The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No longer so kneady

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JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

No longer so kneady

It hasn't been a snowy winter, but (an unnervingly warm first half of January aside) it has been a cold winter. Thankfully, spring has finally arrived. Our New England canopy is finally greenish again, and the temperature has been creeping toward, occasionally even attaining, 70 degrees. Which can only mean one thing.

Time to bake burger buns.

But of course, I had a lot more baking than that in mind. Plus, thanks to a post by TheGreenBaker which led me to revisit Mike Avery's Stretch and Fold video and lesson, I decided to try not kneading anything I worked on this weekend.

It worked beautifully and is easily the biggest breakthrough for my baking technique in many, many months. Knowing that I can just mix any bread in a matter of minutes and then only need to pay attention to it for 3-4 minutes every hour or so is hugely liberating. With a 3-year-old, finding 3 minutes is no big deal -- finding 20-30 is a very big deal indeed.



The first bread I made this weekend was Desem, as we were having friends over for dinner. The menu I'd planned was relatively simple. Asparagus with lemon butter, golden cheddar soup (a delicious, easy soup from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home with potato, carrots, yellow squash, onion, garlic, buttermilk and ... oh yeah ... cheddar) and carrot and avocado salad.

Basically, I thought these foods would go well with the bread I wanted to bake (surely, I'm not the only one here who plans menus in this bass-ackwards fashion ....).

Here's how I made it:

  • Whole wheat bread flour: 100%
  • Water: 90%
  • Salt: 2%
  • Starter: 30% of the flour was prefermented at 60% hydration


Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat flour: 350 grams
  • Water: 360 grams
  • Salt: 10 grams
  • Starter: 240 grams


First, I tore up the starter into small chunks, poured the water over it and mushed it up with my fingers. I then let it soak for about 10 minutes before I added the flour and salt, which had already been mixed together. A minute or so of mixing with the dough whisk, and I covered the bowl with a plate to rest at room temperature for an hour.

After an hour, I removed the dough, which was still very rough, and flattened it out gently, looking for thick spots with my fingers. When I found them (and there weren't many), I mashed them real good with the palm of my hand. I then did one stretch and fold and let it rest again. I did two more folds over the next three hours, before I shaped it.

Here's where I owe a huge thank you to all the kind folks who gave me advice on how to avoid the sticky sticky arrgggh sensation I'd come to know so well. It turns out Bill Wraith's advice was really key, for me, anyway. The dough was pretty wet (though not as wet as the 100% hydration high-extraction flour ciabattas Bill regularly wrangles with - now THAT'S amazing), so I was concerned that I'd get a stringy, gluey, sticky mess when I tried to turn it out of the proofing basket and onto the peel. But Bill had suggested dusting the loaf before placing it in the well-floured banneton. I did, and it worked. I used a 50-50 mix of white rice flour and whole wheat flour for dusting and, I'm happy to say, the loaf popped right out. Amazing. Thanks Bill, and everyone else.

I turned the dough out onto parchment on my peel, and then loaded it directly onto a hot stone at 460 degress F, which I promptly covered with the top half of my cloche. After 30 minutes, I uncovered it and let it bake for another 20 minutes.



The crumb was more open than it was a 85%, but still not as open as the beauties that Mountaindog and Jane pulled from their ovens. I'm wondering whether it's my dough handling? Perhaps I'm being too rough shaping the dough into a boule? Mountaindog, could you describe (or even better, video) how you shape your dough? I'm beginning to think that's the key to how you get such a beautiful crumb structure.

Nevertheless, I was the only one who was a bit disappointed. The flavor was everything I could have hoped for from a Desem loaf. One of our friends thought it had to have some rye in it.

On Sunday, I made sourdough waffles that came out ... very strange. The salt apparently didn't blend into the dough, which resulted in waffles that were mostly bland, except for pockets of pretzel-like saltiness. Unappealing, to say the least. I'm not sure what I did wrong, as I thought I'd blended the salt well. Guess I didn't. Anyone else ever have this problem? Pretzel-waffles are a concoction I can't recommend to anyone.

After church, I took a trip to Debra's Natural Gourmet in Concord to pick up another 50 lb bag of hard red spring wheat. It's a bit of a hike, but worth it - it's the only place I can get big bags of wheat berries in Boston that I know of, and it's relatively cheap. Just less than 50 cents a pound for organic berries.

So, in the afternoon, I made Kaiser rolls (gonna grill turkey burgers tomorrow night - yum) and some sourdough sandwich bread.

First though, we had to have dinner. Earlier in the day, I'd pulled a sourdough pizza doughball from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. Around 4pm, I put it on the counter and, after a trip to the park with Iris, came back to make the sauce, grate the cheese, chop the toppings and make the pizza. I was a bit concerned, since this doughball had been in the freezer for one month, but it turned out well, as you can see below.

.
I'm not sure why the cheese bubbled up to cover the toppings (roasted bell peppers, sliced turkey sausage and black olives) but it tasted fine, anyway. I used a new brand of feta, so maybe that's it?



The whole wheat Kaiser rolls turned out really well, though I made them wetter than I'd intended because I didn't compensate adequately for the eggs. I didn't do the Kaiser roll fold, though - I just tied them in an knot. My daughter wanted me to play dominoes (the knock-down kind, not the boardgame), so I didn't have time for anything really fancy.

Last, the whole wheat sourdough sandwich dough.



I used the stretch-and-fold method with both the rolls and the sandwich bread, and, I've got to say, the dough was at least as well developed as it is when I knead, and may have been even better. The only change I made to the recipe was to melt the butter for easy incorporation. From now on, I'll be much less kneady guy.

I thought I'd leave you with one more photo, just to prove that I don't do all the baking in the house. While I went to get grains (btw, I bought 6 lbs of spelt berries while I was there. I can't WAIT to try them out!), Aurora and Iris made brownies!



I used to lick the spoon in exactly the same way when my Mom made brownies.

Heck, when no one's looking, I still do.

Comments

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Hi J - Do you think this method would work with any kind of dough or just the whole-wheat kind? BTW your daughter is amazing! What beautiful hair...

 Trish in Omaha

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

This is new to me, but according to Mike Avery, it works with any kind of dough, from bagels to ciabatta. And since whole wheat doughs are tougher to develop than white flour doughs, if it works with whole wheat, it'll definitely work with white flour.

And thanks! I think Iris is pretty amazing too.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...for some reason I have the memory of reading that it is proper to fold any "properly kneaded bread" but this doesn't make sense to me.  I'm trying to remember where I may have read that.

At any rate, my confusion it this:  I thought folding was a way to develop the gluten which is the same thing kneading; a.k.a. mixing, does.  Is that correct?  And if so, then why would certain recipes call for mixing in the stand mixer for longer periods of time but still incorporate multiple foldings?  Am I confusing folding with mixing?

I am trying to elminate as much work as possible and mix the least time I can and fold away.  :o)  I'm too much of a bread novice to understand what the dough should feel like at various stages and the times I've experimented with cutting mixing times way down and folded more I tended to feel angst that I was not doing proper development of the dough.

And, one more question.  How does this no kneading relate to your post of the buttermilk WW where you felt the extra kneading was the key?  I need a lot of help especially because I am going to finally start working with more WW so any instruction you can give me is welcome.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

At any rate, my confusion it this: I thought folding was a way to develop the gluten which is the same thing kneading; a.k.a. mixing, does. Is that correct? And if so, then why would certain recipes call for mixing in the stand mixer for longer periods of time but still incorporate multiple foldings? Am I confusing folding with mixing?

Usually, kneading refers to developing the dough by hand, while mixing means you're using a KitchenAid or some other sort of stand mixer for dough development. Folding is always done by hand and has been used in concert with kneading and mixing, especially in Bread, where Hammelman often calls for mixing the dough followed by a fold or two.

But thanks to a bunch of folks who have educated me (Mike Avery, NYT / Sullivan St. Method, Sourdough-Guy), I've now come to realize that kneading is not at all necessary. Time and occassional folds develop the dough just as well if not better than a long, up front kneading.
I am trying to elminate as much work as possible and mix the least time I can and fold away.

I hear you! That's why this method of developing the dough is so exciting to me. As I said above, finding the time to knead is just about impossible with a three-year-old underfoot.

And, one more question. How does this no kneading relate to your post of the buttermilk WW where you felt the extra kneading was the key? I need a lot of help especially because I am going to finally start working with more WW so any instruction you can give me is welcome.
Basically, I didn't know any better. It is true (at least in my experience) that if you are going to knead the dough in the traditional manner, you have to knead much longer with whole-wheat dough than with white flour dough to get the proper development. But this weekend, I didn't knead a thing, and still got fine dough development from all my breads, all of which were 100% whole wheat. And what's particularly exciting to me is that they were different kinds of breads.

The Desem, for example, was a very wet, lean sourdough bread with a stiff starter (by lean, I mean it's just flour, water, salt and leavening). The kaiser rolls were made from a wettish staight dough (i.e. no pre-ferement at all and using commercial yeast) enriched with eggs, oil and diastatic malt powder. The sourdough sandwich bread was from a medium soft dough that included butter and honey.

To me, that's really cool -- Mike said that it works with any dough, and that statement was bourne out in my baking. Of course, it means that my massive, rock-hard, whole-wheat developed shoulders will atrophy away into puny little nubs, but that's a small price to pay, in my humble opinion, for more time to do other things while the dough does most of the work all by itself.

If you're interested in this technique and haven't yet looked at Mike Avery's write-up and videos, I highly recommend them.
zolablue's picture
zolablue

WHOOO HOOOOOOOOO!

Music to my ears.  I basically have learned bread baking using this method mostly from Glezer because I'm obssessed with her book.  :o)  It just seemed almost too good to be true but because she explained things so well I just followed and I could see incredible things happening with dough. 

The main problem I can see for me is that because my first bread was ciabatta I am so used to very wet breads that I really have more problems with breads that need more flour.  So while this method works I do second guess myself only for the reason that I'm always thinking I perhaps needed a bit more flour.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions in such a careful way.  I got it all.  (yippee!)  You have been very helpful, I am grateful beyond belief and now I am going forward barely mixing that gloppy stuff and continuing to fold everything with confidence. 

Last but not least, you are a baking machine and all your wonderful bread (boy, you were busy this weekend) is making me hungry.  Inspiring - thanks!

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Zolablue commented:

To me, that's really cool -- Mike said that it works with any dough, and that statement was bourne out in my baking. Of course, it means that my massive, rock-hard, whole-wheat developed shoulders will atrophy away into puny little nubs, but that's a small price to pay, in my humble opinion, for more time to do other things while the dough does most of the work all by itself.

(Sorry if I didn't do the quote thing correctly, I don't come here terribly often.)

One of the things many people don't understand about whole wheat is that it will absorb more water than white flour - but that it absorbs it more slowly. I usually make white breads at 65 to 75% hydration, depending on the kind of bread. Whole wheat runs 85 to 100% hydration.

 

The best way to knead any dough, especially whole grains, is to knead about 5 minutes, let the dough rest about 5 minutes, and then knead another 5 minutes. The rest lets the dough relax and the flour absorb moisture. I believe in letting nature do the work for me. This usually gets me to a point where a plain dough will pass a windowpane test.

The first time I made bread was in 1973 when I was desperate for bread with taste. My German mother had made bread when I was a kid, and I was in Germany in the army... so when I was out of the army and in college, I wanted REAL bread - there certainly wasn't any in the local grocery stores! The recipe told me to knead and add flour until the dough was no longer sticky. 45 gruelling minutes later, I had achieved my goal. And was very disappointed that the bread was more of a door stop. It is surprising how much flour you can knead into a dough if just don't have a clue.

As to kneading, most people overdo it. I have an set of kneading videos at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/kneadingconverting.html that go through a relatively stress free way to knead dough. I will probably re-do the videos before long - they also show how many mistakes you can make and still have bread. If you look at the videos, try to laugh with me and not at me. Several people who have taken my baking classes and told me they couldn't knead bread dough because of arthritis, carpal tunnel or whatever were surprised that when they used the techniques I use they had no problems. Your mileage may vary, of course. And, there's a pretty nice Mexican bread recipe there too if you like sweet, eggy anise flavored breads. It's a killer breakfast bread, and would be awesome with strawberries at tea time. Or you can do what the Mexicans do and dip it into hot chocolate.

Mike

 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Mike, I will appreciate reading your comments but just wanted to quickly mention that you took the quote from JMonkey answering my questions.  He is the one that made the "massive rock hard shoulders" comment referring to himself (hehe) - not me.  I'm a girl, (and a girlie-girl at that) so I was never in fear of developing those myself.  (chuckle)  Just wanted to make that clear since I'm pretty sure my husband, even though he loves my bread baking, would not appreciate my suddenly developing in that way.  :o)

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Oops.. sorry about the mis attributed quote.

 Mike

 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Nothing at all to be embarrassed about.  Have you read on this site how confused I often am!  (hehe)  I got a big chuckle but more than that I so appreciate your help and info.  Thanks!

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Hi Mike, so I took the last of the pizza dough I made last weekend out of the freezer and it hadn't been kneaded or put through bulk fermentation yet. I used your method of kneading and it was super easy! It's the first time that I really understood the feel of the bread and how I should do long kneading strokes following through the bread as in frisaige (damn how do you spell it again?!).

Anyways all, Mike has been awesome in helping understand dough. I highly recommend the videos on his site!!

Thanks again Mike and it's good to see ya here this weekend!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Heh. The rock-hard shoulders bit was a joke between my wife and I when I first started baking whole-wheat breads. I'd read The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and was following her instructions, which I know you've read. Rock hard shoulders indeed -- but it did make a big difference in how my bread turned out.

About six months later, I started to realize how a bit of pre-soaking / autolyzing could reduce the amount of kneading and, today, thanks in large part to you, I fold instead of kneading, which is much more comfortable.

The other part of the joke was that I'd get those big manly shoulders or, if I didn't, it'd be because I'd ruptured a disc first ....

So my back (if not my shoulders) thank you!

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I have visited your posts a couple times where you had pizza shown, and had a couple questions if you dont mind.

I tried out the pizza recipe here on this site, after seeing your heart shaped pizza, and the center of my pizza didnt really cook well.  The outer crust edge seemed o.k. but the center seemed still kinda doughy under the sauce and toppings.  I baked in a 500' F. oven on a preheated stone.  I used parchment with cornmeal to transfer from peel to stone, and left the parchment under the dough the whole time.  Baked about 10-13minutes. 

To the question, do you ever get a doughy bottom?  And just how is your pizza bottom, is it fluffy and airy, or just flat and baked?

Tattooed Tonka

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I have had doughy pizzas before, but only if I didn't stretch it out thin enough. These days, I shape my dough like this: First, I dust my knuckles with plenty of flour. Then, I rest the dough ball on the knuckles of my upturned fists, and bounce it lightly in a circle, giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once it starts to resemble a pizza, I drape it over my knuckles and hands, and turn it around, mostly letting gravity do the stretching, but also giving it little tugs now and then.

That way, I can usually get a dough thin enough so that it cooks quickly. The resulting crust is crispy and thin, but not dense. I wouldn't call it airy -- the dough I make isn't really wet enough to make an airy dough -- but it's plenty light.

That help?

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

TT

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Bravo jmonkey, you did a great job with this post from the writing and concept to the images. Very informative and well documented. I have stopped kneading also at least conventional kneading.

I have come to believe that with white or 50% white doughs I get better results with starting with a French fold. I do that sourdough-guy maneuver 4 or 5 times which gets the gluten formed and then I leave the dough in the bowl in a ball for later stretch and folds like you describe here.

It seems there are conventional truths that need to be questioned. Personally I find this refreshing. Thanks for a very informative post jmonkey.

Eric

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I just wanted to say that little or no kneading and more resting and folding works very well with white flours and mixed white and whole wheat, too.  All the sourdough ciabatta doughs in my blog entries, and all the mixed flour miches are done with little actual kneading. I do some "french folds", as ehanner does, and similar to the Sourdough-guy video to get some air in the dough, mix it up well, and start the gluten forming. There is also a very informative video describing how to mix in the Richard Bertinet book, by the way.

I agree with Zolablue, that you really see this clearly in the Glezer recipe for ciabatta. I've also learned a great deal by making a couple of variations of Sourdough-guy's pignotta recently.

I recently blogged my attempts to do pignotta, following Sourdough-guy's recent blog entry. Both blog entries have pictures of the process that show doing minimal mixing, followed by folding a few times over the course of the bulk fermentation. I had some problems for reasons having nothing to do with the folding technique, but not kneading, doing some mixing in the bowl followed by rest, and some folds works great.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Can't wait for the day that I can turn out the volume you did and have them look like that too! Beautiful!

I'm so glad to hear of your success with the stretch and fold. Mike Avery has been really super to help me work out some of my dough questions as well. He basically said, there's no need to have to knead unless you just want to. Those weren't his exact words obviously...but to see and hear your success just echoes what he's saying that it works for all doughs.

I really would love to see a video on dough transfer and shaping with the very wet dough too. Mike rolls his dough and gets a very uniform crumb. I'm going to send him an email asking about when you want to have an open hole, how do you shape?

He has an informative site that goes swell with the all the great info here:

http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html

 

Oh btw? Your daughter is as cute as a button! Bet you could just eat her up half the time! ;)

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Geat write-up as usual - I admire your multi-tasking bakes on the weekends... Your desem looks very light and open! Keep in mind too that since you are grinding your own wheatberries, that may add a whole other dimension to getting a more open crumb - just a guess, I really have no experience with home-ground flour. Making a video of a WW boule-shaping session sounds like a great idea, but not sure when I'll find the time - gardening season is upon us and I'm overwhelmed with yard work, but I'll try (heck, I've only recently discovered how to use the video funtion on my digital camera, and that was by accident - you have to watch what you say in those moments as they get accidentally recorded for posterity...).

Meantime, to describe how I shaped the boule, it is pretty much identical to what I do for my regular SD boules - after bulk ferment, dump dough onto floured counter, divide, do a VERY gentle fold like a letter, flip over and tighten only the bottom against the counter - and not as tight as I would for my white SDs - not as many rotations against the counter. Let them rest on the counter 10 min. to self-seal bottom seams, gently place in big linen-lined bannetons seam-side up, proof at 80-85 for shorter time, maybe 3 hours. The last WW dough I made rose fast and large, maybe due to strength of starter, maybe due to temp, not sure which.

I did knead my WW recipe based on Jane's recipe in my KA mixer for about 12 minutes or so, I guess I thought it was necessary to do that with WW to develop the gluten more, but your experiments here certainly show that is not the case, and I will try not kneading and fermenting longer next time. Here is another link to a No-knead desem by Maki that I've been wanting to try, if you've not already seen it and are interested.

Oh - and glad you got the stickiness solved! Geat job!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I had quite an "aha!" moment when you described making a gentle fold and then gently shaping only the bottom. I don't know why I'd not thought of doing that myself. The fold will generate a lot of surface tension with a minimum of handling, and then all you've got to do is tighten the bottom. Fantastic! I'll try it out this weekend. Thanks!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jmonkey, about cloche

Just a question about how you used the cloche. Did you include the cover in the preheat or put it over the dough cold? I got inspired reading your description and thought I would try some of my new Buffalo Prairie WW that Cliff suggested.

Thanks,

Eric

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I went ahead and preheated it along with the stone. I figured I might as well, since the stone was heating up already.

I tried a sandwich loaf with a cold oven start, and it turned out great. Not sure I want to try it yet for the breads I like cooking directly on the stone, though. Maybe when it gets hotter, I'll be more inclined to experiment ....

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jmonkey, I used this formula last night with Golden Buffalo WW. Four S&F's and over night in a coil baneton. This morning pressed for time I baked it on a preheated sheet pan at 350f for 40 minutes. It didn't brown up much but otherwise looks great.

Following your notes on flouring the loaf plus the baneton (50/50 rice flour) I was pleased that it popped right out. I really think that flouring the loaf prior to forming is the key, works great Bill. I was a little surprised at the rise I got after 6 hours in the fridge. It was 1 inch over the top of the basket when I removed it.

Anyway, this seems to work for me. Next time I'll have to plan better so I can try the hot covered stone.

Eric

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I thought I'd finally jump in and try the WW sourdough but I realized (since I know nothing about this WW sourdough stuff) I do not have a whole wheat starter.  I have searched the site but feel I'm reading a different language and my head is about to burst.  I don't really understand if you keep a whole wheat starter at all times or convert your white - or how or why.  Can someone help?  I know my eyelids must be turned inside out because I feel like I'm looking down at my feet from the inside of my body from looking so hard for instructions that make sense to me. (I need lots of help in this department and this probably won't be my last question.)

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Don't worry, zolablue; bakers speak a foreign language. Basically, my whole wheat starter is just a starter that I feed whole wheat flour. Long ago, it used to be a white flour starter, but when I realized I was making more whole wheat bread than white, I converted it over by consistently feeding it whole wheat instead of white flour. That's it!

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

ZB - I maintain two starters: 1) 100% rye and 2) a mix of about 75% white AP and 25% WW. I keep both at 100% hydration. When I made the WW sourdough based on Jane's recipe, I simply took some of my white AP/WW mix starter and refreshed and expanded it at 1:2:2 about 2 times with all WW flour to get the amount of starter needed to make the final WW bread dough. It worked fine. Hope that helps...

zolablue's picture
zolablue

So if I don't wish to keep a separate WW starter at this time I'm assuming I can simply feed my white starter 2 or 3 times with a good dose of WW and I'm there.  Well, that's certainly easy.  At this time I don't think I'm ready to switch my white starter completely but it is interesting, MD, that you keep one partly white and partly WW. 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

ZB - the only reason I happen to maintain the mixed whiteAP/WW starter is that I got into the habit a long time ago of always keeping a big tub full of mixed flour as per Dan Leader's suggestion from the Bread Alone Baking Book of making your own 20% bran flour by thoroughly mixing 3 parts white flour with 1 part WW flour. I liked the creamy color and wheatier flavor of the result so much that now I always use that in any recipes calling for white flour, even waffles and dinner rolls and baguettes. It seems to be a very versatile blend, and it has always given me a very vigorous starter, so I keep it fed with that mixture.

By the way, it must be the warm weather we've had in the Northeast the past week or so, but when making my weekly staples (Thom Leonard and Columbia) both doughs rose the lids right off my dough buckets this past weekend, that starter is going wild with the warmer temps in my kitchen. For some reason my rye starter is not as vigorous as it was over the winter, but that maybe because I am using a different brand of rye flour for feeding - I'll have to switch back to the previous brand and see if it perks up - I like to use the rye starter in the Leonard boules if I want a more sour flavor.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Mountaindog said...

ZB - the only reason I happen to maintain the mixed whiteAP/WW starter is that I got into the habit a long time ago of always keeping a big tub full of mixed flour as per Dan Leader's suggestion from the Bread Alone Baking Book of making your own 20% bran flour by thoroughly mixing 3 parts white flour with 1 part WW flour. I liked the creamy color and wheatier flavor of the result so much that now I always use that in any recipes calling for white flour, even waffles and dinner rolls and baguettes.

I used to do that, and for the same reasons. And finally got tired of having yet another contained of flour in my kitchen and my bakery. One of his recipes calls for 20% bran flour, graham flour, and more stone ground whole wheat flour.

 

At that point, you are adding whole wheat flour twice. Once through the 20% bran, once through the whole wheat. I'd rather have one less hassle in my kitchen and just use white flour, graham flour and whole wheat flour.

 

I've commented a few times that I think Leader goes out of his way to make his life - and his reader's lives, harder. 

But that's just me.

Mike

 

joancassell's picture
joancassell

I've been trying to follow your desem instructions which seem far less complex and life-consuming than Laurel's. But I have several questions: (1) how do you keep your desem starter? In the frig? In a sealed container rapped in double layers of linen a la Laurel? How often do you feed it? What do you do if you go out of town for a week or two, begin all over again? Your last post spoke of 90% water and 100% flour, but you translated this to 360 grams of water and 350 grams of flour; I'm a dud at math, but that doesn't seem right. What do you now do after stretching and turning? Four hours in a cold kitchen, then two and a half hours in a proofing box? Do you think overnight in the frig might substitute for the four hours? It would certainly make the timing less stressful for me.