The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Andrew Whitley

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The first week of December featured a lot of baking, in marked contrast to the prior week.  Having my hands in that much dough was a genuine pleasure.  Even better was the knowledge that most of it was for the benefit of others, rather than for myself.

On Saturday, December 1, I finished my shopping and dropped off the ingredients in preparation for a class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  I also prepared biga that evening for a batch of Stollen.  On Sunday afternoon, I prepared and baked the Stollen, three loaves worth, and two loaves of a Bohemian Christmas Braid.  Students who get to see what the finished product looks like, and enjoy eating it, in class go home happier than those who do not.  (And they did like the taste of these breads!)  On Monday evening, I prepped enough biga for 20 batches of Stollen. 

The Bohemian Christmas Braid, before and after glazing (it's easy to see why my wife handled braiding duties for our daughters' hair):

And the stollen, prior to basting with melted butter and blanketing in sugar:

The class on Tuesday evening ran from 6:30 to 9:00.  I arrived at the Center just after 4:30 and spent the next couple of hours prepping ingredients, portioning the biga, and prepping one batch each of Stollen and Braid dough so that they would be available for demonstrating shaping techniques.  Meanwhile, my assistant was setting out the required implements at the student workstations and taking care of other room preparations.  The students started rolling in as we were wrapping up our set-up steps, so we were able to start right on time. 

The students ranged from bread baking newbies to experienced bakers wanting to pick up some additional information about the specific breads being taught that evening.  For instance, one lady was curious about what adjustments she would need to make since she mills her own flour at home.  Regardless of their experience levels, they were a wonderful group to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

It’s interesting how little things crop up.  We ran short of fruit peel for the Stollen because I made a mistake in my estimating.  However, we had more raisins and currants than required, which I had anticipated, and that allowed us to make up for the shortfall in the fruit peels.  It also gave a good opportunity to illustrate how to be flexible while baking, adapting to unforeseen circumstances.  I’m still scratching my head about the flour though.  Since I didn’t have the final count when I shopped, I assumed that all 20 places would be filled.  From what I calculated, we needed about 42 pounds of flour; therefore, I picked up a 50-pound sack at Costco.  We used up every bit of that flour and pulled some from the Center’s pantry!  Since I haven’t found an error in my calculations, it’s still a mystery to me how that much flour was used. 

On Friday, December 7, I baked 6 loaves of a Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread, adapted from the Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread in the KAF Whole Grain Baking book.  Six, because that’s as many 9x5 bread pans as I have and because that’s as many as can easily fit in my oven.  Then on Saturday I made 4 more loaves.  We hosted the Christmas party for my wife’s colleagues on Sunday and the bread was for gifts for them and for some other friends.  And one for us, too!  In addition to making fabulous toast, this bread goes really well with ham and cheese.  Other baking that Saturday for the party included about 3 dozen Eggshell Rolls from Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads and Rye Rolls, source not recalled at the moment.  The Rye Rolls got a bit of a tweak when I substituted 1 teaspoon of caraway and ½ teaspoon each of coriander and fennel seeds, crushed, for the called-for 2 teaspoons of caraway. 

Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread dough:

Baked and bagged:

Eggshell Rolls:

Rye Rolls:

The  Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread also marked the first time I have used the Great River brand of whole wheat flour.  I had picked up a 10-pound bag at our local Costco, having seen it there for the first time.  I believe PostalGrunt mentioned it in a recent post of his, too.  Based on my experience, I like this flour.  The grind is quite fine.  I should buy some Wheat Montana flour again to see whether one has a finer grind than the other, or if their textures are approximately equal.  The bran flecks are the same size as the rest of the particles.  My first guess would have been that the flour is produced with roller mills but the Great River Milling site says it is stone-ground.  Although I couldn’t locate a precise analysis, GRM says that their bread flours are milled from hard red spring wheat and “we strive to purchase wheat that contains 14 percent protein and strong gluten content.”  From a purely empirical point of view, I’d say that they hit their target for the bag I purchased.  Not surprisingly, I had to increase the liquid content to achieve the desired dough consistency.  The resulting dough handled well and rose well, too.

The Great River flour bag:

This past weekend I made a batch of Cromarty Cob from Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. Having blogged about this bread previously, here, I won’t go through a blow-by-blow account this time.  I made two deviations from Mr. Whitley’s formula and process.  First, I increased amounts by 50% to produce two medium-size loaves, rather than one large loaf.  Second, I let fermentation proceed at ambient temperatures in my kitchen, which ranged from 65-68F, instead of the recommended 82F temperature.  As a result, fermentation times for the levain and for the final dough were in the 12-hour range, each.  With the whole-wheat content being approximately 50%, this yielded a bread with a noticeable sourdough tang.  The wheaty flavors that were masked by the cinnamon and raisins in the Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread get to shine in this loaf, too.  I expect that using a higher fermentation temperature would lead to a bread with a more subtle sourness and, therefore, a more wheat-forward flavor and fragrance.  As it is, I’m every bit as happy with this bread as I was the first time I made it.  And I’m happy to have found another high-quality whole wheat flour to work with that doesn’t inflict exorbitant shipping costs.

Since odds are pretty good that I won’t post any new blog entries between now and Christmas, please let me wish each of you a blessed and merry Christmas.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

If anybody wonders why, after a furious start, my Equal Opportunity Baking has somewhat slowed down - that didn't happen only because of my recent trip to Germany.

My last three breads proved to be tricky, they didn't turn out quite right. One was overly spicy, one too sweet and one too dry. On the other hand, they were not so disappointing that I didn't want to deal with them again, writing a bad review, and be done, once and for all. 

So I will get back to them, giving each of them a second chance to live up to their potential.

Though I had purchased "Bread Matters", by Andrew Whitley, a while ago, I hadn't really looked into it before I chose a recipe for my Fair Baking project. The Arkatena Bread, made with a chickpea starter, and inspired by a loaf the author found in a little village bakery in Cyprus, seemed intriguing. And I certainly go for a "bread with a hefty crust, chewy crumb, and intense flavor".

Like many baking book authors, Whitley doesn't cater to the sensibilities of thrifty housewives, making his starter large enough for the needs of small bakery - only to advise you later to discard the surplus. Though I'm not a miser, I hate trashing a perfectly good guitar starter, so my first step in mastering this recipe was recalculating the amounts I really needed for one loaf.

From then on it was pretty straightforward, though I have to admit I cheated a bit with the leaven. From my experiences with GF sourdough I know that chickpea flour (together with other gluten free flours), mixed with water, develops a lively fermenting activity if you just let it sit at room temperature over three days.

I didn't feel the urgent necessity, though, to make a leaven from the scratch, being the proud owner of a couple of healthy and hungry starters. So, instead of going through stage 1, I used a bit of wheat starter in stage 2, deducting the amount of whole wheat and adding the missing chickpea flour (from stage 1) to the production leaven.

Otherwise I followed the recipe instructions closely, but used steam for the bake, a measure Whitley, for some reason, doesn't suggest.

The result was this beautiful bread:

I couldn't wait to try it! But when I took my first bite, the only thing I tasted was FENNEL! Any other, more delicate aroma was completely knocked out.

Being a German, I love breads seasoned with anise, caraway, fennel and coriander - the typical German bread spices. And I do like fennel. But only as a hint of spiciness, not as full frontal attack. Whitley's original recipe has 6 g fennel seeds per 577 g flour = 1%!

We also found the bread could do with a little more salt (it had only 1.2%).

Everything else about the bread was fine, the crumb, the crust - and I still wanted to know how a chickpea leaven could flavor a bread.

So, after my baking break, when I came back from Hamburg, I made another Arkatena bread, this time with a little rye starter as stage 1 leaven. I added 10 g salt (instead of 7 g). And I reduced the pesky fennel to just 1 gram.

As before, the bread turned out beautiful:

I was a little impatient, and probably should have waited another 15 minutes before placing it in the oven, it "exploded" a bit. This time it tasted really nice, with a complex aroma, and still spicy enough with a hint of fennel.

Since I used a bit of mature starter, the overall development of the leaven didn't take 3 days, but only one.

ARKATENA BREAD

FIRST STEP LEAVEN   (45 g)
5 g whole wheat or rye starter
15 g water
15 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
 
SECOND STEP LEAVEN (91 g)
45 g all first step leaven
19 g water
23 g whole wheat flour
4 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
 
PRODUCTION LEAVEN (300 g)
91 g all second step leaven
68 g water
28 g whole wheat flour
28 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
85 g all-purpose flour
 
FINAL DOUGH
100 g whole wheat flour
300 g all-purpose flour
10 g salt
300 g water
1 - 2 g fennel seeds
300 g production leaven (all)


DAY 1:

1. Prepare 3-step starter. Let the first step leaven sit for ca. 6 hours, the second one for ca. 4 - 6 hours, and production leaven for 4 - 6 hours, or overnight.

DAY 2:

2. Mix a dough with all ingredients except fennel and leaven, 8 - 10 minutes of vigorous action. Dough should be soft and elastic (82ºF/28ºC). Add starter and fennel, and work a few minutes more until smooth, but still somewhat sticky.

3. Transfer dough to a moistened work surface, cover with an upturned bowl (sprayed with water). Let rest for 1 hour.

4. S & F, using a scraper in each hand. Dip dough ball gently in a bowl with whole wheat flour, so that it's completely covered. Place in floured proofing basket, seam side up. Let proof for 3 - 5 hours (poke test, mine took about 4 hours).

5. Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC, including steam pan. Invert basket onto parchment lined baking sheet. Score 2 - 3 times.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400ºF/200ºC, and continue baking for 10 minutes. Rotate, and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes.

NOTE: When I make this bread again, I would try working with autolyse, instead of long "vigorous" kneading.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

While perusing the cookbook section in a local second-hand bookstore, I came across several copies of Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters in like-new condition.  Despite having a number of bread books already, this one somehow followed me home.  Mr. Whitley's writing style is engaging.  Although he is appalled by the state of British factory breads, he doesn't come across as shrill or vindictive or holier-than-thou.  Rather, he takes a more measured approach in describing what he sees as the problem, how it came to be, the consequences, and some solid recommendations for improving the situation.  (None of which require dough improvers.)  That is not to say that he doesn't employ some well-turned phrases which made me laugh outright in a few instances.  

Having dealt with the deplorable state of the baking industry (emphasis on industry), he turns his attention to providing a tutorial for the home baker who wants to produce healthy and tasty breads.  While I wouldn't necessarily recommend this as a first book for a new baker, Mr. Whitley does take some pains to describe not just what to do but how it works, as well.  He includes a number of bread formulae, including some for gluten-free breads.

One that looked attractive to me was his Cromarty Cob.  It is a lean hearth bread made with a 50/50 blend of white and whole wheat flours, with a rye sour providing the leavening.  

I used a bit of my wheat-based starter to inoculate the rye sour on Friday morning.  On Friday night, I built the production leaven from the rye sour, white flour, whole wheat flour and water, per instructions.  (Note that Whitley's directions assume warm temperatures, since he mentions an approximate time of 4 hours for the leaven to double.  With kitchen temperatures in the 65-67F range, my leaven took about 12 hours to double.)  

On Saturday morning, I mixed and kneaded the wheat flours, water and salt to develop a sticky dough, as directed.  Then I worked in the production leaven.  Whitley only calls for part of the leaven, with no mention of what to do with the excess.  Since I had gone to the effort of making it, I put the entire leaven into the dough.  The weight differential isn't significant, so I wasn't concerned with upsetting hydration levels or dough characteristics.  I then fermented the dough in my proofer at 85F, with one stretch and fold at the 1-hour mark, per instructions.

This formula is sized to produce one loaf weighing approximately 1kg.  When the dough was ready for shaping, I elected to form two smaller boules, since that better fit my needs.  The bannetons went back into the proofer, although only just barely, for the final ferment.  Following Whitley's instructions, the breads were baked with steam at 425F for 10 minutes, then at 400F for the remainder.  And this is what I got:

And the crumb:

Whenever I get around to baking this bread again, I think I will experiment with bumping the temperatures up by 25F or so.  Even with the smaller loaves, I went nearly the entire recommended bake time before the interior temperature was north of 200F and you can see that the color is not particularly dark.

To my chagrin, the bread wasn't entirely cooled when I cut it in preparation for taking to the Kansas City TFL meetup.  Nevertheless, off it went.  In spite of the indignities it suffered, it arrived in fairly good condition.  The crust was still crisp and the crumb still moist.  I especially like the flavor.  While not sour, it is definitely more layered and more complex than a commercially yeasted loaf would have been even with the same fermentation schedule.

A good book and a good bread.  Both speak well of Mr. Whitley's capabilities.

Paul

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,

A little while ago Varda posted about her experiences with the Russian Rye from Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters, and there was a longish discussion of the formula.

I posted some photos of the process of making Russian Rye

Andy suggested to use the formula he remembers from his time with Andrew Whitley at the Village Bakery, and I had a closer look at a couple of German standard formulas.

At the end I baked 4 variations -

Russian Rye, Bread Matters version (100% Hydration, preferment 200% hydration, 31% flour from preferment)

Russian Rye, Andy's version (85% Hydration, preferment 167% hydration, 35% flour from preferment)

Single Step Detmolder (78% Hydration, preferment 80% hydration, 35% flour from preferment)

Berliner Kurz-Sauer (79% Hydration, preferment 100% hydration (fermented at 35C for 3.5 hours) , 50% flour from preferment)

Here a comparison of the crumb (pictures of the loaves can be found in the blogs referenced avove):

Formulas:

1. Russian Rye, Bread Matters Version

Sourdough  
Rye31% 166g
Water62% 333g
Mature Starter10% 54g
   
Paste  
Rye69% 370g
Water42% 225g
Salt1.50% 8g
Sourdough93% 499g
Yield206% 1106g

The surdough fermented for 14 hours at 24C, the paste is mixed and shaped with wet hands and is put directly into a buttered tin. (2X500g tins in my case)

After 2 hours the loaves were risen by about 25% and bubbles started to show, they were ready for the oven.

The bake: 10 minutes at 240C with steam, then 10 minutes at 225C, then 20 more minutes at 200C.

This bread neads a long rest before cutting, at least 24 hours. In my experience the taste is fully there after 3 days.

The crumb is moist and airy, and the bread has a light tang that gets stronger in time.

2. Russian Rye, Andy's Village Bakery version

Sourdough  
Rye35%206g
Water58%341g
Mature Starter10%58g
   
Paste  
Rye65%382g
Water27%159g
Salt2.00%11.7g
Sourdough93%547g
Yield187%1100g

The process is pretty much the same as above.

The surdough fermented for 14 hours at 24C, the paste is mixed and shaped with wet hands and is put directly into a buttered tin. (2X500g tins in my case) This dough is much easier to handle than (1)

After 2 hours the loaves were risen by about 25% and bubbles started to show, they were ready for the oven.

The bake: 10 minutes at 240C with steam, then 10 minutes at 225C, then 20 more minutes at 200C.

This bread neads less rest before cutting than (1), but at least 24 hours.

The crumb is moist and still light, and the bread has a more rye-y taste than (1).

It is difficult to say which one I prefer, but the handling qualities make this one a better candidate for a production environment.

3. Single-Step Detmolder

This method uses a rye starter with typically 80% hydration which is kept at 24C to 28C for 12 hours. The mature starter can then be used in production for up to 6 hours, it doesn't starve quickly and is very robust.

I followed the formula from an earlier post of mine, using 100% rye.

Sourdough  
Rye35%213g
Water28%170g
Mature Starter6%36g
   
Paste  
Rye65%395g
Water50%304g
Salt2.00%12.1g
Yeast (fresh)1.00%6g
Sourdough63%383g
Yield181%1100g

After mixing the paste ferments for 40min (80min without yeast), is shaped with wet hands and put in tins, and rests for another hour.

Baking as above.

The crumb is quite dense as compared with the othe two breads, and there is a distinctive tang.

4. Berliner Kurz-Sauer

This one is a bit unusual: The sourdough matures at high temperature (35C) inb a very short (kurz) time: 3.5 hours.

At this stage the sourdough is almost frothy, very light and fragile, and tastes fruity mild-sour. The aim is to have a lot of LAB producing lactic acid. Therefore this one relyes a bit more on added yeast for the lift.

Sourdough  
Rye50%275g
Water50%275g
Mature Starter10%55g
   
Paste  
Rye50%275g
Water29%159g
Salt2.00%11g
Yeast (fresh)1.00%5g
Sourdough100%550g
Yield182%1100g

 After mixing the paste proofed for about 1 hour, is  then shaped with wet hands and put in tins.

At my ambient temperature (24C) the bread was ready for the oven after 2 hours of rest.

The crumb is clearly dryer than the other three breads, and after 24 hours the taste is quite bland.

But I like how this bread developed over time - I had the last bits yesterday - 7 days after the bake. The taste was still mild, with a well developed rye note.

Conclusion:

These four breads are a bit like four different characters. And it's hard for me to say which one I would prefer.

Each of them change their character considerably over time.

If I would need some bread tomorrow I'd go with Andy's Russian or the Detmolder, they have a lot of complexity early on.

The Detmolder was the most sour of the four, and developed even more sourness over time.

The Berliner Kurz-Sour might be a good way to introduce people to this kind of bread due to its mildness, and it also goes well with more delicate toppings.

And the "Bread Matters" Russian has this amazing open texture.

The choice is really up to you.

Juergen

 

 

 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi, This is The Making Of ...

Russian Rye

from Andrew Whitley's "Bread Matters.

Photos and timeline from refreshing the "production sourdough" to the finished bread are in this post (** Now with crumb shot **),

you can find notes about the formula here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25608/russian-rye-and-really-simple-sourdough-whitley039s-bread-matters

The kitchen was around 22C all the time.

Tuesday night, 23.09 hours: Took the mature culture from the fridge and mixed up the "production sourdough"

Mature culture:

Production sourdough right after mix at 23.14 hours:

Production sourdough at Wednesday, 6.09 hours: Quite frothy, but smelling not yet right

Another view:

The production sourdough at 11.58 hours, smelling and tasting fruity/sour, ready for mixing:

The paste, mixed, at 12.32 hours:

The paste shaped, in loaf tins at 12.36 hours:

Slightly overproofed (I had left the house for longer than I intended) at 16.40 hours, ready to go into the oven:

After the bake, at 17.22 hours:

No oven spring - as I said, the proof was on the long side.

Out of the tins:

 

Crumb shot at Thursday, 06.07 hours:

The crumb has not quite set at this time, the taste is very promising, but needs as well more time to develop.

Cheers,

Juergen

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