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Ryan Sandler

Inspired by dmsnyder's post about Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, and is recommendation of it to those seeking "a more sour sourdough" (sign me up!), I decided to make that my Sunday bake.  Friday morning I refreshed my firm starter, and changed some of it to a 125% liquid starter, then made the preferment levain friday night, and was all ready to mix the dough Saturday morning.


What I did not realize, at first anyway, is that the amounts of ingredients in my printing of Bread are horribly, horribly wrong. The dangers of not consulting Hamelman's errata before making a new formula, I guess.  The percentages, as given in the book, are supposed to be 85% bread flour, 15% whole rye, 65% water, 1.9% salt, with 20% of the total flour prefermented in the liquid levain, and is supposed to be based on 2lbs of flour.  If you follow the home-baker amounts, however, you'd end up with 70% bread flour, 30% rye, 3.8% salt and a ridiculous 30% water, based on 1 lb of flour.  If figured this out in stages.


It was pretty easy to figure out something was wrong when I did the initial mix and had a 4.8 oz. of water in 16 oz. of flour.  Doesn't make much of a dough, funnily enough :P.  So I add some more water to bring it up to 65% hydration.  But something seemed off.  The dough seemed kinda pasty.  At this point it occurred to me to check the math on the rye percentage.  I wasn't really wanting to deal with a 30% rye bread so I improvised, threw in more bread flour and water to make the bread to make 2lbs of flour with 65% hydration.


But then I only had 10% of the flour prefermented, and only half as much levain as the formula needed.  Improvisation again! I still had about 4oz of firm starter in the fridge from the day before, so I threw about 3 oz in when I added the salt (the formula is made with an autolyze.


I ended up bulk fermenting for much longer than the 2.5 hours Hamelman calls for, more like 4 hours, and even then it seemed pretty sluggish.  But I eventually went ahead and shaped two big loaves, placed them in brotforms and retarded overnight.  I baked them this morning and...drumroll...


 


It actually worked!  Great crumb, pleasant flavor.  Not overly sour, but I imagine that will change when I have some for breakfast tomorrow.  I got so much oven spring on the boule that I was sure there was just a single giant hole at the top and nothing else.  I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least!

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I've been trying to bake artisan bread for about three years now, since I picked up a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice as an exchange for a Christmas present.  In that time, I've never been particularly good about focusing on one particular bread and practicing it until I get it down, as so many of the wise bakers on this site recommend.  There are a couple of breads that I've mastered anyway, simply because I love them and bake them often enough to do blindfolded--the BBA Italian Bread in particular.  Starting this week, however I'm going to try to amend that, in a way sure to put me deep in over my head.  My objective: produce a reliable, tasty and beautiful baguette through practice, trial and error.  I don't really imagine that I will truly master the baguette--better home bakers than I have tried in vain, I know.  But I'm hoping to turn what is usually a hit-or-miss process into something I can do over and over again well, if not perfectly.


So, every Saturday from now until I get it right (or get sick of it), I will be baking three baguettes using the Baguettes with Poolish formula from Hamelmans Bread.  I have made this formula before with varying success, and on the first occasion just about nailed it by pure luck and accident--nice ears, open crumb, the works.  I know it can be done, if not precisely how.


This is the formula:


Poolish



  • 5.3 oz. bread flour

  • 5.3 oz. water

  • 1/8 tsp yeast


Final Dough



  • 10.7 oz. bread flour

  • 5.3 oz. water

  • 5/8 tsp yeast

  • 0.3 oz. salt


Note: I halve the quantities that Hamelman calls for--we can only eat so many baguettes!


Process:



  1. Mix Poolish night before

  2. Mix all ingrediants with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes  

  3. Mix in mixer ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 

  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula  

  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold  

  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into 9 oz. pieces, pre-shape as cylinders  

  7. Rest 10-20 minutes

  8. Shape as baguettes, place on couche, spray with oil.  

  9. Proof 1 hour  

  10. Pre-heat oven to 515 and stone 45 minutes before baking

  11. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan, score.

  12. Cover oven vent, slide parchment onto stone, pour steam, lower temp to 460.  

  13. Bake 24-26 minutes, uncovering the vent, and turning the baguettes around after 10.


Pictures from week 1:


 

The dough was reluctant to slash, and so the scoring is all irregular. Still, it formed a nice ear along the slashes.  I'm thinking for next time I will make two changes: first, I will cover the baguettes while proofing, but not spray them; I think the surface was too wet to score easily.  Second, I'm going to increase the oven temperature--I kept the baguettes in for almost 30 minutes, and you can see how much color they got.  I'm aware that my oven doesn't get as hot as it says it does; I just have to calibrate what temp actually bakes a nice baguette in 25 minutes.

I'll update with crumb pictures later.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions; but for certain I'll be back next week to try again!

Update: Typical crumb shot below.  Surprisingly nice given the irregular scoring.  Crust wasn't as crisp as it might be; if changing the oven temp doesn't fix that I'll think about applying the "turn off the oven but leave the bread in" method, but one thing at a time.  Texture of the crumb was more fluffy than creamy, and the flavor just okay; I've done better with this formula.  But, again, one thing at a time.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I had a really great success in scoring the sourdough batards I made over the weekend, and wanted to share.  They were made using the "experimental" sourdough baguette formula I concocted awhile back, although I screwed up in several places -- added salt to the liquid levain, and far too much water to the firm levain/pate fermente.  I managed, though, adding more flour and omitting the salt from the firm levain.  The dough was I think a little wetter than the 65% I intended, but everything worked out nicely nonetheless.  The results were quite pretty, though the lighting in the picture doesn't do it justice:


I think the higher quality results were more to do with improved shaping than improved scoring per se.  Since I switched over from the Hamelman-recommended "fold over the thumb" approach to the Back Home Bakery "roll and tuck" approach, I've been getting much better results from my batards and baguettes.

Taste, texture and crumb were also quite nice:

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