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davidg618

We've been baking and cooking for the past week for our annual open house. We started doing this four years ago to share our homemade wines and brews with our friends and neighbors. With my new-found interest in improving my baking skills, my wife dubbed this year's efforts "Breads and Spreads". We served two sourdoughs, baguettes, vollkornblot, and light rye. We also offered a potpourri of rye sourdoughs: one with walnuts, one with walnuts and blue cheese, and the last with chestnuts and feta cheese. Our forty-five guests ate them straight or topped with capacollo, tappenade, sun-dried tomato and basil pesto, butters (plain, roast garlic, herbed, or whipped with honey).  We made three hummus (traditional, roasted red pepper, and sundried-tomato with roasted garlic), and baked lavash to scoop them up.


We also made three biscotti--tart cherry and walnuts, citron and hazlenuts, and a savory choice: parmesan and black pepper--to pair with the wines.


The wines: sauvignon blanc, viognier, pinot noir, a super tuscan, bergamais, and cabernet franc ice wine. We also made a pilsner, nicknamed "Better than Bud", and our three year old Barley Wine (technically a beer) tastes like fine sherry, with a hint of hops.



The steamed up plastic cover in the center contains just-toasted baguette slices for the bruschetta to the right of it.



The label photos are mostly of critters and crawlers in our pastures, or a nearby state park.


David G

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davidg618

This morning I baked a variation of Anis Bouabsa baguettes. The changes are minor: 72% hydration vs. 75%; I bulk fermented the dough at 55°F vs. 41°F for the prescribed 21 hours; and I added distatic malt powder. Otherwise, my formula and applied techniques were essentially the same as those in the Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes thread. The changes were made for the following reasons. I don't trust my skills yet with a 75% hydration dough. I'm sneaking up on it. Over the weekend I made a 70% hydration sourdough (or pain au levain), and today's baguettes. Furthermore, my refrigerator maintains a 37°F temperature on the only shelf that will hold my bulk proofing container, and I was concerned that temperature would severely change the yeast's reproduction rate. (That's not a guess, I've got an erudite paper written by a couple of microbiologists on the subject of yeast reproduction rate vs. temperature as a reference.). I have the convenience of a wine closet--its too small to call it a wine cellar--that maintains a steady 55°F. Lastly, I added the diastatic malt powder to give the yeast all the edge available.


However, messing with the hydrations of these doughs got me thinking. If I changed the shape I could pass this bread off as a ciabatta, or a foccacia, or a pain rustique, and no one would challenge me: perhaps criticise, but not challenge what I called it. On the other hand, if I offered the pain au levain, to a reasonably knowledgeable eater, as a slice of boule, or batard they'd raise an eyebrow at least.


So what classifies a dough? Content (Ingredients)? Preferments? Shape? Weight? All of the above? All of the above, but not necessarily everytime?


My curiosity grew when I checked three published baguette formulae (DiMuzio, Hamelman, and Hines), and two for pain au levain (DiMuzio, Hamelman).  Their doughs' hydrations are within 2% percent of each other, as well as similar ingredients, percentages, and techniques. "Is there a "secret" crib sheet these guys aren't sharing with us?" I wondered. Yet I was baking a baguette dough that was essentially a straight dough, with hydration 9% pecentage points higher than prescribed by "common practice", using atypical techniques. Is Anis Bouabsa a rogue baker?


My interest in things that ferment isn't limited to bread baking. I also brew beer, and make wine. Among brewers there is a crib-sheet. It contains approximately two-dozen beers, and describes each of them by the same attributes which are defined both in scientific precision, e.g., specific gravity, International Bittering Units (IBU's); Lovibond (color) rating; and in subjective terms of taste, smell, and appearance. If there are specialty additives or techniques they are also described, e.g., lambics (a beer made sour by lactobacteria). Wines, of course, are mostly defined by their primary varietal (or mixtures of varietals) ocassionally by craft processes, e.g., malolacticfermentation, ice wines; and a subjective vocabulary codified by a Univerity of California at Davis, professor.


Does anyone know if bread types have been classified, or catergorized and written down, and where is it written? How are bread-baking competitions judged? What are the competitive rules, i.e., do they contain de facto categorical or classifying ingredients, technniques, etc.?


David G

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davidg618

In the past three days we've been baking: a first try at Vollkornbrot, three loaves of sourdough, and 38 dozens of cookies including Welsh Cakes, Date-Nut Pinwheels, Tart Cherry and Pecan Biscotti, and Tangerine Spritz. Except for the spritz, I creamed all the butter and sugar by hand, before adding the rest of the liquid ingredients. Result: wielding the wooden spoon I got a blister on my little finger! Geez! do I have to wear work gloves to mix dough too?



These are left for us, and the neighhood cookie exchange. Seven packages left home yesterday posted to family.


The vollkornbrot



This is Hamelman's formula in Bread. I don't have a local nor online source for rye chops, so I ran rye berries through my homebrewing grain mill that cracks the seed coating on whole barley grains. I think the result was essentially the same as commercial rye chops. I'm happy with the flavor, and density but not elated. I tested it after resting it for forty-eight hours. I'm going to let it rest for three or four more days before I freeze it to see if the flavor develops further. The tea towel was a gift from an English friend of mine, and was the only tea towel I own big enough to wrap a Pullman loaf.


I didn't photograph the sourdough loaves, because one was immediately eaten, one immediately given away, and the third one immediately frozen. They looked like all my other posted sourdough boules'. However internally they're a bit different. I've named these Halcyon Acres Sourdough, after our modest five acres of horse pastures we call home. I concocted the formula, and my wife likes it more than any other sourdoughs I've baked to date.


I recently started feeding my sourdough starters with first clear flour, instead of bread flour. Additionally, when I want to increase dough sourness, I feed a small portion of starter for three days at room temperature, 72°F to 76°F, every eight to twelve hours. (I discard much of it each feeding--1:1:1 ratio--so thing don't get out of hand.) I'm indebted to Debra Wink for debunking the folklore that lactobacteria reproduce better in stiff cultures, at low temperature. The myth flew in the face of my understanding of physics and thermodynamics, but I'm not a microbiologist, so I wasn't entirely certain the myth was nonsense. I've started feeding with first clear flour because of its relatively high ash producing content, which provides necessary minerals and trace nutrients to the bacteria.


Here's the fromula for three 1.5 lb loaves of Halcyon Acres Sourdough


Ripe Sourdough Starter     450g


Starter Hydration              125%


Whole Rye Flour                225g


All Purpose Flour               450g


Bread Flour                       450g


Water                               650g


Salt                                  27g (2%)


Final Dough Weight           2252g


Hydration                         68%


I built my formula-ready starter using a culture previously rejuvanated with first clear flour, at room temperature, for 72 hours. The culture had subsequently been refrigerated for two weeks. I use a 24 hour, three build, method to create the needed formula-ready ripe starter. My three build method is described elsewhere in this blog, in detail. I used first clear flour for each build for this starter.


Procedures: Hand mixed flour, water, and starter to shaggy consistency; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; hand mixed to smooth, homogeneous consistency. Bulk proofed for 3 hours with 3 stretch-and-fold at 45 minute intervals; turned out; divided into three equal portions; preshaped boules; rested 10 minutes;final shaped. Final proof 1-1/2 hours in bannetons; scored loaves. Pre-steamed oven (I use water-soaked towel on a baking sheet) five minutes before loading. Baking: Initial oven temperature 480°F; reduced oven temperature to 450°F at loading. Removed steam source after 15 minutes; finished baking (approximately 10 minutes.)


Happy Holiday baking; watch out for blisters ;-)


David G

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davidg618

Well, I tried it: two different starters, each handled to emphasize yeast activity in one, flavor production (sourness) in the second. I have three starters, all from commercial sources. Two were purchased online, the third came from a well-known bakery, with even more well-known bakers. I chose one of the online-sourced starters; it's been consistently more active (measured by proofing times, and oven-spring) than the other two, and I chose the bakery-one for its good, but not overwhelming, sourness. I maintain the first starter at 100% hydration, I keep the second one at 67% hydration. I built both formula-ready starters (450 g each) over a period of twenty-four hours tripling the seed-sarter mass 3 times, the beginning, and the end of the next two 8 hour periods, finishing with a formula-ready starter with a mass 27 time the original seed starter. I also adjust the hydration by 1/3 the difference between the seed-starters' hydration, and the target fornula-ready starters' hydrations at each build: 125%, and 60% respectively.


Bread Formula scaled to make 3, 1.5 lb. loaves.


Total starter weight: 900 g (450 each)


Total dough weight: 2250 g


Hydration: 67%


Flour:                              Baker's percentage:


AP flour in starters: 481g      36%


Whole Rye Flour: 225g          17%


All-purpose Flour 312g          23.5%


Bread Flour 312g                  23.5%


Salt: 27g                               2%


Water in starters: 419g


Water added        475g


All three loaves were baked, one at a time, under an aluminum foil cover, on a baking stone at 480°F, 10 minutes with steam. 15 additional minutes uncovered, without steam at 450°F. Reading from the top of the pile counterclockwise #1, #2 and #3; #2 was retarded for approximately 3-1/2 hour, and # 3 5 hours.


The bread has a taste more pronounced than previous sourdoughs I've made with one or the other starters, but that could be the extra rye flour. I made a mistake; I used 10% of the dough weight, rather than ten percent of the total flour weight to caculate the desired rye content. Despite the mistake, we love the flavor. I also experienced slightly less oven spring than usual, using only starter #1.


David G

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davidg618

David Snyder (dmsnyder) has convinced me pre-steaming is beneficial, but I've still been uncertain I'm generating enough steam, considering my oven door is not an airtight fit, and the convection fan blows some of the steam out around the door. So, today, I tried a new way to generate steam. I saw it recommended in Hamelman's Bread, but I ignored it happy as I was, at the time, generating steam with pre-heated lava rocks. It was only when David wrote of his experience pre-steaming his oven that I started reexamining the details of my steaming practice.


My wife's dog/horse treat baking (see blog http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13862/baking-going-dogs-and-horses-too) gave me a clue. Here pet snack recipe is packed with fresh shredded carrots, resulting in a very wet "dough". Watching her open the oven door while baking three half-sheet pans full I saw a large amount of steam (water vapor, really) pour out of the oven.


Today I fitted a half-baking sheet with a terrycloth shop towel that covered its bottom. Five minutes before I put in the first loaf I poured a cup of hot tap water onto the towel. It was enough to soak it thuroughly, but there was no free standing water. I placed the pan on the lowest shelf.  As usual, I also covered the oven's top vent with a folded towel. Before five minutes were up I saw water vapor escaping at the bottom of the door where its sealing gasket's ends meet. I've never seen that before, although I was previously convinced steam was escaping.


When I placed the loaf, the oven was visably full of water vapor; nevertheless, I added another 1/2 cup of water to the towel. At ten minutes I reduced the oven temperature, and removed the sheetpan, and uncovered the oven vent.; for safety reasons I'd never attempt to remove the lava rocks. Whatever water vapor remained in the oven I'm certain disappated quickly. After the sheetpan and towel cooled I felt the towel. Its center was still damp, but the edges were dry, justifying the additonal 1/2 cup of water added.


Here's the visual results. I bake this sourdough (Vermont sourdough with a stiff levain) once every week. This loaf's oven spring is as good or better than any before now.


I'm going to adapt this method, at least for the near future. I think it's safer than splashing water into a pan of lava rock, all indications show it produces more steam, and it can be simply and safely removed to immediately stop the source of steam.


David G


 

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davidg618

As most, if not all, of you know Italians traditionally dip biscotti into their coffee or wine, i suspect, in part, to soften it a bit before chewing. October, November and December of year, along with holiday baking, we're putting the finishing touches to plans for our annual January open house wherein we serve only our homemade wines, homebrewed beer, and a cornucopia of food, all made from scratch.


This year's theme is Wine and Bread.


Technically, biscotti is not a bread, but it fits so well, we've added it to our list that includes sourdoughs (wheat and ryes), pain de mie, ciabatta, lavash, fougasse, and of course baguettes. I'm also going to try Hamelman's Vollkornbrot; if successful it too will join the list. It should pair well with a pilsner finishing its fermenting as I write.


Today I experimented with a parmesan-black pepper biscotti thinking it will pair well with white wine, especially the sauvignon blanc we're offering this year. My wife and I shared the small corner pieces, and froze the rest. We opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc. It pairs wonderfully.



We're also planning a dried-cherries and pecans biscotti to pair with a Cabernet Franc ice wine (sweet)--a first; always dry wines prior--and a craisins and pastachio biscotti that should pair well with both reds and whites.


David G

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davidg618

We are having homemade soup tonight for dinner. Since we've been eating a lot of sourdough lately I decided to make Hamelman's Pain Rustique. A unique bread, attributed to the legendary French baker. educator and author, Raymond Calvel, its poolish preferment comprises more than half of the entire dough weight.


Two pounds of poolish, for three-and-a-half pounds of dough!



One gets an interesting shape when the a loaf hangs off the edge of one's too-small-for-three-loaves baking stone.



The crumb: open, firm chewiness.



David G

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davidg618


At the moment we have three Welsh Corgi's, two "found us" cats, and a Haflinger pony. I think we give more thought to the healthiness of what we feed them, than what we consume ourselves.


Here's a very pet-healthy pet snack recipe my wife makes about every three weeks. It originated with our wonderful neighbor, and accomplished horsewomen, Cathy, pretty much as she gave it to us. Both our dogs and Mimi, the pony, love them.


Buck-a-Roo Bites


As far as the cookies go, I usually have some basic ingredients and add whatever I might have.  


4-5 cups dry ingredients:  3 cups rolled oats, 1 cup flax, bran, ground pumpkin seeds, barley, corn meal......or whatever.


1 tablespoon salt - sea salt, mineral salt....


lots of shredded carrots and apples (skins and all)


a little sweetener - molasses, raw honey.  (I don't use much any more, everyone so concerned about insulin resistance but so many folks feed a processed feed that has a binder of molasses anyway.  What I use most now for adding sweetness is applesauce, pumpkin (Calabasa), sweet potato (boiled, baked with the skins)


mix together, make a mess everywhere.  You want the mixture to be like a wet cookie dough, so if it is dry, add oil.


bake at 350 degrees till golden brown or burnt if you forget and then put in dehydrator till very crunchy!!!


[or a 150° - 200°F oven, if you don’t have a dehydrator]


Cathy


You can vary the recipe for the dogs by adding protein - chicken, steak...


-----------------------------------------------


This batch is shredded carrots, oats, flax seed, yellow cornmeal, and apple sauce.



 


...and, the finished product



 


David G

 

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davidg618

Yesterday I was baking baguettes. I've usually had to bake them in groups of two, not because my oven can't hold up to four, but because I couldn't find a fool-prove way of getting more than two on the hot baking stone using a peel. (I've dropped them on each other, off the back of the stone onto the rack, and, worst of all, onto the oven door.)


So, I decided to try using a rim-less cookie sheet as a peel. However, I needed a flipping board to place four baguettes on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I like Mini's cardboard flipper, but decided I wanted something more permanent. I went out to my shop, and found the remnants of some fiberboard I used to back some bookshelves I recently made. One side is smooth, but the backside has a diamond-like 3-D pattern. Eureka! I reasoned the back would act as a flour "holder" much like the panty-hose covered flipping peels posted in Bread Flipping Boards


I cut a 6" x 18" board from the scraps, and dusted the backside with flour. My baking stone is only 16" wide, so an 18" flipping board is adequate.  It worked perfectly.



Here's the flour dusted side. The insert shows the 3-D pattern magnified, and before dusting.



The opposite side is smooth.


David G

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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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