three loaves of sandwich white bread, or 40% whole wheat sandwich bread: machine kneaded and proofed, oven baked. For hearth-baked breads we sought out commercial bakeries--San Antonio in the winter months, eastern Connecticut in the summers. On rare occasions I'd buy a packaged bread mix, and bake it in our Zo; we were usually dissapointed.


Yesterday, I was rumaging around in a cupboard, looking for something. I didn't find what I was looking for, because far in the back I found a long-forgotten bread mix: 9 Grain, Hodgson Mill, at least a year old, likely even more ancient. Let me quickly add, I have never been employed by nor reimbursed in any way by Hodgson Mill--I don't even know what state they call home. Neither is it my intention to write this post to praise their mix, but as things turned out...


For the moment, I forgot what I'd been looking for. The bread mix caught my full attention. I opened it; the sealed-cellophane enclosed flour appeared bug free--hard to tell for certain among the ground seed specks scattered throughout. I was doubtful, however, about the yeast packet enclosed; I searched for a date stamp, but found none, and the label's ink looked...well, faded. I briefly considered tossing it all in the waste bin; my Yankee frugalness kicked in, and I considered saving the scant four cups of flour mix to incorporate into one of my future loaves.


Finally, I decided to just make it.


I got out the bread machine--we still use it every third or fourth week--to make our favorite sandwich breads, but it no longer has its own place on the kitchen counters. I tossed out the yeast packet, and substituted a tsp. and one-half from our freezer-kept IDY, known to be fresh. I put the machine on dough cycle, and bulk proofed the dough an additional forty-five minutes, for a total of one hour and fifty minutes. I panned it, and let it rise until slightly more than doubled, slashed it and baked it at the recommended 350°F. Other than replacing the yeast, extending the bulk-proofing time, slashing the top, and steaming for the first ten miuntes I followed the manufacturer's directions.






Nothing unrecognizeable (nor unprouncable) in the ingredients. I toasted two pieces this morning, and added a bit of butter and a dab of honey. Mmmm-m-m-m!


So what's the point?


For me, it was a reminder, and a little lesson in humility. I don't have to go to the obsessive degree I do to have good bread. Tasty and nutritious home-made bread is within reach of anyone willing to take a very few steps beyond grabbing a loaf in the bread aisle. I choose to bake because it's fun, and I get an ego boost proportional to the loaves' oven spring, its flavor, and my family's and friend's praises. But at the end of the day, I'm only doing what my ancestors have done, at times with only their hands for tools, and an open fire: baking our daily bread.


David G.

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