The Fresh Loaf

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UPDATED: Adjusting ingredients as shown below, and a bolder bake — to nearly 220°F internal temperature — yielded pleasntly crunchier crust with even more pronounced flavors. Color is so bright I think I may have forgotten to add the rye flour. I've decided I like the formula both ways, just depends on what a person wants. New photos at end.

Original post
I'm aiming for breads with good hearty crust and a soft crumb--but not gummy, undercooked or overproofed. Several of my other breads are close to where I want them but I still struggle consistently getting the result I want from the kind of white breads so many people post here. 

This bread and the four slight variants of it that I've mixed and baked recently all taste really good. This loaf actually has that nutty flavor in its crust that doesn't always show up. The crumb is soft and moist but not gummy at all. All good. But within half an hour out of the oven the crust had gone from a proud, knocking sound when tapped with the closed fist to a softish thud. Cracks only appeared where large bubbles reached the surface—never got that overall crackled finish like can be seen on white porcelain. This is probably nitpicking but I was also looking for a more open crumb. 

It feels like excuse making but I wonder if it's the weather that might've made this crust go limp, or my oven? Humidity was close to 100% overnight, this morning while it baked and while it cooled. Or maybe I've reached the limits of my bottom-of-the-line slightly leaky home gas oven? As for the crumb, possibly a little less kneading and/or switching the bread flour from the starter to the final dough would help open it up a bit more? I haven't mastered higher hydration doughs than this so please don't tell me to add more liquids.

This is a really good bread which people rave over and even request but I'm bothered that the crust isn't getting to where I think it could be and the crumb is just slightly less open than I want.

Photos and formula below. Thanks for any suggestions.

Sam

Note: modified quanties indicated by strikethrough of original, like this.

Formula and process:
KA bread flour + KA AP AP Flour, Conagra Chef's Delight: 168 g from starter + 400 g + 50-75 g added in first mix.
tap water: 112 from starter + 320 g + about 100 g to add if needed while mixing 
whole rye flour: 30 g
salt: 18 10 g  

starter included in above quantities : 280 g total (40% hydration: 168 flour + 112 water)

honey: 45 25 g 
olive oil: 45 25 g 
ground ginger: 1/4 tsp
apple cider vinegar: 1/2 teaspoon
soy lecithin: 1/2 tsp
instant dry yeast: 6 g
malted milk powder: 35 12 g
plus 2- 3 Tbsp. softened butter olive oil to coat proofing bowl 

Yield: one loaf, 1195 g approximate total dough weight, 1040 g out of oven

Needed to add the water held back after first "shaggy" mix. Mixed the dough only a couple of minutes after it began to show signs of window panes, 10-12 minutes in all at mostly high speed. Placed dough in a buttered bowl, covered and left in the refrigerator (about 40°F) for 21 hours. Quick, gentle shaping and baked an hour out of the refrigerator: Steam for ten minutes at 475°F on stone, remove steam, rotate, lower to 460°F for 15 minutes, remove parchment and lower to 440°F checking every ten minutes and rotating as needed until internal temp of 205°F achieved, about 55 minutes in all. Sliced after two hours. 

Crust
 

Crumb

New photos

Top crust:

Bottom crust:
 

Crackles closup:
 

Crumb:
 

 

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DRY INGREDIENTS



  • 700g all purpose flour

  • 700g bread flour

  • 200g rye flour

  • 150g whole wheat flour

  • 100g wheat germ

  • 100g ground whole grain cereal

  • 100g milk powder

  • 50g cracked/kibbled wheat and/or rye berries

  • 40-50g course kosher salt

  • *1/2 teaspoon citric acid powder

  • *1/2 teaspoon ginger


First, grind, weigh and measure all the dry ingredients, combining them in the mixer bowl.


Let the mixer stir the dry ingredients to an even blend. I use the paddle attachment turning on its lowest speed in the completely filled bowl of a Kitchenaid K5A mixer. Once mixed, you will divide the dry ingredients into two equal parts.


I should mention here that the portions and processes in this recipe were designed to match my own kitchen and my own equipment. The dry measures completely fill my largest mixer bowl, the four loaves are the maximum that my oven can handle in one bake. 


WET INGREDIENTS


I start building production starter a couple of days ahead, with the aim of having about 600 grams of vigorous starter ready when I plan to start mixing and fermenting the loaves. 


Measure separately for each batch:



  • 250g production sourdough (from whole grain rye, whole grain wheat and unbleached KA all purpose -- all organic)

  • 660g water

  • *2 tablespoons honey (from a local coop)

  • *1/2 teaspoon natural soy lecithin

  • *1 tablespoon organic barley malt syrup

  • *1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Make two batches of wet ingredients. The dough will be mixed in two batches to prevent ruining the mixer by overtaxing its motor and gears. One batch of wet ingredients goes into each half of the dry ingredients mixture. 


MIX


Into each of two large mixing bowls, add one measure of the combined wet, then one measure of the combined dry ingredients. Fit dough hook onto mixer and carefully work one measure of wet ingredients into one measure of dry ingredients for only a few minutes, ending with two batches of wet dough. Cover each  bowl with plastic and let it rest for 1/2 hour.


FERMENT


Dump each bowl of wet dough into the same large plastic lidded tub. Stretch-and-fold dough a few times in the tub, then cover tub with lid and place into refrigerator for total of 16-24 hours.


Remove tub from refrigerator for about ten minutes of stretch-and-folds at two intervals, first after 4-6 hours and once more after 8-12 hours. Rest in refrigerator for final, uninterupted 8-12 hours.


Place at least a pint of water into a clear glass or plastic container and place the container the same spot the final rise will occur. A ball of dough will be dropped into water at the same time as the loaves are set in the rise location. By watching for the moment when the sunken ball of dough floats the the surface it will be possible to determine exactly when the dough has reached its maximum rise. The vessel of water is placed in the area where the final rise happens well ahead of time to ensure that the water achieves the same temperature as the air --and the rest of the dough-- in that space. 


FORM LOAVES & FINAL PROOF


Cut a small (50-75g) piece of dough off and shape into tight ball. Cover and set aside.


Divide remaining dough into:



  • 2 pieces @ 950g for smaller (8") loaf pans, and

  • two pieces @ approximately 1125g for large (9") loaf pans.


The process I use is to portion two pieces of dough at 950g, then weigh remaining dough and divide it into two equal portions. The larger amounts can vary somewhat but I find this recipe gives the best result from the standard 8" loaf pan when the loaf is formed from a 950g measure of dough. Shape and pan dough into the greased loaf pans. Place loaves into plastic bags or lidded tubs for final rise, then move to the final rise location. 


Now, retrieve the reserved ball of dough and drop it into the glass of water which had been placed hours before in the same final rise area where the shaped, covered loaves have now been placed. The ball of dough will sink to the bottom of the container of water. The ball of dough will remain submerged in the glasss of water for a long time, but start checking it periodically after about two hours. The amount of time required for the dough ball to float (which marks the end of the final proof) can vary widely, from at least two to more than four hours, depending on temperatures and the vitality of the starter. I have found that capturing the precise moment when the dough achieves its maximum rise (but not a minute more) is the key to producing a really remarkable flavor and appearance from this recipe. Excellent and repeatable results are obtainable by using this method to monitor the final rise: when dough ball floats to the surface the loaves must go immediately into the hot oven.


BAKE


About an hour before you think baking will begin, place a shallow metal pan in the bottom of the oven and turn on the oven to preheat to 500°F. As soon as the dough ball floats to the surface of the water it has been submerged in, place a mug 2/3 full of hot water to boil in the microwave. Remove panned loaves from their plasic enclosures and slash each loaf once down the middle, along its longest dimension. Take mug of boiling water from microwave and pour it carefully into the metal pan in the bottom of the oven. Place the four panned loaves on one shelf, set at a height just below the center of the oven, close oven door and reset oven temperature to 460°F. After ten minutes lower temperature to 425°F. After 20 minutes rotate loaves for even browning and turn heat down to 375°F. After 40 minutes begin checking loaves for doneness. I bake the loaves to an internal temperature of 205°F - 210°F, which takes 45-55 minutes. Each of the loaves always seems to need slightly more or less time in my oven. 


Cool loaves on rack for at least two hours before slicing. Flavors don't fully develop until about 24 hours after removal from oven. 


*NOTE ON MEASUREMENTS: Measuring cups and measuring spoons handle thick liquids and small quantities of dry product more accurately and with less waste than my scale does.


Recipe submitted to YeastSpotting page at Wild Yeast.


 


 

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