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varda

Last year, I built a WFO platform and hearth,  and a dome out of sandy dirt that I dug up from a pile in my yard.   I had hoped (and convinced myself) that there was enough clay in the dirt to make the dome hold together.   That was not the case.   The dome slowly crumbled over the course of the summer.   I patched it up and patched it up again and finally wrote it off in the fall.    Amazingly the platform survived intact through a very difficult winter.   This summer I decided to build a new dome using real instead of imagined clay.    So I bought fire clay from a potter's supply and with help from my husband mixed up 600 pounds or so of clay, sand and water and built a new dome.   Then my husband, who finally took pity on me taking on a project like this with no building skills whatsoever, decided to make me a good door.   He built an offset with the leftover clay/sand mix which perfectly fit a door made of thick plywood.   This morning after waiting forever for the oven to dry, it was time.   I fired it up (and up and up and up) and finally loaded it with a loaf of bread.   After 30 minutes, I checked it, and the loaf was pale, so I closed the door and let it bake for 15 more minutes.    

The loaf was still pale, but I checked the interior temperature and it was 210degF.    Then I paced around in the yard pulling weeds and thinking this over, and finally figured out that the door was so carefully fit that no steam was escaping from the oven at all (I didn't add steam but there is plenty of moisture in the dough) and the crust simply hadn't baked even though the bread had.   By that time I had opened the door so much that the heat was way down, so I took the loaf inside and baked it for 15 minutes at 450 to brown it up.    I certainly didn't have this problem last year, when the door was just a piece of plywood leaned up against the opening with plenty of room for steam (and heat) to leak out.   Fixing this isn't as easy as you would think - the door is fit so tightly (and the bottom beveled so that it's flush with the hearth) that you can't just move it over a bit.   Undoubtedly a precision venting system is now on the drawing board.

But anyhow, the bread.   I decided to go back to yeast water, since I didn't think I had much chance for success today, given that i was just getting to know the oven.   I continued reducing both the hydration of the yeast water based starter and decreasing yeast water as a percentage of total water.   I also interpreted an earlier post by Andy (on enzyme issues in high ash content flour bread) pointed out to me by Juergen Krauss and added salt with the first mix instead of autolyzing.  All this seemed to get the enzyme problems I've been having with yeast water doughs under control.   But perhaps not completely so, as you can see below.   But (as seems to be a feature of yeast water) this is a delicious bread and more successful than I expected under the circumstances. 

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varda

It has been hot here, and doesn't always seem like the right time to make bread, but this morning it was almost chilly, and before long the kitchen warmed up to 76degF.   A perfect day for pain au levain.  I recently rediscovered King Arthur White Wheat flour and decided that should have a role, as well as having gained a fondness for Arrowhead Mills stone ground whole wheat.    Mixing flours always seems to bring out the best of both, so there's no need to choose.   I went back to my teacher, Mr. Hamelman,  and followed his procedures if not his formula.   They are so straightforward and powerful.   After banging my head against the yeast water wall, it was fun to step back and make a simple pain au levain.  

and also fun to photograph outside with plenty of light and color:

Hopefully next bake will be in my newly rebuilt wood fired oven, which is drying as we speak.

Formula:

7/14/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

Bread Flour

250

140

390

60%

Rye

 

9

9

1%

Whole Wheat

125

 

125

19%

White WW

125

 

125

19%

Water

354

101

455

70%

Salt

12

 

12

1.8%

Starter  

250

 

 

23%

 

 

 

1116

 

 

Mix all but salt.   Autolyze 1 hour.  Add salt.  Ferment for 3 hours with 2 S&F.   Cut and preshape.   Rest for 20 minutes.  Shape and place in couche.  Proof for just over an hour.   Bake at 450F for 20 minutes with steam, 25 without.

 

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varda

Over the last month or so I have been chasing the elusive yeast water open crumb.   I was working under the theory that one could replace a regular poolish with a combination of yeast water and flour and then bake as usual.   This ran into some technical problems - namely aggressive protease action.   In trying to figure out how to respond to this, I came upon the following enlightening sentence in Hamelman: "Protease is an enzyme whose function is to denature protein, and in a loose mixture like poolish, protease activity is relatively high."  I think this means that protease is generated by yeast as it tries to digest (i.e. denature) the proteins in flour and that in a poolish environment at 100% hydration and with an unknown quantity of yeast in my yeast water  that I was overdoing it.   This time, I pulled back on the amount of yeast water and the hydration of the poolish but not on the hydration of the bread.    The result was much better.  

I have still not got the cuts to open as I would like, but I am quite happy with the flavor which has a lot of depth and somewhat happy with the crumb.   Suggestions for improvements are most welcome.

Formula:

7/5/2011

 

 

 

 

 

Final Dough

    Poolish

     Total

  %

KAAP

500

150

650

 

Yeast water

 

120

120

 

Water

340

 

340

71%

Salt

12

 

12

1.8%

Poolish

270

 

 

23%

 

 

 

1122

 

Method:

Mix yeast water and flour night before.   Leave on counter for 12 hours.   Add flour and water for final dough and mix to develop dough.   Autolyze 1/2 hour.   Mix in salt and mix again.   Ferment for 30 minutes, then stretch and fold in the bowl.   After 30 minutes stretch and fold on the counter.   Gather dough together and do a loose shaping.   Do a third stretch and fold after 30 minutes and another shaping.   Let ferment for 30 more minutes.   Cut in half and preshape.    Rest for 20 minutes.   Shape into batards and place in couche.   Proof for just over an hour.   Bake for 20 minutes at 450 with steam, 25 minutes without. 

A few notes about this.   The dough was quite liquidy until the first counter stretch and fold when it came together pretty nicely.   This was despite two 3 minute mixes in a kitchenaid at progressively increasing speeds.   It was difficult to slash because it was quite sticky and the blade got caught.   

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varda

Last month, while experimenting with durum flour, I hacked together a loaf that turned out to be surprisingly tasty.   Fortunately when I'm hacking around, I'm disciplined enough to write things down just in case.    Yesterday, I made it again, with a few minor changes, and it came out more or less the same as last time, so I'm declaring it a keeper.  

 

 

Formula:

6/23/2011

 

 

 

 

 

w. 68% starter

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

 

Bread flour

250

125

375

48%

 

Whole Rye

125

9

134

17%

 

Whole Wheat

125

 

125

16%

 

Atta Durum

139

 

139

18%

 

Water

435

91

526

68%

 

Salt

14

 

14

1.8%

 

Starter

225

 

 

17%

 

Total grams

 

 

1313

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

Mix all but salt and autolyze for 1 hour.   Mix in salt.   Bulk ferment for 2.5 hours with 2 stretch and folds.   Shape into boule,  place in lined basket, and proof for 1 hour.   Then refrigerate overnight (9 hours).   Place on counter and proof until ready.   Bake at 450F for 20 minutes with steam, 25 minutes without.

The last time I made this I did not retard overnight.   This time I added a small amount more durum.   Neither change seems to have had much of an impact.   

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varda

 

Syd's white sandwich loaf http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22464/white-sandwich-loaf has been on my to bake list since it was posted.   But those lists are ever growing and time is ever short and I'm ever distractable, so...  One of the distractions has been the yeast water craze.   As much as I pride myself on being above fashion, the simple fact is I'm not.   So when Daisy suggested that an enriched bread might be a good candidate for yeast water, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and try Syd's loaf with yeast water.   The problem with converting a recipe before trying it first, is one has (I have) no idea what one is (I am) doing, so I had a failure or three.    Then I decided to bake two loaves side by side - one Syd's original formula and the other, his formula converted to yeast water.    The loaf pictured in the first four photos is made with Syd's original formula scaled down by 3/4.   The only deviation is that I did not use ascorbic acid.   

 

The resulting bread is probably the most feathery light I have ever made.   The taste is mild but delicious.    Unfortunately the pictures can barely capture the wonderful taste and texture of this bread.    My recommendation - if you have any taste at all for white bread, go to Syd's original post and bake it.  

For the second loaf, I converted to yeast water by replacing all of the water in the poolish with yeast water and omitting the yeast.    I also omitted the yeast from the final dough.   Otherwise I followed exactly the same formula, again without the ascorbic acid.   After mixing both batches of dough this morning I had to go out for a few hours, so I refrigerated both bowls.    When I got back, the yeast version had already doubled, while there appeared to be no change to the yeast water one.    I shaped the yeast one and placed in a bread pan to proof, and stretched and folded the yeast water dough and let it bulk ferment on the counter.    Before long (I wasn't watching the clock) the yeast loaf had risen an inch above the pan so I baked it, and then shaped and proofed the yeast water loaf.   By the time the yeast water loaf was ready to go in, it hadn't even cleared the pan top.   But it was softening so I decided to bake it.   In the oven it grew to around 80% of the volume of the yeast version.   

After tasting the original, I was ready to hate the yeast water version, but surprise, surprise, there was nothing to hate.   While the yeast water loaf wasn't as feathery light as the original, and really the taste was completely different, it was every bit as delicious as the first - just a different style of bread.   It's hard to come up with exactly the right words, but the yeast water loaf had a tiny bit of a tang, and a more complex flavor in a somewhat denser (not dense, just denser) bread.   The picture below is of both loaves (yeast water on the bottom) and below that two shots of the yeast water crumb.   I will be hard put to decide which one of these to make next time.   Such dilemmas are fun to have.   Thank you Syd, for posting your fabulous and delicious formula.

 

 

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varda

Yeast water Vermont Sourdough with peony...

After being pushed over the edge by Akiko's magnificent baguette, the desire to ferment just became too strong.    So over the last few days I've been making banana yeast water.   I followed Akiko's instructions in her blog post which also refers to a very detailed and helpful web page.   I replaced raisins with sliced bananas but otherwise followed instructions.   This means that I started with banana and water only rather than weaning my flour based levain to fruit as I have seen others write about.  After 5 days it seemed that the yeast water was ready.   I strained out the water, took half of it, added flour, left it overnight on the counter and baked with it the next morning.   The results were tasty but not quite ready for prime time.    Meanwhile I fed the yeast water with another banana and water as per Akiko's instructions and this morning was ready to try again.   I decided to bake Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough partly because it's good and Codruta reminded me of it, and partly to have a well recognized formula to experiment with.   Further I baked two loaves - one with a banana yeast water levain and the other with my regular levain.   Since these were different hydrations the only difference in the two doughs was how much water I added to the final dough.    All of the percentages matched Hamelman's instructions.   While preparing both doughs, I noticed that the yeast water version was always more manageable and with a more silky texture.   Really though, there was very little difference between the two doughs.   However during final proof it became clear that the one with regular levain was fermenting much more rapidly.   In fact so quickly that the oven wasn't entirely ready for it when I put it in.   Unfortunately this caused me to stumble technically.   The loaf bottom split in the oven and so the whole loaf came out misshapen.    I am almost sure this was due to the fact the oven wasn't steamed properly and also possibly the stone wasn't sufficiently preheated.   Oh well.   I waited until the first loaf was done (and the oven resteamed) before putting in the yeast water loaf.    This had definitely needed the extra 55 minutes of proofing and did much better in the oven.  As for taste, what can I say - they are both tasty breads, but the regular levain sourdough has a tiny bit of sour tang which is quite delicious, where the yeast water loaf is a bit flat.   Also if you look at the crumb shots below, even with the poor misshapen loaf, the regular levain wins the competition.   So maybe I simply chose the wrong formula to test out my yeast water on and picked one that is more appropriate for a regular levain.    I will probably try, try again, and I simply love the fact that I can take a piece of fruit, doctor it for a few days, and end up with something that very competently raises bread.   

 

Yeast water Vermont Sourdough crumb...

Vermont Sourdough with standard levain crumb...

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varda

                                  

A friend of mine who traveled a lot, returned from a trip to Africa (Ghana I think) and announced "everything goes with everything."   This meant apparently that one needn't fuss about colors or styles - one could simply wear anything with anything.   I have begun taking that perspective with bread.   Today I tried a formula where I baked with 68% bread flour, 16% rye, 15% semolina (not durum flour.)   As I was mixing it up, I had doubts.   Does everything really go with everything?   The bread is baked.    I still say yes.  

The formula with 68% hydration, 95% bread flour, 5% whole rye starter.

KAAP30014744768%
Rye100810816%
Semolina100 10015%
Water38510549075%
Starter260  24%
Salt12 121.8%
   1157 

Mix all but salt and autolyze for 1 hour.   Add salt and mix.   Ferment for 3 hours with two stretch and folds on counter.    Cut and shape into batards.   Proof seam side up in couche for 2 hours.   Bake at 450F for 25 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.  

This is tasty but just slightly overcooked.   I wish I'd removed after 40 minutes.   Also I meant to steam for 20 minutes, not 25 but I made a mistake with the timer and then got distracted before I could correct it.   I don't think that made a difference. 

 

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varda

Ever since Franko posted his semolina filone I've been wanting to try it.   But I didn't want to follow Maggie Glezer's directions (recipe on p. 124 of Artisan Bread) completely since I wanted to adapt it to use a starter instead of a Poolish.    I also didn't have access to fine durum flour - just the big bag of Atta that I hauled home last week.   I have made a few tries at it - today's was my third.    It is the sourest bread I have made recently, with no change to my starter, so I assume it is a function of the fermentation of the durum.   The hardest part seemed to be to get proper opening of the scores.   I think I finally got it.   It wasn't any one thing - just getting a hang of the dough and making small changes to the formula.   The difference in flours meant that Franko's experience - particularly how much water required - didn't match mine.  

Perfect for an afternoon snack.

Formula - with 66% hydration starter 97% white, 3% rye.

Semolina Filone    
5/30/2011    
  Final Starter Total 
Atta Durum300 30057%
Bread flour10011921942%
Rye 551%
Water2608234265%
Starter205  24%
Salt10 101.9%
   875 

 

Mix all but salt.   Autolyze for 30 minutes.  Add salt.   Bulk Ferment for 3 hours with 2 stretch and folds.   (I didn't do mine evenly because of outages.)   Shape and dust with flour.   Place seam side up in couche.   Proof for 50 minutes.   Spritz with water and sprinkle sesame seeds.   Score down center flat to counter.   Bake at 400F for 20 minutes with steam, 25 minutes without.

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varda

A few months ago I made a loaf of Russian coriander rye which was not Russian enough and way too coriandery.    I have been meaning to get back to it with changes since then but so much bread, so little time.   Today, I used that bread as a starting point and tried again in the process losing all of the Russian and most of the coriander.   This is a mostly dark rye bread with some spelt and wheat flour.   It uses a dark rye sour seeded from wheat starter.   It was quite wet, so I shaped by patting and stippled instead of scored.   The crust is covered by mixed seeds - sesame, poppy, caraway, and a tiny bit of coriander.   In my original version I used molasses, honey, and oil.   I ditched all of that this time.   Dark rye has plenty of flavor without the sweeteners and I couldn't remember what the oil was for.    All in all, a tasty rich bread.

 

 

The formula

Dark Rye

5/22/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starter

65%

Feed

       Total

Seed

30

Starter

 

 

KAAP

17

 

17

16%

Whole Rye

1

 

1

1%

Dark Rye

 

90

90

83%

Water

12

90

102

94%

 

 

 

210

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall

Final

Starter

Total

 

KABF

150

 

150

21%

KAAP

 

17

17

2%

Whole Rye

 

1

1

0%

Spelt

88

 

88

12%

Dark Rye

362

87

449

64%

Water

413

98

511

73%

Salt

13

 

13

1.8%

Starter

203

 

 

15%

Seed mix

 

 

 

 

baked pounds

2.4

 

 

 

total grams

1229

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build starter the day before and leave on counter for 17 hours until very holey and sour smelling.   Mix all but salt and seeds.   Autolyze for 1 hour.   Mix in salt.   Move dough to wet bowl and pat into ball.   Brush top and sides with water.   Leave on counter until it expands a fair amount but not until dough shows signs of breakdown.    This took around 2 hours.   Flip onto parchment paper - I had to use a wet wooden spatula to get it out of the bowl since the dough was so sticky.   Brush out irregularities with a wet pastry brush.   Stipple with a fork.   Sprinkle with seed mix.    Bake at 450F on stone with steam for 25 minutes, and 25 without. 

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varda

The other day, I accidentally picked up the wrong flour.    I thought I was grabbing the Bob's Red Mill White flour but instead ended up with BRM whole wheat pastry flour.   I'm not much for making pastry and the whole concept of whole wheat pastry eludes me, so I decided to try this flour in yet another variation on the pain au levain I've been experimenting with for the last few months.    On my first try I used the pastry flour as 12% of the total flour with 87% White flour and 1% rye from the starter.    The bread came out with a very nice crumb texture and not bad in other respects but the taste was so mild as to be uninteresting.    Then my son swooped in for a surprise visit for Mother's Day and ate the whole thing so it was good for son feeding at least.  

Try number 1 - tried to get fancy with scoring - didn't really work.

To enhance the flavor, I decided to mix in some regular whole wheat.    So this time I did exactly the same thing but went half and half on the pastry whole wheat flour and Arrowhead whole wheat.   

The latest production of the vardomatic 3000:

As you can see, it blew a gasket.   Not quite the nice controlled expansion that I'd hoped for.    And Mt. Hood from the side:

but even better crumb than the last one and the flavor is much enhanced.

There were both 68% hydration and retarded overnight.   Also I've increased percentage of prefermented flour to 23%.  After going all the way to 33% with Andy's light rye formula, I'm not afraid of these higher percentages anymore.     Has anyone worked with this type of flour before?   The BRM bag says soft white wheat, and there is no discernible bran.    I don't feel like I have a handle on the fermentation yet and would love some suggestions.  

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