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SallyBR's picture

Bread Blues

August 2, 2009 - 2:26pm -- SallyBR

Well, sometimes I share victories, but today it's not the case. I am feeling quite miserable about bread baking this weekend.


where do I start?


I am a HUGE Hamelman & Dan Lepard's fan. Every single bread I made from their books turned out great. Then I bought Local Breads and fell in love with the book, read it beginning to end, could not wait to try my first recipe.


I picked "Como Bread", for those who have the book, it is on page222 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Baker Beware!


I'm making a blog entry to document my experience with Leader's Corn-Rye Rounds from Local Breads. The recipe was simple enough and the little rounds seemed to turn out as described by the recipe, but they tasted just awful. I was so disappointed that I didn't even take a picture of these little round rock-like things with a very odd and inharmonious taste of corn and rye. I threw them all in the trash.


--Pamela

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.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I haven't baked the Polish Cottage Rye from Daniel Leaders "Local Breads" for a year! In the past, I have used First Clear Flour or another high extraction flour as a substitute for the bread flour called for in Leader's formula. This time, I followed the formula exactly.


The dough was very wet and sticky, even with very good gluten development. I actually enjoyed working with this dough, which must indicate I've reached a new level of comfort with slack doughs. In spite of the slackness, it had enough integrity to take my slashes without any dragging. I think proofing the loaf in a linen-lined banneton resulted in just enough drying of the surface.


The resulting bread was similar in profile to the Polish Cottage Ryes I had made before, but the crumb was much more open and chewy. I attribute this to the flour I used, in large part, but also to the better gluten development.


This is a "sourdough rye." There is no added yeast. It is made with a rye sour. I made my sour from my usual starter by giving it two feedings with whole rye flour. All the rye in the dough is from the rye sour.


 



Polish Cottage Rye -2-1/2 pound boule



As you can see, this bread has a rather low profile. The slack dough spreads once it is dumped from the banneton onto the peel. It has only moderate oven spring. I should have put a ruler on the cutting board to provide a sense of scale, but this bread is just about 11" across. 



Polish Cottage Rye - Crumb close-up


As with most sourdough rye breads, this one benefits from deferring slicing until at least 12 hours after it has baked. I am so proud of myself! This is the first time I actually had the self-control to leave the bread uncut for 12 hours!


The flavor of this bread is marvelous. It is moderately sour with a complex flavor. The rye flavor is very much "there," but it does not dominate. 


I recommend this bread to any rye-lover who wants to explore beyond "Deli Rye" but isn't quite ready for the 70-100% ryes. Because it has a high percentage of bread flour, the dough acts like a "regular" sourdough, not like the sticky dough of a high-percentage rye. I also recommend it to any sourdough lover. There are so many things to be said about adding some rye flour to a "white" sourdough, the topic deserves it's own entry.  For now, I'll just leave it at, "Try it! You'll like it!"


David

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Today's bake was Daniel Leader's Whole Wheat Genzano Country Bread, from his Local Breads book.  This bread combines a biga naturale for flavor with yeast for shorter, more predictable fermentation times.


The formula is straight-forward: the biga, water, equal parts whole wheat and bread flours, salt and yeast.  Final hydration works out to about 77%.  Based on Leader's description of the dough, I was expecting something almost in the ciabatta realm.  It turned out to be less gloppy than a ciabatta dough, perhaps because of the extra absorbency of the whole wheat flour.  Still, it was definitely better handled by the mixer than by hand.  I'm a little leery of his mixing directions, though.  First, he recommends an 10-minute run at speed 8 on a Kitchen Aid, followed by an 8-10 minute run at speed 10.  I didn't run it quite that long, or quite that fast, since I was seeing good gluten development.  Plus, the dough was clearing the sides of the bowl, even though it was very sticky.  The directions indicated that it probably cause the mixer to walk.  Hah!  I had to hold it down, what with the ball of dough slapping and releasing from the sides of the bowl.


After the mixing/kneading stage, the dough is dumped into an oiled container for 1-1.5 hours until it doubles.  It is then treated to a series of stretch and folds in the container (I used a plastic bowl scraper for this exercise), then allowed to double again.  Having finished bulk fermentation, the dough is scraped out onto a floured counter, divided in two, and (very gently) shaped into rough, rectangular loaves that are placed on bran-strewn pieces of parchment paper for their final rise.  The risen loaves go onto stone in a preheated oven, with steam.  The initial temperature is 450 F, which is dropped to 400 F for the second part of the bake.  Oven-spring was good.  The crust color is a deep brown, but not the near-black color promised in the formula.


The finished bread looks like this:


Whole Wheat Genzano Country Bread


The crust is thin and crackly, although I expect it will soften because of the internal moisture.  The flavor is very good; closer to that of a yeasted bread than to a sourdough but with some complexity that isn't usually present in a straight dough.  There doesn't seem to be the bitterness that sometimes shows up in whole wheat breads.  The crumb is moderately open, though nothing like the big holes of a ciabatta.  That's not bad, since this will be used primarily for sandwiches.  The breads are relatively light in weight for their size, another indicator of an open crumb.  I'll have to get a crumb shot, later.


I will definitely make this again, although I may experiment with leaving out the yeast.  That should swing the flavor profile in a whole 'nother direction.  Before getting to that, though, I have my eye on a couple of different rye recipes from Local Breads.


Paul

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My usual sourdough starter is semi-firm. I make it at a 1:3:4 ratio of starter to water to flour. Many of the sourdough bakers on TFL favor a 1:2:2 ratio, but fewer seem to use a true "liquid levain" which is more like 125% hydration. I was curious to try a pain au levain using a liquid starter and found the Pain au Campagne recipe in Leader's "Local Breads."


This recipe calls for a 50% hydration dough to which you add 62% (baker's percentage) liquid levain, ending up with a moderately tacky dough. The levain is added after the flour and water are mixed and allowed a 20 minute autolyse. The autolyse mixture is very, very stiff, and it takes a lot of mixing to get the very liquid levain incorporated into the dough. 


The resulting bread has a very nice flavor, but not significantly different from the pains de campagnes I make with my usual starter.


Of greater interest was the final shape of the loaves. They are formed as boules, and I proofed them in round, linen-lined wicker bannetons. I scored them with 3 parellel cuts, as Leader recommends. The loaves took an oblong form even before I could load them in the oven. This is a graphic illustration of the effect of this pattern of scoring on loaf shape, as described by Suas in "Advanced Bread and Pastry" and referenced in my Scoring Tutorial. (See the TFL Handbook.)


http://tfl.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/scoring




David

manfredtex's picture

Local Breads - Dreikornbrot

October 13, 2008 - 10:41am -- manfredtex

I have baked the Dreikornbrot twice and figured out pretty quickly that the water measurements were just plain wrong.  I think the total water used should be only 300g or about 1 1/3 cup.  With 1/3 cup of water going to the seed soaker and 1 cup of water for the flour.

My real question is if this recipe is really intended to make 2 9 x 5 loaves.  During both tries the final bread in the 2 loaf pans is only about 1/2 of the way up the sides of the pan.  It really tastes great, a nice dense crumb, but the slices are only about 1.5 inches tall.

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 

Noodlelady's picture
Noodlelady

This weekend I made the Fresh Herb Twist from Daniel Leader's Local Breads. It uses 3 fresh herbs — thyme and rosemary (from my garden) and basil. It was delicious with my beef vegetable stew!

Fresh Herb Twist

Fresh Herb Twist

Fresh Herb Twist crumb

Fresh Herb Twist crumb

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