The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Leader

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I have been on a baking hiatus, of sorts, realizing that the stash of bread in my freezer needed to be reduced.  Having worked through that gradually, I finally got around to baking again the weekend before Labor Day.

What my mouth wanted was something robust, chewy, mildly tangy, and thoroughly wheaty.  And it had to serve as a reliable foundation for sandwiches.  What to do, what to do?  Leader's Local Breads beckoned, and in it I found the Whole Wheat Sourdough Miche, modeled loosely after the Poilane miche.  After checking the metric weight quantities (which are generally less error prone than the others in this book) and deciding that it was safe to proceed, I hauled my starter out of the refrigerator and gave it a couple of good feeds.  It didn't take long for the starter to bounce back to vigorous health, especially with kitchen temperatures just slightly below the 80F mark.  It more than doubled in less than 5 hours!  

For once, I stuck pretty closely to the formula and process.  The one deviation of note was that I dissolved the levain in the water before adding the rest of the final dough ingredients.  Since I mix by hand, I find it easier to do that than to mix the levain into the already-mixed dough as Leader instructs.  Other than making my life easier, I don't see that it makes any real difference in the outcome.  Because of the warmth of my kitchen that day, I did have to trim fermentation times to avoid over-fermenting the levain and the final dough.

The outcome, by the way, was stunning!  A deep, brown-verging-on-black crust, lightly crackled; a firm, moist crumb; a heady aroma redolent of toast with sweet and tangy overtones.  I can't remember a recent bake that I was happier with than this.  And then there is the flavor!  It was everything the fragrance promised, and more.  Roasted nuts and malt, a gentle hint of acidity, a down to earth wheatiness, and other good things that I don't have words for.  The crust, after cooling, was more leathery than crisp but that played well against the moist coolness of the firm crumb.  The crumb texture is rather fine-grained for this style of bread; that comes from the extended kneading that Leader recommends.  Frankly, I didn't knead it as long as he recommends and I might even cut it back to just a couple of minutes of kneading for future bakes, combined with more stretch and folds to build strength.  That would open the crumb somewhat, but not to the point that condiments would be oozing out of sandwiches.

Here's a picture, which doesn't do the bread justice:

Good stuff, even if it is me that says so!

Both our daughters and their families were with us for the Labor Day weekend, which gave me the excuse to do some additional baking.  The tally for the weekend included Portugese Sweet Bread as rolls for barbecue pork sandwiches, sourdough English muffins for one morning's breakfast, and lemon oat scones for another breakfast.  Fun!

Now I need to finish testing the breads that I plan to teach at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, starting in November.  More fun!

Paul

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Saturday's game plan was to do a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for some of our South African friends.  The aim was partly to broaden their cultural sensibilities (not to mention waistlines) but more importantly to thank them for how pleasant they have made this past year for a couple of Americans who are a long way from home.  Alas, it was not to be.  My wife came down with some sort of abdominal unpleasantness that had her down for the count on Friday and left her feeling very weak on Saturday and Sunday.  Fortunately, she's back to her usual self but the planned activities for the day were pretty much shot to tatters.


With only a few errands to run and not wanting to leave her home by herself, I made up a Plan B which, wait for it, also involved food!  It started small enough and then morphed into something bigger.  It wasn't too long after starting that I thought "I have the whole day.  I could make some bread to give away as well as some for ourselves."


I started with Leader's Polish Cottage Rye, since that is naturally leavened and would therefore take the longest to go from ingredients to finished bread.  I've not made this before but I will be making it again.  It contains just over 25% rye flour (I used whole rye instead of the recommended white rye), all of which is in the rye sour.  It makes a beautiful big miche-sized loaf, just over 1200g in weight.  I missed that note.  I had the oven all set up to bake on the stone, with steam.  When I looked at how the dough was doming over the top of the bannetons, I realized that wasn't going to work.  Then I pulled the stone and steam pan out of the oven and put each loaf on parchment in its own half-sheet pan.  The oven in this house has only two shelves and the coil is exposed in the bottom of the oven, so that left no room for the steam pan.  Consequently, I baked them with convection.  When first transferred from banneton to pan, each loaf spread quite a bit.  Each one had good oven-spring but I wonder whether they might have been even higher if there had been a way to get steam in the oven at the same time.  Note that I'm not complaining about result.  The crumb is smooth, moist, cool and creamy; sorry, no pics of that.  The outside looks like this:


Leader's Polish Cottage Rye


It's the time of year that I usually make Bernard Clayton's Pain Allemande aux Fruits.  I've blogged about this previously, so won't repeat myself here except to say this is a wonderful bread!  It is rather messy and tedious, which is why I usually only make it once a year. Shaping is always a challenge with that much fruit and nuts in the dough.  The fragrance and the flavors are so exquisite, though, that I can't just not make it.  Here it is, all baked, bagged, and ready to go:


Clayton's Pain Allemande aux Fruits


And, just because I knew some friends wouldn't be all that jazzed by rye bread or fruity bread, I decided to make Sweet Vanilla Challah from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible.  This has been blogged about, too.  The shaping is extremely simple, especially compared to a braid, but the result is stunningly elegant:


Hensperger's Sweet Vanilla Challah


So, instead of saying thank you to a few friends, we were able to thank several more.  While my wife would have preferred to skip the whole sickness thing, the end result was much appreciated by others.


Paul

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

On Friday morning, I did a rather large refresh of my starter, thinking that it would be the makings of a levain for something to bake this weekend.  There was no specific plan, mind you, just the notion that I needed to bake something and that sourdough would be preferred.  In taking stock of my pantry after a late dinner Friday evening, it became evident that whatever I made wouldn't contain rye--I needed to restock.  That may be good news to Nico and the rest of the crew at Eureka Mills but it did steer my considerations out of one path and down another.


What to bake, then?  After riffling through some books, the bread that looked most appealing to me was the Pain de Campagne from Leader's Local Breads.  Yes, it wants 30g of rye flour, too, but I substituted WW and was happily on my way.  My starter was at, or just passing, its zenith.  Since I keep a firm starter, I needed to add water to achieve the hydration of Leader's liquid levain.  Before doing that, I made sure to set some starter aside to refeed and put back into storage.  It's no fun to find out you've baked up all of your starter and need to start anew.  Even worse, there are no T-shirts after you've been there and done that.


In reading the formula, I found that I had just about the same quantity of levain (after adding the requisite water) that would be required for a double batch.  Good!  One mess and four loaves instead of one mess and two loaves.  That would yield two for us and a couple of loaves to give to friends.  Leader recommends mixing the water and flour for a 20-minute autolyze, then add in the levain and salt.  I varied by mixing the flour, water and levain for the autolyse and left it for 25 minutes, on the presumption that the coarser bran particles of the WW flour would benefit from additional time soaking.


Upon returning to the now-autolyzed dough, I found it to be wonderfully elastic even before adding the salt.  I worked in about half of the salt using a stretch and fold in the bowl process, then patted the dough out on the countertop and worked in the rest of the salt.  Leader directs the baker to knead the dough for 10-12 minutes.  For once, I followed directions.  The dough was a joy to handle.  It verged on being sticky at the beginning of the knead.  Per Leader's directions, I did not add any bench flour.  Instead, I would dust my hands with flour occasionally.  As the kneading progressed, the stickiness reduced to a light tackiness (and I mean that in a good way).  The dough left very little of itself on the countertop even though it was quite capable of latching on if left to sit for more than a few seconds.  It was able to produce a window pane at the end of the kneading, something that I don't usually check for, especially in a dough freckled with flakes of bran.  In spite of the addition of some WW flour (and rye, if you have it), this is essentially a white bread.  And I suspect that the dough felt so responsive to me because my previous bake was a 100% rye.  Two different worlds!


By this time, it was already close to 9:00 in the evening, so I had to consider my next step.  Should I stay up late through two fermentation cycles and baking, or should I retard it in the refrigerator?  Since I was dealing with a sourdough, I opted to leave it on the counter for about an hour more before placing it in the refrigerator.  My experience with sourdoughs is that they are rather slow to develop and I did not want to sacrifice that much sleep.  Imagine my surprise at about 7:00 this morning when I opened the refrigerator door to find the dough well above the rim of the bowl, straining against the plastic wrap!  It had at least tripled, perhaps quadrupled, in roughly 9 hours in the refrigerator.  I've never seen a sourdough bread do that before.  It must be that this starter, even though only a couple of months old, has a potent strain of yeast!


So, I divided the dough into four pieces and shaped each piece into a boule.  I only have two bannetons that size, and only two loaves would fit on my stone at one time, so I opted for using two half-sheet pans with two loaves on parchment on each.  While I can fit those into my oven, it does not leave any room for a steam pan.  When the loaves had doubled (visually) and the poke test indicated that they were fully risen, I scored them and brushed their surfaces with water before putting them in the preheated oven.  Leader recommends baking at 450ºF for 15 minutes, then dropping the temperature to 400ºF for an additional 20-25 minutes.  I opted to use the convection setting, with temperatures that were 40º-50º lower, supposing that I would get a more even bake.  I also planned to rotate and switch the pans at the 15-minute mark.  When I opened the oven, I found that the lower loaves were pressing against the rack above them.  Instead of the planned switch-and-rotate maneuver, I took all four loaves off the pans and placed them on the top rack, with the paler pair at the rear, to finish the lower-temperature last segment of the bake.


Here's how they look:


pain de campagne


As you can see from the crackling in the crust of the left-hand loaf, they sang as they cooled.  Two of the loaves suffered small blow-outs along their bases, indicating that they weren't as fully proofed as they seemed to be (or that I really did need more steam in the oven).  I'm very happy with how they expanded upward more than they did outward, since I was careful to get a tight gluten cloak while shaping.  I'm less happy with the scoring; it's a skill I need to develop further.  I anticipate some good eating from these.  We'll see how the crumb looks when I've cut into one.  That much kneading could lead to a fairly even and close crumb, even though this is a moist dough.


Stay tuned!


Paul

jombay's picture
jombay

Here are my sourdough croissants from Daniel Leader's Local Breads. It's the nicest croissant dough I have worked with thus far.


Formula;


Ingredients

Weight

Baker's Percentage

Whole Milk

Liquid Levain

Instant Yeast

300 gms

100 gms

15 gms

60.00%

20.00%

3.00%

Unbleached AP flour

500 gms

100.00%

Unsalted Butter (for dough)

60 gms

12.00%

Granulated Sugar

15 gms

3.00%

Salt

Unsalted Butter (for roll in)

10 gms

200 gms

2.00%

40.00%

 

 

kgpowell's picture

Leader's formula errors - Vollkornbrot

June 1, 2010 - 8:58pm -- kgpowell
Forums: 

Does anyone have an erratum for Leader's Vollkornbrot formula?  The one in the book makes no sense.  The sourdough is 312 grams when you make it, but 400 grams on the next page, when you add it to the final dough.  The rye berry soaker is 300 grams when you make it, but 125 grams when you add it to the dough.  Huh?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Between last weekend's experiments with varying hydration levels, locating rye flour, and tuning up my sourdough starter over the past few days, things took a turn for the better with this weekend's bake.  If I had to rank the importance of those three, it would be a difficult choice.  I'd probably nominate the improved starter as the most important but that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't obtained some rye flour.  Of course, having a notion where things were headed because of the hydration experiments gave me confidence in what to expect, so, I suppose I'm back to where I started...


I'll start with the starter.  It was initially propagated with whole wheat flour and orange juice (didn't find pineapple juice at the store until several days later) and has always had an intense acidity.  It's residents may also have been a little too active in pumping out enzymes because it tended to go gooey after a few hours at room temps (it's summer here in South Africa) in spite of being maintained at approximately 50% hydration.  I took a tablespoon or so of the starter, mixed it with another couple tablespoons of mineral water and enough rye flour to make a soft paste.  I repeated this regimen with morning and evening feedings for two days.  Over the next 3-4 days, I introduced bread flour until the mix was mostly bread flour and a couple of pinches of rye flour, always discarding all but a tablespoonful before the feeding.  By the end of the third day, the starter was much bubblier and the odor and flavor were much less acidic.  The starter now has more of a yeasty/fruity odor.  


With a now lively, less-acidulated starter in hand, I decided that Leader's pain de compagne looked like a good candidate for a trial run.  The hydration level is approximately 67%, which is right in the sweet spot of the previous week's hydration tests.  All of the required ingredients were on hand, so I mixed up the liquid levain on Friday evening before going to bed.  The next morning it was evident that the levain had more than tripled overnight and was already subsiding, so I mixed the dough before breakfast.  Here's where I have a slight quibble with the process.  Leader directs you to mix up the final dough, sans salt and levain, let it autolyze for 20 minutes, then mix in the salt, followed by the liquid levain.  Nothing unorthodox there, except that the final dough without the levain is about 50% hydration.  Try mixing a liquid levain into bagel dough!  By hand!  At least I had the good sense to chop the dough into small pieces before starting to mix in the levain (the directions do not suggest this step).  Still, it was a long, slow, laborious process to mix the dough and the levain into a uniform mass.  Toward the end, I was effectively doing stretch and folds with the dough in the bowl, trying to get everything folded in and combined.  Needless to say, I settled for a few rounds of French folds instead of the recommended 12 minutes of kneading on the bench.  I can attest that the dough was well developed by that point.


Bulk fermention, shaping, final fermentation and baking all proceeded pretty much as advertised in the book.  It was extremely gratifying to see strong oven spring with this bread, after having had a few less-than-stellar bakes.


Here's how the finished bread looked:



 


I like the coloration of the crust.  Apparently I'm starting to get better acquainted with the oven, too.


The crumb, shown below, has a mix of smaller and larger alveoli.  Not classic pain de compagne texture but it will work well for sandwiches, which is how most of it will be consumed.



The crust, though thin, was more chewy than crunchy.  After sitting overnight in plastic, it has softened considerably.  The flavor is definitely more French than San Francisco: only slightly tangy and thoroughly wheaty.  The crumb is somewhat moist and feels slightly cool upon the tongue.  Very pleasing to the palate.


All in all, a very pleasing outcome.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Daniel Leader's book, Local Breads, is simultaneously one of the most intriguing and most frustrating bread books.  His breads are rooted in the baking traditions of several European countries, but rendered in ingredients and techniques that are generally accessible to home bakers in the United States.  Many are utterly delicious and lovely to behold.  But ... one has to recognize going in that a number of the formulae are riddled with errors, often in the quantity or proportion of the dough ingredients.


Such is the case with his Classic Auvergne Dark Rye, which begins on page 158 of the book.


My descent from home baker to mad scientist began innocently enough.  When asked "What kind of bread would you like?", my wife responded "How about something with oatmeal?  Or rye?"  Since I was at that moment looking at the Auvergne Dark Rye, it seemed auspicious.  So much for superstition.


The levain is built with 45 grams of stiff levain (50% hydration), 50 grams of water, and 50 grams of fine or medium whole rye flour.  So far, so good.  This was my first week home from a 3-week trip to South Africa and I had refreshed my starter, which I keep at 50% hydration, early in the week.  Having mixed the levain, and put it in a covered container, I retired for the night.


This morning, I mixed the first stage of the dough, which called for all of the levain, plus 350 grams of hot tap water, plus 500 grams of medium to fine whole rye flour.  The rye flour I have on hand is a medium-to-coarse stone-ground flour, so no big change.  (I had mis-read the formula the first time through and thought it called for medium to light rye, which is another thing entirely.)  The resulting dough was a thick paste, nearly, but not quite, as stiff as modeling clay.  In looking at the notes, I read that Leader describes the dough at this stage as a "thick, smooth batter."  


Uh oh.


I did a quick search of TFL, found a few questions about the bread, but no answers.  I searched the Web; same result.  I posted here with questions and received mostly condolences (which were appreciated).


Deciding that I was already past the point of no return, I decided to forge ahead.  So I added water and stirred.  And added more water and stirred.  And added yet more water, until I had a thick, smooth batter.  It only took an additional 325 grams of water.  Keep in mind that my "thick, smooth batter" may have an entirely different consistency than Mr. Leader's "thick, smooth batter".  Chasing a description is not unlike chasing the wind - even if you do catch it, how do you know for sure?


For those of you keeping tally, the dough currently stands at 45 grams of levain, 50+500 grams of flour, and 350+325 grams of water.  That's really, really high hydration!  And it isn't soupy, which is another adjective that Mr. Leader uses to describe the dough!


I let it rest for the prescribed time, then mixed in the salt (20 grams) and bread flour (200 grams).  The dough formed a big ball on the KitchenAid's paddle attachment and allowed itself to be pushed around by the dough hook.  I eventually did a few stretch and folds in the bowl and called it good, then set it aside for its second fermentation.


Mr. Leader recommends that, at the end of the second ferment, the dough be scraped out onto a "lightly floured" counter, where it can be gently shaped into a "loose boule, without overhandling it."  I eye the dough, then flour the countertop heavily.  Not surprisingly, the dough sticks to everything that contacts it; hands, scraper, counter top.  After a few brief tussles, it is in an almost round shape which lasts until I try to move it onto the waiting parchment paper and peel.  Eventually, the less-than-round dough is on the peel, where it is patted into a somewhat misshapen, um, miche.  In the French sense of the word.  I allow it to ferment at the prescribed temperature for the prescribed time.  The surface doesn't appear to have the promised cracks, but then, is it realistic to expect that it could with that much water in it?  Into the preheated 500 dF (!) oven it goes, with steam.  Baking time is estimated at 35-45 minutes, so at 35 minutes the thermometer is inserted and easily reaches 205 dF.  I declare it done.


The surface still isn't fissured, although there may be a network of smaller cracks lurking beneath the flour on the surface.  The color is a deep mahogany.  As it cools, the crust softens and the bread feels slightly spongy.  It will be tomorrow evening, at the earliest, before I cut into this bread.  The thermometer's stem had gummy bits clinging to it when I pulled it out of the loaf, so it will require some time for all that moisture to distribute itself evenly throughout the loaf.  I really don't know what to expect.  It could be so moist as to be almost cake-like.  It could be a gummy mess.  Time will tell.


Here's a picture of the exterior:


Auvergne Dark Rye


I would estimate that the loaf increased 50-75% in height, due to ovenspring, from its unbaked height.  It didn't appear to spread any further while in the oven.  It looks pretty (albeit rough) on the outside.  I'll post again after cutting into it tomorrow.


Paul


Postscript - the crumb:



I have to say that I am very pleasantly surprised by this bread; especially considering the amount of improvising that went into it.  It has a straight-up, hearty rye flavor; no seeds or spices are included.  For me, that's a good thing.  There's no particular sourness as of this first tasting.  The crumb, while close-textured, is not heavy or stiff.  Instead, it is very moist, with a pleasing yielding firmness.  The crust is fairly soft and relatively thin; not so surprising when you consider how much water is in this dough, even given the high baking temperature.  I'm looking forward to some great sandwiches this week.


For anyone who is thinking of giving this a first, or second, try, you may want to note that I took the bread out of the oven at shortly before noon and left it on a cooling rack, covered with a tea towel, until about 9:30 p.m.  Then I wrapped it in plastic film (it's bigger than any of the plastic bags I have on hand) and left it until nearly 7:00 p.m. today before slicing it.  The purists among you may prefer to leave the bread completely unwrapped.  My concern was that the air conditioning might pull moisture out of the bread faster than I wanted.  There was no gumminess, probably thanks to the long cooldown with plenty of time for some of the moisture to evaporate while the rest of the moisture redistributed itself.


The other tip that I would suggest is to do the shaping directly on the parchment paper.  Why wrestle something this sticky into shape, only to have it be distorted during the transfer onto the paper?


Now that I've lived through the experience, I think I could make this again and have it turn out reasonably well.  But probably not in the next few weeks.  Someday.  Maybe.


Paul


 

PMcCool's picture

Question about Leader's Auvergne Dark Rye

July 18, 2009 - 7:00am -- PMcCool

I've started Leader's Auvergne Dark Rye and run into some confusion.  Leader describes the first stage of the dough as a "thick, smooth batter".  That's using the starter, 350 grams of water and 500 grams of medium or light rye flour.  Right off the bat, a dough at 70% hydration is not going to be a batter.  In my case, the matter is compounded by the fact that I'm using a stone-ground whole rye flour, which is even more absorptive.  Batter?  No.  Play-Doh?  Yes.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes I did it.  I found rye flour in Seoul, South Korea, in the Bangsan Market between wall paper shops and packaging tucked into the alleyways kept cool in the winding shadows from the burning sun.  I found two different ryes, that with my third, and my unending curiosity can only lead to one thing.... a comparison.  I have already gathered that there might be some flavor differences evidenced by the interesting additives in North American recipes...


So I decided to use Daniel Leader's Soulful German Farmhouse Rye in Local Breads combining all the ingredients except for added yeast (don't want it) and final 70% rye flour.  That way the only difference in flavor will be the flours.  All three doughs will be handled alike. 


The Rye:




  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Dark Rye flour @ 4000 won a kilo




  • German, Demeter Organic Rye type 1150 flour @ 7900 won a kilo




  • Austrian, Haberfellner Rye type 960 which is quickly running out




 


I mixed up the recipe and divided the liquid into thirds, added 117g rye flour to each bowl moistening the flour and covering for one hour.  I had already started noticing differences...


Bob's is a slightly coarser flour, has more speckles, is darker (but not by much) and not as sticky as the other two


German 1150 has two mosts: lighter color, and stickiness


Austrian 950 has dough color between the two but in the picture they look all look alike.


All mixed well, all sticky (typical rye) so I use a wet silicone spatula to fold the doughs twice.   After 3 hours the loaves were gently shaped with wet hands patted with oatmeal flakes and set over cutout bread letters to mark the bottoms.  (4 o'clock is Bob's, 12 o'clock is German)  They were rising nicely (not a whole lot) when they went into the oven.  (tip, it is very hard to judge rising in a flat round bowl shape)




As you can see, I'm having a little trouble lining everything up here...(someone please send me a note on how to do this!)    The picture below of the top shows Bob's Red Mill at 10 o'clock, Austrian 950 at 2  o'clock, German 1150 at 6 o'clock.


  


The doughs seem to rise in relationship to fineness of the flour.  Bob's is the heavier and coarser so it rose slightly lower than than the other two.  1150 and 950 were pretty close in height but the 950 rose just a tad more.  The darker color of Bob's is even darker after baking.  Now to squeeze in another picture, the crumbs.  Austrian is on left, German right, Bob's is the darker of the three, first on the bottom then on the top.




All have a moist heavy crumb (We like it that way) but the differences are slight but mostly in color and texture of crumb in the mouth. 


1150 feels smoother in chewing, 950 is more stick to your teeth smooth, Bob's tend to be more stick in between the teeth which gives it a longer taste in your mouth. 


After two days the sour is growing but I still can't tell one from the other as far as taste goes.  The Austrians at the office yesterday could also not tell any flavour differences.  They just wanted more.  So I've been baking and playing.  I keep in mind that Bob's won't rise as high as the 950 (or peaks sooner having more whole grain).  I made a loaf yesterday with Bob's and gave it a longer steam in the oven, 10 min instead of the 6 minutes in the above bread.  It came out lovely rose higher and being consumed as I write.   It also went into a banneton, tall and narrow.  I also use more spices than the recipe but far from overpowering the rye.


So.  I Guess I blew the top off that urban legend if there ever was one.  They all taste pretty much the same.  Thanks for waiting patiently for the results.


Mini Oven


 

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