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Totally Frustrated Jason's Quick Ciabatta

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High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Totally Frustrated Jason's Quick Ciabatta


After drooling with envy over Jason's quick ciabatta (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2984/jasons-quick-coccodrillo-ciabatta-bread) it's incredible crust and open airy texture I am compelled to ask for help.


Long time lurker, ten year hobbyist bread baker - and supremely frustrated. 


If anyone has the expert knowledge and hands on skill to actually crack this problem, I will be eternally grateful.


My doughs all slump, are all so sticky as to be near impossible to work with and never hold the intended shape. 


Here's the set-up, the Back Story. First, I live at 5,000 in high desert, average humidity usually under 15%. Every dough I make slumps. Whole wheat, white, bleached AP, unbleached bread flour you name it. I've got a Log with over 18 variations of flour listed. Once my dough is formed, it slumps. And doesn't rise. New yeast, old yeast, even proven sourdough starters from Sourdough International out of Idaho. Quality flours from King Arthur, or a high end bread flour from Italy, or store bought God knows what kind of flour from Wal-Mart and everything in between. Spring water, tap water, even tried distilled water. Salt in at the beginning or salt later after the yeast is working. Sugar added to the yeast water or not added. Makes no difference. Slump. Not enough of whatever to stand up and hold any kind of form. 


Hand kneaded, no kneading (5 Minute Artisan Bread), Danielle Forstier's 800 slaps against a counter top or Kitchen Aid and dough hook still my doughs slump to a flattened flat bread. I make a decent foccacia by now, but the interior is so dense I consider it the zenith of failure. If I proof the dough in a proper banneton, after turning it out on a peel, it slumps, then sticks. (yes, not only does everything slump but no matter what hydration level EVERYTHING sticks) If I form it for a baguette in a wicker basket lined with parchment paper to get the proper elongated shape, then ever so gently turn it out it slumps. If I get a half way decent rise occasionally for a boule, on parchment and slip it into a cast iron dutch oven, that rise collapses into a squat and it bakes in a squat. 


And forget the lame and slash. The few times I dared the bread sighed and gave up the ghost. What resulted was like making crackers. 


If I decrease moisture so I can firm up a dough enough to form a ball, it will slump. If I make a dough with that little moisture (approaching less than 50% hydration), it will stay formed but no oven rise at all and the crumb is as dense as can be. If I increase moisture (to nearly 90%) expecting escaping steam to aerate the crumb, no joy. It is so sticky and loose it cannot be handled at all. And does not rise. No holes. I've turned out a 90% hydration dough repeatedly on parchment, slid it onto my bricks and no airy crumb. Pretty much nothing but just flat condensed bread. If I proof the yeast and it foams beautifully, if I don't proof and add it into the mix (5 Minute Artisan method) it doesn't matter. If I use fresh dated packets or Red Star from a jar doesn't matter. 


My 2 year old oven is perfectly fine, a sealed all metal bottom which I lined with half-thickness firebricks. When the oven thermometer reads 500 (separate from the built in thermometer), in goes dough. 500 degree bricks make a great caramelization on the bottom, but the rest just lies there like a boneless drunk after a binge. (tossing in boiling water is a snap in this oven, since it's sealed). 


I'm stumped and significantly frustrated. I've kept logs so I know what works and what doesn't and so far I have 238 pages of what doesn't work. Jason's Quick Ciabatta was the last straw. That's the most beautiful bread I've seen. That's the crumb and oven spring I'm looking for and six months of precisely following his directions has produced nothing but flat tasteless bread.


One loaf, just one success is all I'm asking. Anybody with enough experience know what's preventing my succeeding? Your help will be sincerely appreciated. 


Jack




BayCook's picture
BayCook

High Altitude Bread Making
Summit County is a high and dry area with constant changes in barometric pressure that will have an impact on how yeasted bread kneads, rises, and bakes. If you plan on making some excellent tasting and great looking bread at high altitude, I suggest following a few rules of thumb to guarantee perfection the very first time.

Flour:
Your best bet is to choose the finest quality flour, preferably organic, when making bread at high altitude. Look for unbleached, unbrominated flour that has at least 12 grams of protein. This amount of protein will give you the right amount of gluten to form an elastic dough. Whole grain flours (typically lower in protein) should be used in combination with good quality white flour.

Liquid:
The dry climate of Summit County must be compensated for dehydrated ingredients. The drier the environment, the drier the flour will be. It is essential to add additional liquid to compensate for the dry climate. This can be anything that pours or melts during baking. For example pureed fruit, butter, or cheese can all be considered liquid. The more liquid in a bread (to a certain point) the more interesting, complex and varied the crumb and crust. Whole wheat and other "dark" flours require more liquid than white flour.

Yeast:
When yeast feeds on the carbohydrates in the flour, sugar and other ingredients in your dough, the by-product is carbon dioxide. When this carbon dioxide expands in the dough it forms air pockets in the dough and makes the bread rise. The longer and slower this process is, the more complex and sophisticated the taste and texture of the finished bread. The decreased air pressure found at high altitude means that there is less air pressure pushing back against these air pockets, so the bread rises higher and more rapidly than it should. Typically, the dough will rise way up, then collapse during the baking process since the structure of the bread cannot support the volume of dough. Decreasing the amount of yeast by 1/3 to 1/2 will certainly help. Use the best quality instant active yeast. Also, allow the dough to have an additional long, slow rise before it is formed and baked. If you are using a bread machine, program for manual and remove the dough after the final cycle. Then the dough can be formed and given a final rise before baking. If you have a programmable machine you can place the dough back in the bread pan, program for "Final Rise" and then "Bake".

Sugar:
When making sweet breads it is advisable to cut back on sweeteners (including honey, molasses and maple syrup, as well as dried fruits such as raisins) which tenderize the gluten structure and can result in the center of the loaf collapsing. Use l/3 less than the amount specified in the recipe.

Salt:
Salt acts as a yeast retardant. Do not bake bread at high altitude without it.

Oven temperature:
At altitudes higher than 3500 feet reduce oven temperature by 25°, but keep the baking time the same. Bread is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 190 -200° (use an instant read thermometer). Try to prevent over baking, as this will contribute to dryness.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

BayCook - yes, sounds reasonable, but Summit County is 9,000 - to well over 11,000 feet. I'm but 5,000. Still high altitude for baking experts who discovered all the rules to baking in metropolitan centers that are almost always far nearer to sea level than we are, and air pressure certainly makes a difference. Nobody pioneered baking at 10,000 feet. However, that said, in Leadville, Co, a silver mining camp where Baby Doe Taylor made millions yeast breads, rolls, risen biscuits and every other kind of bread were well known and served regularly. It's not the altitude.


Thank you for taking time to post this, but I've already covered this ground. For example, compensating liquids in a drier climate ... Summit is not nearly as dry as we are. It's a given that my flour will inherently be drier than yours, for example. Shipping and distribution alone see to that. Summit is the roof of the central Rockies while we're high desert. I've made doughs in the 90% hydration range to compensate just to see what could be done. Answer .. nothing. Can't handle a 90% dough, it's glop. Anything more than 50% hydration simply will not "stand up" and hold it's shape. I often allow a dough in the first simple mix to stay in the refrigerator overnight just to give it a chance to thoroughly hydrate. But after being in the fridge and warming back to room temperature there's no activity at all. Just lays there. 


As to proofing then forming, once my doughs have been proofed it's still the same thing ... no way to "form" into any shape that will hold it's shape, and there's never enough gas (steam or CO2) to aerate the finished crumb. 


I am well and truly perplexed. 

smaxson's picture
smaxson

I live in a Denver suburb and have found that following most recipes will make decent bread, and a few minor adjustments are normal to advance from decent to good--I haven't advanced to the point I can regularly make "great" bread which is why I follow the forums here. Assuming that you have good flour and good yeast, are following known to be good recipes, the only thing I can think of that would cause you to have consistent persistent failures would be something in the water.  Are you on a well? You may have high salt or some other mineral that yeast doesn't like in your water. You may not notice a bit of extra salt and some miinerals are basically tasteless..... Maybe you should get your water tested??


Good luck!

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thank you Smaxson, but as I mentioned in my plea I've used 'spring water' (high mountain run off purified by a local bottler), distilled, tap water and yes even well water. The variety has made no difference. 


If it's the water, it's in all the water, even the stuff bottled in big cities and sold on grocery shelves. 

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Jack,


It breaks my heart to hear someone passionate about something not have success despite many many attempts.  I wish I had some theories to offer but it seems you've chronicled your attempts and ruled out many variables.  There's got to be something major hindering your endeavor if you're not able to make the quick ciabatta recipe.  I just made it for the first time yesterday and had no difficulty.  I'll be watching here for others' hypotheses.  Don't lose hope.--- cake diva

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Take a deep breath and walk thru another try.A simple,basic recipe and specific response will go a long way toward problem solving this situation.It also eliminates a lot of variables.Try a basic french bread recipe like the following:


500 g unbleached brand name AP flour (3 cups)


325 g water (1 1/2 c)bath water temp-tepid, not hot


10 g salt (2 tsp)


1 tsp instant yeast


Mix dry ingredients and then mix in water.Stretch and fold until smooth.


Rest 15 minutes then stretch and fold again.It should be a relaxed dough-don't fight with it. If it isn't relaxed,shape it into a ball and wait 15 more minutes.Cover your dough with plastic wrap ir just a bowl so it doesn't dry out.


Shape into a ball and rise till double-press it into an oiled plastic storage container and put a rubberband at the level of the dough so you can tell when it is doubled.


When it is doubled,shape into a loaf,proof for 20 min,covered lightly with plastic wrap and bake at 400.(After removing the wrap,of course) Steam if you want.


In deference to the low humidity,keep dough lightly covered in plastic and possible mist lightly with water so it doesn't dry out.


When you have done this-come back and tell us what happened.


 


I re-read your post a couple times.The most important pieces are:


1.Your dough slumps and won't hold any shape, no matter the hydration


2.Your dough is always sticky (every time??)


3.Your dough does rise sometimes but falls as soon as you handle it (slide it onto a parchment,slash it)


4.Usually, your dough doesn't rise at all.


5.You kept a log of your recipes and responses.


Is this all about right? Are you able to do pictures of the loaf you made?That is also very helpful.


It's possible-don't give up.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thank you Clazar for taking time to add your wisdom. 


I'll do as you ask. But I must say, what you're suggesting is what the problem already is. Stretch and fold? Not possible. At least it hasn't been possible up to this point. How do I 'stretch' a dough that can't be handled? (a) How do I stretch dough that sticks to my hands like glue, and pulls apart like strands of tendons attached to my hands? (b) I've not yet found a way to shape any dough into a 'ball'. If I oil my hands repeatedly, it's possible to temporarily shape a ball but afterwards, covered with oiled plastic it will slump out from under the wrap and spread across my board sticking to the board. If I heavily flour the board in all directions so it can't slump past and get onto dry board the dough absorbs all the flour and sticks to the board anyway. 


As you ask, though, I will do this very familiar recipe first thing Saturday morning. 


Yes, dough is always sticky. I see people handle dough in videos and on television cooking shows and it amazes me because no dough I've ever worked with is ever anything but sticky. Yes #3. Yes #4 Yes #5 As to pictures I don't use cameras and am just not a picture person (don't have a cell phone either). If I need to, to solve this conundrum I'll invest in some way to get a picture if you can help me figure out how to get posted.  

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Got Clazar's suggestion going at 06:30. 


Now, when I say this next ... you'll just have to trust me that I've made simple French Bread dough several hundred times, in exactly the proportions requested. For whatever reason this time following mix and rest for 20 min. it formed up. Still sticky as the dickens, but it had substance to it rather than stringing apart. On to a HEAVILY floured board and with heavily floured hands attempted a stretch and fold. I had more dough on my hands than on the board but after enough flour on my hands again, I got it folded, tucked into an oiled bowl, covered with clear wrap. 


Gave it a rest. After precisely doubling in volume (I use a straight sided container), and because there was no request for it, no kneading, no working it just formed it sort of onto parchment paper lined basket I have that's the shape of a batard. Let it rise 20 min as requested, and for the first time in forever it rose slightly and did not collapse. 


Over preheated to 400 and using the parchment as a cradle onto the hot brick. 32 minutes later ... http://www.flickr.com/photos/41941284@N07/


A friend nearby gave me a cheap digital camera and introduced me to Flicker. We couldn't figure out how to get a photo onto this website. 


It tastes okay. It sure isn't quality bread. The crumb is modestly airy and the crust was without steam. But it rose! As God is my witness, that hasn't happened in years. Today is 72 degrees at 10:30 am, 16% humidity with a Low Pressure north of us and a High Pressure centered south of us. 


This was Pillsbury unbleached AP, new bag opened this morning. Salt is kosher. yeast Red Star from a jar maybe a week old and kept refrigerated. Tap water, but the tap is well water. Water temp was 100. 


What else, sir?


 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

So the dough comes apart like strands?


That is a very important piece of info. It would be nice if one of the local food chemistry experts could chime in. If you were doing sourdough, I would say you have an overabundance of an enzyme that causes all these issues. Since you don't, I would say that somewhere along the line it is being introduced.This is also where the journal is important and again it is very important to either try a very basic loaf and document everything-flour source and type,water temp(even a guess-cool,tepid,hot,etc),yeast type,technique and timing OR look back in your journal, if you have that info.In order to problem solve this, there needs to be a specific,simple recipe and technique to help pinpoint issues.


I also suggest you watch a few of the videos on this site to see if you can pinpoint something,yourself. I had this problem for a period of time but it did involve my sourdough starter.Search this site for "enzyme" and see what pops.


Even slack,high hydration dough can be stretched and folded-it usually involves a bowl and bench scraper. There is a video on it.


Bread making is both remarkably simple and remarkably complex.A successful loaf can be made with a thousand "mistakes" but there are a few types of "mistakes that will always cause failure.


Anyone else?

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

It sticks to my hands from the first mix. I'm always astonished that people can handle dough and it doesn't stick to them. After it sticks to my hand, trying to get it off my hands results in pulling apart like webs and strings. Yes, I've floured my hands, oiled my hands but eventually it gets past that and sticks. I've never had a "skin" on a dough that didn't stick to something. Any video I watch starts with the presenter handling the dough as if it has no stickiness to it at all. They pick it up, fling it around, whack it on a table, fold it with a bench knife ... (I refer you to Julia Child;s video of Danielle Forstieir) the amazement in our house as we watch bakers handle dough as if it has some sort of elastic non-stick hide is nothing short of incredulity. The dough above definitely stuck to me like a punctured schmoo. And it definitely slumped considerably from the "form" it was in ... a batard shaped basket lined with parchment paper in order to encourage it into a batard shape. But as soon as it hit the oven it sloughed outward and I got the loaf shown.


But it did rise. That's a first.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You said it plain as day...


"It sticks to my hands from the first mix. I'm always astonished that people can handle dough and it doesn't stick to them. After it sticks to my hand, trying to get it off my hands results in pulling apart like webs and strings."


I have witnessed this time and time again.  You need to learn how to touch dough.  One trick is not to rest your hands on it too long.  Touch and release, rub more flour on your hands and then touch and release.  Touch and release, flour, touch and release, flour, tough and release.  It's a pattern to learn.  Rubbing your hands with a little flour releases the sticky dough on your hands so it doesn''t stick more the next time.  You gotta be quick, quick enough that the dough doesn't have the chance to stick.  Also rotate your dough so some flour stays  between it and the counter top or bowl.   Try not to let any dough get between your fingers keeping your fingers close together.


Things that reduce stickiness include using a silicone spatula to stir the ingredients and then cover and let absorb for 30 minutes.  This goes a long way in managing the dough.  Then scrape the bowl with the spatula folding the dough over onto itself a few times before dumping out onto a kneading surface.  Remember not to touch the dough very long, maybe a second, reflour or rub your hands and touch again.  Touch and release, flour, touch and release.  If you don't want to touch it, just use the spatula to fold the dough over working the underside edges into the middle for a few minutes,   Flip over in the bowl, cover and let rise following your recipe.  Pat the spatula lightly and quickly on the dough and excess blobs will come off the tool and stick to the dough.


Mini

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Fresh Loaf Videos. 


An excellent suggestion to illustrate my conundrums. For example poster MCS' video Shaping a Baguette. Right from the beginning look at how he handles his dough. No stick. Progressing through the video at 30 secs he's rolling the dough and getting the seam under and into his couche. With zero sticking. Neither sticks to the board or his hands. At 1:05 he's elongating the baguette and the dough rolls along the board like it has a silly putty skin! That just doesn't happen in my world. 


Let's go to Kneading and Folding en Espanol video. At 25 sec watch as he begins working the dough and it's not sticking to him.At 60 sec watch as he kneads his dough on an un-floured formica counter top. This, to me is like watching a talking dog explain physics it's so foreign to my experience. And that's ten years experience, mind. 


Moving on to Mark's Ciabata Video. Initially, his dough is as sticky and elastic as I'm used to. But after time spent with a dough hook, he flops it out onto his work surface and shazzam ... just starts working with it. Let me repeat that - just starts working with it. Mine doesn't do that, it sticks to me, the board, the bench knife ... everything. 


Solve this one and I can maybe progress to the next thing. 

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Have you tried to bake someplace "normal", e.g., if you were staying with relatives who live at a lower altitude area?  Your results would give you some indication about the altitude effect.--- cake diva

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Tried elsewhere. No. (I don't travel)

BayCook's picture
BayCook

The enzyme mention made me curious about what might be producing an added variable factor, given all the controlled variables you have mentioned: water, flour, yeast.


I noticed in your picture that you have a natural wood countertop / work surface, with visible scarring from use as a cutting board. 


When you are working the dough, is this your working surface?


I have read discussions of high bacterial count found on wooden food prep surfaces, and thought that possibly you could be experiencing enzymatic contamination.


Also, for restarants, the health department laws mandate that all such wooden food prep areas be washed down daily with a solution of bleach and water.  I'm recalling my own experience working in commercial kitchens as well.  You may find it worthwhile to give your counter some TLC, with a thorough cleaning, a sanding, and some mineral oil for sealing.


When I work with dough, I use a large cookie sheet to avoid any surface contact.  With a towel under it, it does not move around, and is easily cleaned.  It also contains the flour so I don't end up having to wipe down the whole kitchen after making dough.


By the way, your pictures looked good to me!  If you are going for something other than what was pictured, what is it?  More spring?  More crust? More bubbles?


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

That's not my work surface. I use the countertop, usual Formica stuff. Cutting board was for the pictures. 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

What am I going for? Jason's ciabta. And bread that tastes like ciabata. My breads all taste the same. And that would be very hard to describe, but the times I've had actual French bageuttes, they taste fantastic while my bread - made with the same basic ingredients - does not taste fantastic. At least not to me. It's very ... um ... bready. Like undeveloped dough. Has no flavor.

alabubba's picture
alabubba

I have 2 questions and a suggestion.


How long do you normally kneed the dough"


How long do you normally let it rise? Do you watch the clock, or do you watch your dough?


I ask these questions because it sounds to me like your dough is not developing the gluten like it should.


Have you ever used an autolyse. Just mix most of your flour with the water and let it set for 20 minutes. This hydrates the flour and will help with gluten development.


Then add the salt, yeast, and the rest of your flour.


Now, Kneed the crap out of it. I use the slap and fold for wet sticky doughs, When it stops sticking to everything your almost there. This can take quite a while sometimes and I usually take a few "rests" (for my arms and the dough).


http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough


Watch this video and take note of how the dough starts off as a big sticky glob and comes together and stops sticking to everything.


 


If the gluten is not developed properly, then the gas and steam will escape and you will not get a good rise. Your dough should easily double. If it's not rising on the counter, it probably wont rise in the oven.


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Okay, that was a good one. I've seen that Gourmet video and still don't know how to handle a dough that's such a wet glop. And I am frankly confused between Danielle Forstiers's 800 slaps and Hertzberg and Francois' 5 Minute method which has no kneading. 


I've tried both. Kneading - and kneading a lot, like 15 minutes by the clock, produced a uniformly thick texture and no aeration, every time. It's why I changed horses and tried no-kneading. No knead produced almost as few holes - and nothing like Jason's awe-inspiring ciabata. 


Knead, no knead it all comes out pretty much the same. 


I've tried autolyse. It works well in this dry climate. But has no effect on the finished product. Sponge, whatever ... still comes out formless, flattened and without the holey texture I'm searching for. Here's the drill ... sticky, flat, formless and no aeration. 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Oh my. I'm senile. And I apologize. That is decidedly not the video in my memory and I apologize. That is an amazing video and I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen that it's possible. Thank you so very much. 


:-) Rather amazing   Again, thanks

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Oh my. I'm senile. And I apologize. That is decidedly not the video in my memory and I apologize. That is an amazing video and I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen that it's possible. Thank you so very much. 


:-) Rather amazing   Again, thanks

clazar123's picture
clazar123

 


Since it was a pretty basic dough with nothing done for flavor development, it prob was bland.But it did come together. Now more questions about this am's loaf.


1.How do you mix you dough, initially? Mixer? Hand? Wooden Spoon?


2.Water temp when you mix it in?


3.Did you follow the direction of "mix the yeast into dry ingredients" and then add the water?


4.HAve you ever had your well water tested for pH?Minerals? If your water is alkaline, it may be part of the problem.Do you have any water conditioning going on?


The Bertinet video on the sweetdough is probably the best illustration of mixing a sticky dough. As you pull the sticky dough apart,more flour particles are exposed to the moisture.Ball it up and pull over and over until a lot of the moisture is taken up.All dough is sticky but with good proportions, it should become more smooth-like playdough.Ideally, tacky but not sticky.


It sounds to me like you have a couple possibilities.There is a gluten issue.Either you are NOT getting good gluten formation (reason unknown) or you have excellent gluten formation and then breakdown. When gluten bonds are broken by enzymes you get a slack,slick,sticky dough because water is released and the fibers/strands are very short. When you go to pull or stretch the dough,it comes apart very easily in a wad that looks like you have a wad of broken hairs.Well formed gluten strands pull apart like taffy-lots of resistance and the strands are long like warm taffy.


The other issue sounds like a yeast issue and what affects yeast is age,temperature, ph and minerals/additives.Hence my question about the water temp and well water testing.


Make another french bread and change only 1 thing-water source,kneading time,mixing method,or whatever. When you have this kind of track record, you need to try over and over using a recipe with the fewest variables. Boring but instructive.


You might benefit from a dough conditioner such as vit C .I just crush up a vit C tablet between 2 spoons and put  a little of it in with the flour-make sure itis finely crushed. Very scientifically measured.But if you do this, make it the 1 thing different to try.


Good luck and keep trying.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thanks Clazar. I keep records ... my log. 230+ pages so far. 


1. I mix by hand with a metal spoon. No Kitchen Aid. 


2. 100 degrees, by thermometer


3. Followed exactly, dry first, then water


4. Water has been tested, because we live in an area with potential for uranium contamination from 1950s mining activity. pH is 7.0, no excessive mineral content and no, have no water-conditioning on our lines. 


Have tried the (1) variation-at-a-time process. That's part of my 230+ page log, variations on a theme, so to speak. Good info on how to isolate a problem but so far it hasn't yielded any clues. As to age of yeast, I live "out here" to be away from population, but it has its draw-backs. The local grocery store is 50 miles away and in a town small enough that only in the past decade did they begin to stock whole wheat bread and yogurt (when TV chefs casually say 'visit your local fish monger' we howl over their insular view of America). It may be that the yeast on their shelves has been subjected to temperatures unfriendly to yeast, or other such conditions during shipping and handling. I'll order in some fresh yeast-cakes and see what difference that makes. But ... the problem remains that no matter how I handle a dough it's sticky, not tacky, and slumps. For example ... after kneading for 15 minutes by the clock it begins to produce a somewhat elastic tacky skin but as soon as I stop God help me whatever the dough is touching. It will stick and only a bench knife will pry it loose. Proof it and it will slide outward into a flattened muck.


In baking lore what effect is Vit C supposed to produce? 


And thanks for your taking time to try with me. 

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

I strongly suspect it is the Ph of your water.  I won't go into details as others have done so well in other posts aon the Ph of water for bread


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thank you. Elsewhere in this discussion water is tested regularly because of the potential contamination of uranium tailings from Uranium-era mining. pH is most always around 7.0

BayCook's picture
BayCook

I'll add my 2¢...  until I tried sourdough made from a wild starter, that was left at room temp to culture until very strong- smelling, I had no idea how many breads are made with literally taste-free yeasts.  


If you really want FLAVOR you could give that a try. As Clazar pointed out, progress comes incrementally- and your pictures did look all right as far as structure and shape...


You may need some particular techniques for French bread (baguettes, etc) like steam, super-hot oven, high-hydration dough, that are very very challenging, but not insurmoutable with enough patience.  And you sound like a patient, methodical person.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

I actually got into baking after being handed a sourdough starter that was from an original from the Yukon, harvested from the wild yeats in the air - a technique used throughout the world to infest a plain dough. 


I never could get sourdough to do anything. It was so labor intensive and with no reward I decided it wasn't for me and changed over to yeast-risen breads. I thank you for the heads-up but I've been there done that.


I mentioned above I can easily steam my oven, the oven is capable of 650 degrees and it's lined on the bottom with fire brick and high hydration doughs have been a particular nemesis. 


I am patient, ten years worth and still turning out tatseless focaccia (meaning, all my breads until today turn out flat because they slump)

alabubba's picture
alabubba

Do you weigh your dough?

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thank you for responding. I've never weighed the finished dough. What would I discover weighing the dough after weighing ingredients, please? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Tell me about your baked bread when it is a day old?   As it ages, is there anything that stands out?  Does it keep well?  How many days does it take?  How about other foods?


72°F was your first mention of temperature.  Do you write room temp down in your notes?  What is your normal room temp?


Don't touch the next loaf test.  Use spoons, bowls, cups, etc that have been washed in hot soapy water, rinsed in running hot water and then sprayed with a 10% vinegar solution allowing to air dry. (spraying the countertops with 10% vinegar is also a good idea.)  Do not touch anything with your hands and wear gloves.  Handle bowls or tools flour bags etc. wearing gloves.  Let's see if you or your skin may be the ??? in the puzzle. Dip a teaspoon in some cool boiled water and use that to scrape the dough off your mixing spoon. 


Another thought, testing the water is one thing, testing water that has come through your tap or water pipes is yet another.  How does your tap water smell?  Does it smell different when the hot water comes through as compared to cold?  Any sulfer smells?  Let the sink fill up with hot water.  Walk outside for a 5-10 minutes close the door and clear your head, then return, smell anything?  This test will not work if you are a smoker.  Report back.


Mini

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thank you for your reply. That's a lot of questions. 


In order - 


Finished bread keeps alright, but I have no idea what a 'standard' might be. It isn't like store bought bread because it doesn't have any preservatives in it. Things can stale quickly in a 10% humidity climate, but not rot. It certainly never tastes the day after like the bread I'm aiming for (french bread from Paris, fresh from the bakery - baguette, batard, etc.)


As to other foods aging, I apologize but you'll have to narrow that down. We do have modern refrigeration, we're sensible people, we're not that far out of the loop. Make my own electricity if matters. If I leave havarti cheese out on the counter it will grow funny colors and crawl away in two days. 


Today's exterior temperature was 72 degrees rising to 80 degrees between the hours of 0630 and 0900 while the above experimental loaf was in process. Interior temp was 78 until I cranked up the oven, then rose to 82. Interior of our home can vary significantly between Seasons because of the harshness of the natural temperature outside. In Winter the kitchen can go as low as 45 or so and in Summer it can often approach 90. But I'm sensitive to temperature and how it affects the activity of risings, so a careful log of temperatures has been kept. I've not noted any correlation. In winter I have a warm breezeless spot behind a Trombe wall, in the dark for risings so kitchen temperature ha s not been a factor. 


As to next test loaf, I have on occasion applied surgery cleanliness protocols to my tools and boards and counters etc - I've experience in that area, actually, but will take your advice and go sterile and use surgical gloves to make the next loaf.


Without belaboring the point about Water and I do thank you for bringing it up again, just as surely I do thank you for taking time to reach out to me ... I have more thorough water testing at this place than municipal water plants, courtesy of the State, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Reclamation. We are in a Zone where the potential for uranium tailings leaching into the water table is moderately high, as well as arsenic and some other nasty elements such a cadmium, pitchblend, radium and the like. There's nothing in the water but pure water at 7.0 pH. Trace colloidal minerals are added in-line following an elaborate water filtration system paid for courtesy of a settlement between the EPA under the Clean Water Act and a bevy of mining companies. Our water is well water that's as pure as pure can get so neither we nor anyone near here can sue for damages for growing an extra ear on our foreheads. (the radioactivity thing, you know)


:-)


Not a smoker. Unless you count my smoker outside and the game I put through. (smiley face again)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I wanted to get some basics out of the way.  Straightened out a long time water problem near my folks recently, had to do with too much corrective ionization. 


Another suggestion:  (I'm not trying to poison you, I'm just trying to check the tacktile questions.)  Next time you're in town, purchase some ready made dough like the frozen stuff for rolls.  Thaw some out and compare to your dough.  Fold and play with it while it is cold and as it warms up.  Is it just as sticky?  How does it compare?  Play around with wet hands, flour hands, oily hands.  Are your hands very warm?  Do they warm up the dough quickly thus causing the dough to become sticky?  Just a few things bouncing around in my head.


My favorite surface handling for Formica is to start out with a super thin layer of oil then light dust of flour.  If you have some plastic bench scrapers they can be more helpful than warm hands.


If all else fails, you could have a friend (tri-pod) video tape your method and post it on Youtube and we could look it over.  It's gotta be something simple.  I'm sure it is. 


You mention further down:  "...I would like to negate the question by rising my bread with local yeasts pulled out of the air,..."     It is simple:  The yeasts are in the flour, the method of making a natural sourdough starter only amplifies the numbers that are there hidden in spore form.  Propagating and using them is not a bad idea.  I like that my bread takes hours to develop, making it more digestable.  Commercial yeast is handy but we  miss out on the benefits of slow rises.


Mini

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

You have my vote for slow rise and more digestible. It's why I was sure sourdough were right for me. But I never got anything to develop. And having been bitten by the baking bug (or, cursed, depending) I thought to myself ..Self? ... is it possible to learn how to bake well enough to replicate that BREAD in Paris? 


And so the adventure got cranked up. And here we are. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Good sign, you can also grow a sourdough starter.  Sounds like you're not completely "keimfrei"  or germ-free there.  :)

clazar123's picture
clazar123

"Oxidizers (like Vitamin C) were originally thought to inhibit the action of proteolytic enzymes that could weaken gluten. The mechanism of dough strengthening by oxidizers has been found, however, to be quite different. In addition to disulfide bonding, which strengthens gluten, sulfur atoms on the protein molecules can bind with hydrogen atoms. Sulfur bound to hydrogen cannot form a disulfide linkage. Oxidizers "strip" hydrogen atoms from the sulfur-hydrogen (sulfhydryl) linkages, and make more sulfur available for the gluten-strengthening disulfide bond."


http://www.foodingredientsonline.com/article.mvc/Dough-and-Bread-Conditioners-0001?VNETCOOKIE=NO


ie VIt C strengthens the gluten bonds,encourages yeast growth and also prevents proteolytic enzyme action.


Vit C can be very helpful.Also, your water is dead neutral at a pH of 7. I would also encourage the yeast by adding a tablespoon of vinegar,lemon or lime juice.Adding lemon or lime may be all the vit C you need.


You are actually in an ideal place to use sourdough. I view sourdough as simply yeast.My bread doesn't have any special sour flavor-I don't like that.I just made my starter from stirring flour and water for a few days. It did take some effort to get going but is pretty easy to manage after that.There is a guaranteed method to follow on this site using pineapple juice, if you are interested.


I don't get overly anal on managing my starter.I don't measure or do the 1:2:2 or 1-2-3. I just take it out on Thursday night (keep it in a peanut butter jar in the fridge),stir in some flour and water to make it a thick batter consistency (it's about 100%hydration)and let it set on the counter. Feed every 12 hours,and it's nice and bubbly for use it on saturday.Leftover is generously re-fed and its put back in the fridge.Easy and convenient.If I'm going to be doing more than a few loaves,I will take it out sooner and feed it more to create more volume.


Good luck and keep trying.Share some more of your recipe/outcomes from your log. It is interesting.


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Okay, sir. Here may be a clue. You may have hit on something.


I have most certainly tried the pineapple juice method of creating a sourdough starter [1] And the result was bupkus. 


Nothing grew. Nothing bubbled. Tried a half dozen times and gave up deciding it was another "works for them, but not for me". All I got were jars of foul muck and no activity. 


I think that's significant. Nothing grew.


Seems an excellent clue, if no biologic activity took place? isn't rising a result of fermentation? 


[1] Sourdough - For reasons of seeking to eliminate as much commercial yeast as possible from my diet. A preventive health-thing. There's significant research out of Europe and Japan that strongly suggests commercial yeasts are responsible for the astonishing uptick in gastro-intestinal medical problems, most particularly Chrohns, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel and the like. Something has changed in our gut-environment and it is degrading the epithelial layer of the gut lining, allowing molecular sized particles of undigested material to pass unprocessed which get in the blood stream and which sets the immune system on  Kill All Invaders. There's cutting edge thinking that what is currently known as gluten-intolerance is really intolerance of these commercial yeasts. A 10 year study of the yeast business discovered that virtually all commercial yeasts originate from a single strain, and over time introducing that strain over and over into human bodies that do not evolve and adapt as rapidly as the animal kingdom does to threats is producing a 'rejection-syndrome' in the gut lining. In a significant portion of Western nation population. If you think that's hokum, remember the lone Australian doctor who killed a multi-multi-billion dollar peptic ulcer trade by proving the H Pylori infection was the cause not diet or other factors. The experts poo-poo'd that until it worked in all cases and then an entire market segment had to retool it's product. (Marshall and Warren and quite hated by the pharma industry)


I read a paper two years ago that Microsoft represents a national security risk for the same reason. One virus capable of actually crippling MS would cripple 90%+ of the desktops in the USA. That's analagous to the Irish Potato Famine. One crop economy. One virus changed Ireland forever and conditions were set up to do so by a century+ of rotten hierarchal political plundering. The same could be said of commercial yeasts, if they are becoming a culprit in intestinal health. One yeast strain reproduced endlessly by an infinite variety of manufacturers and bakers, etc but constantly introduced into the population without diversity could be catastrophic. Lack of diversity devastated Ireland. Could be. But I would like to negate the question by rising my bread with local yeasts pulled out of the air, just as local bee honey and local bee pollen are effective agents in helping the body modify its responses to otherwise perceived allergens from the local environment. 


If all that makes sense. 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Okay, sir. Here may be a clue. You may have hit on something.


I have most certainly tried the pineapple juice method of creating a sourdough starter [1] And the result was bupkus. 


Nothing grew. Nothing bubbled. Tried a half dozen times and gave up deciding it was another "works for them, but not for me". All I got were jars of foul muck and no activity. 


I think that's significant. Nothing grew.


Seems an excellent clue, if no biologic activity took place? isn't rising a result of fermentation? 


[1] Sourdough - For reasons of seeking to eliminate as much commercial yeast as possible from my diet. A preventive health-thing. There's significant research out of Europe and Japan that strongly suggests commercial yeasts are responsible for the astonishing uptick in gastro-intestinal medical problems, most particularly Chrohns, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel and the like. Something has changed in our gut-environment and it is degrading the epithelial layer of the gut lining, allowing molecular sized particles of undigested material to pass unprocessed which get in the blood stream and which sets the immune system on  Kill All Invaders. There's cutting edge thinking that what is currently known as gluten-intolerance is really intolerance of these commercial yeasts. A 10 year study of the yeast business discovered that virtually all commercial yeasts originate from a single strain, and over time introducing that strain over and over into human bodies that do not evolve and adapt as rapidly as the animal kingdom does to threats is producing a 'rejection-syndrome' in the gut lining. In a significant portion of Western nation population. If you think that's hokum, remember the lone Australian doctor who killed a multi-multi-billion dollar peptic ulcer trade by proving the H Pylori infection was the cause not diet or other factors. The experts poo-poo'd that until it worked in all cases and then an entire market segment had to retool it's product. (Marshall and Warren and quite hated by the pharma industry)


I read a paper two years ago that Microsoft represents a national security risk for the same reason. One virus capable of actually crippling MS would cripple 90%+ of the desktops in the USA. That's analagous to the Irish Potato Famine. One crop economy. One virus changed Ireland forever and conditions were set up to do so by a century+ of rotten hierarchal political plundering. The same could be said of commercial yeasts, if they are becoming a culprit in intestinal health. One yeast strain reproduced endlessly by an infinite variety of manufacturers and bakers, etc but constantly introduced into the population without diversity could be catastrophic. Lack of diversity devastated Ireland. Could be. But I would like to negate the question by rising my bread with local yeasts pulled out of the air, just as local bee honey and local bee pollen are effective agents in helping the body modify its responses to otherwise perceived allergens from the local environment. 


If all that makes sense. 

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

AFter reading your input about the corruption of commercial yeast on our digestive track, to which I would tend to agree - I have concluded that I really need to get a handle on this sourdough method of baking bread.  I can successfully get a sourdough bread using a recipe, but am still figuring out how to convert other recipes.


I don't know that I've seen this addressed yet in this thread, but has the suggestion of buying bottled water and mixing that with the flours etc - been tried?  If in fact there is some anomoly rampant?  My sourdough starter was easy to make - we have well water out here.  262 foot deep well.


-susie


 


BTW:  I also believe that the large amounts of corn syrup and sugars in the diets and commericial foods play a major part in the onslaught of diabetes in this country.  I too am I fresh food nut.  I've now canned 50+ jars of italian type tomatoes from my garden - grown completly without chemicals. a little help from the neighbors horses last fall, but aside from that?  nothing - nada - nilch.  proof?  the bunnies and golfers like them too and the only ones of those that have perished - perished at the delight of my 4 dogs.......................

brewninja's picture
brewninja

I can't believe you've kept trying to bake with such a long history with lack of success!


I mean, I'm glad your at it, and taking notes, trying to figure it out.


But honestly, I probably would have given up nine years ago :)

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

I love bread.


I don't like commercially available bread. Blech. 


Except for that time in Paris when I was, how to put this, stupified by the brasseries, cafes and bakeries. Turns out I'd never had real food. As Julia Child said "their chicken tastes so ... chickeny!" Even in 1948 our chickens no longer tasted like chicken. That explains the awful rubber something or other I cook labeled chicken. having eaten real food, I am in agony that I cannot access real food. It's like glimpsing heaven briefly in a near death experience and then having to wait 60 years to see it again. There is little real food in America, nearly everything having been taken over by commercial interests. 


But the bread! And the butter! That was one experience in my youth and it ruined me. I can still remember every mouthful. The smell, the texture the taste! OMG. And I am determined - now that I have time to indulge such things - to make good bread. Bread worthy of being called bread. But it has become a folly. Almost my windmill (if you know your Cervantes)


French and British butter I can get through places like Zingermans and D'Artagnan and Marky's. But not bread. Bread is art mashed up in science and approaches magic. 


I have to have bread. 


:-)

Alan's picture
Alan

I live in Placitas, New Mexico, high desert country, 6200 ft., extremely low humidity. I don't have the problems you seem to be plagued with and agree with several other posters that kneading is the issue. I always let my initial mix of flour,  water, yeast/starter sit for at least 45 minutes after mixing. I add the salt at this point and then begin to knead. I usually use a large enough bowl that I do my kneading in the bowl. My method is to scoop up the very wet dough from underneath stretching it as far as possible in an upward motion and folding it down upon itself. It is extremely sticky at this point and does cling to your hands like crazy. I find by running my hands under the faucet periodically I get less sticking and a better stretch. After awhile (perhaps 8-10 minutes) the dough will start to leave the sides and bottom of the bowl. I continue to stretch and fold the dough over for another four to five minutes at this point. I wash my hands throughly and let the dough rest (well covered) for about 45 minutes. I then turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and do the standard stretch and fold turning the dough a quarter turn for each stretch and fold (three times all together). I cover the dough in the bowl again for another 45 minutes and then repeat the stretch and fold process. At this point I place the dough back in the bowl and cover tightly and retard in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I remove the bowl from the refrigerator and turn it out on a well floured surface, shaping the dough into a ball. I cover and let rest until it has risen slightly and come to almost room temperature (about an hour). At this point I divide the dough and do my final shaping. The dough should still be slightly cool. After the final rise I mist the oven and bake (normally at 450  degrees or slightly higher). I have gotten excellent results without a baking stone and simply remove the loaves to rest directly on the oven rack when they have achieved an initial browning. I also have a wood-fired oven on my patio and get similar (even a bit better results) with that oven. I really believe proper kneading is the primary issue and that is where I would spend my time trying to perfect. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Howdy High and Dry. Got a friend who raises thoroughbreds somewhere near Golden. You're what? about 4,000 feet? 


Thanks for the advice. I'm slowly becoming convinced of two things. unknown to me and/or the EPA there may well be something in my water that's destroying the gluten. And, that it is possible to work with high hydration dough (though I wouldn't have believed it). 


If you read through this sizable thread you'll see a video URL from Gourmet on handling wet dough and I must go back and apologize to that poster because I thought I had seen it ... but it turns out not to be the one listed and it is excellent. Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. All my experience says otherwise, but there's this pro baker whacking the hell out of a dough as gloppy as mine. 


So, I'm leaning towards a water issue after all, and technique.

landgrvi's picture
landgrvi

But there's so much chemistry in bread that I guess that's not saying much!


Seriously, your description of your dough sounds eerily like what happened to my sourdough one time when I left it out at room temperature overnight and something in the sourdough (or perhaps the overall acidity - it was almost like vinegar at that point) completely destroyed the gluten.  A horrible mess of sticky strands... unworkable in every way... I managed to shovel it into a loaf pan and actually it tasted ok after baking, but the rise was, uhm, kinda not there.


So.  We know it's not acidity because you've had your water tested, and have used multiple waters, and you'd notice extreme acidity by taste/feel anyway.  I'm with the previous posters who suggested some sort of enzymatic activity or biological contamination.


I'm curious: do you make any quickbreads, cakes, anything leavened with baking soda and/or baking powder, and if so, do those rise properly?  That might be useful information too.


I'm also curious about whether just flour and water, in your kitchen, will develop gluten at all.


To test: In a bowl (or on a surface) that you would normally use for bread dough, mix a big handful of bread or all-purpose flour with enough water to make a thick batter.  The exact proportions are definitely not important here.  You want to be able to mix it with a spoon, but not have it be so liquid, or conversely so firm, that texture changes won't be apparent.


Stir it for a while.  Does it get smooth and elastic and bouncy-feeling, pulling together towards the middle of the bowl?  You might want to play with it a little, adding more flour or water and feeling the differences.


If it's just mush with no stretch, something really basic is wrong and I hope a real bread chemist will chime in and know what that would be, because I sure don't!


If it does get nicely stretchy/bouncy, try leaving it for an hour or so and stir again.  Has it turned into the sticky strandy unworkable glop you describe in your post?  OK, in that case we can conclude that something is destroying that gluten, leading to the rest of your problems.  Again, I'm not sure what and hope for information from someone more knowledgeable.


I too am a longtime lurker here.  Thanks for bringing me out of the woodwork.  I credit this site for MAJOR improvements in my bread, and I really hope that someone here can help you out.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Okay, ranch chores had me occupied until now. Longtime Lurker, I took your advice and stirred up a mess of AP and water and it does not pull together. 


It does not pull together into anything resembling an elastic or smooth dough. 


Houston, we have a problem. 

landgrvi's picture
landgrvi

Huh.  I have no immediate ideas, but maybe we can explore this problem space a bit.


How would you describe the texture that you <i>do</i> get?


Let's make the proportions more precise so we can be sure we're talking about the same thing, and I'll do it myself so we can compare textures.


I started with 40g high grade flour and 40g water.  I live in New Zealand but grew up in the US, and I believe that high grade is equivalent to US bread flour.  The water's rainwater from roof runoff.  I put that into a small bowl and stirred it gently with a spoon for 10 minutes, changing direction now and then, scraping the sides... just playing with it, really.  Experiments are fun! 


At T+1 minute (continuing our NASA metaphor), it was exhibiting definite stretch. 


At T+5 minutes, it was a lot stretchier, fairly smooth, and quite shiny. 


At T+10 minutes, I wouldn't call it a 'dough' (well hey, it is 100% hydration), but it had many dough-like properties.  Very elastic, definite tendency to pull together, shiny.  Still a little bit grainy looking.


I left it for 10 minutes and then went back and played with it some more.  At T+22 minutes, it still looked slightly grainy, but I could scoop a small spoon under the middle and have about 1/2 the blob come up with it.  From previous experience,  I'd say that if I leave it a couple of hours, it will get even smoother and shinier and cohere into a mass that, while far too wet for me to handle, can be lifted up as a unit with a spoon.


Right then... if none of that happens for you, could you get a neighbor to try it too and report back?  Tell 'em it's for SCIENCE!

weekend_baker's picture
weekend_baker

I'm afraid I'm no use on the chemistry side of the question--but I used to make a nearly 80% hydration dough and I NEVER managed to do any of it on the counter, nor form it into any kind of ball, nor get it to shape on a peel.  It was wet and sticky and went everywhere in long gloopy strands.


BUT, I happily made and ate this bread, two loaves every week for two years, with the following technique.


Make the dough in a big mixing bowl.  Stretch the dough by lifting and letting it pour back into the bowl for about 10 minutes.  (My notes say 'with your hands, like tossing a salad' if that gives you any idea...).  Pour the dough (now elastic wet gloop) into a loaf tin (with the high sides).  


Wait until it has risen to the top of the tin (do not let it rise further or it will run all over the bench top), don't bother slashing, but do dust a little flour on top if you like.


Pop it in the oven for about half an hour at between 425 and 450 F.  It will rise a bit more in the oven, so the top gets domed.  I then turned them out of the tins and baked for a further 10-15 mins so the bottoms would be done too.


This is not, of course, your fantasy baguette (I was making a heavy German-style rye) but I'm sure you could use the technique to make high-hydration loaves without ending up with that horrible slab of damp concrete that's spread out over the baking tray, or indeed dripped over the baking stone and dribbled all over the bottom of the oven...  (both of which happened to me).  


I am so impressed by your patience and perseverance.  (And so heartbroken by your story that I too have come out of the woodwork!).  Good luck!


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Grazie, WB. Good to know others have had similar experiences and I promise I will put your hard won wisdom to use. 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

You have some very good ideas to help troubleshoot in some very basic areas.I like the idea of trying to see what happens with just flour/water to see if gluten develops or develops and deteriorates.That would rule out a major issue in short order.


MiniOven's dough handling idea is also valuable.Did you ever work with anyone else that makes bread? Can they observe and offer any ideas.Right now I'm thinking it is either a food chemistry issue(which is rare) or it is something very simple in technique.You may yet have an "A-HA" moment. I've had many.


I understand your lament about real food.That is why I cook. Most of my shopping consists of the edges of a store-produce,meat,staples.I get real food where I can (farmer's market in summer) but live in a big city. I recently took a cooking class and was flabbergasted when the teacher asked how many people cooked from scratch more than once a week  (even simple things) and I was the only one raising my hand-everyone else used pre-prepared meals.Yikes.


Sourdough has offered me many benefits aside from the great taste but don't believe all the hype. It won't cure cancer or prevent that third ear.Any article that engages a "fear response" in me, I tend to disregard.Why do they have to use fear to sell their idea? Doesn't the idea stand on its own merit? Also, what is the saying..."Knowledge is power but little knowledge is dangerous" or something like that.The older I get, the more I realize how littl I "know".I try not to assume associations between events. A different perspective sometimes gives us a truer picture of reality.


Keep trying.I don't know about achieving french baguette fame but you should be able to achieve a tasty loaf.


 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Thanks, working on it .. onward into the fog and all that. Very grateful for a place like Fresh Loaf so invaluable information can be shared, exchanged, kicked around and discovered. Guilds and Unions used to viciously keep a lid on "trade secrets" so outsiders couldn't understand valuable skills. Here at Fresh Loaf that paradigm is shattered regularly every day by youse guys, and I'm damned grateful 


BTW - a short story about blockading skill-set information. On a movie set once, I offered a grip a lens gel that he needed to reach. "Are you Union?" Uh, no. So ensued a discussion about unions and lighting techs and grips and out of that came this tidbit ... take a wooden spring-loaded clothes pin and reverse the wooden pieces so the flat out sides are now the inside on the arrangement. That's a B52 (or so I was told). Used to clip gels onto lights. And that's one of the ways union grips know whether or not you're union is if you know the patois they've developed descriptive of their tools, skills and materials. If you don't know those insider-specific terms you're not union and if you're not union, well, the rest of his remarks are not fit for this family forum. 


Point being, thank God for Floyd's dedication to Fresh Loaf and what must be an extraordinary amount of time and energy for us to meet and share knowledge. 

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Okay, let's shut down this thread while I go off and try an couple of ideas. 


Ya'll've been a great help, I appreciate it immensely, much wisdom here and I've got two ideas I need to try and I'll report back in a week or so. 


 


Thank you

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven
High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

(long series of longshoreman swear words)


Mimi Owens, God Bless you ma'am. 


I will straight-way tend to a new loaf and see what happens. I'll have to buy bottled water that's true spring water because no well water around here is safe, and all water to the ranch is RO, courtesy of many and varied federal agencies. I'll have to ask the EPA guy about this. See if he's as smart as his credentials claim. 


Holy Mackerel. 


Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says, I'll be back. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

To know it's not you!   Let the bread baking begin!!  I'm so happy for you!!!


Mini

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Mini Oven - I have to say it again ... Holy Mackerel


http://www.bakingandbakingscience.com/


Water. Water is a basic ingredient in bread baking. Itwould be impossible to produce a loaf of bread without water insome form. There are several types of water. Hard water produces better quality bread than any type of water. Soft water weakens the gluten during mixing and fermentation. This can be corrected to some degree by increasing the percentage of salt in the formula slightly and by using mineral yeast food in the formula. Alkaline water is the most harmful, because it doesn't only weaken the gluten, but retards fermentation. Yeast likes a slightly acid medium to perform at its best. The weakening of the gluten and retarding effect on yeast can be corrected by using an acid ingredient such as vinegar ( acedic acid ) or lactic acid. Special typesof mineral yeast food has been developed to correct this problem.


I have my potable water pH corrected to 8.0 for the pH balance of my body-health - compensation for our Western highly acidic diet. (as in western civilization) So, between Reverse Osmosis, high pH and totally managed water supply it's no wonder that my dough literally came apart in my hands!


So, I'm now working on a dough that's had a tablespoon of vinegar added, plus dissolved a capsule of my Magnesium supplements into a gallon of water along with a Calcium supplement just to see(without getting all scientific at this stage). Called the EPA water guy and he was blank on the other end of the phone. So ... I'll report back.


If this is it, Mini .... I owe you BIG TIME. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I wish I would have thought of it sooner.  It wasn't until someone else brought me around to the idea.  Water was mentioned often enough from the beginning of your thread.


Some of my relatives put various mineral rocks into their drinking water pitchers.  I think their water is in good shape but it seems to be a fad there at the moment.  Something along these lines might also help your situation.


Mini

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Mini - well, guess what?


(1) haven't figured out how to make 'hard water' yet. My first experiment was ... unsuccessful. But ... (2) I decided to make Chef John's no knead ciabatta substituting a dark ale for the two cups water. 


I made ciabatta. I forgot to take pictures, but I'm working on a FLIP video camera and hopefully can post that soon. But the ciabatta was close but not yet a cigar. It rose beautifully on proofing and the dough held together beautifully after taking it from the first rise onto a heavily floured counter. I actually could fold it using a dough scraper (bench knife). Fold, fold, fold and proof and it rose wonderfully. Off on to a corn-meal peel and into my 425 oven and there it sat never changing in size or shape, no more rise out of it, and the crumb was in the ballpark of 'holey' but still dense and even after an hour refused to climb in internal temp any higher than 190. So it didn't bake out the moisture it needed to - crumb was still damp. But ... the flavor was getting very very close to what I'm after. 


My next loaf test, Monday (tomorrow) I'm going beer again, Jason's recipe and prep methods and a 375 oven for a lot longer bake. At 400 - 500 degrees my crusts are so dark brown they're unappealing visually or to taste. I'm thinking lower temp for a longer time. 


But ... but but but ... reverse osmosis soft water has got to be the problem with my glutens disintegrating and my doughs impossible to handle. And again, I thank you for being my Baking Angel. Because with beer (acidic liquid) - it worked. My water - doesn't work. 


And there you go. More progress to report in the next day or so.

landgrvi's picture
landgrvi

Jack, glad to see that drinking from the fresh loaf firehose led to new results!  Maybe you'll become your area's best beer bread maker.  I use rainwater, which is slightly acidic, but that's probably not much of an option in your high desert.


And hooray for Mini Oven finding the right thread!


Dough really feels great, doesn't it?  It's like magic.  That must have been an amazing moment when you felt it coming together.


If you didn't get oven spring with your ciabatta it was probably overproofed, but you'll sort that out with more experimenting.  Enjoy!

bagelbagel's picture
bagelbagel

Hi Jack sorry to hear about your troubles.came across your blog hoping to find out if any one here on the site knows of the mathematical formula for adjusting the recipe to account for environmental factors.I know it exists but havent been able to find it.part of the formula is adding all the environmental factors to determine what temperature the water should be so your yeast grows in a predictable manner as well there is one for the humidity in the air (barometric pressure) so you know exactly how much water your flour needs whether or not its too dry or too humid.
There is also one for Altitude.
I will continue looking and will definitely pass them on when I find also maybe someone will already know them and share on this blog.
Best of luck
Anwar