The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baked two Ken Forkish breads last night

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kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

Baked two Ken Forkish breads last night

I decided to experiment... again....  I had recently purchased the Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast book even though I have been satisfied with my Tartine Bread book and its recipes.  Just wanted to try something new and his book is excellent for his clinical type writing and description of the bread making process.   I used my Tartine bread starter that has been growing fine and working fine for me since I had that laying around and didn't need to go another week trying to grow a starter.

His baking times are different for Levain type breads or breads that rely solely on wild yeast starter.  Also using a dutch oven, the covered baking time is 30 minutes instead of 20 for Tartine and the oven temp. is 475, not 450.  This will get you a much thicker crust I believe.  Then the uncovered time is about 25 minutes, again at 475.  The results are a much darker loaf in terms of color and crunchier, crustier crust.  I guess on could bake the Tartine bread at higher temps and for longer times... but it really boils down to personal preference.  Everyone who tasted the finished product liked the taste, just feel that with such a hard crust, we will have teeth problems eventually.

BTW:  Happy New Year to TFL folks from Illinois

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I am just trying a few recipes from that book, I made the mistake of following his levain instructions and then realizing that I ended up with far more than needed for the recipe. I didn't really want another 'starter' sitting in my fridge to maintain! I am going to try the country blonde tomorrow I think. I tried one of the hybrid loaves that use both wild and commercial yeast earlier in the week. I think I prefer no commercial yeast. I am not keen on the lightness that comes with commercial yeast. How did you find the flavour compared with the tartine bread? I did like the dark crust and the flavours that permeated the crumb.

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

but I used Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose flour for the 804 g White flour called for in the Overnight Country Blonde recipe that I followed.  I did use 26 g of Whole Wheat (KA Premium 100% Whole Grain) and 50 g of 100% Stone Ground Rye Flour (Hodgson Mill brand).   Part of my experiment was to find some really inexpensive unbleached white flour and see how it would taste... after all 804 g less the one dollar's worth of flour.  Nobody could tell that I used cheap flour in the finished loaf because it all tasted good.  I also added roasted walnuts, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds which will account for added flavor.  Imagine 2 loafs of bread and I probably spent $2 on ingredients when you add it all up.

I also liked the dark crust and flavors with Ken Forkish's mixture but one could probably achieve the same thing using Tartine bread recipe and letting it bake longer or just hotter like Forkish recommends.  But again, because this all requires very strong teeth (mine or okay but I've already had a root canal on one tooth), maybe I will not bake to the extreme of almost burnt crust.  Previously, I've always done the Tartine bread with 20 minutes covered, 25 minutes uncovered and always removed from oven before the crust got really dark.

So Caveats #1:  Chad Robertson does not count the Levain mixture flour as part of the 1,000 grams of dry flour.  Forkish does (I think) since you add his dry ingredients and you come up with 880 dry, and you add in 216 of starter (which you have at least 100 g of flour) and you get to  ~1,000 grams of dry.  This makes for smaller loaves than if you had gone with Tartine recipe. I like the bigger loaves so I want to use Robertson's recipe for this bread. 

Caveat #2:  If you mix commercial yeast with wild (during the starter phase), the commercial yeast takes over the job and the wild yeast and you basically have a commercial yeast starter.  If you have the Forkish book, you probably already know that, but I'm pointing out for others who may try the same thing.  Forkish add the commerical yeast in the mixing phase which does not affect the starter as much.  You just have do not use the leftovers for future starter as Robertson suggests.

Either way you go, bread making can be forgiving sometimes and you still end up with excellent bread for eating. At least that's what my supporters are saying...  "keep making more bread!"  "we like this!!"

Pizza Fool's picture
Pizza Fool

Restaurant supply stores sell flour for $15 for 50lbs.  I've been strongly tempted.

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

With the 48 lbs of flour I don't use if I don't like it?   I doubt if it's not much different than the Gold Medal stuff I paid $2 for 5 lb bag.   I did notice that my GM bread did not rise as much as my KABF.. but it could be my imagination.  I've been told I have a vivid imagination by many.

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I use very good quality organic flours for all my bread making, I buy the white flour in bulk in 25 kg sacks, which makes it fairly cost effective. I order all the other types of flour I want from the same mill at the same time so although the initial outlay is quite large, over the long term it is much cheaper. Certainly, the price per kilo is less than supermarket own brands when bought that way. 

However, this is where I have a small problem with a lot of books, as I found with this Ken Forkish one. If I am reading correctly, and I may not be, he wants me to refresh my 100g of starter with 500g of flour. I simply cannot afford to do that and even if I could it would feel terribly wasteful. He says to view it as 'spent fuel' .  If I were to do this daily, as he suggests for a regular baker, I would be throwing away ( allowing for the amount used in the bread dough) about 100 kg of flour a year. Even if I keep it in the fridge it wouldn't make a lot of difference as he suggests feeding for two days before using, and I bake twice a week at least.  I have tried to work out the hydration of his starter and just keep far smaller amounts, although I am sure that this will probably affect the intended flavour of the bread.

I really think that you do get better flavour with quality flour. I would have denied this at one time, until I was given a bag of flour by someone and the change in flavour of my bread was unbelievable. However, I am guessing that in a loaf with a lot of other flours and seeds mixed in it would be very difficult to tell. But I think it is worth paying more for a quality product, particularly if it is organic. But, that is because I care about eating organic produce anyway, not just from my own diet, but because I am concerned about the environment and wildlife etc. However,  throwing it in the compost is something I can't bring myself to do! 

 

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

because I don't do exactly as KF says and stick to Chad's recommendation.  I estimate the amount of flour, perhaps a cup to feed my starter and mix water to get that pancake like batter.  I toss about 70%, then feed again, sometimes adding only 1/2 cup flour.. just enough to keep the starter active.  If I know I'm not going to make bread soon, I'll put it in the fridge.   Once I take it out, it seems to activate in about a day at room temperature, and maybe two feedings and its ready to go.  I just want to be more conservative and if I'm getting good bread, I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

I want try organic flours next and will seek a source (maybe King Arthur) for a 5 lb back and try to see if the taste is any better.  I also want to mill my own wheat flour once I can afford to by a portable electronic mill.  All in good time.

PatrickS's picture
PatrickS

I stopped using amounts for feeding my starter, I just use ratios. Given that I've been making Tartine style breads lately, and all I need for the levain is one tablespoon, I do a very small starter. I do either a 1:2:2 starter flour water for once daily feeding, or a 1:1:1 for twice a day. For a once a day, that's only 13g:25g:25g. Even the tablespoon or so of discard isn't wasted. I keep it in a container in the fridge and when I have a cup or so, I make waffles. I'm now down to a zero discard sourdough regimen and it seems to be working great.

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I am hoping that, that is what I have managed to do. I don't really trust my maths in working things out as I always make silly mistakes.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Bakingmadt,  I use the same approach as Patrick.  With a digital scale with a tare function, and an extra container, it is only simple multiplication.  To revive starter from the fridge, I put a small container on the scale, hit tare to set it to zero, then add a small amount of starter to the container - I shoot for 10 grams, but have gone as low as 5 grams, and have gone much higher - but for this example - say I put it 10.  If I am going for a 1:2:2 , I just hit tare to reset to zero, then add 20 grams water, reset to zero, and add 20 grams flour.  If I wanted 1:1:1,  I would just go with 10 grams water, 10 grams flour added to the 10 g of starter in the original container.