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For breadsong - Gérard Rubaud’s 'pain de tradition'

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PiPs's picture
PiPs

For breadsong - Gérard Rubaud’s 'pain de tradition'

How did I become infatuated with idea of incorporating home milling into my bread making? 

... the baker Gérard Rubaud.

His story and methods of crafting bread and levain maintenance incorporating fresh milled flour captivated me. From his attention to detail (using all of his senses) to his relaxed but focussed methods, it seemed to speak of another way of making bread. A craftsman’s way perhaps? (sorry … but I am still reading Richard Sennett’s book “The Craftsman” and have found the subject matter fascinating)

This planted a seed for milling my own flour … a seed that took a few years to germinate mind you.

A week ago I put together a “quick” version of this bread for a weekend lunch with family and friends.  I thoroughly enjoyed making it and even more so at lunch the next day. I had no photos of the process or the final crumb to share so I have endeavoured to make this bread again … with a little more effort this time.

From what I have read about Gérard and his processes, the heart and soul of his bread is his lovingly maintained levain. It is a firm levain kept in warm conditions refreshed frequently. It is fed AP flour, freshly milled sifted flours and a small addition of salt to keep enzyme activity under control. (The caught material from sifting is added to the final dough)

I already had the firm starter. We definitely have the warm conditions at the moment and the sifted fresh milled flours are also possible. Last year during the peak of our summer I regularly added salt to my firm starters to stop them turning to goo by the end of the day. I saw no decrease in rising activity and if anything I noticed an increase in flavours during the warmer periods. I think the addition of salt is even more essential with the addition of freshly milled flour.

I have maintained the levain during the week with two feedings a day except for the day before the bake where I gave the levain three feedings six hours apart and built the necessary amount for the final dough and also the olive bread from my last posting.

 

Gérard Rubaud’s 'pain de tradition'

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2000g

 

Total flour

1143g

100%

Total water

857g

75%

Total salt

22g

2%

Prefermented flour

171g

15%

Desired dough temp 26°C

 

 

 

 

 

Levain build – 5-6 hrs 26°C

 

 

Starter (not included in final dough)

85g

50%

Flour (I used 70% AP flour, 18% Sifted fresh milled wheat, 9% sifted fresh milled spelt and 3% sifted fresh milled rye)

171g

100%

Water

85g

50%

Salt

1g

1%

 

 

 

Final dough 26°C

 

 

Levain

256g

30%

AP Flour

680g

70%

Freshly milled whole wheat flour

175g

18%

Freshly milled spelt flour

87g

9%

Freshly milled rye flour

30g

3%

Water

772g

79%

Salt

21g

2%

Method

  1. Autolyse flour and water 45 mins (hold back 50 grams of water)
  2. Add levain and knead (French fold) 5-10 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 5-10 mins.
  3. Bulk ferment 3 hours with three stretch and folds at 30 mins in the first 1.5 hours. (could be taken back to two sets of folds as the dough had gained considerable strength by third set of folds)
  4. Preshape and bench rest for 20 mins
  5. Shape (allow boules to rest seam side down on bench for a minute before placing into baskets) and proof for 2.5 – 3 hours
  6. Bake in steamed oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 30 mins at 200°C

Dumping, dividing and preshaping

The oven spring was astounding … I baked both loaves at the same time on different shelves and they both reached the shelf above. There was a bit of juggling and crafty shelf removal to extract them from the oven safely :)

They are almost weightless.

The crusts are somewhat paler than the high extraction breads I have baking notably the three grain bread where I use two starters. (I love how the use of a rye starter adds a red hue to the crusts in those breads)

The gentleness of the crust proved a test when it came time to slice but we were rewarded with a delicate translucent crumb and sweet aroma. The flavour and texture is undemanding with only subtle sourness … hard pressed to call it sour at all. It melts in the mouth.

This is a bread best torn, not sliced.

I am still not entirely happy with the steaming setup in my oven when baking on two shelves. I am wondering if the steam is rising higher or sitting above the bottom shelf leading to uneven results. I bake for the first ten minutes with the oven switched off as I am unable to turn off the fan force feature.

 

Where to from here?

For me this kind of levain maintenance is not sustainable for a home baker who usually only has the weekends to bake, both for the waste it creates and the amount of time required for minimum twice daily feedings. If however I was baking daily or a few times weekly in my imagined wood-fired oven this would be the signature bread I would make for my customers.

For myself though, the flavour and added health benefits of a high extraction loaf with fresh milled flours is superior. It’s the bread I miss when I am not at home.

All the best, Phil

p.s. Hey Aneeks, does this bread look familiar? Hope you liked the loaf we left for you :)

Comments

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Phil - your loaves are simply beautiful,  even when you are not satisfied with the steaming,  it didn't appear to have affected your loaves at all.  Beautiful! Now,  you've tempted me to work on multi grains again. 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Jenny,

I saw your post on the "simple white bread" ... it has been so long since I have made one of those. My kids would love it if I surprised them with one.

I love a bread you can get your teeth into :)

Cheers, Phil

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Phil,  
This bread you have crafted using Gérard's method is a joy to behold!
Your photos are captivating as is your description of the bread ("...almost weightless...delicate translucent crumb and sweet aroma...it melts in the mouth...").
The care and effort that you put into making this bread is so evident - and what a gorgeous result.
Where to from here? For me, serious consideration of trying milling here at home, for the reasons you mention,
with hope that someday I might be able to honor Gérard's tradition.
Thank you for this illustrative post, showing how you made this beautiful bread.
:^) from breadsong

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks breadsong,

So glad you like it :)

... and thanks to you for reminding me of why this bread is so wonderful.

It really is something special. As the dough strengthens you feel it come alive. Gerard is right, you can smell it. Even a small mill to compliment the rest of your baking could be a consideration for it does make such a difference ... and gives you back a level of flexability  and control over your flour.

All the best,
Phil

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Phil,

I was watching your posts, admiring your breads and your skill and eye with the camera.

This bread is truly outstanding. I wish the smell could travel around the globe!

It was Shiao Ping's post that pulled me into TFL initially - I didn't succeed then.

Thank you for reminding me about this bread in such a beautiful way,

Juergen

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Juergen,

Shiao Ping's take on Gerards formula were outstanding. Funny isn't it ... I have been admiring your rye bakes recently ... rye breads and I have not been getting along lately :) 

How is your baking for the cafe going?

All the best, Phil

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Phil,

The baking for the cafe goes very well, and my breads seem to have developed a following by week 3!

As a homebaker there are a few exciting and unexpected  aspects about this:

- Baking the same two breads regularly in slightly larger quantities - even after only three weeks I see a huge improvement in my dough handling and fermentation control.

- Trust - I bake 4 loaves of Russian Rye and 4 loaves of Caraway bread with 40% rye and 10% emmer. 4 loaves per batch, my oven can handle just that. This means I don't get to see the inside of my bread and I don't get to taste it. I am trusting my skills and materials a lot more.

- Routine - The total time spent making a batch of these breads is now far less than 1 hour.

Cheers,

Juergen

PiPs's picture
PiPs

That's great Juergen,

Practice makes perfect. I made so many of these Pain de Tradition over the past few years but this was the first with fresh milled flour ... I would make a couple every week and you are right, you learn so much about a dough/formula by doing this ... by knowing it inside and out.

You obviously have the rye breads working very well for you ... that's a big sign of confidence when you can sell a loaf with total trust in your product.

What you are doing is so great. It sounds like it is sustainable for you and is a great practice to be involved in.

All the best, Phil

Funkhouserb's picture
Funkhouserb

Phil, 

You've knocked another out of the park.  Beautiful job, as always.

I loved the line:  "A fervent believer in simplicity as the road to excellence, he makes only one dough but strives for perfection. He wants each of his loaves to carry the bouquet which is his signature."  Now THERE'S  a lifetime goal, don't you think?  

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Bill,

His emphasis on the simplicity and "one thing at a time" approach really speaks to me. I would love to visit his bakery and just sit and watch quietly while soaking it all in.

cheers, Phil

ww's picture
ww

Your bread sounds and looks totally delicious! like you, i really enjoyed MC's post on Gerard and wrote her to thank her for it. Something about his gentle ways towards his breads in the video caught my attention. In the face of all these prescribed METHODS, his minimalist, take-a-step-back treatment is refreshing.

i also feel strongly that baking bread is first and foremost about the source, the grain and the flour. I don't have the oppt to explore that now but hope one day to "go back to the source" - or at least, as much as possible. Then, i'll tap into the expertise of all you TFLers.

Oven spring that makes your loaves reach the top shelf did you say? Wow, i would have liked to have watched that! You must have a big oven, I have never dared to bake on two shelves as i'm afraid that the steaming will be compromised and the top loaves will burn. How do you steam? I should think steam, being warmer, would rise?? I use a method culled from different TFLers. I place ice cubes plus wet towels (idea courtesy of Sally) on a preheated baking tray, then immediately turn it to the maximum grill function for 5-10 mins (must be careful not to singe towels), load bread, then turn it to the fan function. Someone (sorry! can't remember who!) mentioned this, and i'm grateful as I have found that this method generates even more steam and is quite effective - it literally billows out when i open the oven. Although i have wondered if more steam escapes from the oven door on top than descends, and if the steam is not blocked somewhat by the baking tray. I do get good oven spring though. The downside to this method is that one must toggle between the diff functions - i sometimes forget and the loaves suffer as a result.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks ww,

I had originally planned to bake these as batards (I can fit them on the one shelf) but the plan changed. We have a pretty big oven and it holds the heat really well (the last place I rented had a woeful oven and caused me all kinds of stress)

I probably would have even better result had I baked them in my cast iron pot, but I had limited time and couldn't afford to bake them one after the other. For steaming I am using ice cubes in a cast iron skillet filled with large nuts and bolts. I think it works really well for the most part and seems less dangerous than pouring in water which is what I used to do. The big problem is not being able to turn the fan off. This means I preheat to the maximum  and hold it there for at least half and hour and then switch the oven off when the bread is loaded and steamed. I have an oven thermometer and I can watch the temperature drop. It drops from 270-250C to 200C right on ten minutes and then I switch the oven back on. I think you are right about the steam rising ... mmm

Cheers, Phil 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Phil,

Beautiful breads created carefully from a man of great inspiration.

Many thanks for posting your work in such a great way.

All good wishes

Andy

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Many thanks Andy,

Your right about carefully ... I love Gerards comments in the shaping videos  ... something like ... "Don't rush it, take all the time in the world"

Hope the wood collection for your oven is going well :)

All the best, Phil

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And, again, I really like your bread photography.

David

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thank you David,

Good to hear from you.

All the best, Phil

mizrachi's picture
mizrachi

Beautiful bread, as others have mentioned.  But tell me about the sifting.  I assume you're using the Komo sifter attachment?  What are the advantages of adding sifted flour to your recipe?  I ask because I recently bought the Komo sifter attachment and am fairly unsure what to use it for!

 

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks mizrachi,

No, its not the sifter attachment (though I did look at it for a while ... but for the volume I mill it wouldn't have been big enough) I bought the hand held sifters from Komo.

I believe Gerard sifts the flours to minimise coarse bran from creating a opening which gases could escape from the levain . I imagine the gases would = flavour.

The caught bran is then added to the final dough.

I regulary sift my freshly milled flours. I mill then pass the flour through the sifter. I then remill the caught material and sift again. I usually end up catching roughly 5-10% of the original weight of the grain. I use the caught material to dust peels, in muffins and in doughs.

Have fun with the sifter attachment ... it looks pretty cool :)

Cheers, Phil

 

 

mizrachi's picture
mizrachi

Is the caught bran you refer to the bran from the milled flour that is not sifted and remains on the first level of  your hand sifter?

And when you remill am I correct in reading that you're running the bran that remains from milling and sifting through your komo a second time? And after doing this twice, what remains is used in your recipes as requires?  So that if the recipe asks for x amount of flour, you add x amount of your twice milled grain?

Sorry if I'm being a bit bone headed here!

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

I think your on the right track. If a recipe/formula asks for  x amount of flour I weigh the flour that has passed through the sifter from both milling passes.. You may not not need to remill, but I am trying to get as much flour as possible without the coarsest bran. After the first pass the caught material is still quite gritty ... not flaky bran pieces yet. After the second pass, I am left with flaky bran.

Cheers, Phil

mizrachi's picture
mizrachi

Ok got it!  I also think I over may have thought the whole sifting thing as I see now that the sifted flour is a very small proportion of your final dough.  I guess I just always thought that sifting it this way would yield cake flour or some other finer flour that wouldn't be helpful in bread recipes.

 

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Just a joy to behold.

Gerard Rubaud's bread has been a favourite of mine since Shiao-Ping's initial post on TFL drew attention to MC's terrific interview and writeup. I've stuck to Shiao-Ping's version (with inevitable tweaks from time to time) ever since. As you say, the flavour is outstanding.

Without checking SP's formula, my recall is that the hydration of her dough is around 80%, whereas yours is 75%. Also, her process differs from yours in some ways - eg: she doesn't do the post-autolyse French fold kneads. I have no experience with home-milled flours and am just interested to know whether your use of these accounts for your reducing the hydration of your dough and incorporating  the 2xFrench folds prior to the bulk proof S&Fs? Or has the fresh-milled flour got nothing to do with these adjustments?

Am I reading you correctly that your ambient temperature while proofing this bread was 26C? The temperatures have suddenly kicked up in Perth after a very mild Oct/Nov, and my kitchen is now @ around 26C+. I'm finding I'm having to dramatically reduce my proof times (eg: 2 hours BP, 1.5 hours or less FP) - more so than has been the case at this time in previous years. I suspect if I followed the proof times as per your write-up overproofing would result. Maybe my starter is a bit manic! Or could the difference be in your fresh-milled flours, I wonder?

One last question: have you tried retarding this one in the fridge? If so, would be interested to know how it turned out. I retard my bread most of the time, mostly for scheduling convenience, but have come to realise over years of doing this that you do sacrifice a bit of control, and therefore consistency. (Won't deviate from topic by going into this further here).

I don't like working with high hydration breads in warm weather, so am looking forward to giving your version of Gerard's bread a go. I figure 75% will be a lot easier to manage than my usual 80% dough.

Cheers!
Ross

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Ross,

Thanks for the kind words :)

Ok ... Lets start with my thinking regarding the hydration. I believe Gerard aims for a Hydration between 78-80%.

A couple of things I guess, even though we have had some lower temperatures on the weekend there is still quite a bit of humidity (last night here was foul ... I hate the humidity) I have run into trouble with high hydration doughs when its humid so I make a rule to drop the hydration back a few percent ... also I use a lot less flour on my bench than Gerard does, so I reckon I am pretty much in the ball park. I can't see how I would have made this bread any better by increasing the hydration any further ... it felt just right :)

If anything I usually increase the hydration with freshly milled flours (My three grain country bread with sifted freshly milled flours is a nice easy 82% hydration - feels like a 75% hydrated white dough with a touch of stickiness)

The french fold (or slap and fold) is just my favourite way of kneading high hydration doughs ... I have tried every sort of kneading method (apart from a mixer - I don't own one) no-knead, stretch and folds, squeezing the dough and folding. Nothing gets the results like a energetic slap and fold session - the dough feels alive, air is incorporated and I can judge the development really effectively. The finished bread feels different too ... light.

The three stretch and fold during the bulk ferment was to build strength in the wet dough - next time I think the dough would only need two. I think it depends how thoroughly you knead initially and what proportion of flour is prefermented - A shorter knead or less prefermented flour = more stretch and folds required. Again using the fresh flour makes no difference to this.

I was up at 5:00am in the morning mixing trying to beat the heat we had experienced the past few days ... by mid morning however a cool breeze had picked up and the day turned quite pleasant....around 26C. I still watched the dough like a hawk and took temperatures after each fold ... OCD :)

I actually found the proofing quite leisurely after making doughs with entirely fresh milled flours. They tend to race and this is compounded by the temperature increase we are having. I don't really trust the clock.

I am also adjusting my methods for the summer. Our kitchen temp this week was around 27C - outside was 30C. I have started using salt in my final levain builds (especially with the fresh milled flours) to control them. I am using a much smaller amount to seed each feeding and trying to plan my bakes so I am mixing in the morning (the levain can then sit outside the night before in the cool while it develops)

Fridges and retarding are a necessary evil for me when I want to bake for friends during the week. I try not to use them as I struggle like you for control and consistency ... they are handy when you have doughs lined up for the oven :)

As I write this it is overcast and rain is setting in and we are due for some cooler temperatures for the rest of the week and weekend ... at last :)

Thanks for the queries ... hope I answered some and made sense on others :)

All the best, Phil

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Interesting to learn that our practices are similar in some key areas.

ie: I don't have an electric mixer, either; use the slap knead method with high hydration doughs; prefer mixing in the morning, so feed my starter last thing at night; I also do not trust the clock (although with my usual modus operandi being to retard the dough in the fridge, I'm forced into leaning on timing - and baking notes - to some extent).

It's got me beat, then, why I have had to reduce my proofing times so much, given our ambient temps are similar. Your BP of 2.5-3 hours, and FP of 2 hrs (which I've found equates to about 15 hours @ 4C in the fridge) is within a 'normal' range for temps in the mid 20s, and in previous years at this time I would have been using the same sort of proof times. I guess I can only try your Gerard R formula and process and see what happens.

Have to admit, I'm a bit thrown by this proof time issue, and am even starting to lose confidence in my ability to read the dough. Just push on, I guess. And I might try salting my starter. I know Gerard does that, but have resisted the temptation to to follow suit. My partner has kidney impairment, so I keep the salt down in bread and minimise or omit it in my cooking (has required some creative adjustments to keep the flavour up...paprika is my best friend!). I suppose I can reduce the amount added post-autolyse to maintain my current proportion of salt @ max 1% of total dough weight. Anyway, straying off topic, so will stop here and post separately if this proof times thing remains an issue.

Cheers
Ross

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Yeah, I am not doing anything radically different in the processes. Just trying to be consistent and methodical ... trying at least. :)

Salting the levain is not for everybody, and for day to day feedings I would probably not bother, but when building a proportion of stiff levain for a dough in summer its worth considering. I just reduce the amount of salt in the final dough by the amount added to the levain.

I have always struggled with the timelines in books regarding proofing and bulk ferments and I am sure the times in my formulas will differ for many people. Adding the fridge into the equation is a whole new variable ... I have baked this bread after retarding in the fridge ... depending on the temperatures I may let the dough proof for 30 min to 1 hour on the bench before placing into the fridge for 8 hours. I usually bake straight from the fridge (while I rush around madly throwing down breakfast and getting ready for work)

I have never baked bread with salt as low as 1%. How do you find the taste? Do you find other peoples bread overly salty now?

Cheers, Phil

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Be mindful that I am referring to 1% of total dough weight, not bakers percentages (actually, I mostly use less than 1%, usually dropping a couple of grams off the 1% calculation). I'm very happy with the flavours I get from my breads (assuming proofing and all other factors work according to plan, of course). I find the salt content completely appropriate. People I have gifted breads to have raved - and I hastily add a comment here that I routinely make to them in response. That is, that the credit must go to the premium quality organic flours I use and the slow-fermentation sourdough bread making process. I can only imagine how great your breads must taste, with your fresh-milled flours. But yeah, I don't experience any compromise in flavour or quality with the 1%- by dough weight salt content.

Good question re perceived saltiness in other breads, but one I can't answer categorically. Firstly, I hardly ever buy bread now. It is probably a year, maybe two, since my last taste of commercial bread. There is an acclaimed SD wood-fired oven bakery in the South-West, Yallingup Woodfired Bread, that uses the same biodynamic/organic local white flour I use (Eden Valley), and I once loved their breads. I rated their bread the best I had tasted since my year of bread revelation in Germany way back in the mid-80s. I happened to taste some at a function I attended a year or two back and have to say I did find it very salty. Salty to a fault, in fact. I don't know whether this was just an odd batch that had been over-salted or an indication of my now salt-sensitised palate.

That said, there have been occasions in which I've upped the salt content of my breads to more usual proportions, and the flavour was fine. Better than usual? Not sure. I wouldn't have said so, but not worse either!

All in all, while there's no doubt a threshold beneath which you cannot venture, I reckon you can get away with less salt in bread than recommended as standard, without compromising on flavour (sadly, the same cannot be said for some things - French fries and eggs are two that spring immediately to mind!). In fact, there have been times I suspect some of the subtler flavour notes in some breads actually emerge because of the lower salt, but I wouldn't vouch for this. I'm happy to maintain the delusion, if that's what it is!

Right with you on bread book timelines, Phil. There are so many variables in home bread baking that such timelines can only ever be seen as an approximate guideline. I keep notes on most of my bakes in an effort to achieve maximum consistency, but a good sense of dough feel is always the primary guide. I once thought I had The Feel, but as mentioned, I'm down on confidence with my SD bread baking at the moment and am having all sorts of doubts. Apologies that they surfaced here, but it seemed opportune to raise the proofing issue with you.

Cheers
Ross

PiPs's picture
PiPs

If its total dough weight I would be hovering around the 1% mark ... maybe slightly higher. Usually I aim for 1.8 - 2% of the total flour. I find the higher hydration breads seem a little saltier to the taste, especially when using AP flour.  The fresh milled loaves I make are meatier and the flavour of the grains shines through so I don't notice the salt as much.

I have used Eden Valleys flour twice. As you can imagine its very rare to see it on this side of the continent. It is beautiful flour. I distinctly remember one loaf I made about a year and a half ago with it. Was a revelation flavour wise. Just beautiful. I am milling Kialla and Four leaf grains and using Lauckes Wallaby flour when using AP flour. (I know we have a different idea of what AP flour is in Australia but to save confusion on TFL I use that term) The fresh milled flour is in a completely different category flavour wise. JAM PACKED!

Do you measure temps before mixing (adjusting water if necessary) and then later during bulk ferment? I noticed a big jump in my understanding of how the dough was behaving when I started measuring temps. If I am having doubts about my judging I am even more OCD with temperatures. Sorry to hear your confidence is a little dented. I've seen your great bread, maybe its just a bit of adjusting required with the change of season. When I am bit unsure about a starter I keep it on the bench and watch its behaviour during the day after a feeding ... you get a feel for how it responds to different feedings amounts, flours and temperatures ... just a thought.

Cheers, Phil

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Thanks for the link! Rivetting reading in the light of my current issues with proofing in warmer temps, retarding etc. There's so much of direct relevance to digest in MC's terrific report.

Interestingly, the loaves photographed that were salvaged from those proofed overnight I would have been disappointed in. I have had that sort of tunnelling and extreme hole-iness and am always irritated that I've overproofed the dough! Yet, Gerard was thrilled and apparently the flavour was superb! Who am I to doubt - and I don't.

Telling indeed, that he constantly tweaks to accommodate changing variables. Now I don't feel so bad. I'm on the same track, but without Gerard's talent!

His strategy of reducing levain content to extend fermentation during warmer weather is hugely relevant to me at the moment. I'll give that a go next bake. That may even be the key...

Appreciate your alerting me to MC's new post. It may prove to be exactly what the Bread Gods have ordained to set me back on the good path.

Cheers!
Ross

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Too be honest I would be disappointed with that crumb too. I am sure that the taste would make up for it though. Fascinating read though ... I often retard the bread out on the deck in winter... 6-10C is perfect. Makes for great flavour.

Good luck with the baking Ross.

Cheers, Phil

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

I have to confess, Phil, that I am very slack when it comes to measuring temps. Well, worse than slack - I never do it! My thinking has been that the dough temp will just arrive at the room temp in time anyway. Plus, I haven't had a crisis of confidence like this for a long time, so I suppose I've been a bit smug and blaze in ignoring temp. Thanks for your suggestion re this. It's given me a kick up my complacent rump that was no doubt long overdue.

My starter is very active. Maybe even hyperactive at the moment. I'm not a neglectful leave-it-in-the-fridge type, always doing a build or two before using it in a bread dough. I generally use it at peak ripeness, or a bit after. 

I have been chopping and changing my formulae and experimenting a lot with different flour combos, hydrations and starter proportions. I think it's time to go back to basics until I get my mojo back. Time to stop making every bread my own, and revert to some tried and true formulae - this GR version of yours has got to get a run next bake or the one after. All will be right in my baking world again if I can get results anywhere near as good as yours (aesthetically not possible with my free-form batards, but nothing wrong with 'rustic', I guess). It's been a while, though, since I've had cause to celebrate a rise and crumb as gorgeous as that you've achieved here.

Cheers
R

MC's picture
MC

Hello Phil and thank you so much for refering to my posts about Gérard. I regret not being at the bakery right now as I have love to show him the loaves you've made from an adaptation of his original formula. He would have been very impressed. Plus your photographs are stunning. What a treat! 

Just wanted to comment on the sifting: when I first met Gérard, he used to sift his whole grain flour after milling, essentially because he thought too much bran wasn't good for the dough (he said it acted on it as fat would and actually impaired dough development) or for human consumption. I looked it up and didn't find any nutritional warning regarding bran. So from the first day I got my mill, I started milling fine enough not to have to sift. I told him about that of course and he did some experiments, found out that it worked for him as well. He started grinding finer and stopped sifting altogether about a year and a half ago. But when he was sifting he actually never added the bran back to the dough (for the reasons mentioned above).

Regarding the air pockets in the overproofed loaves, he didn't like them either. He always says that air pockets are signs of shaping mishaps. Here I think they were probably due to the mishandling of the fermentation. What triggered his enthusiasm was the airiness and springiness of the dough and also its taste of course. I wish I could be back at the bakery now to see the results of the tests he has been making since I left...

Meanwhile it is a great pleasure to read your blog and also the comment thread, especially the part about the temperature. Gérard spoke at length about the importance of controlling it. I will post his remarks in a follow-up article.

Happy baking!

MC

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hello MC,

Thank you for your generous comments on the bread.

Your posts about Gérard and his bakery have inspired me more than you can imagine. What I find even more interesting and inspiring now is Gérard's restlessness and pursuit of an ever moving target. Maybe its not even a pursuit anymore when you are so deeply involved.

It is interesting that he is reducing the amount of fresh milled flours in the final dough. I would have imagined his hydration needing to decrease slightly. I have found the fresh milled flours very thirsty. Fascinating. Does he ever experiment with other grain varieties?

Your latest posts with regarding levain management are very pertinent to me right now as our weather warms and changes significantly. I am very much of the temperature watching and adjusting camp ... even if you can't control it, its nice to know whats happening with the dough ... another tool to help decision making ... and there are so many decisions to be made for such a simple food.

Many thanks again MC.

All the best, Phil

 

MC's picture
MC

...flours quite thirsty but Gérard had the opposite experience.  He has observed that his dough absorbs water more willingly when it contains less bran and that's the main reason why he adjusted his formula. I don't think he is currently experimenting with other varieties than wheat, spelt and rye but I know he sometimes mixes freshly milled spring and winter wheats (depending on the strength of the batch of all-purpose flour he gets, I suppose). Since I am far from being as skilled as he is at developing complex aromas (and have a harder time with temperature control most of the year) and also for health reasons (better nutrition), I will probably stick to his old formulas, both for the levain and for the final dough. We love the taste of his rustic batards. It's got to be our favorite everyday bread hands down. It is especially delicious in the hot Northeast summer where we have our little vacation home and where both dough and levain are supremely happy. I imagine the same is probably true in the Australia summer... You are right, in Gérard's case, it isn't a pursuit or a quest. It's who he is and that's probably what makes his example so compelling. I am so glad you enjoy reading about him on the other side of the world. It makes it all worth while to blog about the experience.

carthurjohn's picture
carthurjohn

PiPs

I have been trying to make this fantastic looking bread, but am not used to handling such high hydration doughs. As a result the dough is sitting in a couple of bowls with the consistency of porridge!

I have tried giving it a good slapping (aka French fold technique), which I confess I am not very good at, but without success. I've put it in the mixer with the dough hook on at least a couple of times now. I've even kneaded it by hand for whole 15 minutes at a time.

Can you suggest whether there is anyway I could do to rescue them (they've now been bulk proving since 6.00pm yesterday evening!) and what the best way is of handling doughs like this in future? The kitchen looked like a 4 year old had been trying to make bread in it when I eventually gave up and it's taken me hours to clean up. I risk being banned from the kitchen if I carry on like this.

Many thanks for any advice,

A desparate man

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi carthurjohn,

Sorry its late here and I am about to shutdown for the night.

I probably have more questions than help ... how long have your doughs been bulk proving for?

What flour are you using ... Not all flour will absorbs water the same ... so the water may need to be adjusted.

Whats the weather like were you are? When we have hot humid weather here I will need to adjust the hydration.

Maybe more stretch-and-folds are required during the bulk ferment to strengthen the dough ... this takes time to judge, but you will notice how the dough plumps up and starts to support itself.

In the the future? ... mmm ....have everything at hand before you begin. Have you salt measured out, if you have held back water have that ready too. Have scrapers ready .... nothing worse than hunting for tools and ingredients with dough all over you.

I am trying to think back to when I started using high hydration doughs .... oh ...wet hands are an immense help when you first want to handle wet doughs .... helps you get a feel for it.

Wet doughs are not the be all and end all ... if your not comfortable with this level of hydration, maybe drop it back 5-10% and try again and build up confidence that way.

Cheers,
Phil 

 

carthurjohn's picture
carthurjohn

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your reply.

The bulk proving had been going for about 17 hrs when I wrote the post. My flour is Shipton organic stoneground white (I'm in the UK) with an admix of organic wholemeal and rye, as per your recipe, but minus the spelt. The weather here is cold.

Stretching and folding with this level of hydration was impossible as the dough did not have any structure. In the end I baked it as a flat ciabatta style bread. Virtually no rise, but superb flavour.

May have to cut back the water until I get used to it. Do you have any good video links to the French folding? My method may be good for taking out my frustrations, but it's not doing much good for the dough!

 

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

This is a good link as it shows the method and you can see the dough developing as he continues to knead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvdtUR-XTG0

That bulk ferment time seems really long ... did you plan it that way? The bulk ferment can be adjusted depending on the temperatures, maybe warmer water and warmer spot? ... a thermometer for the dough really helps in the cold conditions. Help you read what the dough is doing and adjust accordingly.

All the best,
Phil 

carthurjohn's picture
carthurjohn

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the link. It looks very labour intensive for one loaf. I tend to use the minimal lead, stretch and fold method, so this is quite a different approach.

It wasn't my intention to bulk prove for so long, it's just that I started it in the evening and had to leave it because there was nothing I could do with the dough in such a runny state. I put it in the boiler cupboard, so it wasn't in a cold spot.

What temperature should the dough be when bulk proving?

I'm having another shot at it now with about 10% less water and with seeds added. I actually started it last night and then shaped and put in bannetons in the fridge overnight to retard (find I get a better flavour that way). I will bake off this morning when the dough has warmed up enough.

Best wishes,

carthurjohn

 

 

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi carthurjohn,

He does make it seem like hard work but its really not, and I do find this kind of kneading does lead to a well developed dough ... I have tried just about every kneading technique and I keep coming back to this one.

I do things bit differently than the video - this way I can keep myself and the kitchen clean.

Prepare  - I measure the salt in a container and hold back around 50g of water (for a 2kg batch of dough) and place it in a small bowl for adding with the salt.

Have a bench scraper handy.

I autolyse (mix and rest) the water and flour without salt and levain (I use the stiff levain - 50% hydration). I will autolyse anywhere from 30 min to an hour, which makes the initial kneading quite quick as the gluten has already started developing. I wet my hands lightly then knead as per the video for about 5 mins till the dough lifts of the bench cleanly and dough starts to stretch and feels sticky ... use you bench scraper occasionally to clean down the bench and incorporate stuck material back into the dough. Your hands might be a bit sticky ... its OK the next step fixes this.

I then place the dough back in the bowl and add the salt and water. This is the bit I love! Squeeze the water and salt through the dough ... it cleans your hands of sticky dough, cleans the bowl and the dough seperates then comes back together. Give it some stretch-and-folds in the bowl till it looks smooth then continue kneading on the bench for 10 mins. Have an oiled container or bowl ready to place the kneaded dough in after kneading and you should find you have a clean workspace, no flouring required and minimal cleanup of dough on fingers.

I listed some temps on the formula to give a rough indication of bulk ferment temps and times. If your dough temp is cooler then either extend the bulk ferment or try and warm it to get to the required temp. Bulk fermenting in a clear container is great as it allows you to watch for bubbles and track the doughs development. Helps to watch the dough and not the clock.

Cheers,
Phil

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Phil,

I am going though your blogs and baking a lot of your breads lately...this one I have done before but am coming back to it with new eyes and a bit more baking experience under my belt and, of course, a couple of questions arise....

First off I see you use your 'usual' leaven % and I will stick to mine although my usual leaven mix of flours is ww, Kamut and spelt only...when I use to add rye it simply ripened to quickly so I now leave it out....What difference, if any, do you think the rye makes in the end loaf?  (I can always try your trick of adding salt if you think the difference really is  dramatic enough to merit keeping the rye in the formula.)

I noticed that your HL is lower than your 'usual' 80 -85% mark and I am thinking that is due to the spelt and rye not being as thirsty as ww flours would be and that this combination of grains would swim in a higher hydrated mix???  

So, have you ever tried it at your higher HL?  If so, what happened???

And, since I don't use any store bought flour, I will be using all home milled, un-sifted flours that I have on hand.  I am thinking that the substitution of my hard white whole wheat would be an appropriate replacement for the AP???  (I have blended soft and hard ww to make an AP type flour but didn't really like the result I was getting so I went back to all hard ww - using winter wheat rather than spring which is higher in protein.)

What kind of impact, if any, do you think that change in flour would have on the final loaf?

Thanks for your help in advance :-)

Janet

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Janet,

Sorry this is the third time I have had to write this as my browser keeps dumping the text when I press submit .... so I will make this short :)

The small amount of rye is pretty subtle - substituting with another wholegrain flour would be fine. I found the salt really helpful in Summer months for controlling the fermentation ... helps to slow the enzyme activity which can turn a levain to mush.

I reduced the hydration as the AP flour I was using would not usable for a shaped loaf - good for ciabattas though :)

If your using unsifted flours your not going to be able to achieve the feather light crumb - but you will end up with a more flavoursome and healthier loaf.

Cheers
Phil 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks for the input Phil.  It will be interesting to see what the results are.

I am going to go ahead and add rye to the leaven mix but watch it like a hawk so it doesn't over ripen.  My ripening times are already shortening now that our temps. are increasing...

I will let you know how it all turns out sometime next week...if I stay on my schedule as it stands now :-)

Take Care,

Janet

P.S.  My messages sometimes get zapped too.  I have been able to save them by going back a page and, for some reason, they are there.  I am not sure why it happens...maybe cursor placement or something.