The Fresh Loaf

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So the first loaf was pretty stiff. Upon reviewing the recipe I noticed that the water called for can range between 12 and 14 ozs, therefore the hydration of the main dough can vary between 59% and 70% ... of course the starter can affect the overall hydration and my starter is hydrated at 50% while Reinhart calls for 100% hydration in this recipe.


Nonetheless the first batch was good. As I mentioned I gave a loaf to a friend who enjoyed it, and my kids housed the other loaf. A neighbor came over on Saturday afternoon and I gave him a piece and he also enjoyed it.

So I thought it would be interesting to make the next batch with everything the same except a higher hydration. On this loaf I did so by adding 14.5 ozs of water to the main dough, although the starter was still at 50%. (I used 1/8th ww flour, 1/8th rye flour, and the remainder was KAF bread flour).

As you can see the crumb is more open. I attribute this not only to the hydration, but I figured the first loaves could use a bit more proofing so I let these loaves go for 2.5 hours at 80F (first batch in the other blog post proofed for 2 hours at 80F).

I also changed my steaming approach. This time I added a plate of stainless steel on the floor of the oven (1/4" thick ... I made the plate as a heat "spreader" for stewing food). Resting on the plate is a roasting pan. During this bake I used ice cubes, tossing cubes in on 3 different occasions over the first 10 minutes of baking.

Prior to using ice cubes I would dump about a cup of water into the roasting pan (the pan sat on the oven floor).

Compared to the first loaves, these feel light and springy, and the crust on these loaves is thinner than the previous loaves (both cases the bread was baked on a baking stone at 515F for 15 min, then 475F for ~20 min). Not sure if that is an artifact of the dough hydration or steaming method, or both.

I was very focused on the scoring technique on these, trying to achieve an "ear," but was not really successful. (don't let the low-res pics fool you ... the one on the left has a teeny-tiny ear, the one on the right I scored again after ~10 minutes of baking). I re-reviewed the scoring tutorial, and this morning I re-reviewed the KAF instructional videos. I am fairly certain I need to change my technique in this way:

1. Add in preshape and proof, and develop surface tension (Reinhart doesn't call for this step).

2. Develop more surface tension in final shaping.

3. After final shaping, let proof seam-side up on a flipping board.

4. Correct my batard forming technique (I thought I was doing it per the KAF video but I was wrong). I need to get a proper baking couche since I'm jury-rigging using kitchen towels and my assymetric loaves are not of the proper "quality" according to our friends at KAF. Until I can get an order in to KAF or amazon, I saw a linen towel at Crate and Barrel and think that might do the trick for now ...

5. Scoring ... I need to fix this but am not sure how the KAF guys do it ... my dough is too sticky an the blade just drags through the dough. The KAF guys just zoom through the dough like it's not there - amazing!

I gave one loaf to my neighbor.




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I followed Reinhart's recipe for "Basic Sourdough" and made 2 loaves (1 to give away to a friend).

I finally got some KAF bread flour which seems to have made a major difference and improvement (got good fermentation rises at all phases, and got a very nice oven spring).

1/8th of the flour is WW, and 1/8th is medium rye flour.

I'm watching my carbohydrate intake (am managing my weight ... have lost 20 lbs in the last year) ... so I had a very thin slice with butter - delicious! (although not sour, which is fine)

As evidenced by the crumb shot, the hydration is "low" at 65% ... I have to say that the dough was extremely elastic. I'm thinking on the next go-around to increase the hydration to 70% to see what happens.

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Made 2 of these for Christmas ... one for my family and one for my sister and her husband.

The pastry is a "Swedish Tea Ring" ... I know of a few versions of the recipe. I can post if there is any interest.



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As previously suggested I made a go at SJSD using commercial yeast. I used the TFL feature (where the SJSD recipe is posted) to make a half batch of dough.

Notes and Deviations from normal SJSD recipe:

1. Used 1/4 tsp of commercial yeast

2. Added yeast to 25g flour and 25g water and put it in fridge (to replicate 50g of starter called for in recipe)

3. Autolysed all of the flour for about 24 hours (was supposed to be overnight but timing got fouled up and had to go even longer)

4. Used "Jasons Ciabbatta" method with the Kitchen Aid to knead the dough after combining the autolysed flour, yeast, and salt ... I set the machine to "8" and let it go until the doughball cleared the sides and bottom, then went another 2 minutes.

5. I had intended to use the Kitchen Aid again at "8" to knead for 2 other 1-minute intervals but again life got in the way.

6. Not sure this is a deviation ...the dough went into the fridge for about 24 hours.

7. Because I wasn't able to use the KA to knead on 2 other occasions, I stretched and folded on 2 separate occasions after removing the dough from the fridge and in preparation for baking.

8. Shaped the dough into a ball and let it rise in the oven warmed to 80F for about 45 minutes. The stuff was so slack that it spread under its own weight (like the blob).

9. Shaped the dough into a batard. During both shaping events I worked the dough over pretty hard in an effort to build surface tension.

10. Warmed the oven to 80F, placed the dough on a floured surface (also between 2 towels to form a "couche" of sorts), and let rise for about an hour-and-a-half.

11. Transferred batard to parchment, let rise for another hour or so, slashed with DE razor blade.

12. Baked at 515F for ~12 minutes (with steam), then reduced oven temp to 475F and baked for 15 minutes (and a bit longer until loaf was brown).

13. I noticed the bread, upon removal from the oven, was making a high pitched squeal which I assume is the steam "squirting" out of the crust! Interesting!!

The crumb was almost a brown color, much darker than the previous loaf of SJSD made with SD starter ... because I used the KA at "8" to knead the previous loaf I'm assuming the gluten in that loaf became oxidized and did not in this loaf.

Oven spring was pretty good, not as good as the previous loaf. The slash definitely expanded but for whatever reason there is no ear or "tearing" of the crust.

Flavor is excellent. The kids love it and I do too. We polished off about 1/2 of the loaf last night.

Next time I try SJSD with commercial yeast I think I'll make the sponge a bit larger in mass.

It looks like I need to flip the dough prior to baking ... while Christmas shopping I noticed that the local Crate and Barrel sells linen dishcloths for about 12 bucks, so in the near future I'll get one. I also saw the metal batard pans at Williams Sonoma ... interesting but I'm not sure if I'm going to get one. My batards appear to be uniform/consistent in shape which is entertaining.

I'm still struggling to understand how y'all that make high hydration doughs 1) get any surface tension, 2) get such excellent oven spring, and 3) get an "ear" on your slash.



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So I made another attempt at San Joaquin Sourdough and it seems that I'm making progress.


Made half a batch (enough for 1 batard)

Switched to Gold Medal unbleached AP flour (from store brand AP).

I chose to mix the dough and water and let autolyse overnight as the levain rose as well.

Instead of stretch-and-fold I thought it might be interesting to try the "Jason's Ciabatta mix-the-hell-out-of-the-dough" approach. So when the levain was ready I mixed it, the autolysed flour/water, and salt using the dough hook and Kitchen Aid at speed 8. After the dough lifted from the bottom of the mixing bowl I let it continue mixing for another 60 seconds. Then I let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Then I ran the KA at 8 for another 60 seconds, then rest for 30 minutes, then 60 more seconds of KA at 8.

I put the dough in the fridge overnight.

Yesterday evening at 9PM I took the dough out of the fridge and formed it into a ball.

I let the dough rest overnight in a floured bowl (really a deep glass baking dish with a lid) ... this was placed in the coldest room of my house (about 60F).

This morning at 5:30 AM I shaped the dough into a batard, placed in a DIY "couche" (kitchen towels rolled up and floured), and put the shlamozzle into the utility closet (80F) where it rose for 3 hours until 8:30AM. The loaf sat on baking parchment. I did not flip it over prior to loading in the oven.

I scored the top with a double edge razor.

I put a metal baking pan in the bottom of the oven, and when I loaded the loaf I also put water in the pan.

Baked at 510F for about 12 minutes, then 475F for about 15 minutes. Oven spring looks pretty good (for me, anyways). The cut did expand but no "ear." Some nice little blisters on the crust.




In the crumb pic you might be able to see a tear on the lower left part of the crust. There is a little "ear" there ... I only noticed it after I cut the loaf and inspected it. I guess I need to flip the loaf next time??

Am I right in thinking it's a bit underproofed?



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Kid #2 wanted something non-sourdough, so I decided to take  another shot at English Muffins.



100g AP flour

100g water

1 packet commercial yeast

Ferment for ~12 hours



200g AP flour

150g water

Sit for 75 minutes


Final Dough:

All of the poolish

All of the autolysed flour

75g AP flour

25g WW flour

75g water

(I forgot to add salt (d'oh!!!))

Knead in Kitchen Aid (KA). Use a paddle to combine into a wet mass, then switch to a dough hook and knead at speed '3' for ~3 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes. Knead for 6-10 minutes at speed '6' (I saw a ciabatta video where this was done, and the dough "slaps" against the bowl at high speed).

Bulk ferment overnight (did this last night in my cold room (about 60F)).

This morning I did about 5 stretch and folds by hand with the dough in the KA bowl using a spatula. I then spread about 2/3s of the dough out on my cutting board which was dusted with cornmeal. I warmed the oven to 80+F and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, then cut, then placed on a hot cast iron griddle.

Results were ok. Crumb was exactly where I wanted it to be, but the muffins were a bit thin because based on the last batch of muffins I thought it would be good to roll them thinner and then let them rise. I had one with breakfast, and it was very tasty after being toasted. These were pretty close to Thomas' ... I think to get even closer I would reduce the hydration, add salt (d'oh!), and roll them out a little thicker.

The remaining dough I made into a small loaf. In the pic the teeny 'loaf' (more like a large roll) is sitting on the knife handle so as to illustrate the crumb. The oven spring was amazingly good, the crust was nice, and the flavor excellent. I try to eat low carb during the week (and eat carbs during the weekend) but this little guy was tasty and I lopped off 2 slices and ate them with butter. I think I'll try Jason's Ciabatta next.




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I thought it might be interesting to try The Weekend Bakery's version of tartine.

I deviated from the recipe in many ways. First, I mixed the "Water 1" with the flour and let it autolyse overnight while the poolish fermented (I did this on Monday night 12-9-2013). The second deviation was that I only performed 4 stretch and fold sessions. Third deviation was that I used my silicone spatula and stretch/folded the dough in the KA mixing bowl ... each S&F session included 100 folds. Fourth deviation was that I shaped the dough ball into a boule and let it rest for 15 minutes, then shaped it into a batard. Final deviation was that the final rise was 75 minutes and not 150.

When I shaped the dough into a boule, I floured my work surface with WW flour (cleans up more easily) and used my hands to work the dough. It did seem to tighten up a bit, but when I formed the dough into the final batard it flattened upon itself. I'm not sure how y'all are getting "surface tension" with these higher hydration doughs.

Got a nice oven spring, the crumb looks pretty good, and the taste is nice. Kid #1 had a piece with breakfast and thought it was good.

Seems to be a better result, but I am still puzzled as to how I can get surface tension, good oven spring, super open crumb, and a nice cut on the surface. Seems I can get some of these results but not all.



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Mmmm. English muffins.

So I used floydm's recipe with commercial yeast and a glob (about 200grams) of leftover old fermented dough (I saved it after it overproofed). I made an overnight sponge with the yeast and also let the majority of the flour autolyse overnight before combining all into the final dough. I let it bulk ferment overnight and cooked them in the morning.

I guess the gluten development was lacking. Also, I think that after forming they should rise a bit ... the resulting crumb was rather fine and although tasty not what I had in mind. Of course cutting the muffin with a bread knife didn't really help (as noted in the piccy).

The batch made 12 muffins, I gave 4 to a neighbor who loved them. My wife had one and loved it (I found that a bit surprising as she is getting a bit tired of my SD experiments).

For the next batch I will focus on gluten development, and then a decent rise after cutting (maybe 45 minutes at 80F).


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My kids were starting to complain about SD bread. So I made a loaf of My Daily Bread.

I went with a lower hydration on this one as well - in the KA the dough ball was only mildly sticky and the kneading hook certainly worked the dough over. It windowpaned after roughly 10 minutes of kneading.

Interestingly the final loaf was less crusty and slightly firm and springy. Hard to describe, but definitely less crusty than previous loaves.  It was cooked on a pizza stone at 500F for 10 minutes, then 450F for another 10 or so until golden and internal temp 205F.

Crumb was a bit on the fine side, oven spring was significant. I'm noticing that the SD cultures result in large holes in the crumb, and the use of commercial yeast results in a much finer crumb. Why is that?

The kids freaked out over the loaf, they loved it ... it was obliterated in about a day.



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So I put together a loaf of SJSD last week. Used 1/4 tsp of commercial yeast, kneaded into the dough after the bulk fermentation, as an "assist." Seemed to work well.

I didn't take notes on this one (or the next few as y'all will see) ... sorry. I made the dough slightly sticky - not sure what hydration this corresponds to but IME less than 70% (I used my KA and the dough easily cleared the sides of the mixing bowl).

Oven spring was OK, flavor was good ... crumb was OK.

Ever onward ...




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