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Honest bread - 100% whole-wheat desem bread and some country bread

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PiPs's picture
PiPs

Honest bread - 100% whole-wheat desem bread and some country bread

The idea of honest bread and its making found its way into my thinking over the weekend. I find myself slipping more and more into this way of baking. Using less but wanting more from it. I didn’t bake any differently to past weekends yet I felt more connected and relaxed throughout the process. The slightly cooler temperatures certainly helped both my peace of mind and the resulting bread. The kitchen felt less frantic.

 I haven’t been pushing the envelope. Just practising consistency while noticing and adapting to the subtle differences the change of seasons is bringing. Perhaps this might be seen as boring or lazy … nevertheless I enjoyed it thoroughly and it keeps us well fed.

I baked two small batches of 100 per cent whole-wheat desem bread and country breads on the weekend. This will feed the family during the week and left us with a loaf to take away on a picnic to a country market in the northern New South Wales town of Bangalow. We had the best handmade organic doughnuts while wandering through the markets. One of the country breads was given to Nat’s parents on our trip home to help ease their struggling brought on by home renovations.

I have been trying a new method of milling where the flour is constantly stirred and moved around in the bowl as it falls from the mill. I want to disperse the heat as quickly as possible and noticed a definite improvement in the time it took for the flour to cool. Whether this translates into the final bread I really have no idea. Any ideas? I sifted the wheat flour for the country bread as normal and retained the bran for coating the desem loaves.

Mixing the desem starter

Autolyse and desem starter

Squeezing in desem starter

Stretch-and-fold

 

100% Whole-wheat Desem

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2000g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

20g

1.8%

Prefermented flour

162g

15%

 

 

 

Desem starter build – 10 hrs 18-20°C

 

 

Starter

61g

50%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

122g

100%

Water

61g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Desem starter

243g

26%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

919g

100%

Water

838g

91%

Salt

20g

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix desem starter and leave to ferment for 10-12 hours at 18-20°C
  2. Mill flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse for a minimum of one hour.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Bulk ferment two and a half hours with three stretch-and-fold 30 mins apart.
  5. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  6. Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C
  7. Bake in a preheated dutch oven at 250°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 10 mins. Remove bread from the dutch oven and continue to bake on a stone for a further 20mins to ensure even browning.

 

 

I am continuing to expand the desem starter with one build straight from the fridge and as the overnight temperature continues to cool the desem starter is achieving a more controlled fermentation and sweeter aroma by the following morning. I have been looking forward to this kind of weather all summer and it is so nice to not have sweating dough racing away from me into a sticky mess. I even had to increase proofing times by an extra half-an-hour for this bake.

For an aesthetic change to previous desem loaves I baked these without slashing in a dutch oven after coating them in bran sifted from the country breads. I was really surprised with the increased oven spring … quite possibly the best I have had with this form of bread.

Country bread baking

The most telling tale that the cooling temperatures are affecting the bread came with the cutting and tasting. Nat took a bite and then looked at me and asked quite seriously, ‘Have you added anything else to this … it tastes sweet?’ Not only does it taste sweet, but you can smell the sweetness in the kitchen while slicing through a loaf. The crust is delicate with the bran coating adding a crunchy contrast to the soft crumb within.

So far we have eaten it with Nat’s special ‘sick soup’, with honey and ricotta, toasted with peanut butter, with plum jam, with apricot jam … and the list goes on and on.

Happy baking all ...
Cheers
Phil

Comments

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Janet,

Your breads looks V-nice ... the crumb looks identical to the one I have been getting.

There is some waste with the Tuesday refreshment as I don't bake much during the week. Sometimes the excess gets used, sometimes not. I don't lose any sleep over it and it is certainly a lot less wastage than when I was doing two feedings a day with my previous leavens.

The problem with the back-to-back refreshments is that the daytime temperatures are still way to high here - around 26-28C ... and until I get myself a nice little wine fridge the starter will over-ferment and lose the sweet quality. When winter arrives I will be able start incorporating back-to-back refreshments again.

I was doing refreshments on the weekend only, but found the starter didn't smell as nice as when I could give it a feed during the week. Tuesday seemed kind of in the middle :) ... so this routine stayed and the starter seems happier than ever.

I try to keep the starter at 200g. It fits nicely in the jar and leaves me with enough starter to do just one expasion for a decent weekends baking. Have you tried covering the loaf with bran when you proof it? It gives the crust a really nice flavour and crunch ... makes a bit of a mess when it comes time to slice it though :(

Cheers,
Phil

 

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Evening Phil,

Thanks for explaining your feeding schedule... I wasn't sure if you tossed or built on what you had and now it makes sense.  I used to loose a lot when I tried keeping mine at room temp. to.  Now that I refrig. I don't loose any.

Sounds like you process with your leaven is like mine.  Tweaking until finding the right rhythm.  I tried the 50% 1:1:2 and mine ripened too quickly and the stiffness hurt my hands - even at 62°F/16°C!  I cut back on the starter and tried 1:1.7:3 and it still was ready too quickly so now I do 3 builds during the day at 1:.035:.65  ( eg 20:7.8:13).  Works for me because I am here and refreshing times are usually around meal times...convenient.  The 60% HL is easier on my hands.  Who knows if this routine will change in the future or not but it is working now and there is flexibility as I can always refresh earlier but last rise is more important to watch so it doesn't over ripen...happens sometimes but bread is still okay - just adds a different flavor.

I keep my refrig. starter at about 200g also.  I read somewhere that going below that doesn't give the critters room enough for a healthy and stable environment - not the right phrase but something along those lines.  Like fish in a fish tank - rule of thumb is 1 gallon of water per 1" of fish  otherwise overcrowding and the fish don't do as well.....toxins build up etc....

I have never tried adding bran to the crust.   My crust turned out pretty light in color as it baked more quickly than I expected so it had the lid on the entire bake.  I decided to leave it soft.  Next time I will try the bran and letting it bake uncovered and directly on the stone.  Tis a nice simple loaf to throw together. I was very tempted to add more flour to it as my dough was wetter than I am used to working with.  Glad I left it as you had it - I liked the resulting softness/lightness of the crumb.

Take Care and thanks again for the explanation.

Janet

codruta's picture
codruta

Phil, thank you A LOT. It's not at all complicated. In the waiting for your answer, I already started my desem and I pretty much did exactly what you describe, only I used cold flour to feed it and surround it, and it still expanded (I'll use room temperature flour next time, thank you for describing the procedure in detail) I only keep 120g (30:30:60) cause I intend to make just 1 bread at the time. I halved your recipe cause I thought you made 2 loafs of 1 kg of dough each. Now I read you're making 4 (that means 500g/loaf... when I saw your photos I was wondering if the loaf is little or your hands are really big? :))

I love the way that desem ball expand under the flour and cracks the surface, like a struggling seed. That is how mine looked after 24 hour from the second feeding.

Last night I prepared the desem build for this formula. The only thing I don't know now is if this bread requires a high protein content whole wheat flour or not. I saw David used a high protein flour, but what I have on hand is a low protein whole wheat (I was sure I still have a bag of my usual WW flour but last night I discovered that I don't, and the only WW flour I have is 10.9g protein). I have a few hours before the desem build is ready, so I could run to the store and buy a different flour (~14g protein)... and I think I'll just do that.

I consider my first loaf a trial, I don't expect much... but we'll see. I'll get back after I'll bake the bread.

Thanx again for details, instructions and everything,

Codruta

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Ha Ha, no that's a 1kg loaf i'm holding :) ... I use the desem starter for other breads on the weekend as well.

Your starter looks good ... How is the aroma of it?

I think a high protein flour would help, but you might sacrifice some of the flavour. The wheat I mill is close to 13% protein. I have made these with lower protein wheat and they tasted great but you have to be careful with hydration and handling. Its worth considering altering the formula for lower protein flowers and using a larger amount of preferment to shorten the overall fermentation. A long fermentation can degrade the gluten too much and cause the dough to go runny. A lower hydration would help too.

Looking forward to seeing your results.

Cheers,
Phil

 

 

codruta's picture
codruta

Hello. The aroma of the desem build is more sour than sweet. I decided to go with the flour I had at home, and I used 18% prefermented flour and 80% hydration. I preheated the oven and I watch the dough now. It looks nice.

Is that a crime if I score the dough? or traditionally, desem bread is unscored?

I'll get back with report.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Phil,

Reading through your procedure about how you discard the hard outer layer of your desem....I recalled reading the following on Farine and am posting it here:

 

 

Gérard folded back the crust and judged its thickness satisfactory:

I scraped most of the wet stuff off and harvested 200 g of crust. Gérard checked what I had collected and said that I could gone even dryer as the crust contains three times as many wild cells as the soft parts but that it would be okay.

 Since reading it I have been covering my leaven with flour every time I mix it and I use all of the leaven for the next build plus the flour that was surrounding my leaven.  If I don't need the full amt.  I make sure that it is the soft stuff beneath the surface that gets tossed and I use the crusty out skin....My leaven seems to be thriving with this new routine.  Robust and doubles in less than 8 hours using your ratios and kept at 65°F.

Hope you are enjoying your cooler temps. Puts you back in charge :-)

Take Care,

Janet

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Janet,

Thats quite a fascinating experiment ... I have only ever used the inside of the desem ball but I do remember that comment by Gerard. I have used that technique when building a levain just not for maintaining them.

The weather has been beautifully cool here ... I have to make a few allowances for proofing at the moment ... I actually have to wait for breads to proof now :)

I have just spent the weekend away baking with Laurie again ... We had a great bake with a really good oven ... kept wonderful colour on the breads all day. Laurie put me in charge of the bake - I mixed all the doughs, shaped the majority of them, scored and peeled them all into the oven. Needless to say I had absolutely no time to take any photos. I think there are a couple of photos on Chalala's facebook site. We sold out at the markets again by lunchtime ... I am home again - tired but thoroughly pleased with the weekends bake.

Good to hear from you.

Phil

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Phil,

Nice that you got to spend another weekend baking.  I am assuming you were able to save a loaf for you and your family since you usually bake for your family on the weekends.....or are you using frozen breads for these weekends you are away?  Heaven forbid you end up buying bread because you are too busy to bake for home :-0  That I can't imagine ever happening.....

When I read what MC wrote about the outer crust it made perfect sense to me.  Kinda like peeling an apple and tossing the skin away.  I  just had never made a similar connection to the 'skin' on my leavens before.  I haven't been able to find out why there are more wild yeasts in the crust in my searches but for now I do see a difference in my leavens being much more robust.  They seem to rise more quickly even at 50% HL.  They are now ripening in the same amount of time my 60% leavens rise in even in temps that are 10° cooler!

Glad you are getting to enjoy the coolness and that it allows your pace with baking to slow down a bit.  I am on the other end as you know :-)

Take Care,

Janet

PiPs's picture
PiPs

NO! I had no bread to bring back :(.. We are eating bread from the freezer until I squeeze a bake in during the week. It has been a long time since I have bought bread :)

I may try this next time I feed my desem and see if I can match your results. Thanks for letting me know.

Cheers,
Phil

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

 

Phil,

Okay, now that I have this hyperactive child new desem starter to take care of I have some questions for you hoping your experience can cut some time off of my learning curve.

In the last few days I have been reading all I can find on maintaining a desem and all I have read thus far varies depending upon the author.  After reading I do know some things though and one is that whenever I make a change my head starts spinning as any change changes everything else....Here are some of my 'knowns':

  • I know I want to keep hydration below 60%.  
  • I know I want to keep temps between 50°F/1o°C and 65°F/18°C when it is ripening.
  • I would love to feed it 1x a day only but 2x is okay.
  • Primary goal is to keep my leaven 'sweet' because all prefer a milder flavor in the breads I bake.

I have come to you because I know you use whole grains like I do.

Question:

  1. On what setting do you grind your grains for your starter?  (Laurel R. recommends coarsely ground grains.)

In your photo of your ripened leaven it appears to be as firm as mine generally is.  Laurel states that it should look like brown cottage cheese due to the break down in the gluten.  She also says that it should disintegrate when added to water without leaving a white color in the water.

 

This is how mine looks and, according to Laurel, the water shouldn't be white....well, as you can see - mine clearly is :-)  It disintegrates only with the help of my mixer or my hands breaking it down....Does your leaven dissolve easily without turning the water white?

 

On to another issue:

One problem that I am running into now that I am attempting to feed my starter on a regime similar to yours ( 1:1:2) AND keep it at room temp. is that it is ripening way too quickly (in about 5 hours time when held at 65°F/18°C.) despite the lower HL that I usually refresh with.

Today I switched gears and fed it thus - 30:66:120.  It has slowed it's growth a bit but it is still ahead of 'my' mixing schedule and. due to this change another question arose:

  1. Is there a specific reason you use the 1:1:2 ratio or is that just what works in your time schedule? (Laurel's ratio is very different 1: .68: 1.32) and and the ratio in The Bread Builders is mixed and kept at 100% HL....)

This is a lot of questions all at once so I will stop.  Just hoping you might be able to give me a couple of pointers on how you have done things in the past to arrive at where you are today with how you maintain your starter.  I know in time all will work out and then winter will be upon us and all will have to change again :-)

Thanks for your help.

Take Care,

Janet



PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Janet,

I am not sure if there is one answer that will suit you. I find I have to feed my starters twice a day if they are on the bench ... and possibly three times a day for the desem if the temperatures are warm. Hence I like to keep it in the fridge as much as possible as I have no reliable way of keeping it in range of temperatures that keep mild flavours if I keep it on he bench. In fact I have been using my normal 'white' (It contains 30% wholegrains) levain a lot more lately ... produces better aromas and flavours ... the desem is still too acidic if I miss the correct time to use it - and this happens often ... a starter needs to fit in my routine ... and the white one is more tolerant to my schedule.

I have been using 5-6 hour build times at the 1:1:2 ratio during 24C days. Shorter build times may be the key to your problem if you can't control the temperatures ... thats what they did in france a hundred years ago before temperature control. Short builds that favoured the yeast and not the acid producing bacteria ... they wanted sweet bread ... sourness was frowned upon.

Your desem looks like mine in the water ... somedays it dissolved more easily ... especially if it has been in the fridge for the week.

I'm not if I have helped ... but I think you will find a routine that works.

Cheers,
Phil 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Phil,

You have helped.  I was under the impression that you were able to go 12 hours  between builds with your desem.....now I know mine is acting more 'normal' than I thought.  Good to know your looks like mine in the water too.  Mine will dissolve too if it is old but I consider a week old starter in need of fresh food before being used in a loaf which means several builds and back to being stiffer since the gluten gets strengthened all over again.  Well, it doesn't get strenghtened - it is new gluten as the old gets mixed out....

Helps to know you are using 'white' flour because that makes a huge difference as you stated. When trying to follow your ratios I now know that 50%HL is about 60-62% with ww which is what I have been doing with my 3 short build schedule.  Trying to mix ww at 50% is like making mud balls out of dry clay.....near impossible :-0 but I have  been trying.  Now I know I can give that up :-)

My 'old' routine was the routine you outlined that the French used to do.  I would do 3 short builds during the day which is okay with my schedule since I am home.  I had been keeping the HL at 60% but my hands get sore mixing that stiff of a starter so frequently.  One of my desires for switching to a less frequent schedule was to be able to use my compact Bosch for the mixing thus giving my hands a break.  

Today my daughter was willing to taste the starters I have been experimenting with.  All mixed at 55% HL but stored at differing temps.  (One at 22°C, one at 18°C and one in my mini refrig. at 10° C.).  According to her taste samples all were somewhat similar but the one at 18° was the more sour while the one at 10° was the least which is what I was expecting.  Only glitch was that the one at 10° rose the least amount even after 9 hours - though it did rise.  I am now seeing if it ripened enough to leaven a dough within a reasonable length of time and if it will then I can use the mini refrig. for my builds which will really simplify things as well as making things a lot more predictable.  Really helps to have a willing taster I can depend on.  Hopefully within a week or two I will be able to establish a new pattern that will work and get me to my goal of having as sweet of a desem as I can manage without loosing my mind :*).

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.  I know your time is precious divided up with family and baking etc of your own and that free time is hard to come by.  

Take Care,

Janet

 

 

codruta's picture
codruta

Phil, I made the bread today. I put some pictures on my roamnian blog, but I'll cut the loaf tomorrow and I'll write a post here on TFL, too.

link to my romanian blog for the photos: http://codrudepaine.ro/2012/04/my-very-first-desem-bread/

it smells incredible! I can't wait to taste it! I didn't score it, but you can see it cracked by itself. It's a fault? it was underproofed? or my flour was not strong enough to stretch with the oven spring...?

codruta

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi COdruta,

I have been following your progress here too since I made this loaf a couple of days ago too. Yours looks wonderful!  You got a lot more oven spring than I did so I think your flour must have been just right.  Really beautiful loaf especially with the 'natural scoring' - just stunning :-)

Take Care,

Janet

P.S.  To you and to Phil,

Today I am baking your Olive Herb loaf and I just have to comment on how wonderfully supple and smooth the dough was this morning when I went to shape it.  Some doughs are just feel so nice when handling them and this is one of those doughs.  I will let you both know how it turns out on the appropriate posts :-)

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Looks great Codruta,

The english translation calls it a 'designated bread' ... very funny :)

I don't think the cracking is too much of a fault, perhaps just under-proofed slightly. You got great spring on it and the crust colour is gorgeous. I would be very happy with it ... and that you liked the flavour is even better :)

Whether the flour was strong enough or not is a bit hard to say? Did it start to tear at all when you were shaping or folding it?

Great to see your baking so much

Cheers,
Phil

 

ana_oradea's picture
ana_oradea

Hi Phil,

First of all, wonderful, amazing breads that came out of your hands!

I had a few questions about feeding and keeping the desem but you already gave the answers to Codruta. My future desem is in the frigde and looking forward for Tuesday evening. I start with a white starter and fed it 20 g starter, 40 g water and 80 g strong organic WW (12,6% protein). Still have a question. Is that ok the next feeds to be in ratio 50 g starter, 50 g water and 100 g flour?

Thank you in advance for your answer.

Take care,

Ana

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Ana,

Thank you for your very kind and generous comment.

That ratio will be fine for the desem starter. The main things to watch for will be the temperature that it is kept at and for the amount of time it ferments for.

10-12hrs at 18-20C seems to work nicely.

Looking forward to seeing your results.

Cheers,
Phil

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