The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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xaipete's picture
xaipete

I completed a batch of Leader's Sourdough Croissants from Local Breads today. I used the metric weights and had no problem with the recipe; everything seemed to be correct as written. I baked one tray at the recommended 350º for 18 minutes but thought they weren't browning enough, so upped the temperature to 375º for the remainder.


They baked up fine--light, flakey and layered--, but have almost no flavor, being neither sour, nor sweet, nor buttery, nor anything else. I knew something was wrong when I couldn't smell anything when they were baking. What a disappointment! It's almost like the levain canceled out the flavor of the dough. I've tried at least 6 different croissant recipes over my lifetime and all have come out well except this one. I think they are destined for the trash.


If anyone has had experience with this recipe or has an idea as to their lack of flavor, please let me know.


Leader's Sourdough Croissants


 


Leader's Sourdough Croissants


--Pamela

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

While it would be self-deception in the first degree to think that I have a lock on wheaten breads, I've been wanting to expand my repertoire to include breads with a high percentage of rye flour.  I enjoy the flavor and have been very impressed by the breads produced by other TFL posters.  So, I thought I'd try my hand with the Soulful German Farmhouse Rye from Daniel Leader's Local Breads.  This bread has been profiled in other posts on TFL, so feel free to search out those entries, too.


I maintain a single sourdough starter that is usually fed AP or bread flour.  Every now and then it gets goosed with a bit of whole rye or whole wheat, based on the needs of a particular recipe.  For this bread, I did two refreshments entirely with whole rye flour to build the rye sour it calls for.  About the only rye flour carried in supermarkets locally is Hodgson Mills whole rye, so it's not like there's a lot of choice in the matter.  Whole Foods and Wild Oats stores have some other possibilities, but the labeling doesn't always make it clear just what they are selling.


The formula calls for a quarter teaspoon each of coriander, fennel and cumin seeds, toasted and ground.  That turned out to be my first point of departure from the formula.  Recalling some earlier discussions on TFL, I substituted caraway for the cumin.  My first attempt at toasting the seeds in a skillet on the stovetop was, well, overdone.  As I was grinding the seeds, the predominant odor was that of something scorched, not something spicy.  After pitching those, I started over.  This time I dialed back the heat and shook the skillet every few seconds so that nothing had a chance to park on a hot spot and scorch.  I also kept a close eye on the fennel seeds.  They started out with a greenish cast, while the coriander and caraway already had a toasty color.  When the fennel seeds' color shifted from green to golden, I pulled the skillet off the flame and dumped the seeds into the mortar.  A few strokes with the pestle released a toasty/spicy fragrance that was much different and far better than the that of the first attempt.  


Despite Leader's recommendations, I opted for hand mixing and kneading the dough, primarily to understand how it looked and felt as it developed.  Now I know why the phrase "wet cement" figures prominently in writings about making rye breads.  Despite what you read in recipes, a high-percentage rye dough will not be silky; nor will it be elastic or responsive.  I'll probably use the mixer for future forays, but I know now what to look for.  The other departure from the formula was to use wet hands and a wet countertop for kneading.  Leader recommends floured hands, but I think that working wet has to be the better choice.  First, you can't work in too much additional flour.  Second, the same components in rye flour that make it so sticky also make it slippery when wet.  That means your hands don't get nearly as gummed up with dough as they would if you worked with floured surfaces.  Keeping a plastic bowl scraper in one hand while manipulating the dough with the other is also a good tactic.  


The dough came together rather easily.  Yes, it was sticky.  Yes, it was sludgy.  And no, it didn't seem the least bit soulful; at least, not compared to a dough made with wheat flour.  The second point at which I departed from the script was to add only half the amount of yeast.  A significant quantity of the rye flour is in the final dough, so I wanted it to have the opportunity to acidify before the yeast took over.  That stretched the fermentation times out beyond the times noted in the formula but I wasn't in any rush.


Leader recommends "dusting" the bannetons with rye flakes before depositing the boules for their final fermentation.  First, things the size of rye flakes can't be "dusted" onto anything, much less the sidewalls of a banneton.  Second, he recommends slashing the loaves with a tic-tac-toe pattern immediately before loading them in the oven.  Every try slashing a dough that is armored, sorry, "dusted" with rye flakes?  It ain't gonna happen, no matter what your slashing weapon of choice is.  (See picture, below.)  And that for a bread that, he says truthfully, isn't going to rise much in the oven.  I'll grant you that the rye flakes have a certain rustic appeal for the eye, but next time I'd rather use them as a soaker or leave them off entirely.


Here's how the finished breads look:


Soulful German Farmhouse Rye


These are compact breads, maybe 1.5 inches high and 7 or 8 inches across.  The rye flakes and the knife handle give you a sense of their scale.  The crumb, not surprisingly, is dense and rather tight.  The soulful part, which isn't appreciable here, is in the flavor.  The rye is front and center in this bread.  The spices, while discernible, are very much in a supporting role.  It's quite a bit different than Levy's NY jewish rye, which has 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.  The crust is chewy, as is the crumb.  Then again, it's been in a plastic bag overnight.  Left out in the air, it would probably be rather hard-shelled.  It doesn't feel quite as moist as I had anticipated (probably a factor of the whole rye's absorbency) but it isn't crumbly, either.  I think it is probably a very good thing that I used water, rather than flour, to manage the stickiness while kneading the dough.  There's no noticeable gumminess in the crumb, so it appears that I waited long enough before cutting into it. 


All in all, an enjoyable bread and one that should go very well with the ham I purchased this weekend.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Time to catch up a bit from the Christmas whirl.  Last weekend, I baked Leader's pain au levain again, from his Local Breads.  I keep coming back to this bread, because of it's lovely flavor.  It is only mildly sour and the rye and whole wheat components add to the depth of flavor.  Since temperatures in my kitchen were hovering in the 63-65F range, it also benefitted from a long, slow fermentation.  Here is a picture of the finished loaves:


Leader's pain au levain


The slashing suffered from a lack of mental mise en place.  I'l have to pay better attention to that in future.


Here's a shot of the crumb:


Crumb of pain au levain


The crumb is great for sandwiches and for holding spreads, but a bit fine-grained for this style of bread.  I'm still working to get all of the factors done right in a single loaf.  This one has great flavor.  I thought it had ample hydration, but it could probably have been pushed a bit higher.  And my handling during shaping was a bit ham-fisted.  One of these days . . .


The second bread on the agenda last weekend was Reinhart's New York Deli Rye, from BBA.  No complaints about the bread itself; it is a moist, flavorful (I substituted dill seed for caraway seed), sturdy bread and makes wonderful sandwiches.  The only quibble, which is purely cosmetic, is the blotchiness on the crust caused by the oiled plastic wrap that I draped over the pans to keep the dough from drying during it's final proof, as seen here:


Reinhart's NY deli rye


And, since I was on a sourdough kick and had company coming, I also made the sourdough English muffins from the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  I never got around to snapping a picture of those.  They turned out very well.  I think I finally got the right combination of hydrations, time to rise, and griddle temperature.  They ballooned up to more than an inch in thickness, without trying to turn into spheres.  There are plenty of nooks and crannies for trapping melting butter or juicy jams.  They are so moist that they require a second pass through the toaster to brown up enough.


Sometimes it is hard to decide which is better: the enjoyment of making bread, or the enjoyment of eating it.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

My wife recently picked up a copy of Leader's Local Breads, and I am part way through reading it.  I needed to bake this weekend, so thought that I would try a formula from the book.  Based on what I had available, I opted for the Pain au Levain, using my existing sourdough starter to prepare the levain for the formula.  I also chose to add sunflower seeds to the bread, following one of Mr. Leader's options.

It was enjoyable to work with a mostly-white bread dough again.  Much of my recent baking has been predominantly whole-grain breads (not counting RLB's focaccia that factored out at 113% hydration!), which tend to have somewhat heavier and stickier doughs.  This formula calls for small quantities of both whole wheat and rye flours, but they are fairly low percentages of the total flour content.

Here's the finished bread:

Pain au Levain batards 

And a shot of the crumb:

Pain au Levain crumb 

As you can see, there was plenty of oven-spring.  The dough was a little bit short of being completely proofed.  I may have been able to let it proof a little longer than I did, but I'm happy with the outcome.  The flavor is surprisingly (to me) mild; the wheat flavor comes through cleanly, along with the nutty sweetness of the sunflower seeds.  The last couple of sourdoughs that I have made had a high whole wheat content and a pronounced sourdough tang.  Other conditions were essentially the same, so it appears that the flour has an influence on the degree of sourness.

This is a very enjoyable bread.  I hope that others in the book are equally good.

Paul 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Polish Cottage Rye

Polish Cottage Rye

Polish Cottage Rye - Crumb

Polish Cottage Rye - Crumb

Multigrain Sourdough

Multigrain Sourdough

Multigrain Sourdough - Crumb

Multigrain Sourdough - Crumb

 

Both of these are breads I've baked several times before and enjoy a lot. This weekend, I ran out of King Arthur bread flour and substituted Golden Buffalo flour in both breads. We had some of the Multigrain Sourdough for breakfast. As I came out for breakfast, my wife, who was just finishing hers, greeted me with, "That's amazing bread." 

David

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