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Overnight Country Brown with modifications

September 8, 2013

My exploration of Ken Forkish's breads from Flour Water Salt Yeast continued this week. Hoping to get my timing closer to the ones he describes in the book, I needed to slow down fermentation. I made another large loaf of Forkish's “Overnight Country Brown.” I used filtered water at 63 ºF rather than at 80-90 ºF which Forkish prescribes, and I used 8% pre-fermented flour rather than the 12% called for in the published formula.

I fed my levain at 11 AM. By 5 PM, it was quite mature. I mixed the dough at 6 PM. Now, this dough is supposed to ferment at room temperature for 12-15 hours and expand by 2 to 2.5 times. My kitchen temperature was running in the high-70's. Even using the cool water and decreasing the levain by 25%, the dough had doubled by 11 PM, that is, in 5 hours. So, before going to bed, I refrigerated the dough. 

At about 8 am, I removed the dough from the refrigerator and shaped it as a boule about a half-hour later.

While the dough rests ...

I proofed it in a floured, linen-lined banneton placed in a plastic bag. To my amazement, it was fully proofed by the “poke test” criterion an hour later, but it had to wait while I baked some baguettes.

By time I could get it in the oven about 40 minutes later, it was very gassy. It deflated somewhat when scored, and I was really afraid it was so seriously over-proofed it would collapse. Because of this concern, I baked it in a cast iron combo cooker that had not been pre-heated as usual, except for the lid which got about 10 minutes at 455 ºF (convection), during the last part of the baguette bake. However, the loaf sprung like crazy and turned out pretty darn good. I just had to bake it about 5 minutes longer than last time, presumably because of the cold cooker.

 

Compared to the last bake, I'd say the crust and crumb are about the same. The flavor had significantly more acetic acid tang than my last bake of this bread. In other words, it is a really good bread, but I really don't know how closely it resembles, in flavor, Forkish's intention.

The San Joaquin Sourdough baguettes turned out really well, too.

 

 Happy Baking!

David

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Ken Forkish's “Pain au Levain” and “Overnight Country Brown”

September 2, 2013

I continued my test baking of the formulas in Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast last weekend. I baked two new (to me) formulas. One calls for an overnight bulk fermentation and the other for overnight cold retardation of the shaped loaves.

I have yet to bake anything from this book that works according to the prescribed schedule. This is so different from my experience with any other bread baking book, and I still haven't figured out exactly why there is this systematic difference. On the other hand, I do understand what Forkish is after and how he adjusts his formulas to achieve a long fermentation, either in bulk at room temperature or of formed loaves under refrigeration. And, on the third hand, even though it's frustrating to not be able to bake according to the author's intentions, every single bread or pizza I have baked from Forkish's formulas has been outstanding. Except, if the timings are so far off, they are really not his anymore. <sigh>

Forkish's take on pain de campagne is a 10% whole wheat pain au levain, spiked with instant yeast. 20% of the flour is pre-fermented. After an autolyse, the dough is meant to be fermented in bulk for about 5 hours, then divided, shaped and cold retarded for 12-14 hours before baking in a hot oven.

My dough had doubled in 3 1/2 hours, so I shaped it and retarded it overnight at that point.

His Overnight Country Brown contains 30% whole wheat and 12% pre-fermented flour. It is supposed to be bulk fermented at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours (overnight), then divided, shaped and proofed at room temperature for about 4 hours.

My dough had grown 2.5 times in volume and was very gassy after 5 hours. It clearly wasn't going to survive an overnight at room temperature. I shaped a boule at that point and retarded it overnight.

 In summary, both doughs fermented much faster than Forkish's procedures called for. They ended up being treated very similarly. I was not surprised, from my previous experience, but I did want to see what kind of bread the very long bulk fermentation would produce. I think the only way I am going to be able to stick with Forkish's times is to radically reduce the levain.

The breads that were produced were quite similar. I would generally expect the bread with more whole grain flour to be more sour, especially with the long bulk fermentation called for, but the much greater amount of levain in the pain de campagne made it significantly more sour than the Country Brown. I would rate the latter as mildly sour and the former as mild to moderately sour. Both breads had a crunchy crust and soft, tender-chewy crumb. The flavor was delicious, especially the boldly baked crust.

 

Overnight Country Brown and Pain de Campagne from FWSY 

 

Overnight Country Brown crumb

 

Pain de Campagne

I am delighted with the eating quality of both these breads. They are wonderful. But I sure would like to be able to taste them as Ken Forkish meant them to be. Maybe in Winter when my kitchen temperature runs in the mid-60's (Fahrenheit) I will.

David

 

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Pizza Bliss Redux

August 26, 2013

 My first batch of Ken Forkish's “Pizza Dough with Levain” (See Pizza Bliss) produced the best pizza crust and, after freezing, some of the worst I've had. But I did learn a tremendous amount from the comments and the information generously shared by other TFL members, and my second batch will exploit what I have learned.

One thing I've learned is that Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast has some great ideas about how to approach baking, but you shouldn't take his times and temperatures too literally. They are “sample schedules.” My experience with, I think, five or six bakes from this book book strongly supports the “Watch the Dough, Not the Clock” dictum.

So, using the same formula as last time but scaled back to half of what's in the book, here are my timelines for a second mix of this formula:

 

Aug 27, 2013

11:00 AM

 

Mix levain

04:30 PM

Levain is ripe. Refrigerate it. (Had a conference call scheduled.)

05:30 PM

Take levain out of fridge.

06:00 PM

Mix flour and water for autolyse.

06:40 PM

Mix salt and levain into final dough.

07:10 PM

Stretch and fold dough.

09:30 PM

Dough has expanded by 50% and has lots of bubbles. Divide dough into 3 balls. Freeze one. Refrigerate two.

Aug 28, 2013

06:00 PM

 

Remove dough balls from fridge. Allow to come to room temperature and continue fermentation.

07:00 PM

Turn on oven to pre-heat the baking stone.

08:00 PM

Bake pizze!

 

MENU

Pizza with wild and domestic mushrooms sautéed with garlic and parsley, deglazed with Pinot Grigio. San Marzano tomatoes. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Assembled, ready to bake

Baked and ready to enjoy

Slice of pizza

Pizza with caramelized onions and garlic. Mixed fresh herbs. San Marzano tomatoes. Shaved Parmesan cheese. Fresh basel.

Assembled, ready to bake

Baked, ready to slice and enjoy

Green salad with mustard vinaigrette.

 The dough was lovely to handle. It was a bit less elastic than the first mix. In the oven, there was dramatic oven spring (Yay!). The crust was delicious. It was significantly less sour than the first mix but had a wonderful sweet, complex flavor and was thin and crisp. The joy is back!

We will see how the third ball bakes up, after 2 or 3 days in the freezer.

I so appreciate all the great problem-solving advice I received after my disappointing post-freeze pizza dough bake.

 David

 

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Sourdough Honey Whole Wheat Multi-grain Bread with PEF

August 26, 2013

 

About three months ago, I baked a multi-grain sourdough bread based on my San Francisco-style Sourdough that we really liked. (See Sourdough Honey Whole Wheat Multigrain Bread) That bake used the last of the multi-grain mix I had ordered from King Arthur Flour. I waited for one of KAF's “free shipping” deals and, last week, got a new supply of “Harvest Grains.”

In the meantime, I was intrigued by Franko's bake of a beautiful bread that used a sprouted spelt flour product from British Columbia. (See Local Flours) I was surprised and delighted to find that my local Whole Foods Market carried both sprouted whole wheat and sprouted whole spelt flours from the same source.

 

Today I baked a couple boules of SD Honey Whole Wheat Multi-grain breads using sprouted whole wheat flour from One Degree Organic Foods. Oh, what does “PEF” mean? It is an abbreviation for “performance enhancing flour.” I'm sure if bread baking followed the same rules as sports, it would be banned.

I used exactly the same formula as I had on my last bake of this bread, except that I substituted the One Degree sprouted whole wheat flour for the Giusto's Fine Whole Wheat Flour I used previously. I found that the sprouted wheat flour absorbed less water than the non-sprouted WW flour, and it fermented much, much faster. These differences were entirely predictable from the caveats provided by Andy (ananda on TFL) in Franko's topic, cited above. Flour made from sprouted grain has less protein (because protease enzymes  are activated) and generates free simple sugars from starch faster (because amylase enzymes are also activated).

 It was clear, once the final dough started mixing, that what had been a “rather slack” dough was now downright gloppy. I gave it some thought but decided not to add more flour. I did mix the dough for 10 minutes rather than 6 minutes to get partial gluten development. I had planned on fermenting for 2 1/2 or 3 hours, but, by 1 hour in my 75 dF kitchen, the dough was gassy and expanded by over 50%. I did one more S&F in the bowl, gave the dough another 30 minutes and then divided it, shaped two boules and retarded them overnight to bake the next morning. I baked the loaves 5 minutes longer than previously to make sure the wet dough was well-cooked inside and because the crust color was not as dark as I expected after 30 minutes baking.

 

Total dough

Bakers' %

Wt (g)

AP flour

34

192

Bread flour

14

79

Medium Rye flour

2

14

Sprouted WW Flour

50

281

Water

93

528

KAF “Harvest Grains”

18

100

Honey

3

17

Salt

1.9

11

Total

194.9

1222

 

Stiff levain

Bakers' %

Wt (g)

Bread flour

95

79

Medium rye flour

5

11

Water

50

45

Stiff starter

80

66

Total

230

201

 

  1. Dissolve the starter in the water. Add the flours and mix thoroughly until the flour has been completely incorporated and moistened.

  2. Ferment at room temperature for 6-12 hours, depending on starter vigor, room temperature, etc..

 

Soaker

Bakers' %

Wt (g)

KAF “Harvest Grains”

100

100

Water (Boiling

100

100

Total

200

200

  1. Just before mixing the autolyse, put the “Harvest Grains” blend in a medium-sized bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover.

  2. Allow to soak during the autolyse (see below).

 

Final dough

Wt (g)

AP flour

169

Sprouted WW Flour

274

Water

350

Salt

11

Honey

17

Soaker

200

Stiff levain

201

Total

1222

Method

  1. In a stand mixer, mix the flours and water at low speed until they form a shaggy mass.

  2. Cover and autolyse for 30 minutes

  3. Add the salt, honey, soaker and levain and mix at low speed for 2-3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium (Speed 2 in a KitchenAid) and mix for 10 minutes. The dough should be very slack.

  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.

  5. Ferment at 70º F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (or until expanded 75% and gassy) with a stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours.

  6. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

  7. Pre-shape as rounds and rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

  8. Shape as boules or bâtards and place in bannetons. Place bannetons in plastic bags.

  9. Proof at room temperature (68-70º F) for 30-60 minutes.

  10. Cold retard the loaves overnight.

  11. The next morning, proof the loaves for 1 1/2 hours.

  12. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480º F with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  13. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score the loaves as desired, turn down the oven to 460º F, steam the oven, and transfer the loaves to the baking stone.

  14. After 15 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus, and turn down the oven to 435º F/Convection. (If you don't have a convection oven, leave the temperature at 460º F.)

  15. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.

  16. Leave in turned off oven with the door ajar for 15 minutes.

  17. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack, and cool thoroughly before slicing.

  

The loaves had rather little oven spring. Since I do not think they were over-proofed, I wonder if they were over-fermented. This would also explain the lighter crust color than when un-sprouted whole wheat flour was used. With a slightly longer bake, they did develop the nice reddish-dark brown crust color I favor in sourdough hearth loaves. 

Addendum 8/27/2013: The morning after they were baked, I sliced and tasted one of the loaves.

The bread was tasted un-toasted and toasted, with almond butter and almond butter plus apricot preserves, by two independent jurors. 

DMS: On slicing, the crumb was denser than expected, although still reasonably open for a 50% WW with all those seeds, flakes and cracked grains. The crust was pretty thick and crunchy. The crumb was moist. Un-toasted, my first impression of the aroma and of the flavor was "sour rye." I would never have identified this as a whole wheat bread on a blind tasting. When toasted, the bread had an unique flavor - no longer really reminiscent of sour rye, but not of whole wheat either. There was a moderate sourdough tang. There was less sweet flavor than with non-sprouted WW. With almond butter and preserves, it was pretty good but didn't knock my socks off.

SGS: First impression on slicing: "Whoah! Substantial." On first tasting un-toasted, she commented on some un-identifiable flavor which she didn't really like. She thought it might be the sunflower seeds in the Harvest Grains mix. When toasted with almond butter, she remarked on the sourness, which was more than she liked. When she added apricot preserves, she pronounced it improved. "Okay, but I'd prefer it less dense. ... Don't stop making it!"

Conclusion: This bread has a really unique flavor that is quite different from breads made with un-sprouted whole wheat flour. Whether this flavor is really from the sprouted grain or is partly from the Harvest Grains, I'm not sure. There are other whole wheat breads we prefer to this one, but it may be worth tweaking.

I am thinking that, if I bake this bread again using sprouted WW flour, I will use a smaller levain inoculation to prolong the bulk fermentation and substitute a stronger bread flour for the AP flour. But before that I should  make a yeasted 100% whole wheat bread with the sprouted WW flour to see how that tastes. And before that, I should see what I can find out from other's experience with this product.

David

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I have wanted to make a potato pizza ever since I first saw a picture of one in Daniel Leader's Local Breads. I'm good at delaying gratification. So, several years later, here I am with balls of the best pizza dough I have ever made and no plans for dinner. I made potato pizza. It did not disappoint.

Since reading Leader's recipe, I also acquired Maggie Glezer's Artisan Breads, which also has a recipe for potato pizza. The pizza dough recipes are different, but the potato topping ingredients are essentially identical. 

Ingredients for one quarter sheet pan (9x13") of Potato Pizza

  • 400 g of fully fermented pizza dough (I used this one: Pizza Bliss)
  • 750 g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 120 g Onion, sliced very thinly.
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary.
  • Coarse sea salt to taste
  • 2-3 T Olive oil

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 dF
  2. Lightly oil a 9x13" rimmed baking pan.
  3. Put the dough in the pan, and, with oiled hands, stretch it to fill the pan. If it becomes too elastic to stretch, let it relax for 10 minutes, then continue stretching. Let this proof while you prepare the topping.
  4. Prepare the potatoes, onions and rosemary. In a large bowl, toss them together along with salt to taste (my taste is for very little).
  5. Brush the dough with more olive oil and spread the potato/onion/rosemary mix evenly edge-to-edge.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with a knife and nicely browned.
  7. Eat hot out of the oven or cooled to room temperature.

This pizza could be served as an antipasto, as a meal with a nice salad or as a side dish with almost any meat, poultry or fish dish.

Enjoy!

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

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I like pizza quite a lot, but my wife loves it. She told me last night that Pizza is the one food she can “over-eat.” I could not start to list the foods I will predictably over-eat given the opportunity, but my wife has this super-human self-control. So this confession tells you that pizza is really special to her.

I've made some pretty good pizze and some not so good. Last night I made the best pizza I've ever made by a long shot. In fact, I do believe it was the best pizza crust I've ever eaten.

The crust was based on the “Overnight Pizza Dough with Levain” from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. I say “based” because, while the ingredients and procedures were pretty much as Forkish prescribes, the timing of many steps was different. Some of those differences were planned, and some were …. accommodations. I'm not going to claim that the crust turned out so well because of my baking genius, but I am going to try to capture what I ended up doing so I can do it again … on purpose next time.

  

Total dough

Wt (g)

Baker's %

Levain

 

10*

Caputo 00 flour

980

98

Giusto's fine whole wheat flour

20

2

Water

700

70

Salt

20

2

Total

1720

172

* Percent of total flour that is pre-fermented.

 

Levain

Wt (g)

Baker's %

Mature, active levain

25

10

Caputo 00 flour

100

80

Giusto's fine whole wheat flour

25

20

Water (90 ºF)

100

80

Total

250

190

 

  1. Dissolve the levain in the water.

  2. Add the flours and mix thoroughly.

  3. Ferment at room temperature until expanded by 2 to 2.5 times. (Note: Forkish specifies fermenting for 8 to 10 hours. My levain was ripe in 6 hours. So, I went to step 4.)

  4. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

 

Final dough

Wt (g)

Caputo 00 flour

900

Water (90-95 ºF)

620

Fine sea salt

20

Levain

180

Total

1720

  1. Take the levain out of the fridge 1-2 hours before mixing the final dough.

  2. Mix the water and flour to a shaggy mass and allow it to rest, covered, for 20-60 minutes (autolyse).

  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and add 180 g of the levain divided into 4-6 pieces. Mix using the “pinch and fold” procedure described by Forkish.

  4. Bulk ferment for 5 to 14 hours, or until the dough has expanded 2 to 2.5 times. Do stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals 2-4 times . Then just let the dough ferment undisturbed. (Note: I know this time range (5 to 14 hours) sounds absurd. Forkish's instructions are to ferment overnight for 12 to 14 hours, but my dough had doubled in 5-6 hours and was very bubbly. If I had let it ferment for another 6 to 8 hours, I would have had soup.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a well-floured board. Dust the dough and your hands with flour. Divide the dough into 350 g pieces. (You will get 4 pieces of 350 g and one that is larger.

  6. Shape each piece into a fairly tight ball and place them in ZipLoc-type sandwich bags with a tablespoon of olive oil in each.

  7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and for up to 3 days.

  8. When you are ready to make your pizza/e, 2 1/2 to 4 hours before shaping the pizze, take the number of dough balls you will need out of the fridge. Let them warm up at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The balls should expand by a third to a half.

  9. Put the dough balls back in the fridge for the last half hour to an hour before shaping them into pizze. This is because the dough is a bit more elastic and less fragile when cold.

  10. Take one ball of dough at a time out of the fridge. Shape it. Top it. Bake it. Enjoy!

 

This “in and out of the fridge” stuff may seem unduly complicated. It happened because we changed our minds about going to a concert a couple times before finally deciding to stay home and make pizza. See, if we had decided to go, there wouldn't have been time to make pizza and eat it beforehand. But, in hindsight, this procedure makes a lot of sense. A longer fermentation improves flavor, but retarding the dough in the fridge was needed to prevent over-fermentation. The warm-up in Step 8. just completed the fermentation to an optimal degree. I could have just let the bulk fermentation go a bit longer – say about an hour – and then not needed Step. 8 and 9 at all.

This dough was a delight to shape. It had just the right balance of elasticity and extensibility. When baked at 500 ºF for 10 to 11 minutes, the edges puffed up beautifully. They were crackling crispy. The dough under the toppings was moderately chewy but not at all “tough.” The most remarkable feature was the flavor. It was mildly sour but very wheaty, sweet and complex. It was astonishingly delicious. My wife, who often leaves pizza crust un-eaten, actually left the center part un-eaten and ate the outer crust in preference.

How much of this was the procedures and how much the use of 98% Caputo 00 flour? That's hard to answer. I suppose I need to make this dough again using a good AP flour to find out.

I made two 10 or 12 inch pizze. One was a classic Pizza Margherita made with olive oil, fresh mozzarella, fresh, locally grown San Marzano-variety tomatoes which were par-boiled, skinned, seeded and cut into strips and fresh basel leaves from our garden, added after the pizza was baked.

 

The other pizza was topped with a heavy spread of good olive oil, fresh, finely chopped rosemary and fleur de sel. After baking, the top was rubbed with a cut San Marzano tomato which was then hand-shredded and spread over the pizza. (Note to self: Lose the salt, if you don't want Susan to complain. Substitute thinly sliced garlic.)

 

Well, we do have 3 pizza dough balls left, including a 380 g one. I am going to make a potato pizza that's been on my “to bake list” for a few years, ever since I first read about it in Leader's Local Breads then again in Maggie Glezer's Artisan Breads.

Yum!

Happy baking!

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

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Yesterday, I baked the “Field Blend #2” bread from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. It is a mixed grain and mixed leavening formula with 30% whole grains (wheat and rye). It is similar in method but quite different in flavor from the “Overnight Country Blonde,” which was the first bread I made from this book.

My experience with two bakes of the Country Blonde prepared me for shorter fermentation times than Forkish specifies. This week is significantly cooler than it was when I baked the Country Blondes, however. My times for ripening the levain and for bulk fermentation were actually pretty close to Forkish's.

The result was a dark, crusty bread with a tender crumb that is somewhat less open than the Country Blonde because of the whole grain flours and the lower gluten in the rye. It has a complex flavor and moderately pronounced sourdough tang. On the day after baking, the rye flavor was quite present, although it is just 17.5% of the flour.

 

I like Forkish's approach to time management a lot. I am currently fermenting the levain for an “Overnight Pizza Dough with Levain,” but with a different timeline than he suggests for that dough. I'm going to cold retard the levain tonight and mix the final dough tomorrow morning and make pizzas for dinner.

We took 4 short vacations last month, so I baked less than usual during July. I did get back in the swing starting last weekend with some San Joaquin Sourdough Baguettes and San Francisco-style Sourdoughs with increased Whole Wheat.

 

Looking forward to Fall and cooler weather.

 Happy baking!

David

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My first bakes from Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Ken Forkish

David M. Snyder

July 20, 2013

 

I've been aware of Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, Oregon since shortly after it opened. I've driven by it a few times on my way to somewhere else, but, if I've ever had Ken's bread, it has been in Portland restaurants. And I'm pretty sure I have.

On our last visit to Portland, I browsed Ken Forkish's baking book, Flour Water Salt Yeast, at Powell's bookstore. I liked it immediately, and I ordered it as soon as I got home. Flour Water Salt Yeast won both the James Beard Award this year and also the very prestigious IACP award. It is certainly a great addition to my bread book library.

Forkish is clearly writing for the home baker who wants to bake the highest quality bread of a particular type: Crusty, open-crumbed, mixed flour hearth loaves. The book is short on bread science and focused rather than comprehensive. But it does a superb job of demystifying bread making. Forkish presents a set of techniques and very manageable equipment requirements that apply to essentially every formula in the book. The breads and pizza doughs vary in leavening (levain only, levain plus commercial yeast or commercial yeast only), flours used and their proportions and fermentation schedules. Forkish, encourages his readers to experiment with these variables but based on sound principles. The breads presented are ones produced in Ken's Artisan Bakery, with the formulas and procedures are modified somewhat to better fit the typical time demands of the working and/or parenting home baker. I really think this book will encourage its readers to want to make bread and feel confident that they can and will make great bread.

After reading Flour Water Salt Yeast pretty much from cover to cover, I decided to make the “Overnight Country Blonde” for my first bake from the book. This is a 90% white flour, 5% each whole rye and whole wheat, 78% hydration bread. It is a pure levain-raised bread. The prescribed schedule is to refresh the levain in the morning, mix the dough in the mid-afternoon and ferment it at room temperature until the next morning, when it is divided, shaped, proofed and baked by noon. That's a nice schedule. However, my dough was clearly fully fermented after 6 or 7 hours, rather than the 12 to 15 hours called for. This was not really a great surprise, given that my kitchen was at least 80ºF. So, I retarded the dough in the fridge overnight and proceeded from there the next morning. I decided to make one 1.8 Kg miche rather than two boules. This meant that I baked on a baking stone rather than cast iron dutch ovens. The loaf was pretty slack going into the oven, but there was great oven spring.

 

The resulting loaf had a thin, crisp crust that got chewy as the loaf cooled. The crumb was very open. In fact, there were huge holes, especially under the top crust, suggesting the dough had been over-fermented.

The crumb texture was otherwise marvelous. It was somewhat chewy but very tender. It had a quality for which I don't have a name, but it is very close to the sourdough bread I had in San Francisco as a child. I suspect it is partly the result of gentle mixing and partly of long, slow fermentation. The flavor was sweet, complex and moderately sour.

My wife and I both enjoyed this bread a lot, but I wanted to do it again without over-fermenting the dough, and I wanted a thicker, crunchier crust. For a second bake, I used the same levain which had been refrigerated for 2 days. I did not refresh it. I fermented the dough about 5 hours at which point it had expanded by 2.25 times. I divided into two 904 g pieces, shaped boules and retarded them overnight. The next morning, I let them proof another 90 minutes or so at room temperature and then baked in cast-iron dutch ovens. (At 475ºF, 30 minutes covered then 15 minutes uncovered.)

These loaves looked much more like those in the book. They had a thick, shiny crust that looked marvelous.

 

When sliced, the bread had a thinner crust than I expected. The bottom was crunchy but the rest of the crust was pretty chewy. The crumb was more evenly aerated, but there still were some pretty big holes near the top of the loaf. The crumb was chewier than that of the first bake. The flavor of the bread was pretty much the same - maybe a little less sour - but we will see how it develops over the next couple of days. Overall, this is a really nice, mostly white sourdough bread. I'm looking forward to fiddling with the flour mix and trying to slow down the fermentation.

There are many other breads in this book I really want to bake, not to mention the pizzas and focaccias. I very much like Forkish's approach to mixing and fermentation. He really emphasizes the value of a long, slow fermentation for flavor development. With the high Summer temperatures in my kitchen, to really slow things down, I need to try his formulas with a smaller amount of levain (or yeast) than he calls for.

David

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 July is the hottest month of the year in Central California. Today it was 99 ºF, the first day in 15 with a high temperature below 100 ºF. Tomorrow we expect it to be back above 100. Now, it's hotter in Phoenix (not to mention Death Valley), but still ….

For several years, my wife has talked about spending as much of July as possible in cooler climes. This year we've done pretty well so far with visits to Portland and the Oregon Coast, to San Francisco, where we attended the one game the Giants managed to win against the Dodgers and also the 50th reunion concert of Jim Kweskin's Jug Band with Maria Muldaur at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Next week, we will go over to Carmel for a couple concerts at the Carmel Bach Festival.

While in Portland, I spent some time in Powell's bookstore and browsed through Ken Forkish's James Beard Award-nominated bread and pizza book, Flour Water Salt Yeast. I read enough to be convinced I did need yet another bread book, after all. <sigh> I ordered it when we got home, and I spent much of today reading it. I haven't gotten to the sourdough or pizza sections yet, and already I have a list of formulas I want to try. I haven't made any of them yet, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple loaves of Hamelman's “Pain au Levain with increased Whole Wheat” today.

 

I hope you all are having a great Summer (or Winter, for those in the Southern Hemisphere)!

David

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dmsnyder

Peter Reinhart's Multigrain Struan Bread

Reinhart's Crust and Crumb was one of the first baking books I bought. It introduced me to the basic concepts of bread baking. It was the first cookbook I had encountered that dealt with the science underlying the techniques described. Never mind that some of what Reinhart wrote in that book was not exactly correct, and some of his terminology was idiosyncratic. I didn't know better at that time, and the book inspired me to learn more and make breads I wouldn't have attempted otherwise.

All of Reinhart's books are personal in part, and I learned something about his history, including the role played in his life by some of the breads in Crust and Crumb. Among these was “Struan Bread,” which he developed when he had Brother Juniper's Bakery in Northern California. It was a best seller, was somewhat unique, and it helped establish him as a significant player in the “bread revolution.” Those who have made Struan Bread seem to enjoy it a lot. Many have written it is the best bread for toast they have ever had.

Somehow, I never got around to making Struan. I'm pretty sure this is because, in the version I first encountered in Crust and Crumb, Reinhart made much of the role played by leftover brown rice in the wonderful texture and flavor of this bread. I am not a brown rice fan. If Struan Bread required brown rice, it wasn't going to happen in my kitchen. On the other hand, his 100% Whole Wheat Bread became a favorite of mine and my wife's, and I made it quite often.

By time Reinhart wrote Whole Grain Breads (WGB), he had developed a 100% whole wheat version of Struan that was almost the same as his contemporaneous version of 100% Whole Wheat Bread. The newer version was also much more “permissive” about what cooked grains could be used. This weekend, I found myself with a bowl of leftover bulgur, and it occurred to me I could use it rather than brown rice in Struan Bread. 

Now, Struan Bread is a multi-grain bread, but, in Reinhart's original formula, the main grain was bread flour. I have never made this version. I made the version in WGB which used all whole wheat flour. The other grains I used, besides bulgur, were polenta and rolled oats.

Struan, proofed and ready to score and bake 

 

Struan baked and cooling

 

Struan cut profile & crumb

 

Struan crumb close-up

I followed Reinhart's instructions but found that the dough was very sloppy. I ended up adding about a quarter cup of flour during the mixing, and still ended up with a very loose, sticky dough – not what Reinhart described as slightly tacky. Rather than add yet more flour, I added a couple stretch and fold in the bowl episodes during bulk fermentation. By time the dough was ready to shape, it was still sticky, but easily managed with a light dusting of flour.

I searched TFL for members' blog entries on this bread after my loaf was out of the oven. I learned that the majority had baked earlier versions using bread flour, but several had baked the WGB version with whole wheat. Everyone who had, remarked on having to add significant amounts of flour to get a workable dough. I then went back and compared the versions of the Struan Bread formula in Crust and Crumb, The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Whole Grain Breads. I found that, in the earlier two books, Reinhart treated the cooked grain as a separate ingredient in the final dough, whereas in WGB it is included in the soaker. Reinhart's soaker consists of equal weights of water and grains, including the cooked grain. Thus, the cooked grain is, as it were, hydrated twice – once when it is cooked and again in the soaker. I think it is this change that accounts for the dough being so much wetter than the book says it should be. Why wasn't this caught in testing the recipes for the book? I don't know. If anyone else has a better and more complete explanation of this seemingly common issue with this formula, I would certainly like to hear it.

Reinhart's formula has a surprisingly high percentage of instant yeast, and I found that the dough expanded during bulk fermentation and proofing significantly faster than expected. In fact, by time I baked the loaf, it was so puffy, I was afraid I had over-proofed it, and it would collapse. So, I scored it very shallowly. Although it did not deflate, it had very little oven spring.

I sliced the loaf after it had cooled for about 2 hours. The crust was firm. The crumb was rather dense but reasonably well-aerated and moist. The flavor was complex and intense, with a strong whole wheat flavor and a strong honey background. My first impression was that this was a bread that one could make a meal out of, at least from a nutritional perspective. As expected, the flavors mellow and meld by the day after baking. It does make very good toast, but I believe I prefer Reinhart's “100% Whole Wheat Bread” to this whole wheat Struan. I plan on trying the “transitional” version of the Struan in WGB and, perhaps one of the earlier versions that got such wonderful reviews.

If I make this version again, I will 1) treat the cooked grains as Reinhart did in earlier versions of Struan, and 2) reduce the amount of instant yeast by a third to a half.

I think my wife would be perfectly happy if I just kept making this version. She loved it. This bread is so full of flavor and is so substantial, the versions with lesser proportions of whole grain flour may taste dull. We will see.

David

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