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varda

Recently I've been trying to bake a 100% Whole Durum loaf loosely following Franko's Altamura project.    After a couple of attempts, I backed off and baked 40%, 60% and 80% durum loaves, trying to get a feel for working with a high percentage of durum flour.   For the 40, 60. and 80% versions, I used my regular wheat starter so that at least I didn't have to worry about a whole grain starter on top of everything else.   I was reasonably happy with the 40% and 60% versions and felt that I could bake them happily at any time.   The 80% came out too dense - the really hard part is developing the dough without breaking the fragile gluten of the durum. 

Yesterday I decided to give it another shot at 100%.   I took my semolina seed starter and fed it up - then added durum in three more feedings - the third last night.   There was no way I was going to leave it on the counter overnight - anything could happen while I was asleep, so I popped it in the refrigerator right after feeding, and then took it out in the morning.   It only took 3.5 hours to ripen even cold from the refrigerator.    So I mixed everything up by hand and proceeded with trying to develop the dough.   Every half hour I rotated the bowl while using the fingers of my hand like a scoop to turn the edges into the middle, then pressed down with my palm.   This seemed to me  to be the happy medium between being gentle and yet still developing the dough.   After two hours and the 4th scoop and press I felt there was a sudden softening of the dough which up to that time had been fairly puffy.   I pressed it out into a thick disk and folded one edge on top of the other just past the middle and placed on a floured cloth, sprinkled the top with flour and covered with the end of the cloth.   Then proofed for a little over an hour.   Then baked as usual at 450F for 20 minutes with steam and 20 without, then 10 in the oven with the door cracked open and heat off.    It got more oven spring than I expected, and while not as light as the 40 or 60% versions, nor as light as Franko's (made with more baker skill and extra fancy durum rather than whole durum) I thought it was reasonably respectable.   Actually we had it for dinner with fish and sauted vegetables and it was definitely people food rather than fit for the coyotes.  

Formula:

Semolina Starter

 

65%

 Hydration

 

 

on 8/9/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1:30 PM

3:30 PM

7:45 PM

10:40 PM

      Total

           %

Seed

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

Durum

 

 

30

51

75

172

90%

Semolina

16

20

 

 

 

20

10%

Water

10

20

20

35

47

132

69%

 

 

 

 

 

 

324

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Final

    Starter

 

   Total

           %

 

 

Semolina

 

15

 

15

 

 

 

Durum

500

133

 

633

 

 

 

Water

340

102

 

442

68%

 

 

Salt

12

 

 

12

1.9%

 

 

Starter

250

 

 

 

23%

 

 

 

 

This has several deviations from proper Altamura:

1.   Higher percent prefermented flour because I'm just more comfortable with that

2.  Whole Atta durum - that's what I have

3.  No attempt to simulate WFO - I had enough balls in the air as it was

4.  Higher hydration - the 80% with  62% hydration was just dry, dry, dry - it did go out for the coyotes.

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varda

Continuing toward my goal of baking a non-brick-like Altamura type loaf with 100% Atta whole durum flour, today I increased durum flour percentage to 60%.   My formula is exactly the same as my last attempt which used 40% durum flour  with the exception of the difference in flour, but I changed process and technique a bit.   Last time I did an overnight retard.   This was mainly a scheduling issue but of course had an impact on the bread.   This time, I did not retard overnight, but the dough did have a 1.5 hour refrigerator sojourn in the middle of bulk ferment again due to scheduling.   The technique change was that rather than doing 4 in the bowl stretch and folds, I did 4 in the bowl scoop and pats.   This means I rotated around the bowl several times using three fingers to gently scoop the dough on the edge of the bowl into the middle and then pat the dough twice (that is scoop, pat, pat, scoop, pat, pat, etc.)    Franko said in comments to his post  "From what I've learned so far, this flour needs to be coaxed into forming a good structure for trapping CO2" and by patting I was hoping to encourage such a structure without tearing the gluten strands.   This patting idea came from Akiko in her last baguette post.   I didn't understand it when I read about it in her post, and I still don't understand it, but I found this dough even more manageable and well behaved than the 40% version that I posted about a few days ago.

 

I am encouraged by the results and plan to continue on to 80% on my next attempt.

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varda

Sometimes you have to back up to move forward.   I have tried to make 100% whole durum bread a couple times and couldn't achieve a good density or crumb structure even if I was happy with other things.    I found myself decidedly confused by the durum - did it want a long ferment so that the dough could develop without a lot of manipulation, or did it need a short ferment because it develops much faster than regular wheat doughs?    I decided to back up in the percent of durum and then move forward stepwise to see what I could learn.   So last night and today, I made a sourdough boule with 40% whole durum flour.    Even though I was only at 40% I tried to use the gentle methods that durum seems to need, so I mixed everything by hand, stretched and folded in the bowl with my hands, and generally did whatever I could not to frighten the durum.    I also retarded overnight for convenience sake.    Hydration is 68%.   Prefermented flour is 23%.   I used my regular wheat with 5% rye starter.   Here are some pictures of the result:

Next up:  60% whole durum boule. 

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varda

Franko's projects have a way of capturing my imagination.   His Altamura bread did that in spades.   Then to top it off when Sylvia showed her Altamura loaf sitting on her WFO floor, I couldn't resist.    Today I followed Franko's formula http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24172/first-success-altamura-project to the tee.   The only problem was I didn't have the Giusto fancy durum flour - just my Golden Temple Atta.   I took Franko's advice and did the 4 Stretch and Folds in the bowl.   I wouldn't call them regular in the bowl stretch and folds though, since I used my hands and just gently manipulated the dough.   I had watched the clip of the Italian housewife (in the comments of Franko's post) handling the dough, and I tried to channel her, even though there is a big gap between us.   I also did all the mixing and initial kneading by hand.   The dough is very easy to handle and not sticky so this was fine.   It is the first time since forever that I haven't mixed in my Kitchen Aid. 

I hadn't really thought about baking with fire in, door open when I built my oven but it worked fine for one loaf.  

 

I didn't get quite as much oven spring as I would have hoped for, so I think there's plenty of room for improvement.   But I'm pretty happy with this bread.   Of course, my title is a misnomer.   This isn't Altamura bread since it's made with Atta - whole grain durum flour, most likely sourced from just about every country but Italy.   Maybe next time.

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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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