The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Gérard Rubaud Miche

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Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Gérard Rubaud Miche

I dedicate my Gérard Rubaud Miche to MC.


(I wish that it could be transported across the Pacific Ocean to reach the other shore.)


 


It was one of those soulful Van Morrison nights.  The music in my tea room could not be any louder; any louder, the gods of silent teapots would have protested.  John Donne was in the air.  Van Morrison, my muse, dreamt of this miche for me.... 


 


               


 


                                                                                                   


 


I have neglected my teapots for the longest time now.  They have not been polished for ... dare I reveal ... a year?  Sounds criminal.  Just as well, with all that flour coming out of the surface of the miche, do I need to bother dusting my teapot stands?


 


Gérard Rubaud starter (re-sized to 2% of his formula as recounted HERE in MC's blog; my figures are for a final dough yield of 1.9 kg, you are welcome to half my quantity again)


First build



  • 6 g ripe stiff starter (at this quantity, any starter you've got going is fine, preferably not liquid starter)

  • 8 g water

  • 14 g flour (2 g WW, 1 g spelt, 1 g rye, and 10 g plain flour)


Note: Gérard Rubaud's starter hydration averages 55.5%.  The main thrust of his starter is three refreshes and built with the same flour compositions as for his final dough; ie. 30% whole grains flours (60% wheat, 30% spelt, and 10% rye) and 70% all-purpose flour.


At 30 degree C, this build took 10 1/2 hours for me (overnight temperature might have dropped to 24 - 25 degree C in my kitchen).


Second build



  • 28 g starter (from the first build above)

  • 16 g water

  • 30 g flour (5 g WW, 3 g spelt, 1 g rye, and 21 g plain flour)


At 30 degree C, this build took 6 hours for me..


Third build



  • 74 g starter (from the second build above)

  • 56 g water

  • 100 g flour (18 g WW, 9 g spelt, 3 g rye, and 70 g plain)


Note:  Watch your starter fermentation carefully, depending on your room temperatures.  As flour (fresh food) is not even 1.5 times the starter, it is very easy to over-ferment at this stage.  It was not an issue for the previous two builds as the yeast adjusted to the new flour compositions and began its activity slowly.  


At 30 degree C, this build took 4 hours for me (and it was already too long because when I touched my starter, it shrank back very quickly; 3 1/2 hours would have been better).  It rose 2 1/2 times.


Gérard Rubaud Final Dough


Main points about the final dough construction are (1) final dough flour is 30% whole grain flours and 70% all-purpose flour as for starter; (2) starter is 25% of final dough flour (ie, 25% baker's percentage); and (3) overall dough hydration is 80%.



  • 230 g starter (all from the third build above)

  • 920 g flour (165 g WW, 83 g spelt, 28 g rye, and 644 g plain flour)

  • 772 g water (every 10 -11 g of water is 1% dough hydration; feel free to reduce water if you wish)

  • 20 g salt


Total dough weight was 1,920 grams (minus 150 g as pâte fermentée = 1,770 g, see below) and overall dough hydration was 80%. 


Note:


(1) I did double my own formula here (both starter and final dough) because I wanted to do a stencil with Gérard Rubaud initials and I wasn't sure if it would be successful. 


(2) I reserved 150 grams from each dough and I had 300 grams as pâte fermentée (old dough) in total from the two doughs. I wanted to try a Poilâne style of miche.  Giovanni has done extensive research on Poilâne Miche.  Without going into the specifics, all that I wanted to do at this stage was to use Gérard Rubaud's stiff starter and dough with the addition of a reserved old dough to make a miche and see what happens, which I did.  


(3) So, in total I made three x my own formula here at two separate occasions, the last being a Gérard Rubaud Miche with pâte fermentée.  


Procedure - without pâte fermentée


Gérard Rubaud autolyse flour and water, then he cuts up his stiff levain into small pieces and adds them to the autolysed flour and water mixture.  However, the way I did the bread in this post was that I first diluted my starter with water, then I added flour and salt into the diluted starter, then I followed the procedure below.



  1. Autolyse 20 minutes.

  2. Five sets of S&F's of 30 strokes each at 30 minutes intervals.  

  3. At the end of the last S&F's, section off a piece of dough weighing 150 grams (and placed it in the fridge) to be used as pâte fermentée (more below).

  4. Pre-shape and shape, then place the dough in the fridge for overnight retarding.  (My room temperature was 30 degree C.  It was exactly three hours from the time the ingredients were mixed to the time the shaped dough was placed in the fridge.  You may need longer depending on your dough temperature and room temperature.  Gérard Rubaud does not like to retard dough, but I did 9 hour retarding for convenience).

  5. The next morning, stencil, then score the dough.  Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it can go.  Bake with steam at 230 C for 50 minutes.


 


       


       Gérard Rubaud Miche (without pâte fermentée) 


                                                                                                      


 


Only one of the two miches that I made is shown here, as the stencil of the other one was completely smeared.  The proved dough of that one was quite high (its profile was like a tall hill); when I placed the stencil on its surface and dusted flour on it, the flour did not sit well on the surface.  I knew there might be problem but went ahead any way.  I should have tried to press the stencil closer to the surface of the dough before I dusted flour.


Notwithstanding the above, the aroma was most amazing when the miche was being baked.  When the oven door opened, the whole house was filled with the wonderful whole grains roasting fragrance.


The loaves cooled down to have the cracks all over their surface - the top and all around the sides.  Part of the reason for that is because these are very high hydration doughs, but more because I tend NOT to leave my dough in the oven with the oven turned off for the last 5 - 10 minutes of baking as many of TFL home bakers do.  I tend to give my dough full but shorter bake.  The extreme difference in temperatures inside and outside the oven results in the crackling effect on the crusts.


 


       


 


                                                     


 


With this Gérard Rubaud formula, I am witnessing the most amazing crumb that I have never seen before.  It has a translucent quality about it.  It is almost as if each and every particle of the flour had been fermented and each and every cell of the dough has been aerated.  I have never seen anything quite like it.  It is light and yet a slice of it on you palm feels a weight, a substance.  While the crumb looks translucent, it has a sheen as if it is oily (but it is not).  You can clearly see the specks of the whole grain flours in the crumb.  Had I not made this bread myself, I would not have believed that 30% whole grain flours would give me a crumb like this. 


So that is the texture.  What about the flavor?  I cannot tell you any single flavor.  No one taste stands out.   I cannot say that it is sour because sourness does not stand out.  The taste is very "creamy" if I may use that word.  The creaminess and the sourness are beautifully balanced. 


MC said of her Rustic Batard that it tastes more whole grains than Gérard's and she wondered if temperature had made a difference as Gérard's bakery is a good 15 degree F warmer than her place.  Now, my miche does NOT taste whole grains or wheaty at all.  I cannot single out a wheaty taste, but it is there, blended in with all the other flavors.  I wonder if my high temperature indeed had made a difference in this.  Or, put another way, had MC bulk fermented and proved her Rustic Batard in a proofing box to control temperatures, would she have gotten a closer taste in her Rustic Batard to Gérard's.


 


Procedure - with pâte fermentée


(Note: the formula is exactly the same as above except with the inclusion of 300 grams of pâte fermentée)


Follow the procedure as for miche without pâte fermentée except for the following:



  1. One hour after the dough was mixed (ie, at the end of the second set of S&F's, section off a piece of dough weighing 300 g ( reserve it as future pâte fermentée);

  2. Total fermentation time is shorter by 1/2 hour because fermentation happens faster with this dough.  (From the very first set of S&F's, you can already see some strength in the dough because of the acidity from the pâte fermentée.  To me, this is quite something, considering the way I mix my dough is that there is no kneading whatsoever, merely stirring to hydrate the flours.) 

  3. As this is a slightly bigger dough (1,920 grams as opposed to 1,770 grams), bake it for one hour. 


 


        


        Gérard Rubaud Miche (with pâte fermentée)


                                                                                                             


 


I learned something in this bake:  that sourdough pâte fermentée will give you extra dough strength because of the acidity in the old dough (provided it is not over-fermented to start with).  I am amazed at the volume that I get in this miche.  (Let's recap: this dough went through 2 1/2 hours of fermentation at room temperature of 30 degree C, then went into the refrigerator for 9 hour retardation, then baked at 230 C for 1 hour. That's all.) 


The taste of this miche is a lot sourer than the previous miche.  


 


       


 


                                                   


 


This has been a very fulfilling exercise for me.   Thank you, MC, for the wonderful experience.


 


Shiao-Ping

Comments

jleung's picture
jleung

You're most welcome!


- Jackie

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Beautiful breads. I've been following Rubaud-related bread posts with much interest. 


I have a question about the WW flour component of the levain and final doughs. Did you use a white wheat or red wheat flour? I'm curious because the crumb pictures look remarkably white (no discernible brown coloured bran flecks). I know the whole grain component is only 30% but even at that percentage I've never achieved such a light-coloured crumb. I"m wondering whether white wheat might account for the flavour difference between your miche and MC's?


Also, one other question: did you use freshy milled flour (a la Rubaud?) Asking, because I'm keen to try my hand at milling sometime soon.


Cheers


 


FP


 

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

You said you don't see bran flecks in my pictures, but can you see those flecks in MC's Rustic Batard crumb shot HERE?  When I look at my crumb shots, while I don't exactly see big flecks, I know the bread was not made out of all white flour because the color is a very pale brown (or orange).


Is it red whole wheat or white whole wheat that I used?  Look at the pictures below:


            


            Whole wheat flour that I used


                                                                


                                                                Spelt wholemeal flour that I used


I would suggest that the high hydration in this dough had turned the "flecks" into mush and that the flecks had disintegrated and become homogenous with the fine flour.  What I am suggesting is the flecks would not keep their shapes under the high hydration.  Look at the oat bran pictured below:


              


I once used it to make non-gluten bread, and there was no flecks whatsoever in the end result.  Have a look at the crumb shots of my Miche Pointe-à-Callière which was a high hydration dough (84%) and had 86%! whole wheat flour (the same flour as in the first picture above).  You will not find any flecks in them either.  Search TFL for 100% whole wheat bread, chances are that the crumbs are dark color but you won't find flecks in them.  What would hold their shapes are seeds and whole grains but not flecks.


About the color, I think the lighting at the time of photo shooting makes a big difference.  I have had the same crumb with the photos taken in the morning and in the late afternoon that look like they are from two different breads.  Crumb shots taken at our various home "studios" really cannot be compared seriously. But yeah, maybe my flour is white whole wheat, what do you think?  I have always thought that this flour that I used is a red whole wheat because I have another whole meal flour which is finer ground and does not have big flecks like this one.  But now you made me think twice.


About milling, it would be a good idea to mill your own flours at home.  I would like to do it myself too, just for the fun of it.

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Thanks for the clarification. I wondered about the white wheat only because I've heard so much about it recently here at TFL. My guess:- unless the flour packaging specifically says 'white wheat', then it's red wheat - the darker bran flakes in the photos of your flour would suggest this to be the case.


That leaves me wondering what could be the cause of the colouration in my baking? Even a 20% whole grain addition in my breads turns everything a distinct brown/grey. Perhaps, as you suggest -  it has something to do with the milling. I know the bran can be quite coarse in the whole wheat flour I use (stoneground). 


But anyway, I guess it's just aesthetics. It's the flavour that counts at the end of the day.


Thanks again,


FP

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Are you saying from the photo of my whole wheat flour, it looks red wheat to you?  I am confused myself; very often bakers would comment that my whole wheat loaves look light in color.  Then I read in Australia majority of wheat is white wheat, I immediately thought it meant the whole wheat flour I used is from white wheat.  But now you are indicating it is red wheat?  Does it look similar to red whole wheat flour over your way?


I am sure you are right that the colouration of your bread is due to how your flour is milled.  Also, we really don't know in absolute terms how dark or not dark other breads made with the same flour compositions look.  This is because all our photography is differnt, a minute difference in lighting makes a whole lot of difference.  Even if all photography is done in idential circumstances, there is still the issue of judgement.  You know a Chinese jade is priced on the vivid green color, but do you think you can tell this green from that green?  You have to have a very well trained eye.  There are people who do this, solely this, for a living.


Shiao-Ping

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

I was only guessing. It may well be white wheat - I am not familiar with australian flour.  I was simply referring to how your whole wheat flour looked similar (not identical) to the whole wheat flour I'm used to seeing here in the UK. You are right though, it's almost impossible to do a comparison of photos without the same lighting - and even then to an untrained eye difficult to ascertain.



A picture of the whole wheat flour I'm using. Sorry I didn't get a better closeup. 


FP

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Notwithstanding what rossnroller said about colors, my whole wheat does look like your whole wheat.  I am happy to have the chance of seeing what your flour looks like.  Thanks for showing me the photo.  It is a great help.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Have a look at Jackie's Gerard Rubaud pain de tradition crumb shot here.  That is the color of my crumb.  Also note that you barely see any flecks in his crumb (and he milled his own whole grains!).


Shiao-Ping 

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Thanks - and thank you Jackie for the pics.


FP

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

On the issue of the colour of the bread as depicted in the pictures you posted, Shiao-Ping, another factor that needs to be considered that is probably as significant as the lighting when you took the shots (if not more so), is that colours are rendered differently on different monitors! Not only do different brands of monitors show up colours differently, but people's monitor settings vary enormously - which greatly affects colours. These are things that many people do not know, or take into account - indeed, the only reason I know is that I was seriously into Tshirt design for a while, and inhabited forums on which a lot of graphic designers posted. They were always making this point.


Also, I have a Sony Trinitron CRT monitor that is known for its wonderfully accurate colour rendition. A side-by-side comparison of, say, a website as it appears on my LCD monitor with the same website on the Sony Trinitron makes the point dramatically - believe me! - that the average LCD monitor is nowhere near as accurate in its colour rendition as a quality CRT. Only high end pro LCD monitors professionally calibrated come close to the accuracy of colour rendition on high quality CRT monitors like the Trinitrons...and most of us have monitors made for the mass market. A colour-accurate pro LCD monitor starts at around $2K+ (from memory).


Back to bread. What beautiful looking loaves - especially the first one. That crumb looks spectacularly gorgeous, and this combined with your account of the aroma has me determined to try this one NEXT.


The respect you have for Rubaud is graciously expressed in this bread and in your write-up.


Cheers
Ross

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

... thank you for bringing it up.  So, we are browsing on the same web page but what we all see may well be different.  How interesting.  If I may expand on that point and say, we may be making the same bread by using the same formula, but our end results may well be different.  There are so many variables (and that is why any time someone tells me their bread is great using my formula I just think it is magic that my formula works for them!  Sorry, let me rephrase it - I meant any time someone tells me their bread is great using my formual I think they are their own creator, not me, and that their bread is their baby, I have very little to do with it.) 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I know this is a contrary opinion but I think the cracking is caused by the crumb. Yes you need a dry hard crust for cracking to occur. When the loaf is removed from the oven, it is at the peak of it's height. It is puffed up by the last minute expansion of yeast and of course the energy released by the conversion of water to steam as the hot stone does its work on the bottom. The crust becomes a pressure chamber of sorts. Were it not for the rigid nature of the crust, even where the cuts have allowed expansion, I'm sure our breads would be even larger.


So when the bread is removed from the hot oven, the moisture in the crumb is no longer being steamed by the high heat all around it, and begins to contract. Since the crumb is connected to the crust by an elaborate web of gluten strands, the contracting crumb structure, gripping the crunchy crust, pulls the crust inward creating the cracks on the surface. Shiao-Pings baking method seems to me to encourage this cracking since the shock of a greater temperature change would be greatest.


There is no doubt that Davids method of leaving the bread to dry down after baking helps to create a crust that will not become soft in 30 minutes. Especially given his lower baking temps in general. There is much moisture in the center of a crunchy crusted loaf that will migrate outwards. Try leaving a freshly removed loaf on a sheet of parchment instead of a wire rack and observe the wet paper after a few minutes. There is a lot of water making the trip to the outside.


Anyway, this is my theory. The lack of better science on the subject allows me to be delusional about cracking but it makes sense to me.


Eric

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

THANKS, Eric!


I don't think we need any more physicists to help explaining the phenomena (unless David still thinks so). 



... the contracting crumb structure, gripping the crunchy crust, pulls the crust inward creating the cracks on the surface. Shiao-Pings baking method seems to me to encourage this cracking since the shock of a greater temperature change would be greatest.



Shiao-Ping

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Actually, as you can see from my reply waaaaaay above, on further reflection, I came to the same conclusion as Eric. 


So, since this is a participatory democracy, let's vote on it! (Don't need no stinkin' scientists with their so-called "data!" We got consensus!) ;-)


David (Making fresh pasta today. No bread, crackly or otherwise.)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Consensus.


Nothing worse for science than when everybody agrees on what they thought the other guy said.


Eric

drdobg's picture
drdobg

Shiao-Ping;


I have been awed by your beautiful breads- you truly have the gift!  Could you elaborate on your stretch and fold maneuvers?  I am curious what you mean when you refer to 5 sets of stretch and folds of 30 strokes each? Is this just a modified kneading technique?  I have always thought of the stretch and fold maneuvers as a 1 or 2 folds and then back into the fermenting bowl.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Normally when you use a mixing/kneading machine to make your bread, the dough will have been mixed/kneaded for 2 to 4 minutes or whatever it is required by your formula.   I don't use a bread machine.  The way I do is to "hydrate" the formula flour with the formula water (no kneading), then autolyse 20 - 60 minutes, then I start my first set of stretch and folds in the mixing bowl of 30 odd strokes.   (My mixing bowl is also my fermenting bowl.)  One stroke is like one letter fold.  You grab one corner of the dough from the bottom, pull it up (about 10 - 15 cm high) and fold the dough onto itself.  This is one stroke.  Then repeat at a different corner of the dough.  You rotate the bowl as you go until you have done all corners of the dough perhaps 3 - 4 rounds (30 strokes or so). 

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Absolutely amazing!


 


Once the BBA Challenge is over, I'll attack this miche - my favorite bread in the world!

jabby's picture
jabby

I'm so excited to try to make your bread this weekend. I'm glad you clarified the stretch and fold question. I also thought S&F was a 1-2 time deal.  About the autolyse... I've always just done autolyse with the flour and water but without the starter and salt. Is this also how you do this bread. It's not real clear. You do see you need the water to liquify the starter so I guess the starter has to go in during the autolyse period?

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Sorry it was not clear, there is more info here.  There is no problem if you want to autolyse flour and water, THEN add starter and salt.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Shiao-Ping,


What fantastic bread, and a great story which I picked up from MC's blog.


I don't have the exact reference to hand, but I know Prof. Calvel discusses cracking in the crust surface in "La Gout du Pain".   He didn't really like it, but I think it is the sign of a bread of exceptional crust quality, and many bakers from all walks would agree.   I am really happy if my breads come out with this characteristic.


Around the same time as you were baking the tribute to Gerard Rubaud, I was making pains de campagne loaves here.   Picture below shows a similar translucent quality to the crumb; one of the finest sights to behold in bread and one I only associate with genuine "artisan" bread.



Really good to read both the comments on here, and those on MC's piece about M. Rubaud.


Best wishes


Andy


 


 


 


 


 

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Andy,


Thank you for your comment.  I know the French do not like blisters on crusts because blisters happen normally after the dough had been retarded and the French think the flour would lose its delicate flavor of fermentation after cold-retardation.   I sort of have an idea that they don't like cracks on the crust but I can't figure out why because the French love the crunchy crust as much as we do.  Is it that they don't like the aesthetics part of the cracks or is there more fundamental reason behind?


Re: the translucent crumb.  I tried to think back on the few occasions when I got the translucent crumb.  They seem to have occurred when my levain was at its best and when I was not hurrying through the dough process (that the dough temperature was low so a long and slow fermentation was feasible).  In the case of this GR Miche, the room temperature was high, so I did very short bulk and finished off the proofing in the cold fridge.  What was your experience?  What do you identify was the factor (or factors) behind your "artisan" crumb?


With regards,


Shiao-Ping


p.s.  Would love a bigger picture (if available) to have a closer look at a great crumb!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Shiao-Ping,


see pp76-77 of Calvel's work "The Taste of Bread".


He states it is indicative of over-mixing, resulting in hyperoxidation; commercially revealing excess use of additive.   Clearly not the case for your GR loaf.


Anyway, yes, it is clearly due to "a violent thermal shock".   Calvel suggests the problem is that it leads to the crust flaking off in transportation, prior to retail.


Most of what he says clearly does not apply as over-mixing and high additive levels are clearly not relevant to either your GR loaf, or, any dough that I would mix at home.


I'm at work!!   I will pass on a bigger photo later.


Regarding blisters from cold retarding: it is definitely an aesthetics thing; the French don't see it as attractive.   Calvel has only a colour plate illustrating this as "well received in North America.   In France, bubbles are considered a defect."


Personally, of greater importance is making sure the cold dough surface does not form a leathery skin; this is unpleasant in the mouth when baked, but bubbles is surely just an aesthetic thing?


Best wihes


Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Shiao-Ping, 2nd part of the reply:



"Artisan" Bread, to me, is something that has been created using the skill of the baker's hands, mind and soul.   It also means one person can take control of the whole process and exercise professional judgement to act and adjust as necessary, at any stage in the making of the bread.   There are many people on this site who can rightly claim this prized status; I am sure you are one.


Remember, I live in the north of England and it is mid winter right now.   My wife and I both long for the hot climate of Crete, where we always spend our Summer Holidays.   We love where we live, but the hot weather is a million miles away right now.   That means it's sooo hot in Australia!!


Yes, I think the condition of the levain is vital.   In the end, sufficient hydration of the dough is fundamental.   Not that I get too hung up on this, and I agree with Jeffrey Hamelman about "super-hydration" not being the panacea to cure all breadmaking evils.   I used a strong white flour to make the bread photographed above.   Protein is quoted at 13.2%; I use a very similar flour type commercially at work, in College, milled by the same Co.   Their analysis suggests hydration of 60%.   I add water at between 63 and 65% max for this type of bread.   Pizza dough is just over 70% and Ciabatta I get upto 85%!!   BUT, this flour is strong and it can take that.


In the end, if the flour is of a lesser spec, then all other factors have to be just spot on: leaven, final dough quality, temperatures, hydration, baking conditions; the whole lot.   Not easy; the bread pictured above had hydration of 65%.   The leaven was built over just 2 days from my 100g stock kept in the fridge, with 2 refreshments in that time.   Pre-fermented flour was around 33% of total flour.   I generally ferment the final leaven overnight in the fridge.   The dough was made with cool water, giving a finished temperature around 22*C.   I generally mix by hand for 20 minutes.   I used autolyse for this particular dough, and just a little olive oil on the hands during mixing to condition the dough.   Bulk proof of 2 hours max.   Once the dough has been scaled, shaped and placed in bannetons, I cover with plastic sheeting and leave in front of our hot stove [no more than 30*C].   Final proof will be around 3 hours.   I know this is not perfect, but it works how I want, and is very popular at home; my wife is pretty much yeast intolerant [saccharomyces cerevisiae], so any sourdough is welcome...paradise for me!


One definitely fatal flaw in achieving such a fine crumb: overproof.   Spent dough has to be the pits!   I think having the confidence to work with a cold dough, knowing the balance of fermentables is spot on; that there is a viable yeast count and a balance of lactic and acetic acids is so crucial.   From there, as a home baker in particular, how good is the baking system devised for the oven?   Can you bake quickly enough, without burning the top?


I'm sure you said you use a pizza stone to bake on.   So, although you have a fan oven, your baking method involves a cosiderable amount of conduction!!   I agree with David about fan ovens drying out the baking bread...I have a fan oven; I pre-heat the oven for over an hour and I set my oven right up to 240*C before setting any bread on top of the 3 bricks I bake on.   I have an old roasting pot on the floor of the oven, filled with large pebbles.   I pour boiling water onto these as I set the bread for a source of steam.   this delays crust formation.   I then drop the oven temperature about 15 minutes into bakng to prevent excessive top heat.


In the end I don't think there is a single answer, but taking control and using all the above really helps to achieve the desired ends.


What's your next project?   I am working with my students on Monday to produce  a range of traditional breads using a biga and a poolish and a range of local flour from organic wheat grown and milled just 15 miles away from our College.   It's now the weekend, but this seems like an exciting start to my week!


Best wishes


Andy

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Andy


Your crumb has like a pale peach-color mother of pearl sheen to it, most beautiful.  To achieve a crumb like that would be a dream for me.  Thank you for sharing with us the photo. 


You talked about cold dough.  That is definitely not something that I feel comfortable handling.  In fact that is an interesting concept for me.  Debra Wink talked about starters maintained cool which "get less sour and rise quite well between refreshments"  in her monumental piece on Lactic Acid Fermentation in Sourdough a year ago.  If you ferment your final leaven overnight in the fridge, is it a liquid leaven?  If your fermented flour is 33% of total flour, is your leaven 100% of final dough flour?  I have found a range of leaven baker's percentages that work, ranging from as low as 4.8 - 5% to as high as 250%!   As you said, it is a matter of "taking control" of the dough process, "the whole lot."  There is not just one scenario that can work, any scenario can potentially work.  We the baker are the captain.


My next project?  I will be experimenting on bold and gutsy baking, on pastry flour, and on a combination of flours (3% rye, 7% WW and the rest white).  Did your bread above use a small percentage of wholemeal or rye or any other flour?   


Can you please show us more of your sourdough baking in your blog when you get a chance.


Thank you and regards,


Shiao-Ping

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Shiao-Ping,


The bread in the photo is made with all white flour.   The original portion of levain used for the build did have some wholegrain in it, but I am not sure what.   I suspect it was Dark Rye flour.   There is a small yellow speck in the lower portion of the crumb, and I suspect this is a fleck of bran from that original sour.!


I found Gerard Rubaud's method of starting out a new levain more frequently very strange.   It runs counter to everything I have heard before.   I know that sourcing sour dough from an old and time-honoured source can give a great marketing story, but the main factor surely is that the strains of wild yeast have been given time to develop and strengthen.   I don't really like making starters from scratch unless I have to.   I would sooner use an old leaven and refresh it until I thought it was robust enough to work with.   Obviously I would not like to use a sour which has "gone off"...there is no worse smell in the world than a putrid rye sour.  I once spent Christmas Day trying to rescue enough rye sour to rebuild stock for the New Year bake.   We had 10 bins approx 1.5m cubed, and I needed just one bin refreshed to kickstart the whole 10.   But every bin I looked in was rank...it's the worst Christmas I ever had.


I just love what Hamelman has to say on pp352 under the heading Sourdough and Alchemy; it really says it all.


In respect of the leavens I use, I nearly always work as follows:


For wheat I use a STIFF leaven, which would be 100 of white flour and 60 of water. when completely built   If I used a small portion of wholemeal in this I may increase the water by a fraction.   If it was all wholemeal, I would up the water to nearer 70.   This is based on the French Leaven we used to make literally hundreds of "miche-style" loaves everyday.   For Rye I have already given you the proportions.   They are nothing like Hamelman's.   I have never used stiff rye sour cultures.   I love the concept of the Detmolder and building the culture so precisely, and I relate absolutely to the purpose of this; ie the creation of balance between lactic and acetic acids and viable wild yeast count, as discussed in the reply I gave to Hansjoakim.   But a liquid Rye sour with an 18 hour ferment works for me, so that is what I use.   I have a plan to do the Detmolder soon, and will keep you posted on that!


To be honest, when I bake at home, I need a full day to make the final dough, prove it and do the baking.   It's my day off, and I get up 05:30 through the week, so I don't want to get up at 04:00 to make my leaven.   Late evening refreshment, followed by overnight refrigeration works fine.


Regarding proportion of pre-fermented flour, I would say anything from 10 to 50%.   Your suggestion of 4-5% would be fine, but a long period of bulk fermentation would then be necessary.   If that's the case, I have to ask myself what is the point of any preferment.   Even at 10% bulk ferment would have to be 2 hours.   One of the benefits of a pre-ferment to me is that it reduces the bulk ferment time; for that reason I like to aim for 25% pre-fermented flour.   Again, it also depends on the leaven used; how sour is it?   If it is only 4 hours old and is built on 3 refreshments at 4 hour intervals, then there is a serious acid defficiency and the dough will need heaps of bulk fermentation time; but if the leaven is based on a single refreshment of an old mother sitting in the fridge week after week, then the final dough will not cope with any bulk at all.


I agree wholeheartedly, and my wife and I think it is a wonderful phrase: "we the baker are captain".  It's a great place to be too


Best wishes


Andy  

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Andy


Thank you for your detailed reply.  Hamelman's Sourdough & Alchemy is indeed a beautiful read.  You list Daniel Leader's Local Breads as one of your favourite baking books.  On page 133, answering to the first question under Frequently Asked Questions About Levain and Pain au Levain, Leader said, "Jean LeFleur, the master baker who taught Basil Kamir the essentials of levain, used to throw away his sourdough and start anew several times a year."  Leader said that Jean LeFleur didn't like a starter that was too old, believing that "it was too sour and not powerful enough to raise the kind of light, sweet bread he favored."  If my memory serves me right, from what MC said, Gerard Rubaud's view is that the levain might have picked up some unwanted bacteria and is no longer "pure" to make "the kind of light, sweet bread" that the French love!  Well, we might beg to differ on that.  And, what a difference between Hamelman's and Jean LeFleur's views, two Master Bakers.


Thank you once again.


Shiao-Ping

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Shiao-Ping,


I have updated my Blog and put lots of detail on there in relation to ur discussions including Hans.


Hope this is the sort of thing you wanted me to put on the blog


Best wishes


Andy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and starting over.  I can only conclude that whatever he was doing to maintain his starter was the problem, not the starter itself.  The starter was only reacting to the situation it was existing in.  I think we sometimes get set in our ways.   We think we do one thing but do another.  If his solution is to start over and it is the easiest for him, then fine, but I think there might be a better solution found in just understanding the starter better and how his handling changed the starter to a "too sour" culture.


Translucent crumb seems to show up more with longer "wet time" of the dough.  Long autolyse, preferments, retarding, slow fermentation, etc.  Don't you find that so?


Mini

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

We can never be sure of what exactly was the case.  However, the interesting thing is that, once a master baker, or any baker, forms that view and passes down his craft, followers down the century will do it his master's way even though circumstances have changed; e.g., better sanitary standards, better science and understanding of how things work together, etc.  


The very first time that I noticed a translucent crumb that I made was from a San Francisco style of bread.


Shiao-Ping

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I find the crackling of the crust to be visually appealing and I love the phrase "violent thermal shock".  It is so much the antithesis of all the gentle handling that goes on in creating beautiful bread.


I have decided to add "VTS" to my vocabulary and see what I can do to bring it about in my breads.


Jeff

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Shiao-Ping,


I wonder if you could tell us about the process for creating the levain? 


I'm on my second attempt at birthing a new levain but I have a feeling that it's not going to work out. I know that Rubaud uses freshly milled flour - but I simply don't have the tools for that at the moment. 


I guess I could convert some of my 100% hydration starter to a stiffer levain - but I worry i would be missing something of Rubaud's process and ultimately flavour...or maybe not?


Any insights you have, would be most appreciated.


Many Thanks


FP

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi FP


I did not do a Gerard levain from the start.  I am too impatient for that.  I converted my usual starter for my GR Miche.  What I did was once my usual white starter was ripe and ready to be used (which meant two refreshes out of the refrigerator, or one or none for you if you use yours frequently), I then started the 3 build process.  


I would not recommend anyone to do a Gerard levain from the start just for this Miche until they've used their own starter (as above).  The reason is, look at how small the seed starter that is required - only 6 grams for the first build for a final dough yield of 1,920 grams!!  A percentage of 0.3%!  You think you would notice the difference, whether the bread is made from a genuine Gerard levain or not?  I sure wouldn't be able to. 


What I think would make a big difference, on the other hand, in terms of flavour is the freshly ground whole grains flours.   Think about it - it is 30%, and the impact is straight away!  I don't have the tool to grind whole grains as yet so I opted for the ready and easy solution.  I was not going to let that stop me from making the bread.


That said, it would be a good learning exercise to culture a levain the Gerard way.  I don't know if I would be ever keen to try though.  You are perhaps more a purist than I am.


Shiao-Ping

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

First, Shiao-Ping, a truly marvellous bake! I'm positive monsieur Rubaud will approve of your fabulous results!


I have a question for both you and FP regarding the sourdough builds. I've also experimented with using different flours and builds in my sourdoughs before mixing the final dough, including multiple steps and mixing part of the whole-grain flour into the sourdough. To be honest, with my flour, my formulas and my starter, I can't tell a difference in the final loaf whether the starter is propagated over several steps or whether the flour combination I feed the starter is changed. There are smaller differences in fermentation times (e.g. more whole-grain in the starter feedings increase fermentation activity and shorten ripening times), but I've not been able to single out flavour differences or noticeable, reproduceable differences in the crumb.


Do you have any thoughts on the logic behind the multiple steps involved in Gerard's formula, and whether these actually make the resulting bread any different from say a one-step build?

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

hansjoakim, that's an excellent question. 


I am glad that someone finally brought up this issue.  I am not experienced enough in sourdough baking to give any real insight.  When we use starter we have two purposes we try to achieve, among other things - flavour and leavening power.  All that I can say about the multiple steps in building the levain towards a final dough is that in the very least the levain will be in very healthy condition and that its leavening power will be in no doubt.  As for flavour, the subject of your query, what I can say is: when the levain is in very healthy condition, for sure it can do a better job in fermenting the flour and giving off that alcohol and acids that we so look for.  


From your question I gather that your starter must be in top-notch condition such that one build is good enough for you.  I can never be sure of that.  I often cut corners and I know when I am serious about a particular bake I will need multiple builds to bring my starter up to speed.  The very first time I became aware of this was when I read about Chad Robertson's special two-hour levain expansion before he uses his levain to build his final dough.  Also, we know that most master bakers stress that starter to be ripe and ready before we use it, which means at least two refreshes.


Over and beyond the above, I really can't say that a levain that is built over many steps gives me more distinctive flavour in the final product.  My taste buds are never that delicate anyway. 


You brought up a very interesting topic and I know, for one, I will be coming back to revisit this issue over and over again.   


Thank you.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Thanks for your reply, Shiao-Ping!


I've been thinking a little more about this today, and I think there might be a connection between your feeding schedule and the yeast activity in the sourdough.


The growth of lactobacilli is very sensitive to the pH of a sourdough. Maximum growth rates of desirable lactobacilli are found when the pH is around 5.0 in the starter - this kind of pH level is achieved when the starter:flour feeding ratio is 5% - 20%, i.e. a high degree of dilution at each feeding. The pH drops as the lactobacilli generate acetic and lactic acids; acid production continue until the pH hits 3.6 - 3.8.


Now, since whole-grain flours have higher buffering capacity than white flour, more acids can be generated before the pH is lowered towards 3.6 - 3.8.


Going back to the feeding schedule you outline above, the starter:flour feeding ratio is much higher. This lower degree of dilution at each feeding keeps the pH low at each step in the sourdough build. We know that lactobacilli doesn't like the low pH. Yeasts, on the other hand, don't like high acid concentrations, but they don't mind low pH values. So it seems to me that Rubaud's feeding schedule is designed to encourage yeast growth over lactobacilli. It's perhaps not very different from Italian levains; these are stiff levains fed according to a 2:1:2 (starter:water:flour) ratio. This is mixed and fermented four hours before a new refreshment is made. This extremely low dilution then yields a levain that has terrific leavening capacities and a very mild flavour (since, apart from certain acid-tolerant strains, the lactobacilli are rather inactive).


Now... whether our tastebuds can figure out the difference is another matter, right?

ananda's picture
ananda

For Hansjoakim and Shiao-Ping.


You have a really interesting discussion going on here, and I hope you don't mind if I join in?


I agree entirely with Hans' comments about lactobacillus in relation to pH values.


However, in relation to building the leaven, I think you need to look at time factors for the refreshment schedule to really see what is going.   The first refreshment is left for a comparatively long time.   I feel that is to give the somewhat dormant wild yeasts plenty of time to come back to life.   Yes, the pH will be relatively low again, just prior to refreshment... but the 2nd and 3rd builds have relatively short fermentation periods.   This will mean the now re-juvenated wild yeasts will really make hay as the pH is now higher.   Here, I am confused by what Hans says about yeasts not liking high acid concentration, but not minding low pH ..surely the 2 are the same; low pH means high acid concentration yes?


To my mind, the first refreshment helps to retain some element of acid, but the 2nd and 3rd give the yeasts more chance to thrive.   It's not like Hamelman's Detmolder, and it is not a regime I've tried before.   As I say, I don't get too hung up on exact feeding regimes.   If you find something that works, then stick with it.


For all that we are talking symbiosis of lactic and acetic acids, and viable count of wild yeasts.   It is not an easy balance to achieve, so all the knowledge and understanding we can share can only be of help and inspiration to all of us on the quest to make the best bread.


Best wishes


Andy

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Andy, I didn't realize you have replied when I made my comment to hansjoakim above.  Thank you for joining in.  You mentioned not to get too hung up on feeding regimes, I guess a feeding "regime", like a recipe or formula, is there only as a guideline.  Also, you have mentioned about finding the balance between yeasts and acids a few times now.  The way I look at a levain feeding (and so, fermenting) regime is that it helps towards finding that eventual balance in the final dough, the other important part being the final dough fermentation (ie, the ultimate feeding for our yeasts and LAB's).  There are so many variables as you mentioned and that's why it never is a fixed thing and that's why the need is there for us to be overseeing the whole process and made adjustments along the way while allowing things to happen on their own accord.  A long time ago I read on TFL about the process being a rhythm or having its own rhythm.  For aspiring home baker it is always a challenge to find that balance; some body else's balance may not be our balance, and on top of that we may not have the right knowledge and experience as our tools and at our disposal when we are feeling our way through building a framework towards finding our own "balance."  A continued discussion on TFL is most appreciated.


Thank you and regards,


Shiao-Ping

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Andy,


And thanks for your comments! I'm glad you joined in!


First, regarding the question of high acid concentrations implying low pH: I believe this is related to the flour's buffering capacity. From what I understand, the flour's buffering capacity increases with its extraction rate (or perhaps its ash content; either way, ash and extraction are related). If the flour has high buffering capacity, higher concentrations of acid can be produced before the pH starts dropping. That's (as far as I understand) the reason why starters mixed with whole-grain flour produce more tangy flavour in the final loaf; the lactobacilli in the starter produce higher concentrations of lactic and acetic acids before the pH drops to 3.6 - 3.8, the region where lactobacilli stop producing acids. In Rubaud's levain there is mainly white flour, so I think this implies that rather low concentrations of acids are produced before the pH drops. This means that lactobacilli growth is inhibited rather quickly (low pH), but yeast growth continues (low concentration of acetic acid).


My over-simplified picture of the fermentation process, is that the lactobacilli are very sensitive to the pH, while yeasts are very sensitive to the concentration of acetic acids. I think it's also stated either in the sourdough FAQ or in "The Bread Builders" by Dan Wing and Alan Scott, that lactobacilli are more sensitive to salt than what yeast is. I noticed that Rubaud uses a pinch of salt in his levain builds; this slows down lactobacilli more than it does the yeast.


Although there's still plenty of room for lactobacilli growth, it seems to me that Rubaud's levain definitely promotes yeast growth over lactobacilli.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

hansjoakim,


Before I read Debra Wink's Lactic Acid Fermentation in Sourdough, I had a rudimentary idea that since yeast comes with flour, not water, if I made a stiffer levain, I should get more yeast count, and therefore better leavening with my dough.  My plan worked well until I strained my right wrist (again) a couple of months back, stirring a large quantity of very stiff starter with one hand.  When I look back now, it is really unnecessary to be keeping a large quantity of starter supply in the fridge - in fact, totally unnecessary for the home baking.  Unless you want a whole lot of dead yeasts in your starter sitting in the fridge, as do many German bakers, purely for flavour sake, not leavening capability of the starter - otherwise, a very small quantity of starter, stiff or liquid, is sufficient for our home use.


You said that lactobacilli don't like low pH and that yeasts don't like high acid concentration, but to me low pH equals high acid!  You did say that yeasts don't mind low pH and that they thrive better in that environment than lactobacilli.  


I agree with you that Rubaud's feeding schedule seems to encourage yeast growth over lactobacilli.  That's precisely how I've found with my GR Miche - every cell seems to have been aerated; there was the vestige of yeast fermentation in every single cell that you are left with a very translucent crumb. 


I have just gone over your original question to me:



Do you have any thoughts on the logic behind the multiple steps involved in Gerard's formula, and whether these actually make the resulting bread any different from say a one-step build?



You found your own answer in your reply above and that is, in GR's 3-build levain, there is more yeast count vs. lactobacilli, and the result is that there is more leavening happening while the acidity is being controlled at a level palatable to the French taste.  Do you think this makes sense?


To your last question,



Now... whether our taste buds can figure out the difference is another matter, right?



Yes, I think so (but that was not the issue).


Thank you for your very imformative discussion.  It is very revealing of what goes on behind a traditional formula.


Shiao-Ping

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Yes when I looked at the figures again for % levain in final dough it is a very small amount indeed. I may have been overly worried about that aspect of it.


However, good news is that my Rubaud levain came to life sometime this morning (although I didn't catch it until this afternoon). I'm going to carefully nurture it, hopefully to reach full strength by Sunday.


Cheers,


FP

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy

Stunning!


 


 


I bow in your general direction!


 


Jeremy (Lazy baker)

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

You disguise yourself really well.  I thought you were one of those Russian spies with beautiful virtual faces who always comment on mariana-aga's beautiful blog.   (How I love those virtual faces.)  Even after MC replied to you by addressing you Jeremy, I still didn't get it.


Your "Crumb, the perfect holes!" are indeed perfect!


Thanks, Shiao-Ping

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Shiao-Ping.


I am inspired by your gorgeous miches and am going to be making Rubaud's bread tomorrow. I am not clear on one element of your method though.


You say: 



With my method it is important that the starter is completely diluted with the formula water. 



Does this mean you first dissolve the starter in the final dough water, then add the flours (and salt?), mix and "autolyse?" Or do you add the salt and levain to the dough after the autolyse?


Thanks! I'm eagerly anticipating this bread and am trying to stick as close to your method as I can.


David

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Sorry about the fusion.  I meant that I first diluted my starter with all of the formula water (I documented this part of the procedure in my Light Rye & Light Wholewheat Rustic Pain au Levain post on Sourdough Companion (see section under Method).  My purpose was so that the starter is evenly disbursed in the final dough.  But on second thought, I don't think I should have said "With my method, it is important bla bla bla..." because as long as your starter is very well mixed into the final dough, there should not be any problem with your method.  I don't think there is anything so special about this part of my method.   What it does is it makes hand mixing really easy for me.


Also, I never mentioned that my baking temperatures are convection oven temperatures.  Some baking instructions say that convection oven temperature is 20 degree C higher than a non-convection oven temperature.  (For instance, in Australia, whenever I read baking or heating instruction, if it says, bake at 180 degree C, it would also say 160 degree C if using convection oven.)  With Andy's comment on the cracking crust being a case of a "violent thermal shock," I am wondering if the fact that I always bake at 20 degree C higher than I actually said I did made any difference at all.  

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I didn't find what MC or Gérard do. Since I will do the initial mixing by machine, I will probably do an autolyse à la Calvel and incorporate the levain after the autolyse.


Thanks for the information about your using convection bake. It's not just the higher temperature. The blowing air may also accelerate the crust drying, don't you think?


David

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

I am sure you are right.

CaptainBatard's picture
CaptainBatard

and use too much of the formula's water for the levain...It made a real mess!

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

What do you mean?  - not to use all formula water in the levain? Or, not to use all formula water, full stop, because the hyrdation is too high?  It is okay to drop a couple of percentage of hydration (ie, 20 - 22 grams for my formula here) and still call it a GR miche.   I asked MC exactly what GR's dough hydration was and she said he normally aims for 80%, but it can be as low as 78 - 79%.


It might be interesting to experiment on a much lower hydration, eg. 67 - 69%, with GR's flour compositions.


 

CaptainBatard's picture
CaptainBatard

I did not really understand your methodology totally...Usually an autolyse is done without the addition of the levain and salt. The first time I made the Pointe-a-Calliere I diluted the levain with too much of the water and did not have enough for a good mix for the autolyse....so it was a mess tiring to incorporate the levain into the very dry dough(oops). This past mix worked out fine...I just used enough to make a thick slurry and added it to the autolyse. Since I like using the mixer to fully incorporate the ingredients...i will just put the bowl in the proofer to keep it warm and after an hour... add the cut up levain and salt to the mix on low speed like I usually do....and then proceed with the S+Fs.


 

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