The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jan Hedh's Pain au Levain With Bran and Vinegar - A Case of Bran-o-mania?

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hanseata's picture
hanseata

Jan Hedh's Pain au Levain With Bran and Vinegar - A Case of Bran-o-mania?

After realizing that we preferred tangy sourdough breads to milder fruit yeast loaves, I banned my apple yeast water into the no-see area of my refrigerator - the place where stuff goes that is hardly ever used. Bad conscience made me feed it together with my other two starters before I went on my trip to Germany, but after I came back I forgot all about it.

Leafing through Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads And Pastries" again, I felt enticed by his "Pain au Levain with Bran and Vinegar" and rummaged in the fridge for the sorely neglected apple yeast water. Halfways expecting it had perished due to starvation, I opened the lid of the recycled sour cream container. It smelled still sweetish sour, but had some suspicious little white specks floating on the surface.

I poured most of the fruit water into the sink, retaining only the "sludge" on the bottom. From this I took a spoonful to build up my levain, wondering whether it was still alive. Amazingly, it was. It fermented through all 3 steps as it should, it took only longer, so I left it overnight on the counter (NOTE to all other abusive fruit yeast parents: your offspring is way more resilient than you think!).

Adding the other dough ingredients to my lively fruit yeast levain, I realized what an enormous amount of bran was to go into the breads, about 48% (= 250 g bran per 518 g flour for 2 loaves). But it was the first time I was going to make this bread, so I obediently followed the recipe.

From my former experiences with Jan Hedh's recipes I knew better than to stare at the kitchen timer, but let the dough and the shaped loaves proof at their own good time. With former fruit yeast breads I had been too impatient to wait that long - and they had grown "horns" and done other weird things in the oven (see my blog).

I also knew that the baking times in the recipes were often much longer than the breads actually needed in my oven. So when my loaves went into the oven I kept an eye on them. They had some oven spring, and didn't act out like their older siblings, but it was obvious that they would not turn out quite like the loaf shown on the picture in the book:

Jan Hedh's Pain au levain with bran and vinegar - as it is supposed to look like (in the book): light and airy, with some little brown specks.

My bread was anything else: brown and dense - it suffered from a severe case of bran-o-mania!

This could not just be one stupid German baker's screw-up - I wonder whether there was a zero too many in the recipe: 25 g bran instead of 250 g?

What it did have, to my surprise, was a really good taste: slightly sweetish (no sweetener added). Much different from an almost whole wheat loaf - what it basically was.

Comments

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I agree, you are definitely not the problem with this recipe.  Particularly considering all of the wonderful loaves you've baked before this.  Your loaf looks like it has 48% bran, the author's loaf looks more like 4.8%.  If he did start with 250g of bran I have to wonder what he did with it? 

Marcus

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Karin, your posts are always fun and more than "just" worth reading. You could call this one a "Sweetish" vinegar "brand" of loaf. ;-)

Ron

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

unless it was from white wheat and milled super-fine so that the flakes don't show up.  Your loaf has the coloring that I would expect for that quantity of bran.

How did the dough feel?  I would expect it to have been very dry if it had 10 times the amount of bran (assuming that 25g was intended, rather than 250g).  Did you have to add water to make it workable?

Paul

ananda's picture
ananda

300% wholewheat flour Karin?

You are right to question the formula; it's not right, I suggest.   I agree with Paul.

Some great observations about your fruit yeast journies along the way too!

Best wishes

Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

I bought the book  a few months back and recall noticing other formula that didn't seem quite right when I did a read through. Sorry I can't remember exactly which ones, but thanks for posting this heads-up Karin so I can keep an eye for them. Next time I run across one I'll make a note and pass it on to you. What I like about the book is it's a good resource for ideas rather than formula or procedure.

Franko

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Beats me, Marcus, unless there is something about Swedes that we don't know!

Ron, I have a rye sense of humor (thanks, Glenn) and, therefore, try to make my posts somewhat entertaining. So, better finish you tea before you start reading :)

Paul, I had to add a little more water to the dough, and I took care to leave it more sticky than tacky, when I finished kneading, but then it was quite elastic and handled well enough.

Thanks, Andy!

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I can see the results of the bran but my curiosity is about the vinegar????  I haven't heard of that being used in breads before - mind you I have limited experience.  (Used Laurel's Kitchen for 20 years and only in the last year have I stepped out into the larger world of bread baking and now my book shelf is over flowing and STILL growing =:-0)

I always enjoy reading about your baking adventures and will have to take a look at this recipe since his in one of the books on my shelf.

Thanks for the posting - was nice to read on this rainy day. :-)

Janet

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Janet - and it continues raining and raining!

Since the photo in Jan Hedh's book showed balsamic vinegar, I used it - the recipe itself didn't mention what kind to take. It's only a small amount, 1 tsp/10 g (for 2 breads). The bread tastes quite pleasant, slightly nutty and sweetish, definitely not sour, it is a nice bread in its own right.

I think the vinegar adds just a subtle flavoring. I will try the bread now with 25 g instead of 250, let's see how that turns out.

Karin

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Karin, I often pour a bit of balsamic vinegar with 2 to 3 time the amount of good olive oil and dip a sourdough bread into it, rather than using butter.

Ron

hanseata's picture
hanseata

really good, Ron. I like good balsamic vinegar, anyway and nothing better than good extra virgin olive oil.

Karin

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Yes, Karin, it is a good combination.

Ron

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Karin, 
I've never tried adding vinegar to bread dough. I'm thinking this would be a really great way to add some extra flavor - thanks for posting about this bread! I tried a high-bran-flour miche last weekend and got a crumb color very similar to yours here.
I found some dried soybeans at the market last Friday - and am looking forward to trying your Korntaler too! What a beautiful, colorful crumb that bread had.
Thanks again, so much, for sharing your wonderful formulas!
:^) from breadsong 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Breadsong!

I never saw vinegar as dough ingredient before, either, but I think it adds just a little bit of tang in a otherwise mild bread. I like the taste of balsamic vinegar, but apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar or another special vinegar might be just as good.

Let me know how the "Korntaler" turns out, if you make it.

Karin

 

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Karin, the 'proper' balsamic vinegar is 12, 18, or 25 years old and can cost several hundreds of US dollars for 100 ml bottle. A bit more exotic that apple cider vinegar, etc.

Ron

EvaB's picture
EvaB

my bag of Roger's (brand name) all purpose flour says to add a tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to the dough (they provide a basic white bread recipe on the bag) as a "dough enhancer" and I do remember my mother using apple cider vinegar when she had old yeast that didn't work as well as newer yeast. We lived "close to the bone" as she put it, having less that $200 a month to cover all bills and food so things were used up, remade and worn out before replacing. And yes yeast was one of those things, she used it down to the dust in the tin. And yeast was relatively cheap being around 15 cents a packet, or slightly over a dollar for a small tin.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Ron, though I appreciate the "real" stuff, I would neither cook nor bake with top wines, oils or vinegar. Though I would not dream of buying so called "Cooking Wine" or other goods that hurt my stomach lining, I settle for medium quality. My home-away-from-home is "HomeGoods" where you can often find specialty olive oils and vinegars for a very reasonable price.

Karin

 

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Karine, neither would I cook with $4/ml vinegar.  Of course, I suppose there are those that do ;-)

Ron

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I never had bought a really expensive, aged balsamic vinegar before. Having this conversation in mind I looked at HomeGoods and found a 12-year old for a reasonable price. Thinking of giving myself a treat I made tomatoes with mozzarella and basil (one of my favorites) and drizzled some of the precious vinegar over it. Boy, was I in for a nasty surprise. The vinegar was sweet, had no tang whatsoever, and my little salad was spoiled.

I guess my vague inkling that I wasn't good enough for the more expensive stuff was right on - I have to wise up considerably to have a chance of being elevated into the ranks of balsamic vinegar connaisseurs ( also called "Modenists")...

Sourly,

Karin

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Karin, I once used some on a salad, as well. My reaction was much like yours - where salads are concerned. However, I love it when used as a mix with good olive oil, as a bread dip. I find very little is needed and the dip is most enjoyable, IMHO. I use a ratio of about 4 or 5:1 - oil to balsamic. 

Ron

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I'll follow your sage advice.

Karin

copyu's picture
copyu

that none of you guys had heard of using vinegar in a bread formula!

Really? Jim Lahey's and Mark Bittman's "No-Knead-Bread [revisited]" definitely called for "...a few drops, maybe even up to a quarter teaspoon..." of red wine vinegar. This was the second iteration of NKB.

Mark had tried to speed up Jim's long, slow ferment by increasing the yeast. Jim showed Mark how to do the NKB within a single day without increasing the yeast. MUCH warmer water and the addition of vinegar, gives similar results to the 18-hour bulk ferment after 5-7 hours. I've tried this 4-5 times and it was very successful!

You guys should get out of the kitchen and visit YouTube occasionally...on second thoughts, STAY in the kitchen and keep stunning and informing and challenging the rest of us with your beautiful creations and interesting experiments! ;-)

Adam 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Adam, I have to confess I never even looked into Jim Lahey's book. At the time it came out, there was such a hype in the media about it ("every idiot can throw a few ingredients together, and out comes a master piece"), and then the idea of baking every loaf in a Dutch oven, everything looking alike, no matter what (or, at least, that was what I understood) turned me entirely off.

Nowadays it's not looking down my nose on it, anymore, but having shelves full of baking books I haven't tried baking anything from, yet. I like the challenge of taking a recipe listing interesting ingredients, and then adapt it to modern techniques, tweaking it until it comes out perfect. And then there are so many posts of TFLers, that I want to try.

Eventually I will certainly add Jim Lahey's book to my collection.

The concept of adding vinegar to change fermenting parameters is very interesting. I use different water temperatures to adapt to my kitchen's warmer or colder environment. Youtube I consult mostly for shaping techniques - I try to avoid it for fear of succombing to the temptation and getting lost in the maze of always new, interesting links...including all the silly stuff that friends post in facebook.

For STAYING in the kitchen - more of that encouragement, and my enraged husband will probably show up on your doorstep - he's already calling my baking "The Other Man", and accuses me of lascivious activities, like slapping the dough, tucking it in, coaxing it into shape...

Happy baking,

Karin

EvaB's picture
EvaB

the thing to do is coax your hubby into the kitchen or at least to a grill to make something to go with the wonderful breads you turn out.

My flour bag has using the vinegar thing in their on bag recipe, they say vinegar or lemon juice, so will have to try out that recipe some time.

I simply have to get my kitchen working properly (places to store stuff that isn't the oven would help) and try some of your wonderful loaves, along with so many other loaves here, but I still have the interest in exploring the media, and do visit some youtube videos, other than bread shaping or baking (still see that one of the bakers with the tandoori oven in my mind's eye) and contemplating how I can manage to get nearly as good as any of you with baking breads.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Eva. Fortunately my husband - though long suffering - is also the beneficiary of my baking passion, he gets to taste all the new trial loaves, and he really loves bread.

I have some storage problems, too, not enough cool space (other than an old refrigerator in the basement) to keep my supplies, and the basement is too humid, and in summer not cool enough. Fortunately my organic flours all kept up, but a bag of pumpkin seeds got moldy. Very annoying, it was a large bag, and I use them frequently.

I always appreciate your comments and the interesting information you often provide,

Happy baking,

Karin

EvaB's picture
EvaB

I use a dehumidifier, not air conditioning, but a thing that takes the humidity from the air, that sounds like what you need, the air is much nicer when its dry, I can't breathe if it gets too bad, and summer with its rain and higher humidity is a killer for me, I can't visit the coast of BC unless its in March when its the driest, and even then its a bit more humid than my lungs like. I bought mine from Sears, it was around 300$ and I've used it for the past 3 years, so its great, I would suggest if you can rigging it up so it drains the water automatically, as the little thing for holding the water is not as big as it might be, and the thing beeps most annoyingly when its in need of emptying.

My basement is much more humid than upstairs, but cooler too, I know how annoying it is to have to toss a whole lot of seeds or nuts because they've encountered problems in store. The only other thing I could suggest is to get some nice white rice (the cheapest possible) and make fabric bags to fill with it, making sure they are nice and dry (can dry them out in the oven) and place in the storage containers of seeds and nuts. These should absorb extra moisture, and to reuse you simply dry again to drive off the moisture. I have toyed with flower dri that is in Walmart craft sections or other places for drying flowers, but never got any, but that you should be able to bag as well and use to pick up extra mositure, and just spill it out on the cookie sheet and dry again in the oven.

My problem is not storage space for the food stuff, although that can be difficult at times, but its more for the pans and stuff that I need to be able to access easily when I want to bake, or even cook! I really need more cupboards, and am going to remodel the end of the dining room to supply more space, including more counter, since I'm going to get rid of the rug as well. I hate rugs!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

We have one, Eva, it's running all the time! Even though we did a lot to insulate the basement, water still comes through the walls and concrete floor when it rains (it was much worse before, but still we get puddles).

The idea with the rice bags is great, I'll  try that!

Thanks,

Karin

EvaB's picture
EvaB

so it should work. Is the dehumidifier in the basement? That might make a big difference in the humidity in there, but if its upstairs it probably won't make as big a difference although it will be better than nothing.

Mine sits in my hall we have what is technically called a basement above ground, although its more like 3-4 feet underground except for the garage (not ever used as a garage but with cement pad floor) all wood construction, and just the underlay wood on the floor, so it can get pretty damp when its spring runoff, no puddles though, and this year it was very damp all spring and summer, while it rained and rained. (we had runoff out of the overflow in our pond until way into the second last week of July, and that is usually done by the end of May!) the dehumidifier is on the main floor, but I am really considering putting it down stairs, it might help with the heating, since it will cut down on the damp air the furnace has to heat in winter.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Yes, the dehumidifier sits in the basement, it helps, but the house has a granite foundation, and conditions changed since it was built in 1900 - rain water drained right towards the house. We tried a lot to change that, but didn't quite succeed, yet. At least it's only puddles after a massive rain, not rivers anymore.

Good luck with remodeling your kitchen,

Karin

EvaB's picture
EvaB

did you have to dig in drain tiles? That is a hard thing to do, and expensive, at least we have good drainage, and that is one thing. could use better drainage in some spots in the back yard, but we can fix that more easily than trying to put drain tiles in after the time its been here! Maybe a larger dehumidifier that would take more moisture out? Its all relative though, so if you can get the stuff dried out some other way, all the better! Especially if its cheaper! LOL