The Fresh Loaf

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Sedlmaierin's picture
Sedlmaierin

I have blogged about baking Pretzels before and this time I had one concern I wanted to be able to improve on-shape. Turns out two improvements were made and I will need expert baker's help to determine what is responsible for the slight texture change -which in my eyes made them perfect!


So, my previous bakes ended up with Pretzels that rose quite a bit in the oven and due to poor shaping, almost turned more into a pretzel shaped bun, than a Pretzel. The current Pretzels received(in general) superior shaping but also did not have a lot of oven spring. I don't know if that is the reason that the resulting Pretzel is chewier, I don't even know why the oven spring was only moderate- maybe once I elaborate on my procedure you guys can help me figure out what caused the chewiness, because I definitely prefer that over the more airy results I had in the last two bakes. Not that there was anything wrong with the other guys-just a personal preference! Here's the link to the old post ,I guess I only blogged about them once, but this is actually the third try-the second bake was done without sticking the pate fermentee in the fridge and they still turned out, pregnant looking and more airy.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/16948/pretzel-baking


Procedure this time around:


-I anticipated not being home for the mixture of the dough and gave my husband specific instructions as to what to do. For that reason I prepped as much of it as I could and the flour ended up with a 4 hour, roomtemp(maybe 70) autolyse.


-The pate fermentee ended up not doming and falling until I was back, so I can attest to the quite amazing gluten development the autolysed flour had already, when I started hand mixing the dough


-Bulk fermentation was at about 1 hour 50 minutes......forgot to fold the dough until the last twenty minutes of bulk fermentation-so it got folded close to the end


-pre-shaped into cylinders,rested the dough for about 20 minutes, then shaped the pretzels. the first few still looked like they would end up kind of tight, so I decided I would roll out the long strands of dough , let those relax again for a few minutes and then shape them into pretzels. THAT worked perfect and you will see that some of the pretzels stayed quite open.


-final fermentation about 30 minutes- and no they did not increase by 75 percent-closer to 50%...I REALLY wanted to eat pretzels last night and hurried the poor things along


-fridge time about 30 minutes,then dipped them and baked them about 16-18 minutes


Resulting Pretzels



Now I just have to figure out the right way of storing them. Unfortunately Pretzels are really not good to keep-even the next day they are significantly less crunchy. I should have frozen these as soon as they were cool-maybe it isn't too late yet.


Christina

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

Hi All,


Just wanted to tease you a little with what I'm working on right now. 


100% Hydration 100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread


Ingredients:


450g WW (Gold Medal)


50g Malted Barley Flour


100g Firm SD Starter (60% hydr)


500g Water


10g Kosher Salt


1/8 tsp ADY


1111 Total Dough Yield


 


Process


3:15pm - Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl with wooden spoon, cover let rest.


4:40pm - Turn dough using French fold method in bowl with wet hands, cover let rest.


5:20pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.


6:45pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.


7:35pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.


9:00pm - Shape dough as follows: flour linen lined banneton with WW flour.  Turn dough in rising bowl with wet hands using reverse letter fold so that smooth side remains on top.  Transfer dough floured side down into banneton, place banneton in large plastic bag to proof.  Arrange baking stone and steam pan in oven, preheat to 550F.


10:00pm - Try to turn the dough out onto peel but dough sticks majorly to banneton...  I manage to scrape it out onto the peel and shove it in the oven...  I get a little bit of oven spring, but it's pretty much a pancake...


10:45pm - it's out of the oven now.  I'll cut it open tomorrow morning, but I don't have high hopes for this one...


Verdict: Fail for now...  I'll try something tomorrow...


Tim

proth5's picture
proth5

Lest any of you consider that my life is all flights across the Pacific and raw squid for breakfast, I recently found myself in driving (in my little green convertible - top down - adorned with my "I Love Okinawa" magnet) from Colorado's Front Range to the great wheat growing region of Kansas for a tour of the Heartland Mill in Marienthall, KS.


Some of you may know Heartland Mill (www.heartlandmill.com) as the producer of Golden Buffalo flour -  a high extraction organic flour.  And so here comes the first of my shameless plugs.  Heartland Mill mills a variety of flours - all organic - either stone ground or on their long-flow roller mill. They also produce oat products and sell whole grains.  Why shamelessly plug them? Because the mill is farmer owned and they are very interested in producing flours that support the artisan bread baking community .  I believe in supporting businesses like these that can make decisions not only on profitability (as I am a great believer in making a profit) but on what they think will support their employees and their community.  So that's my first plug.  If you are interested, they sell directly to the consumer - their small bags are very lovely cloth bags - for use after emptying for small sewing projects. 


So I will now give the second  of my shameless plugs.  This tour was sponsored by the Bread Baker's Guild of America (BBGA)  (www.bbga.org) (Hello, Laverne!  It's me again!) without whose hard work I would not have had such a marvelous opportunity.  I have said before that the educational opportunities they provide are well worth the membership fee - even for this raggedy home baker - and I mean it sincerely.  So, that being said, I don't think it is fair to try and write a "tell-all" of the tour because I don't want to give the impression that folks who hunger for this kind of education just need to wait long enough and I will post it all here, and that there is no need to join.  I support a lot of their efforts and membership fees support those.


But some highlights are well worth sharing with other bread baking and milling enthusiasts.


First, for all that I have been out and about in the world, my travels have neglected actual drives through what is often referred to as "the flyover zone."  Since my trip started from Denver in the pre-dawn hours, I got to see the sun rising over the fields of Eastern Colorado, the magenta clouds reaching down to the frost covered fields, a gentle mist making the entire scene something out of a fantasy.  Yes, our mountains are beautiful, but I have never been so struck by the beauty of our plains.  I believe someone once wrote a song about it.


Then I hit the great wheat growing region.  For those of you in coastal states, or countries with less acreage, the scale of these farms is quite striking.  They are immense.   Not big, not really big - immense.  I was not exactly driving slowly and it took quite a while to drive between any areas where I could spot houses.    I cannot help but wonder how these immense farms could ever become the small farms that so many food enthusiasts promote, but this trip was not about that.


After five hours of driving, I arrived at Heartland Mill. it is a very small operation both in size and staffing.  Their head miller said that he had no particular expertise but was just "an old farm boy."  I instinctively put my hand to my wallet... :>)  They had the mills shut down so we could both tour the mill and talk.  (So sorry about no pictures, but not only are my photography skills not up to the task, but only pictures by the official photographer were allowed. ) 


We talked a great deal about the millstones themselves.  There is a type of millstone called a French millstone that is constructed of stones that are only 2 hardness points softer than diamonds.  What was discussed was that this type of millstone (which is not yet in operation in the mill) will produce a caramelization of the flour that is the "ultimate" in flour taste - or so it is according to B.W. Dedrick's "Practical Milling". Also interesting is that this type of millstone is not a monolith, but is pieced together so that there the hardness and composition of the stone is more consistent.


We then moved on to the stone milling area where we took a look at the Meadows mills.   To get their high extraction flour, Heartland is milling in one pass and bolting the flour (through a number 40 mesh sieve).  Of course I had to ask questions about this.  They found that grinding un tempered wheat (9-10% moisture) was most successful, but then the miller similarly claimed that it was a characteristic of stone milling itself that made this possible.  No one seems think about burr milling with steel, but our exchanges lead me to believe that my approach of treating my process similar to the roller milling process might (and I emphasize "might") be a good one.


We also discussed stone milling vs. roller milling and how the difference in the processes might influence the flavor profile of the flour. While there is one school of thought that the stones themselves impart a better flavor, Craig Ponsford put out the thought that the fact that the parts of the grain were never separated (as they are in roller milling) created a better flavor profile.  All were in agreement that in blind tests, bread made with stone ground flour tasted "better."


We also had an interesting discussion about the words "stone ground" when applied to flour and how various labeling regulations made it imperative to "know your miller" so that you know that the flour was really 100% stone ground, not just run through stones to meet the labeling requirements.


We went over the tempering process (for roller milling) in detail.  I have some things to think about...


The long flow roller mill is run at speeds where the flour comes off "cool."  They had experimented with milling very "un aggressively" and found that they did not create enough starch damage in the flour for it to be used in baking. 


We talked a bit about aging flour.  The maxim of "use right away or wait two weeks" was discussed.  Thom Leonard tells me that this is true - because there is enzymatic action that takes place soon (but not immediately) after milling that will impact baking qualities until oxidation takes place.  However, we also discussed that for whole wheat flours this impact is negligible and that he has used whole wheat flour at various ages with little impact on the final product. (Thom- if you are listening in, please log in and fill in the exact details - there are people here who want to know...)


On the whole, I came away with the feeling that I have a lot more research to do on milling and that that even though I have taken a lot of factors into account in my process, I have a lot more things to consider.


We then spent a little time in the lab to watch the alveograph.   I've read a lot about these tests and how to interpret them, but I've never seen the thing in operation.  Essentially this machine blows a bubble (think bubble gum) from a specially prepared disk of dough and measures the pressure required to blow the bubble and the time it takes the bubble to burst.  If you've made it this far in the blog, and you are not familiar with this test, you need to look up source material in any one of the excellent books available to home bakers that discuss rheological testing for flour.  In short, the pressure gives an indication of elasticity and the time an indicator of extensibility.  We, as home bakers, care about this because it is the perfect balance of extensibility and elasticity that give us well shaped, but open crumbed breads that we so seek.  (More about this later.)  The importance of the results of this test cannot be overemphasized (for white flours - the bran in whole wheat flours cuts the gluten so that the bubble pops prematurely).  I want one of those bad boys.  Bad. (They talk about "boys and their toys" - I'm possibly worse - and for those that don't know - I'm a girl.)


At lunch I had the opportunity to chat with P. Stephen Baenziger of the University of Nebraska.  He works on selective breeding and improving small grains (including my favorite - triticale.  "You probably haven't heard of it," he said.  "Actually, I've milled it and baked with it...").  We talked about the local heirloom wheat - Red Turkey.  We discussed that while these heirloom breeds try to keep their genetic lines pure, the various diseases that attack them keep evolving and eventually a once disease resistant variety needs to be crossed with other plants to produce reliably, especially in an organic situation (heirloom breed enthusiasts - hold off!  He is dealing with very, very large commercial operations.  Results on a smaller scale will be different.) I did have to agree with him somewhat because my own experience with heirloom plants in my home garden (which sometimes gets less than optimal care because of my work/travel schedule) has been very similar and I've begun to love my hybrids for reliable, yet still tasty production.


We did have a more formal presentation on wheat breeding and what it takes to get a new breed to the point where it can be released for large scale planting.  Now here is where even I began to glaze over a bit, for truthfully little me and little you (unless "little you" are a professional artisan baker) have little influence in this process.  But the overall takeaway was pretty profound.  He discussed that various strains of wheat - that might have better baking qualities for the artisan baker - were being abandoned because there is no perceived market for them.  In the context of a BBGA educational event, the discussion wound around to how such an organization can change this (back to the second shameless plug.)


We talked a bit about alveograph tests and how to compensate for a flour that was not ideal.  Here's where I want to put some emphasis - yes, hydration was mentioned (proper fermentation is a given in this company) - but another factor for correcting flour properties was the amount of flour pre fermented.  I found this out for myself when I was tuning up my baguette formula, but it gets very little play on these pages - I wish it would get more.


This winds me around to our last discussion.  We talked a bit about "protein levels" in wheat and how American bakers are all about the absolute number and not how the flour actually performs under the conditions of artisan bakers.  Professional bakers who have baked in Europe expressed that the absolute protein number was not as important as how the flour acted as far as its baking qualities.  Unfortunately the industry accepted tests are not designed for the kind of breads being produced by artisan bakers.  It was expressed that Heartland would like to mill these lower protein flours, but there is no market for them because bakers have been trained to look for certain protein numbers.  A lot of this was discussed within the context of how the BBGA might help, but my takeaway was this: It is not that Europe is a superior place to produce wheat; it is not that we don't have wonderful millers; it is that there is no perceived market for these flours.   I have considered this for a long time.  Maybe it was the sight of those immense fields of wheat.  North America is a great place to grow wheat - but we, as consumers and bakers don't show enough demand for these flours to make production economically viable.  Back to my shameless plug - here is where organizations like BBGA can make changes.


(I also had a lively discussion about the difference in economic incentives for small businesses/farms in Europe/Canada vs. the US, but do- not - get - me - started. Really.)


My last memorable quip was a gentleman who asked me why a raggedy home baker would know so many technical details about wheat, milling, and flour.  "Was it that your bread didn't turn out well and you decided to find out why?"  "No, I was always a pretty good baker," I replied.  "The bread was always good.  It's just that I - can't - help - myself."


I decided rather than stay for the dinner that I had spent enough time away from home and drove back to watch the sun set over the Rockies.  To wrap up this long, long post, as I drove I pondered that this had been one of the most satisfying days that I had had in a long time. (A long drive on clear roads in nice weather in a sports car might have had something to do with it, but the mill tour played a large part.)  And I thought of those words uttered by that most famous Kansas girl:


"...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.."


Dorothy Gale


 


Happy Baking!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Monday:  My garden is bursting with Spring!  The wind is windy and the birds are joyful!  We have 18°C and the furnace has been turned off.  I've pulled a starter out of the fridge.   A firm rye that was not put into long hybernation (do not fear, my pretties, the prepared starter is the jar next to it also looking none the worse from wear.)  It's wonderful and exhausting to be back in Austria.  Lots of garden work and getting used to stairs again.  Back to the starter.


This overripe goo smells cheese strong and has ice crystals all over it.  (Must have been at the back of the fridge.)  I'm thawing it out and scraping it now to look at the bottom.  This stuff could send me under the table from just breathing it, that with jet lag could be lethal.  It would be wise of me to breathe ever so lightly.  My son thought I should pay a fine, keeping a starter that smelled so strong.  It's criminal!  I laughed and smiled to my inner-bread-self.  I'd be the last one to tell him he could have thrown it out months ago.  Must have been fed last in January. 


(4 pm) I managed to push a top layer aside to get at the most underlying glop.  Rather stiff really, broke some out and reminds me more of fresh yeast consistancy.  It is also brighter in tan color than the top gray layer.  I've mixed water with it and ... um... now some rye flour and we will see what decides to grow.  Oops, got to run out for some rye flour.  Needed milk anyway.  I love being able to read everything on the shelves!  Rye everywhere!  Picked up some spelt berries too.


Tuesday:  (4 am)  The starter sat 12 hours and no action other than it smells sour and no longer like wet flour.  Too much acid for the yeast!  Gotta build up yeasty beasties!  Took out a spoonful and did a 1:5:5 again for the next 12 hours > 20°C in the kitchen.


(8 am)  Cooked some spelt in my rice cooker and because I didn't do too much with water so it would go dry, got some nice browning on the cooked grain...  not a bad way to add color to a loaf...  I ate some for breakfast as a chewy hot cereal.  Spent the day trimming and chipping in the garden.


(6 pm)  Got bubbles! I can see them thru the glass but not on top.  Smells sour but mellow and when I attack it with a spoon the bubbles collapse and I see structure under that smooth exterior.  Very good!  Took out another spoonful and did a 1:5:5 feed plus scrounged around for some old rye bread.  Found sunflower light rye, will have to do and processed it into crumbs, mixed in.  Got that sitting out now until I wake up in the wee hours, but also good until morning if I sleep thru.  


Mini

shazron's picture
shazron

after much research, trial and error I have ventured into "The Fresh Loaf" a question i have long quired has been answered - why throw 1/2 of my starter away? Im sold on this site! let the bubbles begin as I venture through the talent and skill of you all. Thanks!

diverpro94's picture
diverpro94

I just thought I would share this! It's a speech about bread that Peter Reinhart did at google's headquarters. I was really suprised to see that he used one of Dante Alighieri's allegories! Peter is such a gifted baker, writer, and rhetorician!


 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK5mC_SkIPI&feature=related

 

saltandserenity's picture
saltandserenity

I just made the Swedish Rye bread from Peter Reinhar't Bread Baker's Apprentice book.  An interesting bread but it brought back some interesting teenage memories!


Check it out.


http://saltandserenity.com/2010/04/25/37-swedish-rye-bread-2/


 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Saturday my mother and I decided to spend the day together in the kitchen. It's been awhile since we've done anything like this. We decided to make two cheeses and two breads. She is a complete bread newbie and we are both new to cheesemaking so this was an adventure.


Friday night I made a soaker and biga for PR's whole wheat sandwich bread. I also fed my rye starter and built it to 150 grams for "Mini's Favorite 100% Rye".  Gathered all the bread making supplies that we would need. (flour, yeast, bread spices, PR's book, loaf pans, etc). Sent mom the recipes for cheesemaking so that she could prepare.


Saturday morning we set out, having a fairly strict schedule to adhere to. First, mixed the rye bread. I just love this formula. My spices are dried onions, caraway and fennel seed in equal amounts, to total a little more than 1 tbsp for three loaves of each spice. Rye was fully mixed and the clock started on it. I like to give it a full 8 hours unless it looks like it's going to overrise, which so far it never has. I think it might be because I use only 25 grams of starter when building my starter. It certainly isn't because the starter isn't active. My husband prefers the that the bread is as sour as possible so the more rising time that I can squeeze out of it the better.


Next, we mixed up the whole wheat sandwich bread. I love this recipe. I need to work on a better conversion to sourdough as the instructions for using starter that PR has don't work. He calls for an enormous amount of starter (equal to replacing the biga) and it caused my gluten to break down last time I tried it. I think maybe it was supposed to be used in addition to the commercial yeast? Perhaps I'll play around with it now that I just got my grain mill and see what I can do. I'm thinking that if I put whatever is not used in the starter over into the soaker that should work. Then, just use a basic formula for starter/flour ratio to figure out how much I need. Anyhow, we mixed up the sandwich bread, which would be a nice quick bread, ready to put in the oven in 1 hour and 45 minutes.


All was done by hand as mom doesn't have a "real" mixer. Just one of those $15.00 hand held ones. I guess I could have, should have checked out her bread machine but I was a little leary of trying a new gadget with my tried and true recipes. Maybe I'll try it on some pizza dough or something first, just to check out the dough cycle. I wish she lived a little closer (she's 40 miles away) so that I could easily run over and check it out. Rye was until all flour was wet, left to autolyse 20 minutes and then kneaded for about 10 minutes. This was a huge batch of dough, enough for 3 large loaves. The whole wheat was kneaded for 10 minutes, then a stretch/fold at 30 minutes X 1.


Next, we started the mozarella cheese. I took a cheese class about a week ago. That was so much fun. I couldn't believe how much better fresh homemade cheese is compared to store bought! I have been so excited to introduce my parents and husband to it. So, while we had been mixing up the breads, Dad ran to the grocery store for 3 gallons of milk, buttermilk and cheesecloth. After three phone calls and a second trip to the store for the forgotten cheese cloth all was "mis en place". (I had brought the rennet and citric acid for the mozarella) We heated 2 gallons of milk to 90 degrees, added citric acid, then the rennet. Sit, cut the curd, reheat to 105, ladle into a cheese cloth strainer. Boy did we get a lot of whey!! I will be trying whey for my next bread making batch. Has anyone tried whey with sourdough?  We drained the mozarella until very dry/firm. Then we heated at 30 second intervals in the microwave for the fun part-stretching. Stretching is a lot like kneading. Sort of like kneading silly putty. In fact, just like playing with silly putty!!


Popped the whole wheat in the oven and went outside for a gardening break. Did some aphid patrol and washed off the tomatoes. Back to the kitchen for ricotta. That didn't go so well because there was a little tiny, tiny "U" on the label of the buttermilk. It was Ultrapastuerized. Those sneaky boogers!! So, we backtracked and added lemon juice. My mother and I are nothing if not creative! So, our ricotta became a ricotta/queso blanco hybrid which was truely delicious.


Rye bread went in the oven and became "the best rye bread my father ever tasted"


Total for the day-2 pounds mozarella. 2 pounds ricotta/queso blanco. 1 Whole wheat sandwich loaf. 3 loaves 100% rye.


After a day of baking and cheese making I went home and baked a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. I've been dying to find some rhubarb and while hunting for rennet I went to the high end grocery store "AJ's" and also found frozen rhubard. Strawberries have been such a bargain this year and it got me in the mood for strawberry rhubarb anything. This crumble was so delicious. Really hit the spot!!


Sorry, no pictures today. Everything is nearly eaten, LOL!!

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Sometime last week, I built up my rye starter for a run-through of some rye loaves. For some reason or other I ended up with quite a bit more mature rye sourdough than I needed for the loaves I had planned. Too bad to throw it all away I thought, so I put the left-over starter to good use in a pain au levain-style formula. The result was more than I could've hoped for, so darn tasty as a matter of fact, that I worked a bit more on the formula, and baked a few of those rye-sourdough-pain-au-levain breads this weekend. Here's the loaf (and some Swedish hazelnut tarts) from Sunday afternoon:


Pain au Levain with rye starter


I enjoyed slices of the loaf with a salad (spinach, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, mushrooms, in the background), a smear of blue cheese and a glass of red wine. Doesn't get much better than that.


Here's the mandatory crumb shot:


 Pain au Levain with rye starter


 


I was surprised by how drastically the taste of the bread changes when it is leavened by a rye starter. I tend to bake breads like these with a firm white starter, but now I'm more and more leaning towards using the rye starter instead. There's a distinct sour note to the breads, and a wonderfully tangy bite to every piece of the crust. I was also taken by how crackly the crust became when I baked the bread with a rye starter instead of a white starter; just have a look:


 Pain au Levain with rye starter


 


All in all, I'm really happy that I mixed up too much rye starter in the first place :)


Edit: Here's a link to the formula.

zorrambo's picture
zorrambo

Boo hoo! My oven broke and I need a new one. The old one was constantly shutting itself off mid-bake. I don't have the luxury to choose any oven I want because I rent from my mother-in-law and she will be paying for it. It must be electric, range-top and not too expensive. Any suggestions? Thank you for your help.

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