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rrossi's picture
rrossi

As the elderly grandfather in Moonstruck exclaimed "I'm so confused" pretty much sums up how I feel right now about sourdough starters and levain....


The heart of the question is, what really is levain?   I have read many comments through-out this site that claim starter and levain is the same thing. 


If that is the case, then can someone explain a recipe that calls for levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F) 100 gms or 20%????? 


Assuming "S" stands for starter (therby starter and levain are different) W = water and F = flour... the weight for each would be 12.5 gms of S, 37.5 gms of W, and 50 gms of flour.  What do I do next if my assumption is correct? Do I mix the levain and let it ferment? if so fo how long?  or do I mix it straight into the dough upon mixing?  I don't know the answer to this and I'm having a hard time finding the answer.


I love this site, lots of great info and really skilled bakers.  I hope someone can clear this up for me.


Thanks,


Richard R


 


 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

This morning I baked a variation of Anis Bouabsa baguettes. The changes are minor: 72% hydration vs. 75%; I bulk fermented the dough at 55°F vs. 41°F for the prescribed 21 hours; and I added distatic malt powder. Otherwise, my formula and applied techniques were essentially the same as those in the Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes thread. The changes were made for the following reasons. I don't trust my skills yet with a 75% hydration dough. I'm sneaking up on it. Over the weekend I made a 70% hydration sourdough (or pain au levain), and today's baguettes. Furthermore, my refrigerator maintains a 37°F temperature on the only shelf that will hold my bulk proofing container, and I was concerned that temperature would severely change the yeast's reproduction rate. (That's not a guess, I've got an erudite paper written by a couple of microbiologists on the subject of yeast reproduction rate vs. temperature as a reference.). I have the convenience of a wine closet--its too small to call it a wine cellar--that maintains a steady 55°F. Lastly, I added the diastatic malt powder to give the yeast all the edge available.


However, messing with the hydrations of these doughs got me thinking. If I changed the shape I could pass this bread off as a ciabatta, or a foccacia, or a pain rustique, and no one would challenge me: perhaps criticise, but not challenge what I called it. On the other hand, if I offered the pain au levain, to a reasonably knowledgeable eater, as a slice of boule, or batard they'd raise an eyebrow at least.


So what classifies a dough? Content (Ingredients)? Preferments? Shape? Weight? All of the above? All of the above, but not necessarily everytime?


My curiosity grew when I checked three published baguette formulae (DiMuzio, Hamelman, and Hines), and two for pain au levain (DiMuzio, Hamelman).  Their doughs' hydrations are within 2% percent of each other, as well as similar ingredients, percentages, and techniques. "Is there a "secret" crib sheet these guys aren't sharing with us?" I wondered. Yet I was baking a baguette dough that was essentially a straight dough, with hydration 9% pecentage points higher than prescribed by "common practice", using atypical techniques. Is Anis Bouabsa a rogue baker?


My interest in things that ferment isn't limited to bread baking. I also brew beer, and make wine. Among brewers there is a crib-sheet. It contains approximately two-dozen beers, and describes each of them by the same attributes which are defined both in scientific precision, e.g., specific gravity, International Bittering Units (IBU's); Lovibond (color) rating; and in subjective terms of taste, smell, and appearance. If there are specialty additives or techniques they are also described, e.g., lambics (a beer made sour by lactobacteria). Wines, of course, are mostly defined by their primary varietal (or mixtures of varietals) ocassionally by craft processes, e.g., malolacticfermentation, ice wines; and a subjective vocabulary codified by a Univerity of California at Davis, professor.


Does anyone know if bread types have been classified, or catergorized and written down, and where is it written? How are bread-baking competitions judged? What are the competitive rules, i.e., do they contain de facto categorical or classifying ingredients, technniques, etc.?


David G

bojangles7's picture
bojangles7

My bread - peasant bread gets beautfully brown outside, but heavy and somewhat doughy inside.  Help?

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Thiézac, a village 30 km from Aurillac (260 km north-east of Toulouse, France) has a reputation of pure rye bread.  Just the sound of it is beautiful to me.  When I read about it in Mouette Barboff's Pains d'hier et d'aujourd'hui (page 64 - 67), I felt that had to try it.  I am mesmerized by the rye bread photo and crumb shot in the book, full of soul.  The book has the most beautiful bread photos I have seen anywhere.


What struck me about the crumb of the Thiézac pure rye sourdough bread is its deep caramelized color.  A forum post by Danubian at Sourdough Companion, entitled "Dark" or "Black" colour to rye bread in June 2007 says that the dark rye bread "colour is achieved by method rather than adding an ingredient that imparts 'colour'."   


I had to consult several on-line French translators to get some sense out of the Thiézac recipe and even then I still have puzzles.  For instance, about "5 à 6 kg de levain de 3 jours," to build up the levain over 3 days to 5 - 6 kg?  I guess so; but how many feedings a day, and, more importantly, what is the flour to water ratio for refreshing the starter?  And, stand the levain at room temperature for the whole time?  


There is a knowledge bank at TFL regarding rye sour and rye flour in general, but I am really not interested enough on the subject to study.  My family and myself are not rye enthusiasts.  But anything "pure," as in the case here, I am all for it.  A pure rye bread makes me want to try it and ... dream about it.


So, here it is... the result of my dream:


 


               


  


     


 


                                                       


 


Now, I have to warn you that my result is quite different from what was in Mouette Barboff's book that inspired me.  For a start, from what I can ascertain accurately from the formula figures, the overall dough hydration in the Thiézac recipe is only 53%!  I cannot work on a dough with that hydration!  I kept adding water until a medium soft consistency was obtained and reached 76% hydration.  Further, the Thiézac rye bread has diamond scoring (3 cut on one direction and another 3 cut on another direction).  My dough was too wet to attempt at any scoring.


 


                     


 


This bread is sour, too sour for my family.  Because of the whole rye flour used, it also has a very nutty flavour.  The aroma is simply amazing when it came out of the oven.


           


                     


 


My crumb looked similar to the one in the book.  To my way of thinking, if I had done the dough at 53% hydration, the crumb would have been much denser.  I can only surmise that the village bakers' formula is only a guide - they would add water on the spot if they think the dough needs more water irrespective of the formula.  But I don't know for sure.


Well, as nice as the bread is, my family is not the slightest interested in it.  


 


                      


 


I have to pile up with something else that they like for them to eat it.  And here it is:


            


                          


                             Smoke Salmon & Salad with a Dill Sour Cream Spread on Pure Rye Bread


 


For any one who is interested, my formula of this rye sourdough follows:


Day 1



  • 10 g any ripe starter at any hydration

  • 35 g medium rye flour

  • 35 water


Mix and leave it in room temperature until doubled, then move it into the refrigerator.


Day 2



  • 80 g starter (all from Day 1)

  • 80 g medium rye flour

  • 80 g water


Procedure same as Day 1.


Day 3



  • 230 g starter (all but 10 g from Day 2, reserve 10 g for future endeavour)

  • 230 g medium flour

  • 230 g water


Mix and leave in room temperature for 6 hours or until it doubles.  (Note: I cut short one day here.  The Thiézac recipe does this 6 hour feeding one day 4; ie, using "levain de 3 jours.")


Final Dough



  • 690 g starter (all from above)

  • 345 g whole rye flour

  • 345 g medium rye flour

  • 440 g water

  • 20 g salt

  • 2 g instant yeast (or 2 x 1/3 tsp)


Total dough weight was 1842 g and the overall hydration was 76%.


 


         


 



  1. Mix all ingredients and knead for 2 minutes by hand or by plastic scraper.

  2. Oil a clean bowl and place the dough in there.  Cover.

  3. Bulk ferment for 2 hours at a warm spot of your kitchen.  (My room temperature was 28C.)

  4. Upturn the dough onto a well-dusted surface.  Lightly gather the edge of the dough to the centre, turn the dough over, and lightly shape it into a boule.  Sprinkle some flour on the top. 

  5. Sprinke some flour on a piece of baking paper.  Place the dough on the baking paper.  Cover, preferrably with a big bowl, so the surface of the dough remains untouched.

  6. Proof for one hour (and in the mean time, pre-heat the oven).

  7. Bake with steam at 240C for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200 C and bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes.  


 


Shiao-Ping

breadsong's picture
breadsong


I was inspired by a Banana bread featured on farine-mc.com (link: http://www.farine-mc.com/search/label/Banana). This lady makes loaves that are works of art!


This humble loaf is a single recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Banana Feather Bread, and when I slashed the top I tried a slight, reversed S-curve - to see what might happen.
I thought the result looked kind of like a banana!


We are looking forward to toasting and tasting.


Regards,
breadsong


 


 

smasty's picture
smasty

Jason's Coccodrillo Ciabatta just can't be beat!  Especially when you need a loaf and you haven't planned a bake day (i.e. nothing is bubbling on the counter).  I've made this so many times and just love how it comes out.  After a few practice loaves, it becomes foolproof.  If I don't see structure begin to take form at 10 minutes in the mixer I begin adding flour about 1 tsp at a time (being in Denver, I sometimes over-hydrate).  The longest I've ever mixed is about 16 minutes.  This is the first time I made the semolina version...fabulous!  My bulk ferment (to triple) was about 3.25 hours. I needed to make this loaf for my elderly folks today...it was great being able to whip up a loaf relatively fast, that is delish.  Who is Jason, anyway?  Does he know how famous this bread has become? 


Jason's Ciabatta Page


Not tripled yet, using the rubber band marker


Note the "Alton Brown Rubber Band Method" for measuring fermentation growth.  It's not tripled yet....



Susan's picture
Susan

And it's delicious!  The recipe is 100 Percent Whole Rye from Bread Alone.




Mini Oven gave me her Austrian stamp of approval and tells me it will be truly ready to eat in a couple of days. Thanks for looking, and Happy New Year to All!


Susan

moxiemolly's picture
moxiemolly

Back to work today after a wonderful vacation. I started with the usual poolish last night but for today I wanted a slow rising dough that I could leave all day. I used the usual KAF recipe for baguettes but added a total of 1 tsp yeast including the poolish and half of the salt. This is what I found when I got home 7 hrs later:



Luckily my husband was able to fold it for me mid-day :) I formed two small boules and baked them on a stone with steam. Yummy!


moxiemolly's picture
moxiemolly

I was watching these beauties actively springing in the oven when I realized that I forgot to add the salt! No wonder they were so active. I used my pizza stone for the first time and got beautiful, crunchy crusts. In leu of a peal I sprinkled corn meal on pieces of parchment paper and slid them onto the stone which was already in the oven. It worked like a charm! I steamed the oven with about a cup of water which was poured into a hot roasting pan on the bottom. Look at that bubble! 


They smell wonderful and actually don't taste that bad. I wouldn't say cardboard but just a little flat. Great with salted butter!


I think for my next batch I will do half the salt and see what happens. My current recipe calls for two teaspoons so I will try one and see if they look like this. More tomorrow, thanks for reading. Molly


janij's picture
janij

Over the holidays my husband has been trying to increase his carbon footprint by leaps and bounds.  This time of year is quiet for us, we own an A/C and heating company in Texas.  So summers are crazy and winters allow us some time to play.  Our big new toy has been the wood fire oven.  I didn't realize how into cooking in it my husband would become.  I swear he has decimated the chicken population around here in recent weeks and I have made more bread than I could really give away.  I am waiting for my neighbors to not look me in the eye and try to run whenever they see me coming with anything in my arms.  I actually had one guy down the street, who I have never met really, almost turn down a chicken from us.  I guess I would be suspicious of someone handing out chickens I didn't know.  As you can see, I am getting desperate for takers.  Last night as I was trying to get ride of 3 of the 6 loaves we baked yesterday, which is what I got on here to write about in the first place, I gave them to friends of our neighbors who just happened to be leaving the neighbors house when I walked out the door.  Don't know them either.  It was rather funny.  I asked them if they would like a loaf of bread.  One of the guys replies, "Umm, we have a loaf at home thank you."  I told him it was homemade and baked in a wood fire oven and he gave in.  I didn't wait to hear what the second guy had to say, I just shoved the bread in his hands and knocked on the neighbor's door.  I am sure people are somewhere thinking I am very strange indeed.  So I need to find a soup kitchen or something to donate bread to.  That is one of the things I would like to do this year is give more.  So if anyone knows where to find places to donate bread I am open to ideas.


But back to reason for this entry.  Kyle, my husband, decided the other night he wanted to make the bread.  From start to finish all by himself.  So I asked what kind he wanted.  He wanted a light rye hearth bread.  So thanks to Hamelman and DiMuzio, I got out a calculator and made up a formula for a 20% rye, 40% preferment, 65% hydration dough.  In hind sight I should have gone to 68% to get a little bigger holes but I didn't want the dough to be too slack for my begninner husband who would have to mix the dough by hand.  The DLX is too small for 6 loaves.  So Kyle ground the rye, made the poolish, learned the french fold, and stretch and fold.  Where would I have been with out all the excellent videos I have found from this site?  I would ahve been in trouble indeed!  I weighed out all the ingredients and helped with shaping and such, but Kyle did the bulk of the work by himself.  I even tried hard not to hover!  The dough turned out really nice.   I thought he did an excellent job for his first rodeo so to speak.  But there are 2 big tricks with baking in a WFO.  The first is timing.  It is hard to get the loaves and the oven ready at the same time.  Lucky for us it has been about 50 deg here so I put the loaves in the garage to retard/proof while the oven temp gets in range.  The second trick is loading the bread.  I realized I needed a narrow peel.  Since Kyle is an avid fisherman he suggested buying a oar and sanding the varnish off.  It works like a champ!!  I would have never thought of it.  But it is hard to get all the loaves in and spaced correctly.  So below are some pictures.  One is the oar, sanded and oiled.  One is of the Counrty Rye oaves we made yesterday.  And we will see if I find any other ones to put in.


My next experiment is going to be with different grains.  I recently purchased 50lbs of spelt berries, 50lbs or durum berries and 50lbs of hard white spring wheat.  So I would like to come up with a formula and do a test and see the differences in flavor and behavior.  I am thinking of doing about 50% whole grain and 50% AP flour.  I will let you know how that goes.


The Oar- or new Peel



The loaves in the oven...nicely spaced if I may say so myself.  Or atleast better than before! :)



Lastly, the crumb..



Jani

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