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firm levain

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I wanted to make some baguettes today. I had some excess active firm starter. I usually make sourdough baguettes with a liquid starter, and my best sourdough baguettes take two to three days to make, but why not try a formula for one day baguettes with firm starter?

I decided

  1. To make 3 ficelles weighing 200 g apiece.

  2. At 70% hydration.

  3. Using 25% pre-fermented flour.

  4. And to use a bit of instant yeast to have the baguettes done before dinner time.

 

Total dough

wt. (g)

Baker's %

AP flour

323

93

WW flour

17

5

Medium rye flour

9

2

Water

245

70

Salt

7

2

Instant yeast

1/8 tsp

0.5

Total

601

172.5

  

Firm levain

wt. (g)

Baker's %

AP flour

46

70

WW flour

13

20

Medium rye flour

7

10

Water

33

50

Firm starter

33

50

Total

132

200

 

Final dough

wt. (g)

AP flour

262

Water

201

Salt

7

Instant yeast

1/8 tsp

Firm levain

131

Total

601

 

Procedures

  1. Mix the firm levain and ferment for 12-14 hours at 70º F.

  2. Mix the flour and water in the final dough to a shaggy mass and autolyse for 30 minutes.

  3. Add the salt, yeast and the firm levain is 12 pieces to the dough and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.

  4. Ferment at 70º F for 2-2 1/2 hours with folds at 40 and 80 minutes. The dough did not double but showed many tiny alveoli. (Visible through the walls of my glass bowl.)

  5. Divide into 3 equal pieces and pre-shape as balls or logs.

  6. Rest for 20 minutes.

  7. Shape as baguettes.

  8. Proof at 70º F for 45-60 minutes.

  9. Transfer the loaves to a peel and score as desired.

  10. Bake at 460º F with steam for 12 minutes then in a dry oven for another 8-10 minutes. Note: These are light and thin loaves. For larger baguettes, the baking time would need to be increased to a total of 22-25 minutes. If a lighter-colored crust is desired, the oven temperature should be decreased to 450º F.

  11. Cool for 30 minutes (at least) before eating.

 I treated each of my three baguettes differently, as seen. I made one into an epi de blé, one into a seeded baguette and one was made as a traditional baguette.

 

The crust was crisp and the crumb was tender – just a bit chewy. The crumb structure was nice and open. The flavor was good, but not great. There was no perceptible sourdough tang and less sweet flavor and less complexity than I want in a baguette.

I think this formula, with the added yeast, resulted in a short fermentation that did not allow for full flavor development. In addition, the levain I used had been taken from my refrigerated stock starter and only fed once. 

My judgement is that this formula is worth playing with. Next time, I will use a starter that has been fed at least twice and will omit the instant yeast.

David

 

 

 

Ryan Sandler's picture

Sourdough baguette experiment -- Success!

September 27, 2009 - 10:40pm -- Ryan Sandler

Usually when I get it in my head to cobble together a formula based on two or three things I've seen mentioned on this forum, two more in my head, and a bit of whimsy, the results are not pretty.  Especially when it comes to baguettes.  The last two or three times I've tried to make baguettes, they've come out flat, with closed crumb and, with the sourdough versions, crust that provides a thorough jaw workout.


But not this time, oh no!  This time I tasted victory.  Victory, and some very yummy bread.


Here's what I was trying for:

davidg618's picture
davidg618


Last week's result



Yesterday's result


Using Daniel DiMuzio's guidance, both from his latest book "bread baking, An Artisan's Perspective", and following his posting here on TFL,  I've been working with two different sourdough starters,from different sources. One contributes flavor much to our tastes for sourness, but disappointing in proofing times, and lacking in oven spring, and a second starter that has been phenomenal in yeast activity, i.e., proofing and oven spring, but dissapointing in our preferred sourness. Both starters are maintained in the refrigerator at 100% hydration.


Last week, using Daniel DiMuzio's pain au levain formula with firm levain (480g ripe firm levain, 700g total flour, 68% hydration) I built my firm levain at room temperature (76°F) from the first sourdough starter with three builds, spaced approximately 8 hours apart, gradually increasing the mass three times each build, and, simutaneously, reducing its hydration by one-third each build. DiMuzio's formula calls for a pre-ferment 60% hydration, I chose to match the dough target hydration, 68%, because I wanted to keep the build as wet as possible during its ripening hopefully favoring yeast development. I visually checked its progress and fed it its scheduled builds based on observable peaks; nevertheless, the build interval was nearly eight hours each time.


Expect for using all white flour, I followed Dan DiMuzio's formula exactly. I mixed the dough in my stand mixer for five minutes, allowed it to rest 30 minutes, and bulk fremented it with three stretch and folds spaced at 45 minute intervals. Doubling took approximately, three hours after the final stretch and fold. I shaped two boules (one 1-1/2 lb, one 2 lb); proofing took 2 and 1/2 hour. I baked the loave at 480°F, covered, with steam, for the first ten minutes, reduced the oven temperature to 450°F, uncovered the loaves and baked for another fifteen minutes until internal temperature was 206°-208°F.


The results were very gratifying. The proof times were nominal, compared to most sourdough recipes I've read or tried, and the oven spring was adequate, attested by first photo. I didn't get a photo of the crumb; it was close but light and airy, not dense; and the flavor was delightful to our palletes.


For three days immediately prior to yesterday I've been caring for a firm levain, built from the second starter (great yeast activity, disappointing sourness). Starting with 50g of seed starter, I added sufficient flour to immediately reduce its hydration to 65%, subsequently I fed it, approximately, every eight hours, maintaining its 65% hydration, ending early yeasterday morning with 480g of ripe firm levain. My goal, of course, had been to favor bacterial growth, as Dan suggests, over the extended build period.


I made the dough, shaped and baked the loaves as identically as possible to the first starter test. Proof times were, as expected shorter: 2 hours, and 1 and 1/2 hours respectively.


The results were equally gratifying, The levain retained its previous yeast activity, and the level of sourness we hoped for was achieved. The crumb is nearly identical (perhaps a little more open) compared to the first starter's loaves. The first two loaves are history, so I couldn't do a side by side comparison.


For sourdough, I'm satisfied, for now, with the three step build (increase/decrease by thirds from seed mass and hydration) I'm using, so I don't think I'll do anything with the first starter. On the other hand, I'm considering ways to improve the second starter's bacterial contribution to flavor, but ultimately regain its maintenance hydration, and the ability to build a ripe levain in one day. I suppose the most obvious thing is repeat the three day firm levain build, and then use my twenty-four hour three-build modification back to maintenance hydration. Waiting is...

Eli's picture
Eli

I decided to post pix of my motherdough which is where this all started. It has a very short history at this time but hopefully it will last a few years and I can pass it down and around. Flour and water.

 

E

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