The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Nickisafoodie's blog

  • Pin It
Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

I recently came across a gadget that can be used to maintain starter temperatures in a rather easy way.  The LUX WIN100 is a programmable thermostat with built in sensor that also has an outlet.  It is designed for room air conditions or heaters where a constant temperature is desired.  The unit plugs in and when the desired temperature is reached, the power cuts off.  After cooling down a degree or two, it comes back on keeping a rather constant heat.

So can this be used for managing a starter at a constant temperature?  I took a large cardboard box, put the device, a 100 watt lamp, and the plastic wrapped bowl holding the starter on the room rug.  Lamp is plugged into device, and device is plugged into an extension cord coming out to wall outlet.  Simply place the box upside down on all of it with flaps open and spread out on the floor.  

The unit was on the floor next to the bowl. The sensor worked surprisingly well!  I periodically tested the culture with my laser thermometer and it was accurate to within 1-2 degrees.

Rather than caught up in trying to time multiple stages at multiple temperatures, it is far easier to use the “hold” function, and set to the desired temperature and it takes about 2 second to set to another temperature.

For my 55% Detmolder Rye Bread method, I built the starter as follows:

Freshen: 5 hours at 79°, followed by the basic sour at 76° for 18 hours, followed by full sour at 86° for 4 hours, with bulk fermentation and proofing at 82°.  This certainly will work for single stage.  So not as pretty as a commercial proofing chamber, it is cheap and easy. 

The unit costs about $35 online, but can be as high as $65 so shop around if you wish to find one…

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

On Christmas eve I made 3 pounds of  dough for two large batard loaves intending to bake Christmas morning after overnight refrigerator proofing.  In the morning I went to preheat and the electric ignitor that starts my gas oven was broke and it didn't come on!  I wasn't sure if I could freeze the dough at this point.  I was targeting 72% hydration rather than a more typical 75% for a Tartine bake as I would be baking on a stone rather than in a dutch oven and looking to keep dough from spreading too much.  Plus the KAF patent flour I use seems to have a high moisture content with 72% coming working well in past recipes using this flour. 

Flour was 5.5% rye (100% hydration rye starter which made up 6.4% of the recipe), 10% semolina (ground the day prior) and 84.5% King Arthur patent flour (high protein, from a 50 lb bag - have never seen this in 5 pound bags).  Salt was 2%.  I originally intended to coat with sesame seeds and make two 1.5 lb batards. 

Plan B: pizza dough:  Given the 72% hydration is a level I have used for pizza dough and successfully kept in the refrigerator from 3 to 5 days, I thought this would be a good plan B.   Hoping for the best, I divided the dough into four pieces and place individually in lightly oiled containers.  For pizza dough, 3-5 days of refrigerated fermentation works well for optimal flavor and rising power, but have not ever gone longer. 

I ordered the new ignitor part and 5 days later my oven was up and running.   The $15 part ($22 with expedited shipping)  and an easy 15 minute fix was worth the wait compared to the repairman's $200 quote.  And by the way, three different web sites had the same part for for $75 so it pays to shop around...

So last night I made my 7 day old dough pizza.  You could see lots of holes in the dough while looking at it thru the plastic container.  I left the dough out for 90 minutes before starting.  This is a wet dough so I gently stretched to about 8'' size, let rest for 10 minutes and stretched to the final 14" size.  I made sure there was enough flour on the bottom to not stick, while preserving a rather moist dough otherwise.  I used semolina on the peel.  I used my thick soapstone stone which takes 90 minutes to preheat (to 600 degrees as outlined in a prior post).  The pie cooked in 3 1/2 minutes.  The tray above is where I let it rest after removing from the stone.

Surprise number one was how nice and fluffy the baked pizza was.  I thought the long fermentation may have broken down some of the rising ability/cell structure of the dough.  Surprise number two was very flavorful, but not sour or even tart (although I like sourdough more on the full flavor side).  Likely due to the starter being only 6.4% of the recipe compared to 20% or more in a sourdough bread recipe and a 39° refrigerator temperature.  But the flavor was excellent, slightly complex and the high hydration did allow the dough to become slightly gelatanized inside similar to some of the Tartine breads.  It was one of the best pizzas I have ever made.

So a very happy outcome all around and finding that a week in the refrigerator worked out surprisingly well.  And the holiday spiral ham?  Well while the oven didn't work, the broiler did as it uses a different element/burner at the top of the oven.  Wrapped the ham/pan in heavy foil, placed on low shelf, and removed foil after one hour.  Applied glazed and put under broiler for another 10 minutes.  The broiler flame carmelized the ham nicely and Christmas dinner was not only salvaged but came out very well.  Now I need to remake my original recipe and bake those batards!

Happy New Year to all...

 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

I came across the following link/article on Lactobacillus San Francisco posted in 2004 by Mark Preston on a site called “Danger! Men Cooking!”  http://dangermencooking.blogspot.com/2004/10/i-promised-to-write-about-fermented.html

The article describes how over several weeks one could replicate the SF Sourdough culture started by Isadore Boudin himself in 1849.  And be able to maintain it locally with minimal effort after the initial series of builds and at the recommended temperature for various steps.

This article is fascinating because many posts on TFL and the web in general say that any culture purchased or created will eventually assume the characteristics of the bacteria naturally present on the wheat, i.e. being local to where the wheat was grown.  Or that over time it assumes the characteristics of the wild bacteria present in the bakery/household in which the culture is maintained. Or a combination of both, which to me seems to be plausible- i.e. that once started from say a purchased culture, you cannot maintain it.  Is in fact that assumption correct?

The author says otherwise referencing a $192 technical book “HANDBOOK OF DOUGH FERMENTATIONS by Karel Kulp and Klaus Lorenz. (NY: Marcel Dekker, c.2003), some 328 pages long.  The book is listed on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Handbook-Dough-Fermentations-Science-Technology/dp/0824742648

To quote: “Well theories on that point differ radically. Some say the microorganisms are wild and floating around in the air. Others speculate that the quality of the flour has much to do with the fermentations. I have read a serious scientific paper on the quantity of lactobacillus microorganisms being greater on wheat near humanly populated areas than wheat in less populated areas. Another research paper says that there are about 400 types of microorganisms in a fermenting loaf. Other papers say that the sanfranciscensis microorganism is about 36% of that 400, that is to say, by quantity it predominates, naturally. So the question becomes how to nurture those San Francisco organisms along and not get anything bad going. That's what the Handbook of Dough Fermentations is all about. The piece of information lacking was to not make bread after two to three or four days, but that the starter needed about two to three weeks of refreshments. And it needed specific amounts of water and flour and at very specific intervals.”

Boudin is the oldest sourdough bakery in San Francisco. Mr. Boudin came from a village along the Swiss French border. The boat trip across the ocean allowed no baking so it likely took weeks of feeding to establish the culture. The Boudin Bakery still uses the same starter and the production method at the bakery also has to be taken into account.  I can honestly say it is the best sourdough that I have ever tasted and a must stop attraction for those visiting the Wharf in San Francisco.

My homemade culture using fresh ground rye has thrived for years.  Over time I have come to have a better understanding of some of the variables that we control to target a given bread style. These variables combined with the fermentation times and temperatures allows for an infinite range of bread styles – from a hardly noticeable and not desirable sour (baguettes) to the high levels typical in Northern/Eastern Europe as in Polish, Czech, German or Russian ryes. 

The essential elements are by controlling the buildup for a given bake in terms of:

1)       Intervals between feedings/buildup

2)       Percentage of starter used in the final recipe

3)       Temperature during the builds

4)       Hydration levels of the starter ranging from stiff to very loose (75% to 150%, each giving a different characteristic).

5)       Fermentation time and temperature of the dough

Yet as good as they are, the taste is not that of Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis.  Should I be happy?  Yes.  Yet the pursuit of bread perfection is never achieved and continues!

The feeding cycle expansion from the initial start point is 312,500 times!  And the feeding cycles alternate between 8 and 16 hour cycles and follow specific temperature guidelines.  The author says after a few weeks you will have it.  Note: regarding the build table shown, there is a typo in the row that shows 12,500 water – the flour amount should be 10,000 not 1,000. 

In summary, a very interesting read that represents one approach that surely is not the final word on the subject.  There are many articles on the web regarding Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis and Candida milleri, likely counter to some of the points raised in the post.  This is leading me to do more research and explore other information on the web regarding this infamous grouping of complementary bacterias.  

I would also like to hear from people that may have purchased the SF cultures and whether or not they evolved over time to something other than when started?  That would seem an easy way to start if in fact one could maintain it so it doesn’t evolve away going forward.   Thanks to all…

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Sourdough Rye with Seeds – cast iron bake


First, thanks to Eric Hanner for this post providing inspiration to explore covered cast iron cooking recently:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21006/my-combo-cooker-experiment.  This is my second bake with cast iron and I like the results!  Flavor and texture were awesome!


I already owned a 5 qt Wagner Dutch oven with a glass lid that has been in the family as long as I can remember.  The diameter is the same as the 3 qt. Lodge combi cooker - the higher capacity of the Wagner being due to taller height.  So I had vessels that would allow two similar sized loaves to be baked at once- albeit with one having glass and one having cast iron cover.  Both loaves came out identical


 


 


Sourdough Rye Recipe for two loaves (2,066gr or 2.3 lbs prior to baking)


Overall Formula:


60% bread flour (697gr)


25% fresh ground whole wheat (293gr)


10% fresh ground whole rye (114gr)


5% Oat bran (I tend to add to all of my breads for health reasons - 58gr)


23 grams sea salt


20 gr molasses (approx 2 tbs)


10 gr malted wheat powder (approx 2 tbs) – sprouted, dried and ground into flour (malted barley would substitute)


40 gr mixed seeds: Flax, charnushka/black caraway, sesame, poppy seeds (approx 4 tbs)


72% hydration ratio: 834gr water including starter build up.


 


Build Stages:


1.      Stage 1 - build rye starter (100% hydration) to 228 grams (11% of recipe).  This uses all of the rye flour.


2.      Stage 2 – add 293gr of whole wheat, 58gr oat bran, 38 gr white bread flour, all of the seeds, 389gr water.  This approximates 39% of the total formula.  When combined with Stage 1 equates to 50% of the total recipe.  Let proof 8 hours at 78° (oven off light on gets works well).


3.      6pm: incorporate remaining ingredients other than salt.  40 minute autolyse.


4.      Add salt, mix 6 minutes on low speed.


5.      Stretch and fold 3 times at 45 minute intervals.  Keep at 78° between folds.


6.      10:00 pm: Preshape loaves, rest 25 minutes, shape into final loaf and place in floured banneton (actually: $1.50 colander from the dollar store lined with a microfiber dinner napkin and lightly dusted with flour- micro fiber wicks away moisture and releases fine with modest dusting)


7.      Place in plastic bag, leave overnight in refrigerator.


8.      Preheat oven 1 hour at 500° - include Dutch ovens and lids


9.      Plop dough into hot vessels, spray with water, score, and cover.  In they go.


10.  Reduce heat to 450° after 5 minutes


11.  Remove cover after 30 minutes


12.  Baked another 5 or so minutes until internal temp is 195°.  Shut oven until internal bread temp was 202°. 


Note: While the loaves came out nice, the crust is not rock hard as Eric was striving for and as was pointed out in his post/link above.   While my crusts were not rock hard after a 30 minute cover, I am still happy with the outcome.  


Perhaps next time I will leave the temp higher and in the oven longer to see what impact that has on the crust. And not spray dough after putting into Dutch ovens?  Or perhaps shut the oven sooner and leave until 210° or so internal?  Any suggestions on that elusive crust would be appreciated!


Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Boule covereduncovered on left


 


I made one large 7 pound recipe for two loaves (Hamelman's "Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Wheat").  Given they were 3.5 lbs each I baked one at a time. Both were retarded 13 hours in the fridge (okay, one was 12 and one was 13 hours) then placed directly on the hot stone after slashing, steam used first 12 minutes.


The first loaf used a large stainless bowl covering for the first 15 minutes of baking.  When removing the bowl some of the dough stuck to the side and pulled away, but it finished nice and the tear is not too noticable.  Thus my decision to bake the second loaf without the bowl - a big mistake (on the left in the first picture and in the single shot picture). 


You can see how the bowl made the first loaf on the right better looking with tiny bubbles and a nice crust.  The "mistake loaf" on the left and bottom has a dull looking crust in addition to a demarcation line about one inch up the side and all over the bottom which essentially matches the look and sheen of the crust from the first covered loaf.  The better looking blisters and color must be from the heat of the stone which can be seen when looking at the side of the loaf.   The top part of the uncovered loaf in the second picture doesn't have the nice color and tiny bubbles on the skin that the covered one has. 


I expect them both to look and taste the same when they cut on Thanksgiving- but visually speaking (and poor slashing technique aside) the loaf on the right looks much better.  So my take away is to stay with a covered loaf going forward. 


One other thought that surprised me: the oven spring was better on these breads coming right out of the refigerator and into the oven than those of the past where I would take them out one hour to warm up at room temp while the oven was preheating.  The chilled dough seems to not spread out to lower height and wider loaf by keeping the pent up energy intact until released by the heat - resulting in a higher rising loaf than otherwise. 


Happy Thanksgiving all...

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

 


Pizza baked home at 650 degrees





Ever since reading about Jeff Varasano and his obsession for the perfect pizza I find myself regularly revisiting his sight and learning more every time: http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm  The sight is highly educational and a fun read and recommended by many other Fresh Loaf posts.  There is lots to learn from this sight including dough hydration (very wet), hot oven (how to modify yours at your own risk!), flour types, use of a starter and several days of cold fermentation, dough technique, aspects of creating a superior sauce, homemade mozzarella, toppings, and pizzeria ratings and technique, technique and more technique.


His holy grail is a 2-3 minute pie at 850-950 degrees - obtained in his home oven by rigging the cleaning cycle to stay on such ovens being designed to reach up to 1000 degrees to burn off any spills.  I have made very good pizzas at 550 degrees in my oven baking at 7 minutes or so.  I easily rigged my oven as Jeff did.  As others on this site have said proceed at your own risk and every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher near.  I am very happy with a 4 minute pie at 650-700 degrees rather than seeking 850-900 degrees (someday).  Preheating to 650-700 can take 80-90 minutes and longer to get to 800 plus temp.  Use of an inferred thermometer nails the temp.  After all is said and done I find the higher temp pie to be far superior to pies coming out of a standard 550 degree max oven, even though I have made some very good pies in a standard oven with stone.


If you get past the angst of the oven, then the trick is to use dough that is very wet as it can stand up to the heat and still be crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.  My experience has been that an 80-85% hydration works well.  And following Jeff’s method of storing in portion sized plastic containers in the refrigerator from 3-5 days to give the dough superior flavor. 
After trying his technique for dough mixing many times I was not getting the proper dough development.  I found this YouTube video “That's Alotta Ciabatta! Start to Finish” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v24OBsYsR-A which shows how to make 90-95% hydration Ciabatta using the flat beater for most of the mixing and eventually to the dough hook.  Having used this technique several times, I can say it is the way to go on high hydration dough and achieving the window pane effect.


My recipe is simple:
Build Starter: 120 grams total consisting of 60 grams of rye and 60 grams of water (note: you can use 100% white flour.  I prefer having up to 20% divided evenly among whole wheat and rye which adds a subtle flavor profile.  And my starter is 100% rye).  After five hours to build to peak activity add the following:
60 grams (10%) whole wheat
472 grams (80%) bread flour
410 grams water
15 grams of salt (2.5%, higher than the typical 1.75% for bread)
3 grams of yeast (.5% given the use of starter)
Total 1,080 grams, enough for three 12”-14” pizza rounds at 360 grams each
See links above for mixing technique (YouTube) and storage on Jeff’s site.  The sights are worth a look for any baker using high hydration dough, and pizza lovers.  Jeff has opened his own pizza place in Atlanta, Ga which seems to be getting great reviews.  His story of a passion that turned into his business calling is very interesting.  I found it inspiring to read and learn as we all do when sharing our experiences…


 



 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

As my baking evolves I am drawn more towards hearty rye sourdough breads in the northern European style.  I also like big and bold flavors that complement the rye and sour nuances of the bread. 




Thus my spur of the moment decision to also add the following to my 2.5lb loaf:


1 tbs fresh ground black pepper


2 tbs red pepper flakes (pizzeria type)


1 tbs fresh diced rosemary


1 tbs Greek Oregano


2 tbs sesame seeds


1 tbs nigella seeds (black caraway used in Russian Rye breads)


2 tbs flax seeds


1 tbs poppy seeds


The bread itself is 25% whole rye and 40% whole wheat (both fresh ground), bread flour for remainder.  My rye starter (100% hydration) was in full force by 5pm.  I added rye and whole wheat to make my basic sour which was approx 50% of the recipe plus all of the seeds. 


After 5 hours of fermenting I added the herbs and remaining ingredients targeting 68% hydration.  30 minute autolyse then mixed until gluten was developed.  There was only one stretch and fold given the high percentage of rye and my preference for developing the gluten early via the mixer in this style of bread. 


After kneading there was a 10 minute rest followed by pre-shaping and another 10 minute rest.  Shape into boule’, place in linen lined basket, cover top and place into a plastic bag.  Let rest overnight in refrigerator for an 8 hour fermentation.  The next morning I removed from refridgerator for the hour it takes to preheat oven and stone.  Baked at 470 degrees for 10 minutes with steam, then reduce oven to 430 degrees for another 50 minutes until internal temperature of 198 degrees. 


Note: Bread rose nicely in refrigerator.  However I didn’t flour my peel properly resulting in some deflation in getting the bread off of the peel.  And I butchered the slashing.  The crumb developed nicely and you can see the red pepper flakes and seeds if looking closely.


The bread is very complex due to the herbs, rye, seeds and sour, and additionally has a nice kick given the red pepper!  Simple can be best, but in this case the herbs and seeds compliment it well. The sour element was pleasantly noticeable and not lost.  Deep rich rye flavor which would go well sliced thin with cream cheese on smoked salmon.  Or with your favorite omelet... 


 

Subscribe to RSS - Nickisafoodie's blog