The second edition of Hamelman's Bread includes 40 new recipes. This is the first of the new recipes I have made. Hamelman writes that this formula for “Durum Bread” is the best of a series of “test batches” he made some years ago. He does not describe it further and does not identify it as an Italian-style bread, although it does bring to mind Italian breads made with durum flour.
To me, the most remarkable features are that Hamelman's “Durum Bread” is 90% durum flour. (Bread flour is used in the liquid levain feeding.) It is a high-hydration dough at 80%. It uses both a yeasted biga and a liquid levain. Hamelman recommends a bassinage technique (“double hydration") be used for mixing.
Mature liquid culture
Mix the biga and ferment for 12-16 hours. It is ripe when domed and just starting to recede in the center. Note that, because of the great ability of durum flour to absorb water, this biga is firmer than the usual “firm levain.”
Mix the liquid levain at the same time as the biga and let it ferment for the same time. Note: My levain ripened faster than the biga, so I refrigerated it for a couple of hours to let the biga “catch up.”
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all but 1/3 cup of the final dough water along with the liquid levain and mix to disperse the levain. Then, add the biga cut in 5 or 6 pieces, and mix at slow speed to dissolve it somewhat. Then add the remaining durum flour, yeast and salt. Mix at slow speed for 2 or 3 minutes to combine the ingredients then at Speed 2 for about 6 minutes to develop the gluten. Scrape the dough off the hook and make a well in the middle of it. Pour the reserved water in the well, lower the hook, and mix at low speed until the water if fully incorporated. The dough will be quite loose.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.
Ferment the dough for about 2 hours with stretch and folds at 40 and 80 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape them as balls. Let them rest, covered, for 20 minutes or so to relax the gluten.
Shape the pieces as boules or bâtards and place in bannetons or en couche. Proof, covered, for about 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF for 1 hour with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
Turn down the oven to 450ºF. Transfer the loaves to a peel, score the loaves, steam the oven and transfer the loaves to the baking stone.
After 15 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus and continue to bake for another 23 minutes or so. (After the first 15 minutes, I continued baking at 425ºF with convection for the remainder of the time.) The loaves are done when the crust is nicely browned, the loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom and the internal temperature is over 205ºF.
Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool for 1-2 hours before slicing.
The loaves had a somewhat crisp, chewy crust. The crumb was less open than I expected, but I think this may be characteristic of bread made with mostly durum flour. Maybe it has to do with the quality of gluten in this flour.
The flavor of the bread was distinctive. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like that of the other breads I have made with durum flour. I was thinking it was not a flavor I especially like, until I tried it dipped in olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar. That was spectacular! It was a magical combination of flavors that was delightful. It made me wonder about using this bread in other characteristic Italian ways – as garlic bread or toasted and eaten with a hearty ribollito soup.
I gave one of the loaves to a friend who grew up in a village near Rome. I am awaiting her assessment with the greatest interest.
Somehow, I had overlooked the formula for Whole Wheat Multi-grain bread in Hamelman's Bread. Thanks to Khalid (Mebake) for calling it to my attention! When he named it his favorite bread, I knew I had to try it.
This is a 50% whole wheat bread made with a liquid levain and added instant yeast. It has a soaker of mixed grains and seeds. I found I had to add about 15 g of water to the dough during mixing to achieve a medium consistancy.
The dough weighed a bit over 2 kg. My wife has been wanting some soft, whole wheat rolls for sandwiches. I thought this formula might make rolls she would like, so I made four 3.5 oz rolls in addition to two 840 g bâtards.
I baked the rolls first at 480 dF for 12 minutes and cut one for sampling. It had a sweet, wheaty flavor. The crust softened with cooling. The crumb was firm and chewy. My wife judged it suitable for its intended purpose.
The bâtards were baked at 460 dF for 15 minutes. At that point, the crust was already getting dark. I lowered the oven temperature to 415 dF and baked for another 23 minutes.
The bâtard crust was somewhat crunchy. The crumb was more open and more tender than that of the rolls.
The flavor of the bâtard was more complex than that of the roll. It has no perceptible sourness and a slightly sweet, wheaty flavor like the roll. It is indeed a delcious whole wheat bread and one I will definitely make again. I expect it to make wonderful toast and sandwiches.
I wanted to make some baguettes today. I had some excess active firm starter. I usually make sourdough baguettes with a liquid starter, and my best sourdough baguettes take two to three days to make, but why not try a formula for one day baguettes with firm starter?
To make 3 ficelles weighing 200 g apiece.
At 70% hydration.
Using 25% pre-fermented flour.
And to use a bit of instant yeast to have the baguettes done before dinner time.
Medium rye flour
Medium rye flour
Mix the firm levain and ferment for 12-14 hours at 70º F.
Mix the flour and water in the final dough to a shaggy mass and autolyse for 30 minutes.
Add the salt, yeast and the firm levain is 12 pieces to the dough and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.
Ferment at 70º F for 2-2 1/2 hours with folds at 40 and 80 minutes. The dough did not double but showed many tiny alveoli. (Visible through the walls of my glass bowl.)
Divide into 3 equal pieces and pre-shape as balls or logs.
Rest for 20 minutes.
Shape as baguettes.
Proof at 70º F for 45-60 minutes.
Transfer the loaves to a peel and score as desired.
Bake at 460º F with steam for 12 minutes then in a dry oven for another 8-10 minutes. Note: These are light and thin loaves. For larger baguettes, the baking time would need to be increased to a total of 22-25 minutes. If a lighter-colored crust is desired, the oven temperature should be decreased to 450º F.
Cool for 30 minutes (at least) before eating.
I treated each of my three baguettes differently, as seen. I made one into an epi de blé, one into a seeded baguette and one was made as a traditional baguette.
The crust was crisp and the crumb was tender – just a bit chewy. The crumb structure was nice and open. The flavor was good, but not great. There was no perceptible sourdough tang and less sweet flavor and less complexity than I want in a baguette.
I think this formula, with the added yeast, resulted in a short fermentation that did not allow for full flavor development. In addition, the levain I used had been taken from my refrigerated stock starter and only fed once.
My judgement is that this formula is worth playing with. Next time, I will use a starter that has been fed at least twice and will omit the instant yeast.
This is certainly one of the most delicious breads I've ever tasted. It is amazing for its complex, wholesome taste. It also has always had astonishing oven spring and bloom for me. I'm not sure why.
I suppose I need to acknowledge that brother Glenn recently posted his beautiful bake of this bread, if only to claim another instance of Snyder Bros. Synchronicity and deny competitiveness. I did watch out for pixies. They played no role in the baking of this bread. They may be responsible for how much of it my wife ate at dinner, but I do believe that was attributable to how delicious this bread is.
And, from last week's bake of Hamelman's Pain au Levain with WW, here's a point for Varda:
“Scoring” is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread before it is baked. Some breads are not scored. For example many loaves baked in pans are not. However, almost all free-formed “hearth breads” are scored.
When is scoring done?
Scoring is generally performed just prior to loading the loaves in the oven. French rye breads (pains de siegle) are sometimes scored right after shaping, before proofing.
Why are breads scored?
Intentionally creating a weak spot on the surface of the loaf prevents the loaf from bursting at weak spots created during shaping.
The type of scoring performed controls the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.”
The pattern of cuts made, the angle at which they are made and the depth of the cuts influences the rate of expansion and the formation of an “ear” - a raised flap of crust at the edge of a cut.
The pattern of cuts can create a pleasing visual pattern on the surface of the loaf. While there are some very traditional patterns, for example for baguettes, the baker can use the scoring pattern to identify the type of bread or to create an unique pattern that identifies the loaf as coming from his or her oven.
The effects of scoring on loaf shape are discussed in more detail below.
What do you use to score bread?
The blade used to score bread is often referred to as a lame (pronounced “lahm.”) This is simply a French word with means “blade.” Breads may be scored with straight or curved razor blades, either held in the hand or mounted on a handle. Scoring may be performed with other sharp, straight blades, even with a straight razor. Some bakers prefer serrated blades.
For some types of scoring, a straight blade is preferred. Straight bladed knives are preferred for cuts made with the blade held perpendicular to the loaf's surface. This sort of cut is generally used for round loaves (“boules”). For other types of scoring, a curved blade works better. Curved lames are generally used for long breads like baguettes which are scored with cuts parallel to the long axis of the loaf.
Video on Choosing a Blade: http://youtu.be/vF7eFluzHXc
How are the cuts made?
The scoring stroke should be firm, rapid, smooth and decisive. For the beginner, it may help to take “practice swings” or to visualize the movements and totally focus one's attention before making the cuts. Understanding the functions of scoring and the effects of the variables described can help, but there is no substitute for experience. In this respect, scoring bread is no different from an athletic skill or any other art or craft. (Tourist: “Please, sir, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice.”)
The cuts should generally be 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. A wet, sticky dough requires a more shallow cut than one would make in a dryer dough.
Scoring a boule (round loaf)
The angle the blade of the knife makes with the surface of the loaf is important in determining how the cut will open up. If you want the cuts to spread equally from the cut and to open quickly, as is traditional with round loaves (boules), the knife should be held vertically – at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf.
Video on Scoring a Boule: http://youtu.be/gnL7mvR9wFg
Besides the “tic-tac-toe” pattern, boules can be scored with diamond patterns, simple crosses or much more elaborate and creative patterns.
Miche scored with a diamond pattern
Scoring a long loaf (bâtard)
If you want the cuts to spread more slowly and create an “ear,” as is generally desired with long loaves (baguettes and bâtards), the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle with the surface of the loaf, at about 20-30 degrees or so. Many find using a curved blade helps make this type of cut. The blade is held with the concave surface facing up (away from the loaf). A flap of dough is created that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”
Video on Scoring a Bâtard: http://youtu.be/UC5HLCWAyMo
The effect of scoring on loaf shape
Michael Suas, in his book "Advanced Bread & Pastry," provides some information about how scoring patterns influence loaf shape. Scoring is not just to make a visually pretty design on the top of a loaf. It is also how the baker controls the direction in which the loaf expands. This impacts the shape of the loaf cross section (rounder or more oval), the height of the loaf and, for a boule, whether it stays round or ends up more oblong.
According to Suas, long loaves like bâtards and baguettes are traditionally scored parallel to their long axis. This may be a single long cut or multiple cuts that are almost parallel and overlap somewhat (for ¼ to 1/3 of their length, generally). This pattern promotes sideways expansion of the loaf, resulting in an oval cross section when the loaf is sliced.
Baguette showing overlapping cuts, almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf
For breads with high-rye content which have lower gluten and less oven spring, the traditional objective is to encourage a higher rise in the oven spring resulting in a rounder cross section. This is achieved by "sausage" or "chevron" cuts.
"Sausage cut" on the left. "Chevron cut" on the right.
Boules are scored in a variety of patterns with differing effects on how the loaf expands. The common "tic-tac-toe" pattern and a simple cross will direct the expansion upward. More complex patterns like diamonds result in a relatively flatter loaf.
One of most interesting effects is that scoring a boule with multiple parallel cuts encourages expansion at a right angle to the cuts. This results in an oblong loaf shape.
Two boules scored differently. Note the effects of the scoring pattern on the final shape of the baked loaves.
What's the point of an ear? Controlled bloom!
This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.
Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.
What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."
The angle of the blade is important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.)
These photos illustrate nice "ears," but they also show that the bloom occurred slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from right to left. The darker part on the right obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occurred too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration.
In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:
The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.
The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.
The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.
Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occurred.
A final word
This tutorial focused on the mechanics of scoring, but the other steps in bread making impact the behavior of the cuts you make and the final appearance of your loaves. In fact, every single step, from your choice of ingredients and their proportions – your formula – to how you steam your oven plays a role in how your cuts will open. Your best looking loaves will result from a series of choices that are mutually dependent, where how you score a loaf takes into account the other choices you have made about the formula, mixing, fermentation, shaping, proofing and baking.
I've been working on the requested update of the Scoring Tutorial. I was expressely asked to use "real" bread, instead of the dishtowels I used to demonstrate the use of a transfer peel. I made a batch of my San Frandisco-style Sourdough for this purpose. So, after finishing the third video for the new tutorial (one more to go), I had to dispose of my instructional materials.
No expressions of sympathy are called for I assure you.
A nice crab salad and Anderson Valley Chardonney complemented the bread quite nicely.
A question arose recently about the use of a couche for proofing bread. Here is a demonstration of how to use a linen couche.
Step 1: Mis en place
Equipment needed: Proofing board and a length of baker's line.
In the bakery, loaves that are not proofed in baskets are proofed on wooden boards covered with baker's linen. After the loaves are placed on the linen between folds, they are covered with heavy plastic sheeting. The boards are then shelved in rolling racks which are usually themselves covered with plastic.
Baker's linen is an ideal material on which to proof loaves. It is relatively inexpensive. It is flexible. It is inherently non-stick. Even when proofing loaves made with high-hydration, somewhat sticky dough, flouring of the linen is generally not needed. The linen absorbs some moisture from the surface of the loaves which makes them easier to score cleanly.
Baker's linen can be purchased from King Arthur Flour or from TMB Baking (affiliated with the San Francisco Baking Institute). The latter's prices are lower. (I have no financial association with either.)
At home, we are usually only proofing 2 to 4 loaves at once, so a simpler procedure can be followed.
Step 2: Preparing the couche.
Cover the board with the linen. Fold back one end, and roll it up to form a supporting structure for the first loaf place on one end of the couche.
Step 3: Placing the loaves on the couche.
The loaves are placed on the couche. Note the roll of linen supporting the right hand side of the loaf on the right and the fold of linen between the two loaves.
Step 4: The left hand end of the couche is brought up and over to cover the proofing loaves.
Any excess linen can be folded back over to cover the loaves with another layer of linen.
Step 5: The covered loaves are left to proof until ready to bake.
I generally prefer proofing loaves seam side up. The exception is loaves topped with seeds. When transferring loaves proofed seam up with a transfer peel, the loaves must be flipped over on the couche before being transferred to the transfer peel, then to a peel for loading onto a baking stone.
Step 6: Uncover loaves. (Seen with transfer peel)
Step 7: Pull linen from left end to flatten out the folds
Step 8: If loaves were proofed seam side up, flip them over so the seam is down.
Step 9: Transfer loaves to a peel.
Step 8: Score the loaves.
Scored loaves, ready to load.
Loaded onto the baking stone.
Twelve minutes into the bake. Good oven spring. The cuts have opened nicely with good ears. The loaves have just started to color. Time to vent the steam.
After another 13 minutes baking and 7 minutes resting in the turned off oven with the door ajar ...
I can't help it. I'm so proud of my son's first bread. A month ago, I visited them for Thanksgiving and left him with some of my sourdough starter. I baked once while there, with Joel watching. Yesterday, he made his first on his own San Joaquin Sourdough.
I aske Joel how it tasted. He said, "Kind of like yours. Great."
Not too shabby, eh?
It's not quite like having another grandchild, but sort of like.
A neighbor and I have a 15 year old tradition of exchanging baked goods at this time of year. His wife always bakes a delicious rum and nutmeg-flavored cake, and I give them a loaf of bread. This year, my gift was a 1.5 kg loaf of Hamelman's pain au levain.
They say "fences make good neighbors," but I think exchange of fresh-baked goodies does too.