The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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proth5

Oh the controversy!  So I thought to myself, the recipe cited in some posts was from a "Best Worker of France."  Why not consult the bread book I bought last April with recipes from the MOFs in Boulangerie.

Sure enough, we find the formula, method, and pictures from M. Auzet himself.  Although he hails from Avignon and at the time of publication lived in Cavaillon, one can consider him just a "stone's throw" from Beaucaire.  His picture makes him seem like a right jolly old elf and he is an MOF - so I'm going to take his advice on this.

The recipe I will not repeat.  It is a fairly simple levain dough with 17% of the flour pre-fermented  in a stiff levain and a total hydration of 60%.  He adds  commercial yeast - which some of us would prefer not to add.

Although I understand the French, I do not have that peculiar gift that allows direct transation, so I will summarize.

Note the technique.  He is mixing the ingredients in a spiral mixer at first speed for 15 minutes (so, I'm thinking no stretch and fold here...).  The dough is not getting a true bulk ferment because of the long development in the mixer.  The dough is rested for 15 minutes.  It is then patted out with the hands into a rectangular form.  It then rests for 20 mins.  After that the ends are folded to the middle.  It is then flattened and folded by hands would fold croissant dough (for you Francophones "(comme pour faire un tour aux croissants)" - don't know if that could be any clearer...)  What is unclear is if the dough is folded in half, so that with the addition of the earlier folds it is a "tour double" or if it is folded in thirds in addition to the folds to the center in order to do a "tour simple" - my speculation is that it is folded in half to create the double turn. It is left to rest, covered for 30 minutes and then is rolled with a rolling pin to a rectangle 2.5 cm thick.

Then a slurry of 5:1 water to flour is used to moisten the top of the dough (but not too much) and the dough is left to rest for 10 mins.

The dough is cut lengthwise and one part stacked on the other.  It rests for 15 mins.

It is then cut in the way of a  "racle a Beaucaire"  (which roughly translates to a Beacaire scraper) but he assures us this just means to cut into loaves- one would assume, because the original rectangle was cut lengthwise that this is cross wise - but helas - he does not elaborate.  The loaves are placed on a floured couche still in a stacked position.  He cautions us to make the folds of the couche very high so the dough does not fall over.

The loaves proof for 3-4 hours.

His picture shows loaves that truly look like two narrow loaves that are stuck together.  The ends of the loaves are distinct and blunt - they show no taper.

He does go on and on about how the folding is what makes the bread and regrets mightily that it is so seldom baked.  He concludes by saying that it requires a baker not just a bread merchant to make this bread.

I'm trying my own version of this today, but perfectionist that I am always hesitatant to publish pictures unless I am happy with the loaf (and I never am...)

So, friends, this is what I find.  I cannot but believe the source is authentic.  That being said, the bread belongs to the baker (unless it is controlled by French law) and I am sure there are many excellent variants on this theme that are just as authentic and delicious (and that's what matters.)

The book from which I have cited is "20 Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, L'Equipe de France de Bouangerie, et Medailles D'Argent se Devoilent et Vous Offrent Leurs Recettes Choisies" published in 1994 - a book that is not really accessible to all, but which I treasure...

When will that ABandP arrive? Ah well.

Happy Baking!

 

 

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proth5

“The sun did not shine,

It was too wet to play…”                         From “The Cat in the Hat” Dr Seuss

Yes, a day of rain and record cold in the Mile High City and we all go nuts.  We aren’t accustomed to anything but sunshine.

 

So I decided to finally write up my two levain experiment.

 

The question that was innocently asked:  Why does my levain, with my less than precise maintenance routine still live, thrive, and reliably raise bread?  In theory, it should be dead.  But it is not.

 

BWraith had put forth the theory (and I tended to think it reasonable) that I might be raising a bunch of l. pontis which is typically found in culture with a low feeding ratio.  We also theorized that if I changed the feeding ratio, the levain would struggle a bit, but a transition to a different lactobacillus would occur.

 

So for the past few months I have been maintaining two levains.  One, my beloved Thing One, fed as usual.  Once a day – Thursday through Sunday, “some” of it is removed and it is fed with 4 ounces each of all purpose flour and water.  No exact feed ratio – just me eyeballing “some” based on- well, whatever it is I base this on.  Sunday afternoon to Thursday evening it is kept in a special refrigerator at 50F.  Thursday through Sunday it lives either on the counter in my kitchen, or during particularly hot days in my cool basement. (Yes, I know, once a day isn’t enough.  And yet, it is…)

 

Thing Two – created from Thing One – was fed at a 1:5:5 ratio over that period of months.  It never left Thing One’s side – so it lived under the same conditions and schedules.  I was as careful as I could be about cross contamination.

 

Would they be different in any way?

 

During the summer I still baked something each week (You gotta eat…).  I alternated between Thing One and Thing Two.  To be honest, I was unable to tell the difference in any of my baking.  Thing Two did not struggle or fail to double at any time.

 

But if I did any analysis, would they be different?

 

.2 oz of a ripe sample of each in a container showed me (if it is not clear in the picture) that they were practically identical.  Thing Two was, however a bit stiffer, probably reflecting the fact that the gluten had not degraded as much as that for Thing One – which seems reasonable.

From the bucket

 

Mixed with .4 oz of distilled water (so that a pH strip could be used) they each showed a pH of 3.5.  It had been theorized that the pH of Thing One should be lower – but no – they were identical.

Thing One pH

 

Thing Two pH

Each sample was mixed with .4 oz of all purpose flour and allowed to ripen for four hours.  Both rose nicely and well, I’ll be horn swoggled if I can tell the difference.  If I hadn’t labeled them, I wouldn’t be able to tell.

The Builds

 

So what have I learned?   Uh, nothing?  That the inner life of levain is a deep mystery?  Just how determined those guys are to live?  That I need to get out more?

 

I have been unable to find anyone willing to determine just which variety of lactobacillus is living in my levain tubs, but would welcome input from anyone who could help.  Or any insight (Bill…) at all.

 

I really don’t know.  I do know that a practiced hand and eye counts for something in this bread making business and I’ve been tending Thing One for years.  It could be that we just “get” each other.

 

Happy Baking!

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proth5

Lest anyone who reads my posts think I know what I'm doing, I've decided to post my latest adventure as an illustration to the contrary.

The story of how the tandoor got into my back yard is one for which the world is not prepared, but it is there, the weather is too hot to turn on the oven, and I thought to myself “Well, this is a good time to learn to make naan.”

The first step is getting the right tools.  After watching and watching the YouTube video of a chef making naan, I decided that the little tool seemed pretty handy.

Although it just looks like a wad of towels, it is actually a convex pad of compressed straw covered with a cloth.  It is firm enough so that (if you know what you are doing) you can get the naan dough to make good contact with the side of the tandoor.  It is pictured below:

Bread Pad 

Armed with the tool – the next step is to heat up the tandoor.  It took about two hours for my model (pictured below) to heat to the point where the walls were nearly 700F.

Not Pretty, but it gets the job done Fire in the hole

So it was time to cook the naan. 

I took about 4oz of dough and shaped it into thin disks and then draped them over the dough pad (sort of as per the video), gave them a quick spray of water (so they would stick better – hahahahahaha) and steeled myself to put my hand near a 700F tandoor entrance to stick the dough to the side.My first disk (of six)dropped promptly to the bottom to become a flaming dough ball.

Oh well.  I learned that you really need to apply some firm pressure on that tool.  Never mind the smell of burning feather as the hair was singed off my hand.

Finally disk three stuck.  But it also stuck to the side of the tandoor when it was done and came off in shreds.  Four was the turning point (or so I thought) and I moved on to five feeling like I had figured this thing out.  Four and five are featured in the pictures below.

One finally Stuck!

Looks almost good enough to eat

Two of six isn't bad... 

Number six showed me to be overconfident and slid off the dough pad without ever making contact with the tandoor wall.

Well, two out of six isn’t bad – and what bread I did get was eaten with relish.  Of course, failure never deters me – it just makes me more determined.  I’ll be back with a report when the whole thing has been perfected. In about a year or so...

Meanwhile my consolation prize is pictured below.  It has been a long while since I had real Tandoori food…

Consolation prize

Happy Baking!
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proth5

No wait, strike that – reverse it.

 

Summer is here and it’s too hot to fire up the oven which makes it a perfect time to take the electric griddle outside and make English muffins.

 

The problem, of course, is getting those great nooks and crannies.  My old formula and technique got me plenty of little holes in the muffins, but not those great nooks and crannies (well, the little holes caught the melting butter, but still, the drive for “just a little better” is strong.)

 

So I thought about both my formula and my technique.

 

I was using an adaptation of the King Arthur “English Tea Cakes” recipe which calls for beating the dough for 5 minutes in a mixer.  I thought about “Batter Whipped” bread and how beating the dough caused its fine texture.  Then I thought about baguettes.

 

Well, English – French, different, but in the end – all European.  So I thought I would adapt my baguette technique for my English Muffins.

 

I use King Arthur All Purpose flour.

Makes about 6 

The formula:

 

Levain Build

Starter    .65 oz (100% hydration)

Flour      .95 oz

Water     .95 oz

 

Let ripen overnight.

 

Final Mix

All of the levain build

Flour                9.25 oz

Salt                   .16 oz

Dry Milk         1.25 oz

Sugar                .55 oz

Vegetable oil    .55 oz

Water              9.25 oz

 

Mix to a loose batter.  Four times at 30 minute intervals, stir 30 strokes with a spoon or spatula.

 

Let rise until domed and bubbly.  Do not let it collapse.  This particular batch took about 3 hours at this phase.

 

Baked in greased muffing rings on a lightly greased griddle at 325F.  8-9 mins per side.

 

The results. 

(I'm no photographer - that's for sure...) 

Finally the nooks…

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proth5

Anyone old enough to remember those guys?

Poor Goofus could never do anything right and Gallant - well, he was just annoying.

Anyway, I just pulled the weekly baguettes from the oven and they reminded me of those guys. In the spirit of learning/teaching I'd like to use poor Goofus to illustrate something.

I've posted a picture here:  http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/GoofusandGallant.jpg

I'm not going to do a detailed critique of the numerous, numerous flaws in these baguettes (nor am I really asking for comment other on the topic - I am my own worst critic), but I will focus on their shapes as pulled from the oven.

Gallant - the one on the top- of the picture has some nice symmetry and in general a pleasing shape.

Poor old Goofus has a slash that didn't open well and on the right (your right as you look at the picture) is somewhat scraggly and mis-shapen.  Before I put them in the oven I could have predicted that fate.  How?

My hands, my dough, but on Goofus, I failed to remove sufficient flour from the dough prior to shaping and to completely clear the bench of flour (residual from the loaf and just got a tiny bit sloppy with clearing the bench - it's hot - the oven is at 500F - oh, excuses, excuses...).  When I did the final shaping on Goofus, I had the "ball bearing" effect of the flour - the dough would not roll properly - it slid around on the bench.  I worked at it to get an even shape (This was the only difference in the shaping.  Consistency may be the bugaboo of little minds, but it is what I do best.)but all was lost.  Even though it looked even as I laid it on the couche, it was destined to have a flaw.  Same with the left side.  The extra flour caused an improper seal and you can see a distinct spiral.  It looked ok as dough, but it was destined to bake poorly.  I pulled myself together to shape Gallant.

To avoid having to be sent back to "the place" - I will admit that I did a few things right.  I particularly like Gallant's grigne - which are not seen to best advantage in this shot.

So big problems from little mistakes grow... It pays to pay attention to the details.

Happy Baking!

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proth5

The tests results are in! (It takes so little to make me happy.)

 

This particular batch of wheat was tempered for 48 hours with 20% of water added by weight of the grain.

 

It was then ground as follows

 

1 – Coarse pass sifted through #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

2 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

3 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve removed from process.  This was about 20% of total weight

4 – Medium fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

5 – Fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

6 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve retuned to mill

7 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

8 – Very fine pass – results combined with the rest of the flour

 

This is a lot of passes and a lot of sifting and it take me about an hour and a half to do this for 2 pounds of wheat berries with my hand turned, steel buhr Diamant mill (brief tea breaks included.)  However, the multiple passes are actually easier to do than fewer more aggressive passes and the sifting steps decrease the amount of material that needs to be ground in each pass.  The resulting flour is fine and silky and bakes up pretty much the same every week.  I am milling hard white winter wheat.

 

The flour was stored for about a week before taking the samples.

 

I had a very small number of tests run – I still need to produce some bread each week, – so I selected those which seemed to be under my control.  Falling number seems to simply be high in these types of flour, and although I am adjusting ash when I extract material from the process, I haven’t been focusing on ash content (but that would have been my next test if I had enough flour.)

 

So the results are:

 

Moisture                      10.4%

Farinograph (14% MB)

            Peak (min)  7.00

            Tolerance (min)  9.00

            Absorption  68.6%

            M.T.I (BU)  25

Starch damage %   6.23

 

The moisture is low despite my addition of water in the tempering process.  This tells me a couple of things.  One, the Mile High City is dry.  Two, I need to get going on getting that moisture meter.

 

But the other numbers are within what is considered to be required for good bread making flour.  The starch damage is actually on the low side – probably reflecting my “many small passes” approach – but still will within range.  M.T. I. is also on the low end of the range and is not really troubling given how gently I mix my bread.

 

The bread has been bearing this out, but it is good to have the numbers.

 

So even with my low tech setup where I hand grind, hand sift, guesstimate moisture content and adjust grind by look and feel – a reasonable quantity of good quality flour can be produced on a regular basis.  My hands on process not only takes the place of a trip to the gym, but gives me some quality time to think about the stupendous journey of the grain or wheat as it goes from field to table.

 

Now if I can just find a lab willing to give me an analysis of the critters in my levain…

 

Happy Milling!

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proth5

Nature seems to have granted me an abundance of patience and in the past few weeks I have been undertaking experiments that seem destined to use it.

 

I have been wondering why my levain – which given the way I feed it should be dead by now – lives, thrives, and raises bread every week.  I have also been wondering about the results of soaking my home milled overnight prior to a mix and bake.

 

So for the past few weeks I have fed a separate levain at 1:5:5.  What I have noticed is that it seems to be “a little” more lively and certainly is not the soupy pool that my standard levain tends to be.  But otherwise, I can’t honestly say that anything else is different.  I’ve also been trying to be more aware of my feeding routine for my standard levain.  What I find is that (as with so many of us who do things by feel) I really do take a good look at it and make adjustments.  Looking a little listless?  I’ll take out more and feed it more.  “Spring” coming to the Rockies? (Those of you who live in the Rockies know why I put that in quotes.)  Feed it more often or put it in a cool place.  So maybe my routine was not quite so bad after all.

 

Anyway, the proof is in the baking.  Since this week I was soaking my home ground, I varied from my routine and made a stiff levain build with my new levain (60% hydration) and made my usual baguettes, plain whole wheat bread and pizza.  I stayed with my usual methods with the exception of soaking the whole wheat flour with added salt at room temperature overnight, and doing one less series of “strokes” on the whole wheat as I really felt it was coming together.

 

Pizza goes away too quickly for pictures.  But I do have shots of the others experiments (I’m no photographer – but I know y’all like pictures, so I try…) which I have posted here: 

 

http://s264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/?action=view&current=Soakedwholewheat.jpg

 

http://s264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/?action=view&current=WeeklyBaguette.jpg

 

I will not do a complete critique of the many, many flaws in the baguette - but I did have a small slashing problem with the whole wheat which contributed to it not fully expanding. 

 

Conclusions?  Well, my bread is nothing if not consistent.  This is pretty much what I bake every week.  So, practiced eye or precise feeding ratios – they seem to be the same for me.  Soaking overnight?  Not doing much yet in my hands, but I will probably keep doing it just to see if some small adjustments will make a difference.

 

Meanwhile my patience stands me in good stead as I wait for the lab results on my home ground (I promised that I’d do this someday and my word is my bond.  Sometimes it takes time to get results, but that’s how bonds are…)

 

Happy Baking!

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proth5

Oh, the flour that is...As promised, I have let my home milled high extraction flour age for the 2 months as recommended by a number of texts.Once again, I made this loaf "by the numbers" - dough temperature, strokes, folds, ferment times and temperatures, etc.This time, I did feel a need to adjust - the dough seemed to "come together" a bit faster than my earlier home milled trials - but I soldiered on with the test method.

Once baked, this was the result: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/HomeMilledAged2MonthsCrumb.jpg

It really did seem a bit more open in the crumb than earlier attempts which is consistent with the theories that aging is required for the best gluten development. Although the loaf was pretty tasty and showed no signs of the flour having become rancid with the long storage, it did lack that “fresh from the berry” taste of truly fresh milled flour.

So, what to do?  Two months of flour is quite an inventory for flour storage if you are baking on a regular basis.  Although the results of this loaf (in terms of lightness of crumb) were better – the freshly ground wasn’t bad.  So, as usual, it’s all a matter of personal preference.  But as earlier experiments seem to show – if you are going to age the flour, it should be quite a long aging – a few days or a couple weeks does not suffice.

Happy Baking!

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proth5

As promised I did a test loaf with my home milled high extraction flour.  I used .01% of diastatic malt by weight of the flour and baked using my standard "test loaf" formula.  Once again, I went by the numbers - strokes, folds, dough temperature, and fermentation times as for my other loaves.

The results of the .01% malt are posted here: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/Homemilledmalt1.jpg

For comparison a non-malted loaf is posted here: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/FreshGroundCrumb.jpg

My observation is that except for some minor variations in shaping and slashing, the loaves were pretty much the same.  If anything, I would say that the malted loaf rose a bit more and was a bit more lively during shaping, but that might be my imagination.  I didn't notice any significant gumminess in the crumb - again, I didn't notice much difference at all.  .01% is a very small amount of malt and perhaps I will run a second test with a higher percent in the future.

But for now, I just don't think I need to malt the home milled.  It may be that there is a balance within the parts of the grain that are used that tends to compensate for the relatively high Falling Number or just...well, I don't know anymore.  Any comments that can shed light on this would be much appreciated.

My next test bake will be home milled that has been aged for 2 months - which is the recommended aging for whole wheat type flours.  We'll see if my patience pays off.

Happy Baking!

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proth5

I am creating a new blog entry to discuss bwraith’s flour test results just to move it up as his original entry was getting old.  I admit we’re going overboard on this, but I find it all very interesting (no pictures- just discussion of flour test results) – so be warned!

Letters in my responses correspond to letters on bwraith’s test results.

I don’t know how to do that “quote thing” so I’ll just put bwraith’s original words in quotes when I want to respond to something directly.

Also, these are just my humble speculations.  If anyone has a more complete knowledge, I would be most grateful to hear their interpretation of the results that were so graciously provided.

Bill,

As you said…”One main thing that was unexpected for me, was that the lowest ash white flour coming out of the second pass had high protein and wet gluten content, yet it did not have great mixing qualities in the farinograph (low mixing tolerance). My theory is that the first grinding pass may result in some very high protein dust particles being released through the 80 mesh sieve. Maybe that extra protein in the flour out of the first pass is needed for good gluten formation and is proportionately too low in the flour from the second pass. I've been reading that some of the different types of protein vary in size and whether they adhere to the starch granules or not. I guess there are milling operations that use air separation to separate the different sized protein particles and then blends them in various flours to create desired protein specifications.”

What intrigues me is that I am told that the outside of the endosperm is whiter (lower in ash) than the inside of the endosperm and although the protein/gluten is higher it is of lesser quality.  If P2a was producing flour from the outside of the endosperm, this would be consistent with your result of lower tolerance.  What you are getting as flour on P1 would be acting as a balance against the P2a result when blended for baking.I don’t think your process is reducing protein quality – I think that your process may be delivering different parts of the endosperm at different points in the process.Also, if you look at the Seguchi paper that I cite in my other blog post, it may be that the flour was aged insufficiently to see the full potential of its protein.  He is looking at aging periods in excess of 100 days to achieve full potential.

What also intrigues me is that the results for P1 tracked so closely to whole wheat flour.  I frankly would have expected those results to be more like the Golden Buffalo.Nice to know that the multi-pass milling created flour with lower starch damage than commercial flour.  I have seen some discussion that some home milled flours seem to be “thirsty.”  This would be indicative of a kind of starch damage that you did not experience.

Finally – when all is said and done, the values for both of the flours are within those considered acceptable for commercial baking – not necessarily ideal values, but well within tolerances.  This is borne out by the bread that you produce. So, no need to age to maximum potential to get good bread.I know, I need to get enough flour milled to get some tests on my stuff.  I’ll do it – I really will.  I have some other things to attend to in the short term, but I know I’ll do it.  In the meantime –

Happy Milling!

Pat 

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