The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Had This Been *Actual* Thom Leonard Bread...

  • Pin It
mse1152's picture
mse1152

Had This Been *Actual* Thom Leonard Bread...

Oh well...

After reading so much about people's love of the Thom Leonard country French bread, I decided to try it, following the steps in mountaindog's post. Here's the breakdown:

Starter: Early Thursday, I began the rye starter with a generous teaspoon of my active white starter, 1 T. dark rye and 1 T water; fed it the same rye and water amounts almost 6 hours later - had good bubbles at that point. Just before bed, discarded half of it, and fed same amounts again. Friday at about 6:45 a.m., I fed it 50g each of rye and water, without dumping anything. It doubled in 3 hours and was very bubbly!

Rye Starter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Levain: I mixed the levain at 7:00 p.m. Friday. The starter had not moved up or down, and I wonder if I should have feed it once more; the instructions say you can feed the starter up to 12 hours before mixing the levain, so I thought I was in the ballpark. Next morning, Saturday, the levain looked like this at about 6:40 a.m. (no such thing as sleeping in with a toddler in the house):

 

TL Levain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, looks good! I began mixing the dough around 7:00. I added no extra flour to knead, which I did for 10 minutes, then 5 more minutes after adding the salt. The dough was pretty firm, not sticky at all. I think mountaindog said it felt like piecrust dough to her, and I agree. Rested the dough for 30 minutes, then did the 3 S&F cycles with 30 minutes between each. The dough was easy to stretch out, but it felt like nothing much was happening until the 3rd cycle, when it began to feel like there was some growth going on. Then it sat in the bowl for the remaining 90 minutes, at about 69F.

 

Resting and Shaping: I divided the dough into 2 balls, and rested them for 15 minutes, then further shaped into boules and set them on parchment to proof (I don't have bannetons), on a baking stone. Heard plenty of bubbles popping as I tried to gently increase the tension.

 

Proofing: OK, here's where I deviated a little (busted!). I wanted to make sure the bread was baked before we went to a friend's house for dinner (pizza, go figure). So I used the proofing cycle in my oven, set to 85F. Covered the dough with oiled plastic, and set timers to check once an hour. After two hours, a small tragedy began to unfold:

whoops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dough had outgrown the stone; it felt nice and light, though. The top one in the picture is mangled because I had started to try to rescue it, then (in true Fresh Loaf fashion) thought to grab the camera for posterity. At first, I had dough damage panic, then I started to chuckle sort of oddly, and thought "Wait, I really meant to make oblong loaves...yes, that's right! Oblong!"

 

TL reshaped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...show's over, go on about yer business, folks...back in the warm oven they went for another hour (3 hours total proof).

 

Bake: Since mountaindog has posted about baking this bread from a cold start, I did that too. Set the oven to 425F and made some of the ugliest slashes I've done recently...too ugly to photograph in the raw. Here's how it all turned out:

 

TL loaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They rose, and they look edible, but in a sorta grocery-store-ish way. Well, let's see what's inside, shall we?

 

Aw, RATS!

 

TL crumb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holes were left on the cutting room floor! Though I think that any degassing during the reshaping didn't affect the interior of the loaves; I don't think the crumb would have been open even if the boules had proofed fully untouched. The flavor is mild and it's quite edible, with a slight tangy aftertaste, but I was disheartened at this result. Sounds pretty civilized, eh? Actually, I pouted a bit and exercised my vocabulary, if you know what I mean.

So I'd like to ask the Leonard veterans if anything I described in the procedure sounds like the culprit...other than extreme dough-handling mid-proof. Maybe that's the only problem, who knows?

Now I'm off to go check on TT and JMonkey's starter escapades...

Sue

Comments

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi Sue,

First - the positive: those are some of the most beautifully-browned sourdough loaves I seen in a long time! They look like they must have sugar in them, they are so reddish-brown, mine never get that color! That also shows that your dough was not overproofed, so that eliminates that possibility. Looks like you got a nice rise and oven spring too, so your starter looks good. Don't be so hard on yourself, I'll bet it tasted great and smelled great...

One thing I notice in your description is you say the dough was stiff after mixing and kneading, but like pie crust. I guess when I mean pie crust, I think of something extremely soft - maybe pie crust is not such a good analogy. If you really want the big holes, the dough needs to be very wet, not stiff at all. My Leonard dough is so wet it nearly pours out of the dough bucket onto the counter when I do my stretch and folds. So maybe for the type of flour you are using, you need to add a bit more water than the recipe calls for, esp. if you are using bread flour as opposed to AP, the higher protein flours absorb more water. Try adding enough water and kneading long enough that the dough is very soft and slack, maybe a little sticky but not too sticky. It will get less sticky each time you do a stretch and fold anyhow, but will still be very, very soft, not stiff. What kind of flours did you use?

Also, during your first bulk fermentation, after you've done the 3 or 4 stretch and folds, you should leave the dough to proof for however long it takes to nearly double - don't just go with 3 hours total as per the recipe, it may take longer. So maybe your first fermentation was not quite long enough to get really big airy bubbles in the dough. As an example: in my 65F-ish kitchen, I tend to make the dough after I get home from work on Friday evening, so after I've done about 2 stretch and folds, I am able to go to bed and leave the dough overnight on my counter to finish the first fermentation, total time of about 8-10 hours, no refrigeration. Next morning I divide, shape (barely degassing at all) and final proof for about 3.5-4 hours at 70F.

Your 85F final proof for that length of time sounds like it may have been a little too warm to me. Then, of course as you say, the fact that you had to reshape them when you moved them could well account for some collapse and the density of your final loaves.

Also with the cold start, you will get a softer crust, and maybe smaller holes on average - I noticed slightly smaller holes than usual in my cold start loaves vs. the hot stone loaves. Those are just things I see off the top of my head, hope that helps, and don't worry, you'll get it, practice makes perfect.

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Hi MD,

I forgot to mention my flour in the original post.  I use Bob's Red Mill organic unbleached, with 11.7% protein, which I believe is the same as the KA flour you use, correct?   It's not labelled either all-purpose or bread flour, just unbleached.  When I first kneaded it, it seemed to fight back, which is what I meant by calling it stiff.  I guess I would have to add more water than is called for, if the dough really needs to be as wet as you describe.  Do you use extra flour during the stretch and fold?

Also, thanks for the overnight fermentation tip.  I decided to follow the recipe pretty closely the first time (except for the proof!), so that's something to keep in mind for next time.  I might want to get a straight-sided clear bucket to really be able to measure when the dough has doubled.

One thing I don't have a handle on yet is shaping without degassing.  Can you really create any tension in the dough without flattening it some?  It looks like you've figured that out, based on your photos.  I was popping bubbles all over the place.

Thanks for replying.  I think it'll be a while before I try it again.  We go through bread slowly here, and there are 4 kinds from previous bakes now waiting in the freezer!

Sue 

 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi Sue - just an ammendment to my previous advice about how I've been leaving my dough on the counter overnight to bulk-ferment. Yesterday the temps were in the 90's here in upstate NY and my kitchen got quite warm (80's). I had made my dough in the morning before work as I often do, left it on the counter thinking I'd be home early - ended up working late, so my dough got a bit overfermented at those high temps. After dividing and shaping, the loaves proofed in record time about (2 hrs) and fortunately they did not completely collapse as I feared they might. The loaves are mishapen and ugly, and a bit flatter than usual, but the bread still came out decent overall, and more sour than usual, as would be expected.

So, lesson learned is that I guess summer really is here and these hot temps will not allow me to do my long overnight ferments on the counter, I'll have to try retarding in the frig. again. I have not been doing that for awhile becasue it seemed to take so long for sourdough to warm back up and final proof after that, but with these significantly warmer temps, they may proof fast after retardation in the frig. 

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Hi MD, don't wan't to side track the thread, but curious where you are located.  I grew up in Saranac.

 Take care,

 SD Baker

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi SDbaker - so you are an Adirondack boy, eh? Beautiful area. I am located about 2 hours south of there in the Catskills, in a tiny hamlet just a few miles west of Woodstock in Ulster County. My extended family is getting together for a big camping weekend near Lake Placid this summer so I'm looking forward to hiking in the high peaks region again, have not been hiking in the ADKs in probably 10 years, but used to hike and backpack there often. I am sure black-fly season is kicking in right about now there, something you probably never have to deal with anymore in San Diego, huh? (I think I remember you saying you are in San Diego now, like Sue is, correct?)

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Thanks, MD.

I'm in San Diego, which, until recently, didn't often get into the upper 80s and 90s during the summer (global what?).  I think I could risk overnight on the countertop for a while longer, but I also have a basement, which stays several degrees cooler all the time.  And if that's not enough, I'll just go back to the oiled bags in the fridge.  I got my nicest tasting sourdough that way.  But as you say, it does take about 2 and a half hours to get up to temperature for the final proof.

Sue
mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Sue - forgot you are in beautiful San Diego with its perfect weather, you should be fine leaving the dough out overnight, then, esp. if you get cool nights, which I think I remember San Diego getting last time I visited.

Squid's picture
Squid

I forgot to mention my flour in the original post.  I use Bob's Red Mill organic unbleached, with 11.7% protein, which I believe is the same as the KA flour you use, correct? 

Sue, have you used Bob's RM flour before and gotten nice sized holes? I used the Bob's Red Mill unbleached bread flour (as apposed to the AP flour you're using) and never got good holes. I switched flour brands and haven't had problems since, but I'm not sure if it was related. Just curious.

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Squid,

Here is the most open sourdough I've made so far:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is with Bob's Red Mill unbleached flour, 11.7% protein.  It is not labeled 'all-purpose' or 'bread' specifically.  The blurb says 'U.S. #1 dark northern organic hard red spring wheat'.  I don't think Bob's sells any other lower protein white flour except pastry flour. 

Sue
Squid's picture
Squid

My bad, I thought I'd read elsewhere that the 11.7% was AP flour. Maybe it was the batches of flour I was getting here. Come to think of it, the flour I now use use is a little higher in protein content. It was awhile ago, my memory isn't so good. LOL

mse1152's picture
mse1152

It was the KA AP flour that's 11.7% also, same as Bob's.  I'm sure there are other differences between them, however.

Sue 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

The hole structure is really beautiful!

Squid's picture
Squid

Forgive me, I'm a little dense this morning. Thanks for your patience.

I should have remembered all this b/c I called the company to find out the protein content. I'd forgotten that they don't label their package. That must have been why I called to find out the protein content.