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Reinhart's formulas are just so wrong

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pyg's picture
pyg

Reinhart's formulas are just so wrong

After having had access to Hamelmans Bread book for 5+ years and having learned bakers math from it, Reinharts formulas make absolutely no sense to me.  I recently acquired The Bread Bakers Apprentice and Crust and Crumb based in part from recomendations on this site and forno bravo.  While I really like Reinharts enthusiasm compared to Hamelmans rather dry style, I do not understand why Reinhart even bothered to include formulas as his books are pitched at the more casual baker and the formulas themselves seem to be super complicated to use.

With Hamelmans overall formulas where total flour = 100% noting the hydration and flours involved I can immediately get a sense of the handling characteristics.  I can also infer a fair amount from the percentage of preferment or levain and with very simple math adjust these formulas based on what I know about my flour, humidity, etc.  But what I absolutely depend on is with slightly more complicated math I can make a batch of dough that makes exactly a given number of loaves of a given size.  For example assuming I have a bread formula that overall comes to 177.5 percent.  My oven is pretty small so my batch size is 12 loaves.  I know from experience that if I scale my dough at 550g (I vastly prefer working in metric) a loaf it will bake to a final weight of between 1 pound and 1 pound 1 ounce.  I also know that I need to add ~10g per loaf for scaling error so 560 * 12 = 6720g final dough weight.  I divide that by 1.775 and I get 3786g for my total flour weight.  Total flour weight is the magic number and once I have that all other weights including preferments are generated.  How the **** do you do this with a Reinhart formula.

 Ranting ever onward, I decided to compare Reinharts The Bread Bakers Apprentice Poilane style Miche (pg 242)  with Hamelmans James MacGuire/Pointe-a-Calliere style Miche (pg 164) by working backwards from Reinharts formula to generate a Hamelman type formula.  Here we go:

Assuming that the Barm included in the Firm Starter is 100% hydration which is implied on pg 232, the Firm Starter would be 138.9% flour and 82.9% water.  Converting this to a ratio where flour equals 100% gives us a Firm Starter with a hydration of 60% (with rounding) exactly the same as Hamelman so far.  OK, after splitting Firm Starter into the Final Dough I get 137.5% flour and 87.5% hydration which converts to 63.6% hydration at 100% flour with 27.3% of flour used in the starter, or:

Overall Formula: 

100%  Whole Wheat Flour

2.5%  Salt

63.6%  Water

166.1% Total

 

Pre-Fermented Flour 27.3%  (Firm Starter):

100%  Whole Wheat Flour

60%  Water

of the above preferment 28% is comprised of 100% hydration Barm (not calculating exact build because I'm lazy)

 

So now I have this in a readable format I don't have to even try this formula to have serious questions.  63% hydration for what should be a high hydration sourdough?  Really?  Hamelmans formula is at 82% hydration.  Based on experience, a high extraction flour or whole wheat would be practically unworkable with this level low a level of hydration.  The description of handling the dough in Reinharts text implies a much higher level of hydration than 63%.  Alternately I've done something wrong in the math, please check my work if you can.  Showing me I'm wrong about any of my above assumptions would help me learn.

Sure wish Hamelman would write more books.

Frosty's picture
Frosty

I have both books and really enjoy them both.  But they are not, in my opinion, aimed at the same audience.  Hammelman targets the very serious home baker up to professionals.  I think Reinhart is trying to really simplify.  Bring better bread to the masses.

Your comment

"I can also infer a fair amount from the percentage of preferment or levain and with very simple math adjust these formulas based on what I know about my flour, humidity, etc."

puts you well above most bread bakers I think. Both are great books, but I think a different focus.  One of the great things that makes a hobby (such as baking) fantastic, is you can be successful simply, but can take it as deep and technical as you like.  

Anyway, just my opinion.

Frosty

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Any of the formulas I have used from Bread Baker's Apprentice have worked, which is more than can be said for recipes we have tried from other sources.

Gerhard

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Why are you comparing two different breads? Just because they are each called a miche has nothing to say about their formulas. A miche is simply a loaf, usually round. Do a search here on TFL, and you will find several beautiful examples of the bakers' art using hydration levels from the low sixties to the low eighties for miches.  The binding commonalities seem to be the a mix of high protein whole wheat with a small portion of white or a high extraction flour, the use of natural leavening (sour dough), and the loaf being large, e.g 2kg or larger.

I am not all that enamored of either Reinhart's or Hamelman's method of scribing their formulas. That's a discussion for another thread.

cheers,

gary

pyg's picture
pyg

Hi Gary,

Thanks for disagreeing with me!  Google tells me that you are correct, miche is a big loaf of high extraction or whole wheat sourdough or alternately in french slang, "butt cheek".  

While I have not actually tried the formula, I maintain that the hydration of Reinharts formula (if my math is correct) is questionable, as while 63% hydration is a reasonable choice for all white french bread, it would be incredibly stiff for whole wheat.  My rule of thumb when substituting white flour for whole wheat is to add 5 to 10 percentage hydration.  My current pet project is a 100% whole wheat ciabatta style bread and at ~90% hydration feels very similar in handling to Hammelmans 73% ciabatta w/poolish.  Really I could be wrong on this too, maybe a 63% all whole wheat formula is reasonable and I just haven't made it there yet.  Please call me out with personal experience.

I'm not super confidant here, but I still think that the miche Hammelman and Reinhart are referring to here has more commonality than you think.  The fact that they differ by nearly 20 percent hydration is the point I'm trying to reconcile.  Maybe I'm just not as good at math as I think.... 

Also, let me un-troll some of my first post.  I adore Reinhart especially his Pizza Quest stuff as pizza is dear to my heart and even nearer to my waistline.  My wording was phrased so in order to invite feedback, as I expect many people appreciate Reinhart as much as I do.  

I actually do think this would be a good thread to debate the merits of Hammelman versus Reinhart versus some other.  I will start by maintaining my position that Hammelmans way is the one true way and all others are INFIDELS that shall burn... hmmm how many watch lists did that get me on?  I would really like to hear from someone who actually uses Reinharts formulas effectively (and not just his recipes which I assume are very good).

Smile!

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Let me admit up front that I seldom make more than a 50% ww bread; I'm just not that fond of the bran's bitterness, preferring the delicate sweetness of the lower extraction flours. At one time I did increase the hydration as an allowance for the ww or for the medium rye I habitually add. I found it unnecessary in breads with a long sour preferment and/or a cold bulk ferment. Both do a lot toward increasing the extensibility of the dough, making high hydration redundant unless one wants an open crumb. I don't as I don't like the butter and preserves dripping through the holes in my morning toast. I have been considering baking a miche for several weeks now, and will likely go with a lower hydration version à la Reinhart in order to form a more perfect Union have smaller, more regular alveoli.

Putting aside the differences in the formulas themselves, both authors provide all the info needed to scale one's dough to any desired weight.  I don't recall either writer spending much time on the how-to of scaling the formulas; a shame, since deriving a multiplier from the sum total of percentages and the desired dough weight is the dominant reason for the existence of  baker's math.

cheers,

gary

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Michael: I would give Pyg at least one more chance before inviting him to leave. After all, he's only been registered on TFL for 8 hours.

Now, Pyg. I have baked both of the breads to which you refer many times. If you were as astute in imagining a bread from reading its formula as you say, you would know that both Reinhart's miche and Hamelman's Miche, pointe-à-Callière are delicious breads. Reinhart's is pretty close in crumb structure to Poilâne's miche, if you follow his recipe. Hamelman/McGuire's miche has a more open crumb structure. 

Please note that both breads call for "high-extraction" flour, not whole wheat. The two are not the same in how they absorb water, or in their flavor, for that matter. 

I don't need to repeat what's already been said by others regarding the important difference in target audience for the two authors. If you are so advanced in your baking knowledge and skills that Peter Reinhart is unworthy of your respect, I recommend you stick to Michel Suas' Advanced Bread and Pastry. It's a shame you would be missing out on some of Reinhart's really delicious breads in BBA.

Happy baking!

David

P.S. Stick around and get to know the community here. We're pretty supportive of each other, including respecting others' differing opinions. However, if your opinion is wildly divergent from others', you ought to be able to back it up with some concrete evidence, for example, checking with others or trying a formula yourself before you condemn a widely known and used book.

 

pyg's picture
pyg

Hi dmsnyder,

While I consider my initial post to be rather trollish I have been upstaged by at least one registered member already :-)  Thanks for your excellently reasoned response.

Now, Pyg. I have baked both of the breads to which you refer many times. If you were as astute in imagining a bread from reading its formula as you say, you would know that both Reinhart's miche and Hamelman's Miche, pointe-à-Callière are delicious breads. Reinhart's is pretty close in crumb structure to Poilâne's miche, if you follow his recipe. Hamelman/McGuire's miche has a more open crumb structure. 

This is exactly the sort of response I was looking for.  Yes intuitively, and I restate I have not tried this forumula, I would assume that Reinharts would be close in crumb verging on brick.  I will take your reply as an admonition to actually try the formula as I decipher it and report back.

Please note that both breads call for "high-extraction" flour, not whole wheat. The two are not the same in how they absorb water, or in their flavor, for that matter. 

The only high extraction flour I have reasonable access to is Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo which in my limited experience has very similar characteristics to a whole wheat flour.  Most texts I reference suggest substituting "high extraction flour" with 10-25% white and the balance whole wheat.  I still agree with all of your assertions, but I maintain that high extraction flour generally has characteristics closer to whole wheat in terms of hydration. 

I don't need to repeat what's already been said by others regarding the important difference in target audience for the two authors. If you are so advanced in your baking knowledge and skills that Peter Reinhart is unworthy of your respect, I recommend you stick to Michel Suas' Advanced Bread and Pastry. It's a shame you would be missing out on some of Reinhart's really delicious breads in BBA.

Sorry if I came off as a snob, I was aming for enthusiast and hoping for geek.  I am an amatuer in the sense that I don't bake bread for income and more importantly that my heart (and tongue) cares about food and bread in a primal way.  I will both look into Michel Suas and try and translate more formulas from BBA and Crust and Crumb.

P.S. Stick around and get to know the community here. We're pretty supportive of each other, including respecting others' differing opinions. However, if your opinion is wildly divergent from others', you ought to be able to back it up with some concrete evidence, for example, checking with others or trying a formula yourself before you condemn a widely known and used book.

Yes, I again apologize for seeming antagonistic; while I confess to being so I only meant to use it to evoke responses that extend my own understanding.  Please call me out when I make no sense (presumably a frequent opportunity!).

Thanks for the argument,

pyg

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have use Golden Buffalo, and, although many like it, I just didn't enjoy its flavor. The high-extraction flour I have enjoyed the most is the "Organic Type 85" flour from Central Milling.

Although I am told by those even more geeky than I that it's not technically a high-extraction flour, I've also used First Clear Flour in recipes that call for high-extraction flour. First Clear has an unique flavor. I happen to like it for miches, and I think it's closer in flavor to the various miches I've had in France than Golden Buffalo. 

Anyway, if you are after a delicious miche, I seriously recommend the formula I got during the Artisan II workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute. The formula was posted here: This miche is a hit! Please do note that I used high-extraction flour, but one of my notes tells you what the original SFBI formula called for.

Personally, I prefer this SFBI miche to any other, with McGuire's (as described by Hamelman) in second place, Poilâne's (the real thing from the Paris bakery on Rue Cherche Midi) in third, and Reinhart's in fourth place. Understand that I wouldn't refuse a slice of any of them!

Happy baking!

David

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Most of the recipies I see for 100% WW, here and other places are at least 73% hydration and go up to 88%.  From my own baking I would prefer one at somewhere around 80%.  63% sounds pretty low to me but I'm sure some fine bakers here could work with it somehow to make a bread that wasn't a brick.  I don't think I would want to try though.  But that is for whole wheat not a high extraction one.  Then I would need at leat 72% but, I'm not a fine baker like may on the TFL.  It's all in the wheat for how much water it needs.

breadman_nz's picture
breadman_nz

Just to add.... the yeast percentages in Hamelman's formulas are for FRESH yeast.

If you are using instant dried yeast in a Hamelman bread, make sure you divide the % given for yeast by a third ie. 1.3% of yeast becomes 0.43% of instant yeast.

varda's picture
varda

I just noticed that the yeast percentages in Hamelman didn't apply to instant yeast and didn't know what to do about it.  Makes this thread worthwhile.  -Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hamelman specifies instant yeast for commercial bakery, large dough batches. In the column of each formula headed "Home," he specifies instant yeast.

David

varda's picture
varda

For the left two columns he specifies fresh yeast in both metric and english.   For the third home column he specifies instant yeast.   The baker's percent column is not correct for instant yeast, it is for the other two columns.  

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I haven't done the calculation, but, since baker's percentage is by weight, and the equivalent weights of fresh and instant yeast are different, and there is only one listing for bakers' percentage which applies to the fresh yeast instance, the instant yeast baker's percentage has to be wrong. 

However, I've always found that using the specified weight of instant yeast in the "Home" column works.

I suppose the only solution would have been to have separate listings for the baker's percentages for fresh and instant yeast. Hmmmm ... I wonder if Hamelman refers to this issue anywhere in the book.

David

varda's picture
varda

David, The only time this is an issue is when you want to scale by using baker's percentages.   Since I just learned how to do that, I've never been burned by this.   I only noticed it because I was trying to answer Simisu's question about typical yeast percents in poolish.   I just took a look at the section on Baker's percentages (starting on p. 376) and didn't see any mention of it.   Maybe it's somewhere else or in errata.    In any case, Bread is a great book, and this just shows how hard it is to make everything consistent in trying to present a formula every which way.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi David, Varda,

Ordinarily a small batch of dough would require more yeast proportionately than a large batch.   Hamelman has some fairly large sized dough batches for his metric columms aimed at commercial bakers using fresh yeast.

I don't use his home bakers' column; it's volumetric/mini imperial and therefore little more than gobbledigook to me, as I work metric and percentages only.   But if it works for you both, that's good.   I think the small size would need the amount specified as dried yeast; if you were using fresh, then that amount would need to be increased to compensate for the small size of dough batch.

Best wishes

Andy

pyg's picture
pyg

pg. 91 Use 40% of fresh weight for ADY and 33% for IDY.

breadman_nz's picture
breadman_nz

The yeast does, in my Hamelman experience, need to be reduced to 1/3 the specified baker's percentage. For example, the pullman loaf specifies 14g of instant yeast for 580g of flour, which is, I can assure you, excessive. The loaf works much better with 4.6g of IDY.

The formula column is correct and easy to use and scale with the sole caveat of the yeast conversion. The home column is not useful to me for the reasons above: volumetric and imperial measures - yuck!

 

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

and warn him that anti-Reinhartism of any sort will not be tolerated here! ;) 

but serisouly, I find the formulas in Crust & Crumb rather inconsistent. That being said, if you haven't tried the 'Sweet Rustic Bread' give it a whack. Push the hydration level and it is both extremely challenging and rewarding. Although the recipe does tell you to work dough with wet hands on a flour surface (or vice versa). Never could figure that one out!

I don't own BBA, it seems like more of a coffee table book to me. Artisan Breads Everyday imo is a great book for newbs.

PYG, if you really want to get your nerd on, you need Advanced Bread & Pastry.

pyg's picture
pyg

... is on its way to my mailbox; taking your and dmsnyders advice to get this book.  According to the description and reviews this looks to be exactly the sort of thing I'd be interested in.  Thanks for the recommendation.

 

pyg's picture
pyg

I noticed that a negative comment has been removed from this thread.  I am far more concerned by censorship than I was offended.  Is deleting comments a regular event on this forum?  I understand the desire to foster a friendly forum environment, but I'm not sure I agree with this method.  IMO this comment only served to embarrass the user and decrease his/her reputation.  Sufficiently sophisticated forum software is capable of filtering users based on reputation which is, again IMO, the best way to deal with trolls while honoring freedom of speech.  As I stated in a later post, my initial post was intentionally worded in a way to evoke responses and I willingly accept/expect the sort of hostile response I got.  

On a positive note: I very much appreciate the quality of responses I got from gary.turner, dmsnyder, and others.  Some of my assumptions have been challenged/corrected and I have new directions to explore.

Cheers!

varda's picture
varda

about how you feel about a particular comment; it's about what the atmosphere on the site is like.   Think of it as a dresscode rather than censorship, similar to what you might be expected to conform to if you went to a nice restaurant.   Occasionally people use crude language on the site.   Those comments disappear.   Whereas I might be tempted to use such language, I know it's not appropriate here, so I don't.   Some people attack the poster or another commenter.   Those comments disappear.   That gives the rest of us the sense that we are safe posting and won't be attacked.    This isn't an issue of right or wrong -- just how the person who owns and operates this site chooses to run it.   I support it, recognize there is always judgement involved, and really love the peaceful environment he has managed to create even with such a large and diverse group of posters.    My opinion, of course.  In any case, you managed to get a good conversation going and I hope to see more of your posts.  -Varda

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The poster of that comment brought it to my attention.  It was a deliberately uncivil response that, while I'm sure it felt therapeutic to make, would encourage nothing more than more nastiness.  Flame bait.  I put it out before it did flare up into something larger. 

No, "censorship" is not commonly practiced here but civility is expected.  You are entitled to your opinion about how to deal with trolls, but early on in this site's history I decided that there are plenty of places online where the loudest, most offensive, biggest bully wins the discussion and that I was not going to allow that here.  I've always been clear about that. I think the community here has appreciated this and thrived in large part because of the tone that I and others here established and maintain.  

The same courtesy and decency is expected from you.  Provocative comments and questions are fine, but discourteous and disrespectful behavior won't fly here.  They will either be moderated out by community members -- who tend to have a lower threshold for incivility than I do -- or removed by me.    

Welcome to the site.

-Floyd

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Thanks for your diligence on this issue which I always appreciate.  The lower tones that are not allowed here are a big factor in my continuing interest and participation in this forum.

Jeff

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

Moi, aussi. 

Thank you, Floyd.

 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

(No, I don't mean the draconian Californian law, but the math rule).

First, welcome to the Fresh Loaf, Pyg!

As a German, I was often told I was too blunt and would "crash with the door into the house" (as they say in German). Before I joined this forum, I was already mellowed down by living long enough in the US not to voice my frustration so bluntly anymore....

I was no accomplished bread baker, when I moved to Maine, but had to learn it out of desperation - the supermarket wonderbreads were no option.

Starting with Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" I basically learned how to bake, then working my way through "Whole Grain Breads", and from there to many other baking books, including Hamelman's "Bread". Reinhart is a great teacher, his simple, uncomplicated write-ups might not appeal to accomplished veteran bread bakers, but newbies really can learn how to do it from them. (Having his newer books I didn't think it necessary to buy the two oldest ones, "Brother Juniper and "Crust & Crumb").

Hamelman, on the other hand, is definitely not for beginners - obviously dumbing it down for home bakers, not trusting in their abilities to use a scale (volume measuring - me, too, yuck!)

Reinhart's formulas (in the books I know) work very well - I baked almost every bread from the "Bread Baker's Apprentice", "Whole Grain Breads" and "Artisan Bread Every Day". There are hardly any errata in the formulas. Errata in Hamelman's "Bread", and many others, on the other hand fill several pages.

In the meantime, I am able to handle more advanced baking books, but I still prefer Reinhart's simple, clear, didactic language to more involved, scientific write-ups.

And scaling the formulas? The only thing I remember from my math classes is the "Rule of Three". With that I am able to easily scale any formula to the size I want.

Karin (Karin's Bäckerei)

 

 

owlsprings's picture
owlsprings