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varda

A few weeks ago, I gave up on the starter I'd been tending and using for over a year, and made a new one from scratch.  Instead of trying to nurse my old starter back to health, I reminded myself that despite the considerable mystique attached to it, it's really not that hard to get a starter going - particularly a wheat one - assuming a sufficient degree of attention and patience.   I finally got it going and I've been baking with it for around 2 weeks.   I have not been disappointed, as I think I had just got used to an underperforming starter and had forgotten how a healthy starter behaves.  

At the same time I've been trying to shed same old same old practices and develop a formula that everyone in the family liked, that was repeatable, and relatively easy, so I could use it as daily bread.    I borrowed from this and that and here and there, and thank gods (I've been watching Battlestar Galactica) I think I've got it.  

The formula has a bit of spelt, a bit of rye, and the rest wheat.   I used wheatgerm and malt powder (Thank you Lumos) which seem to have a good effect but I'm not sure which does which.    The resulting bread bridges the difficult gap between light and substantial, has a light crispy crust, keeps for a few days (assuming it doesn't get eaten first) has a mild balanced flavor and isn't too holey for sandwiches.   I've made it a couple times, and it seems to be repeatable. 

But now, my biggest problem - how to keep from fiddling this to death.   I think the best way to do it is to name it but Sourdough with Spelt and Rye just seems boring.    Ergo Lexington Sourdough which is pretty boring as well.   Any tips on how to name breads?  

And now it's time to switch focus to biscuits, cornbread and pie.   Thanksgiving is nigh!

The formula:

Starter

Seed

Feeding

Total

Percent

Seed

168

 

 

 

Bread flour

92

95

187

95%

Whole wheat

2

 

2

1%

Whole rye

4

4

8

4%

Water

69

130

199

101%

 

 

 

397

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

Bread flour

450

135

585

84%

Whole rye

 

6

6

1%

Whole wheat

 

2

2

0%

Medium rye

50

 

50

7%

Spelt

50

 

50

7%

Water

310

143

453

65%

Salt

13

 

13

1.9%

Starter

286

 

 

21%

Malt powder

10

 

 

 

Wheat germ

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

Take ripe sourdough - around 70% hydration - from refrigerator (should be domed and pitted) and feed as above to 100% hydration.   Ferment on counter (around 69degF) for around 7 hours until very active and bubbly.  

Mix flour and water by hand and autolyse for 30 minutes.   Add the rest of the ingredients and mix in stand mixer for 5 minutes starting at low speed and working up to highest speed.   Dough should adhere into a smooth mass during the mix.   Stretch and fold on counter twice during 2.5 hour bulk ferment.    Cut and preshape into two rounds.   Rest for 20  minutes.   Shape into batards and place in couche seam side up.   Refrigerate for 10-15 hours.   Place on counter and proof for 1.5 hours until dough starts to soften.   Bake at 450F for 20 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.  

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varda

Detmolder stage 2, Russian Rye production sourdough, new wheat starter, 200% rye starter

Denial is more than a river in Egypt.   When I came back from vacation at the beginning of September, my starter of over a year was only clinging to life after having lived through a power failure of indeterminate length due to a hurricane.   I slowly nursed it back to life only to lose interest while exploring baking with 100% durum.  The breads I made from time to time with my trusty wheat starter were getting weaker and weaker until finally they stopped rising altogether.   I was forced to admit the sad truth: my starter died of neglect.   I decided to start over again with a new wheat starter.   Meanwhile I got Andrew Whitley's book - Bread Matters - and was onto a new project - getting a 200% hydration rye starter going and raising bread.    Fortunately Juergen stepped in with a tutorial on how it's done.  I had hope that with patience I could do it too.   Then a Noreaster paid an unexpected visit and there I was with two new starters sitting on the counter with no light, no heat, and a very bored and upset eleven year old with no school to go to since the power was out there too.   This would have been a good time to let the new starters die as well, but somehow I fit in a few feedings during the four day power outage, and lo and behold when the lights turned on yesterday afternoon they were both not only alive but doing well.   In fact the rye starter was frothing - the state I've been awaiting for a few weeks.    I decided to try again (#5?) with Whitley's Russian Rye.   At the same time, I decided to go back to a formula I had tried almost a year ago,  Detmolder's 3 Stage 90% Rye in Hamelman (p. 201) because I was interested in the contrast between the Russian and German ryes.   So I mixed up stage 2 of the Detmolder (I went straight to stage 2 because I was making only one loaf which would have called for just 2 g seed starter in stage 1)  and the production sourdough for the Russian Rye and was ready to go today.   The Russian Rye went exactly as directed.   The recipe calls for 200% hydration rye starter, and 103% total hydration so it isn't a dough in any sense but rather a paste as Andy terms it.   The German Rye has a bit of high gluten flour (10% of total) in the final dough, but is also high hydration  - 79% - so not much doughier and sorta kinda shapable but not really.   Since so much fermentation takes place during the starter stages bulk ferment is only 10  minutes and proof is an hour, whereas for the Russian Rye, there is no bulk ferment and proof is according to Whitley anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.   Mine took 3 hours.

German is round, Russian is rectangular

Formulas:

Russian Rye

 

 

 

 

Andrew Whitley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/2/2011

 

8:00 PM

 

 

Production Sourdough

 

 

 

Seed

50

 

Total

 

Whole Rye

17

150

167

100%

Water

33

300

333

200%

 

 

 

500

 

11/3/2011

8:30 AM

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

Medium Rye

330

 

330

69%

Whole Rye

 

147

147

31%

Water

200

293

493

103%

Salt

5

 

5

1.0%

Prod SD

440

 

 

31%

 

 

 

975

 

Mix production sourdough at least 12 hours in advance.   Mix final dough and place in bread pan.   Proof until it softens (3 hours for me.)   No docking or scoring.  Bake at 480F for 10 minutes with steam, 50 minutes without at 410.

 

3-Stage 90% Rye

 

 

 

 

Hamelman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/2/2011

11/3/2011

 

 

 

 

8:00 PM

9:30 AM

 

 

Starter

 

 

 

 

 

Seed

12

 

 

Total

Percent

Whole Rye

6

50

 

56

29%

Medium Rye

 

135

135

71%

Water

6

39

135

180

94%

 

 

 

 

371

 

11/3/2011

1:00 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

 

Medium Rye

261

135

396

79%

 

Whole Rye

 

56

56

11%

 

High Gluten

50

 

50

10%

 

Water

215

180

395

79%

 

Salt

9

 

9

1.8%

 

Starter

371

 

 

38%

 

 

 

 

906

 

 

Please read Hamelman for starter directions - they're complicated.   Mix final dough and bulk ferment for 10 minutes.   Transfer to oiled bowl for proof.   Proof until dough softens.   Flip (and coax out of bowl) to parchment paper on peel.   Bake at 480F for 10 minutes with steam, 40 minutes at 410F without. 

Frustratingly, I have to wait to cut for a day.   Crumb shots to follow.

And here they are:

Russian Rye

German Rye

As for taste, the Russian Rye is very moist.   It has a slightly tart flavor and in general is packed with flavor.   I just had a slice without anything on it, and it was so flavorful it didn't need anything.   The German Rye is more what I'm used to as far as rye goes.   I grew up on Jewish Rye, and it tastes very similar to that, even though Jewish Rye has much lower percentage of Rye than this.    It is a very tasty bread, but I would not eat a slice without a topping of some sort.    If someone stuck a gun to my head and I had to choose (who would do such a thing - a crazed baker?)  I would pick the Russian hands down.   It is so good that I am very reluctant to fiddle with it.   It tastes like a rye pudding only in bread form.   Really incredibly delicious.  

And finally the storm:

It's January in October

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varda

Ok.   The truth is that I don't have much to say about the bread I baked today.   I just want to post this picture:

All right - it is a Pain au Levain with around 30% whole durum.   Tastes good.  

That's all I have to say. 

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varda

 

I have of late, been baking a lot with durum flour.   I started with a whole durum which gives absolutely delicious flavor as an addition to wheat flour, but becomes just ridiculously hard to work with at very high percentages.   After seeing Franko's fabulous success with his Attamura using a more refined durum  I decided to put my efforts on hold until I could find a less than whole durum version of Atta.   Then I saw Lynnebiz's recent post and realized that the answer for my Atta needs was only a few miles away at an Indian grocer in Waltham, Ma.  Sure enough when I got there, I found a wall full of flours including the 20 pound bag of Golden Temple Atta that I ended up buying.   The ingredients are listed as durum and wheat bran with a fiber content of 2g per 35g serving.   This contrasts with Golden Temple 100% whole durum whose fiber content is 4g per 30g serving. 

So I set off with great optimism to make 100% Atta bread with my new flour, and quickly realized it wasn't so simple.  While it was instantly clear that dough made with the new Atta was much more well behaved than dough with whole durum, my first few tries were the sort that the less said the better.   Then I started to get marvelously breadlike results from the outside, but when I cut into the loaves: huge tunnels from one end of the bread to the other.   This was discouraging.  

I concluded that I was having dough strength problems and decided to work systematically on that problem.   After seeing the SFBI article that I posted about earlier I realized that my thinking had been too simple.   Yes, it's true that a weak flour like durum needs more mixing to develop the dough, but I also had to be more careful about other things.   For instance, I had been mixing flour, water, and starter in the first mix and then adding salt in the second.   While I might be able to get away with that for regular wheat doughs, it wasn't a good idea for baking with 100% durum since the point of autolyse is not only to hydrate the flour, but also to strengthen gluten bonds.   I had been using autolyse as a jump start to fermentation so wasn't getting its benefit for dough strengthening.   This time I mixed flour and water first, and added starter and salt later.   I had been doing a 30 minute slow mix in my Kitchen Aid to develop the dough.   This time, I mixed by hand.    A spiral mixer might be just the thing for durum based dough but  given the importance of mixing for durum dough I thought I could do a more thorough job by hand than with a home mixer.   The third change was  serendipity.   Since I had been making so many attempts at a durum loaf, my durum starter had matured and by now was quite active.   While I had known that this was important from a fermentation perspective, I had not realized until reading Didier Rosada's article that it was also important for dough strength since the acids in a mature starter contribute to dough strength.   Finally, I decided not to take any chances on having a huge tunnel develop due to explosive ovenspring.   This meant that I had to make sure that my dough was not underproofed when it went into the oven, and second I couldn't risk the high temperatures of my WFO.   I baked in my gas oven at 420 (instead of the usual 450degF) to slow down oven expansion.    With all that, I took another shot at it.   For the first time, I got a uniform crumb with absolutely no tunnels.   And so concludes lesson 44 in breadmaking - Introduction to Dough Strength.  

 

On a different note, I have been thinking about self-scored breads since seeing several beautiful examples on this site.   I proofed this one with seam up, and noticed it opening in interesting ways.   So I managed to get it seam side up onto the peel (not that easy) and didn't score.   It came out a bit funky to say the least, but I'm sure I'll be posting more on this later.  

 

Formula and method:

10/9/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starter

 

9:30 AM

2:30 PM

 

 

Durum Seed

113

Feeding

Total

%

 

Whole Durum

1

 

1

 

 

Fine Durum

70

150

220

100%

 

Water

43

90

133

60%

 

 

 

 

353

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

%

 

Fine Durum

500

156

656

 

 

Water

300

94

394

60%

 

Salt

12

 

12

1.8%

 

Starter

250

 

 

24%

 

 

Mix flour and water by hand.   Autolyse for 30  minutes.   Add salt and starter.   Mix by hand for 20 minutes. For first 5 minutes or so, press dough between fingers to get starter and salt thoroughly incorporated.   After that, place on counter and roll into log first in one direction, then 90deg off to develop the dough thoroughly.   Dough is not sticky, and no flour on the counter is necessary.   Mix until dough is soft and silky.  Bulk ferment for 2 hours with 1 stretch and fold on counter.   Cannot pull out dough like wheat dough since it is too fragile.   Instead press out gently, fold up, and roll into a ball.  Shape by pressing out gently and then folding in the sides in a circle.   Roll into a boule.  Place upside down in basket. Proof for 2 hours.   Place seam side up on peel covered with semolina.   Slide into 420 degF oven for 20 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.  This bread is self-scored.  

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varda

I have been thinking a lot about dough strength lately because of the difficulty I've had baking with durum flour.    I saw a great article on dough strength referenced in an old TFL post.   It is in the SFBI Fall 2004 newsletter - link can be found here:  http://www.sfbi.com/newsletter.html It was quite an eye opener since so many different factors impact dough strength.    In trying to wrap my brain around this, I put together a handy one-page table.   Maybe others will find it useful as well.   I tried to summarize a lot of material, and may not have it all right, so have at it, but even more important read the original article! 

Factors that affect dough strength – Sourced from SFBI Newsletter Fall 2004

Factor

Strength / Elasticity

Weakness / Extensibility

Comments/Examples

Protein Quantity

High Protein

Low Protein

 

Protein Quality

High Quality

Low Quality

Durum has high protein but poor quality

Ash Content

Low

High

Whole wheat flour is more extendable, less elastic than white flour

Additives

Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Bromate, Malt

 

 

Maturation

Matured flour

Fresh flour

 

Water Quality

Hard water

Soft water

 

Hydration

Low hydration

High hydration

 

Added Ingredients

 

Added ingredients

Butter, nuts, berries, etc.

Autolyse

Autolyse

Autolyse

Autolyse strengthens gluten bonds, but also increases enzymatic activity which makes dough weaker

Mix Time

More mixing

Less mixing

 

Dough Temperature

Higher

Lower

This is an indirect effect – higher temp gives faster fermentation leads to stronger dough

Fermentation Time

More

Less

Acids from fermentation strengthen gluten bonds

Dough Mass

Higher

Lower

The more dough mass, the faster fermentation

Starter

Starter

 

Starter strengthens dough due to fermentation acids

Hydration of Preferment

Less 

More

Wet environment of preferment increases enzyme activity which makes dough more extensible

Preferment Quantity

More

Less

More preferment means more acid which strengthens dough

Preferment Maturity

More

Less

Mature preferments have higher acid content

Shaping

Tight

Loose

Baker can adjust based on dough strength

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varda

I have been admiring Andy's breads made with Gilchester flour for some time now - in fact since he posted this, and later this, and most recently this.   But I felt inhibited from trying it, since I didn't see any reasonable way to obtain the flour.   Recently Andy suggested that I might try using Atta flour, perhaps sifted to remove some of the bran.   The idea was to simulate the high extraction, low quality gluten properties of the Gilchester flour.   In fact I now have two different types of Atta in my closet - a 100% whole durum that I have posted on several times, and a more refined durum with some wheat bran added in, that I recently found at a local Indian grocery store (thanks Lynnebiz) both under the Golden Temple label.   I decided that rather than sift, I would just try the refined durum with added bran.    I proceeded exactly according to the instructions here with a couple intentional changes.   First the Atta flour rather than the Gilchester flour.   Second King Arthur AP rather than Carr's Special CC flour.   And one unintentional.   I autolyzed with starter rather than without.   I am so used to doing that that I didn't even check the instructions until it was too late.   Other than that I did the three starter feedings the day before, and left on counter overnight.   I did the first mix (before adding salt) in my Kitchen Aid, but did the rest of the mixing by hand very gently.    I also felt that more stretch and folding was necessary, so I did one more than the one that Andy directed.   And I baked in my WFO for around an hour.   I had a very hard time getting the oven up to temperature today since it has been extremely wet out, and no sooner was it up to temp when it started dropping off.   So while initial temperature was around right (600degF) by thirty minutes in it had dropped to around 380.  But fortunately crust had browned already and loaf had expanded.  

This is quite a large loaf - over a foot in diameter.   I had to score with my long bread knife - this dough is pretty wet, and a short blade would have caught in the dough.   We had this for dinner tonight - one slice was enough to cut in half for a chicken salad sandwich.   The taste is very mild given the high percentage of durum - that wouldn't have been the case if I had used the whole durum - but with very pleasant flavor.    Here is the crumb:

Reasonably even, but with mouse holes, which I've gotten every time I've used this flour.  

So in sum, I wish I had some Gilchester flour for this, but I think Andy's formula adapts well to this version of Atta and I'm glad I tried it. 

 

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varda

On Thursday we are invited to friends for a Rosh Hashanah dinner.   I asked what they wanted me to bring hoping they would say bread, but no ... dessert.   I'm not much of a dessert maker, but my year plus exposure to this site has begun to show me the possibilities.   I was well on my way to trying the Cherry Galette (or as Chef John puts it - Cherry Folditup) on Food Wishes.   Then I saw Floyd's grape foccacia and that got me to thinking.   Here's what I thought:

I started with Jim Lahey's Focaccia Dolce (page 144 of My Bread) but made many, many changes: 

Cherry Focaccia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KABF

150

 

 

 

Korean Flour

114

 

 

 

Water

132

 

 

 

Yeast

4

 

 

 

Salt

4

 

 

 

Sugar

50

 

 

 

Honey

12

 

 

 

Butter

30

2 T

 

 

Beaten egg

50

1 egg

 

 

Canned cherries

300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

846

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix flour (less 60g) water, yeast and autolyze for 30 minutes

Add flour, salt, sugar, honey, butter and egg

 

and mix for 5 minutes in stand mixer at medium speed

Stretch and fold in bowl after 20 minutes

 

Stretch and fold on counter after 20 minutes

 

brush off excess flour

 

 

 

Press into 1/2 inch thick disk

 

 

Transfer to lightly oiled baking sheet

 

 

Cover top with canned cherries in syrup

 

Proof for 1 hour 10 minutes

 

 

 

Bake at 400 on preheated stone for 15 minutes

 

Then decrease heat to 300 and bake for 30 minutes more

Until internal temperature reaches 205degF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Now this was really delicious:

But my beta testers decided that the ratio of bread to topping is just too high:

Which got me to thinking that what this really needs is a filling - perhaps a sweet ricotta filling.   Does anyone know if one should, and if so how to make a filled focaccia?  Any other suggestions for how to make a tastier sweet for a sweet New Year?   Thank you!  -Varda

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varda

Ever since I saw Lumos' post on her interpretation of Poilane's bread I have been meaning to make it.    But, but, but.... I don't have spelt.   I have to drive for spelt.   I already have 10 bags of flour on my shelves.   There's no room for my son's cereal.     Yesterday I looked at the formula.    Just a bit of spelt.   You could make it without spelt.    I decided to make it without spelt.  

Otherwise I stayed true to Lumos' formula if not method.   I had exactly one day this week where I could bake in my WFO and I didn't want to miss it, so no overnight retard.     And I prefer to stretch and fold on the counter if at all possible so I did that as well.   Even though the hydration of this is 75% which is higher than I have been doing lately, the dough was not particularly wet or sticky and handled very nicely. 

I was on a tight time budget, so I had to build up the fire as fast as I could to get everything going.   Fortunately my wood was dry thanks to my tarp and Eric's put the next load in the oven after baking trick.   and I got the oven up to temperature in just over an hour.    I tried Sylvia's throw flour on the hearth trick to see if I was going to burn the heck out of my bread and the flour burned slowly so I figured I was ok even though the temp read over 700degF.    My cuts opened, my crumb opened.   My starter seems to be fully recovered after its bout of vacation neglect. 

And I would have to say the resulting bread is around the tastiest I've ever made.     Maybe I always think that about my latest effort, but no I'm serious.   This is really delicious.   Thank you Lumos!

Modified formula:

Starter from 9/18

70%

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

KAAP

360

140

500

67%

Rye

90

7

97

13%

WW

150

 

150

20%

Wheatgerm

15

 

16

2%

Malt

10

 

10

 

Water

455

103

558

75%

Salt

13

 

13

1.7%

Starter

250

 

 

20%

 

 

 

1344

 

 

Method:  Mix all but salt.  Autolyze 30 minutes.   Add salt.   Mix in stand mixer for 5 minutes at medium speed.   Bulk ferment for 2.5 hours with 2 counter stretch and folds.   Cut into two and preshape.   Rest for 20 minutes.   Shape into batards.   Proof in couche for 2 hours.   Bake in WFO for 15 minutes with steam, 15 minutes without.  

 

 

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varda

I'm a sucker for flour.   Yesterday I went to the local korean supermarket to see if they had less than whole grain durum and I came back with something else.   All I know about it is it's "premium flour," has 3g of protein per 30g serving, and can be used for making noodles. 

I didn't want to make noodles - I wanted to make bread.   And use my new flour.   I  restrained myself from having this mystery flour be the main event and instead limited it to 15% of flour to support my standby King Arthur AP (80%) and Rye (5%).  

The result is a nice mild naturally leavened boule.

I am somewhat disappointed that my scores didn't open more.  

I baked indoors with plenty of steam, but the dough was tacky throughout fermentation and my razor snagged while scoring.   So I'll attribute it to the fact that my starter has still not completely recovered from being abandoned for a few weeks and left to ride out the hurricane (or resultant power failure) alone.   I've been babying it as much as I can, but perhaps not enough.

Anyone know anything about this flour?   Have I just paid an unreasonable amount (ok not so much) to import regular old AP flour across an ocean and a continent?  

Update:   I used this flour in pizza dough last night - 335g KABF, 165g Korean Flour.   It was absolutely and by far the best pizza crust I've every made.   Not sure if this is of general interest since I doubt many people have access to this flour, but I just had to add it to the post. 

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varda

Since I got back from vacation my starter has been on rest and recuperation.   We were lucky to miss the hurricane by being in another state, but it still came through here (downgraded to tropical storm) and killed the power for at least some period of time, which made my already neglected starter even unhappier.   I've been baking a lot since I got back and it's been just edible but improving with each bake.  Today, I had a well fed starter ready to go and looking happy, but I really wanted to bake outside to see if I could get a nice burst on the hot WFO floor to make up for my troubles.   It was close to raining and most of my wood was wet from a downpour last night, so things didn't look very promising, but I decided to do it anyhow.   I mixed up a mostly white dough with a touch of white rye and prayed for no rain, scrounging around for wood that wasn't soaked all the way through.    I just managed to get the oven up to temperature with the dry wood that I had, and got my bread baked before it started raining for real.   I've got to stop living on the edge like this :)

 The crumb opened up and I managed to get at least some opening of the scores by using a steam pan in the WFO for the first time.    

The new look comes from my Indian or whatever basket. 

And following Sylvia's example (if not cooking talent) I threw a pan of potatoes and onions into the oven after the bread baked, so as not to waste the heat.  

Formula:

 FinalStarterTotalPercent
KAAP45014259291%
White Rye50 508%
Rye 771%
Water35010145170%
Salt12 121.9%
Starter250  23%

 

Method:

Mix all but salt.   Autolyze for 50 minutes.   Add salt and mix for several minutes.    Bulk Ferment for 2 hours with 1 counter full stretch out until very thin.    Shape into boule and place upside down in basket.   Proof for 2 hours.   Bake in WFO (around 650F floor temperature) for 25 minutes.  Remove and cool. 

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