The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixed and Twisted

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wassisname's picture
wassisname

Mixed and Twisted

More tinkering with mixed starters.  This time, along with the usual rye preferment, I decided to preferment the whole wheat portion of the flour instead of the usual white flour preferment.  It worked out pretty well.  Using two starters must be providing a greater margin for error because no matter how I tinker I always end up with something pretty good. 

Adding the stiff whole wheat starter to the dough after the autolyse had one nice side benefit:  it provides a visual indicator of kneading progress.  I know that when the color of the dough is uniform I am just about done kneading.  It takes a surprisingly long time to get to this stage, the stickiness of this dough doesn't help.  But, once I'm there I know I can stop whenever I want.  In this case I gave the dough a short rest and then kneaded another minute or two.  I'll knead a little longer if I'm after a closer, more organized crumb.

Once the dough is where I want it, it's into my new toy/tool/best friend - the proofer!

Nevermind what this has done in terms of the consistency and predictability of raising bread in my House of Wildly Varying Temperatures, what really has me deliriously happy is the effect on my starter.  No more slow, ever more sour, ever more painful decline over the course of winter.  This is like a box of summer right on my kitchen counter!  My starter rebounded with enthusiasm after just a couple of steady 70°F feedings and is showing no signs of slowing.

Then there is my latest fixation: mastering the tordu.  I remember trying to twist some of the first loaves I ever made.  The results were not very interesting (neither was the bread, as I remember) so I stopped twisting and stuck to more common shapes.  Eventually I bought a copy of Tartine Bread... and there was the twist!  It even had a name: Tordu.  The loaves pictured in the book were even more gnarled and beautiful than anything I had imagined.  More time passed and now I'm finally getting around to trying it.  It's harder than it looks. 

The trick, I think, lies in making it look like something you actually meant to do rather than something you simply failed to prevent.  The really hard part is getting the loaves gnarled-up enough in the first place, and then getting them to stay that way.  This may not be the best dough for the purpose but I'm not going to bake a bread I don't want just to get a shape I do want.  My enthusiasm has its limits.  These loaves show some twisty effect but not as much as I would like.  The dough is a little slack, so much of the effect is lost during the final proof.  A stronger dough might help, as would a really heavy dusting of flour just before the twist to keep the seams from closing-up.  There will be more of these loaves - it's just too much fun to to give up on.

Marcus

Comments

varda's picture
varda

Marcus, Those pictures stopped me cold.   Very nice!   And I agree with you about the mixed starters.   One or the other of them is sure to do the job.   And you get the taste of the other one no matter what.   Just when I think I've seen it all you go and post a tordu.  -Varda

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you, Varda!  There are so many ways to vary the two starter method it’s hard to decide what to try next.  As for the tordu, well, it just has that “ugly duckling” appeal that I can’t help but love.  And… no scoring!  I admit, though, that it would be a tough one to sell.  I can’t say I’m surprised that they don’t show up more.  Even as a give-away loaf it would require some explanation.  I’ll have to spring one of these on someone and see what sort of reaction I get.

Marcus

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I also believe that the taste of whole wheat benefits from longer soaking/fermenting.

And those gnarly breads, Marcus - who would have thought that you could make loaves that resemble something that has just been unwrapped in an Egyptian tomb.....?

Karin

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Hehehe, I love that description, Karin.  I should have draped some linen over it for the photo :)  I'm already thinking about bumping-up the whole grains in this formula a bit, though I think at some point as the whole grain% rises a soaker becomes the more effective tool.

Marcus

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I mean really nice. Very impressive .  Love the color and crumb .  I'm adding to my very long to do list ....

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, dabrownman, I'm flattered!  I know how those lists go, but if you get the chance it's a method worth trying.  There are a number of great variations on this site.

Marcus

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Beautiful Marcus,

Just a fantastic looking crumb. The tordu's have fascinated me but I have never put my mind to attempting one. Will keep your comments in mind when I do attempt one.

Happy with your proofer? I need the opposite here ... a wine cooler would be great about now :)

Cheers,
Phil

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks so much, Phil!  It's a fun shape, though it feels like a strange thing to do to a loaf.  Plenty of, "What on earth am I doing to this poor dough?!?" moments the first couple tries.  If you do give it a shot be sure to share!

Did I mention I'm happy with the proofer?   You bet!   Though, I'll be in your shoes soon enough.  When summer eventually returns maybe I'll just set a bucket of ice water on top and use it as a cooler :)

Marcus

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Marcus,
Your breads are lovely as always, and so nice to see the twisted tordu.
I'll be thinking about what you said, if I ever try to shape a twisted loaf like that :^)
Thanks for the smile!
from breadsong

wassisname's picture
wassisname

It's a fine line sometimes, isn't it?  This shape certainly cuts it closer than most.  Thank you for the kind words, breadsong!

Marcus

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

maybe with a wet dough.  Rye flour?  I was watching this video of shaping tordu on youtube and the dough looked stiffer, a lower hydration.  After pressing the dough lengthwise with a stick, it was actually brushed with water.  I was dreaming of throwing a sprinkle of seeds  down the grove before folding.  I wonder how that would look?  

I was looking at another shaping video and the cigar shape before pressing with the stick is much longer.  Then instead of twisting each end in the opposite direction, the dough was diagonally rolled starting from one end.  This seemed to get more twists into the shape.  I wonder if there is a twist minimum and maximum to "tordu."

wassisname's picture
wassisname

A stick?  I didn't know there could be a stick involved.  That makes sense, actually.  Hmmm, maybe I should have researched this a little more.  The method I was following (sort of) just said to shape a baguette, give it as rest, then twist it.  I didn't really do that either since I making a full size loaf (about 1kg of dough), but that was the idea.  I figured the dough was a little on the wet side, next time I'll bring the hydration down a touch.  And, Mini, you can't solve every bread problem by throwing rye flour and seeds at it ;-) ...or can you?  This gives me more to think about, thanks!

Marcus

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I don't know.  I do throw egg whites at things too!  Lol!   I seem to have an endless supply of rye and seeds (and nuts.)  Rye not?  Don't get me wrong, I love your loaves, too perfect!  And you know me... a little twisted here and there...  love seeds too!  

Is there an old saying about throwing rye over one's shoulder?  There should be...   messy habit.  :)

Mini

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Lovely Marcus! Too true, the double leaven will deliver, and then some.

Lovely looking loaves, and the grigne is very attractive for 30% wholegrain!

Very good work, and Congrats on the proofer.

 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Khalid.  A reliable rise and loads of flavor sure works for me!

Marcus

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Marcus, how many loaves can you proof at the same time in the proofer? I was wondering, looking at the photo on their website

Karin

noonesperfect's picture
noonesperfect

I have found that two loaf pans or small baskets will fit.  Only one boule or decent size braid (like a challah) will fit.  There is plenty of height available, so I may try to rig a way to put a second tier in the proofer to allow for more capacity.

 

brad

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Just as Brad said, it will accomodate my two oval baskets with no problem.  My round baskets I need to put one on top of the other with a small wire rack between them.  I don't like doing that so much so I generally use the ovals.

For bulk fermenting I found a pair of 4 quart containers that will fit in at the same time.   

The two loaf limit isn't really a problem for me since I can only get two at a time in my oven anyway.  When I make four loaves I stagger them by putting two in the proofer and two on top of the proofer.  So far that's working pretty well.

I'll measure the inside dimensions when I get home... if I can remember :)

***edit***  I remembered!  12" x 14" x 7 1/2"  Those measurements are rounded down, so it's a tiny bit bigger than that.

Marcus