The loaf in the photo above is from a formula of my own that I've been playing around with for weeks now, trying to get a result I could live with. Finally after several previous unsatisfactory bakes, this latest attempt produced something close to the loaf I've been trying for from the beginning. The bread is a Country Style Rye with a mixed grain soaker and a levain, so nothing that hasn't been done before in many ways over many years by other bakers. Last week I made the dough and baked it in the Dutch Oven, and although it tasted fine I wasn't thrilled with the appearance. Photo below of last weeks effort.
The scoring was poor and it spread too much from what I believe was a combination of too long a final rise and too much initial steam generated from baking in the DO. That's my best analysis at any rate. The other problem was the formulation itself, which needed multiple tweaks to bump up the overall flavour, as well as the percentage of levain, which I'd originally had far too low . With the help of a spreadsheet I'd managed to put together a few weeks prior, adjusting the formulation was a quick and easy process compared to doing it the old way. More about the spreadsheet further down.
This latest bake went fairly well compared to the last, getting a good even jump in the oven, with the slashing opening up nicely minus any unsightly splitting or tearing. The colour is a bit darker than I'd prefer but with the high hydration of this loaf I thought it best to bake it as boldly as possible. The crumb is moist, dense, and flavourful, having what I'd call a medium sour tang to it. It's certainly a work in progress but it's getting there somewhat.
Making a bread formulation spreadsheet was something I'd promised myself to take a stab at sometime this year, having seen what a useful calculator they can be for adjusting formulae or quantities quickly and accurately, from using a few that my friend breadsong,http://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/breadsong had sent me late last year to try out. Being a complete newbie to this sort thing, it was a bit of a tough go in the beginning, but fortunately I had lots of expert guidance from breadsong while I plodded my way up the learning curve of making this spreadsheet . I can't thank her enough for all the tips and guidance she shared so generously with me throughout this project. This is just a very simple spreadsheet that calculates a desired final dough weight based on percentages. It's been formatted to look as close to a typical recipe layout as possible so that people who are unfamiliar with using a spreadsheet will hopefully find it easy to use. For anyone wanting something with a lot more functions and input, this one of mine will disappoint, but here's a link to Dolph's sheet that looks like it will do just about anything you could want.
Another one you might try is from joshuacronemeyer's recent post of his nifty Dough Hydration Calculator.
For those who'd like to try out this one of mine, the sheet for the formula as well as the procedure are available through links at the bottom of this post. Please note that the spreadsheet file is only available by downloading it from the links provided. No email requests please. The links will take you to a Google Docs page that shows the spreadsheet with the recipe. You can use the recipe as is from the G Docs page or you can download your own copy of the file in either Excel or Open Office by clicking on 'File' , 'Download as', then select a file format (for most people it will be Excel) and it will download a functioning copy of the spreadsheet . Now it can be used by inputting your own desired dough weight in the yellow shaded cell, or change any of the numbers in the green shaded cells of the percentage column to suit your preference. The format can be saved as a template and used for other formulas as well.
Below are links to the sheet and the procedure