The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

On Friday night I baked the ciabatta from Rose Levy Beranbaums's The Bread Bible (TBB).  On Saturday I decided to try Peter Reinhart's recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice (BBA) for comparison.  I am glad I did.  My results were success-failures.  I failed to properly shape the loaves from TBB, and as a result I ended up with broad, flat, spreading loaves with little or no loft/spring.  As a consequence of that I nearly over-baked them, although by appearance you would not think so.  I should have pushed the hydration more in the BBA loaves, because they ended up a bit "bready".  Here are my results.


First, Friday night from The Bread Bible:


 



 



As you can see, there was little true "spring" in these loaves, but the crust came out thin and crisp as it should, and the crumb is filled with holes both big and small.  I especially like the gelatinization of the starches that is evident here.  This bread is not perfect, but it is good to both the eye and the palate.  We have been slicing it big, then splitting it crosswise, and making very tasty sandwiches from this.


After these results I decided to try a comparison to broaden my experience, so I let Peter Reinhart challenge me.  Saturday night I baked the ciabatta from the BBA.  I have a couple more pictures from that bake than I do of the TBB bake above.



The shot above attests to how wet this dough was, although after the bake I concluded it needs to be wetter still.  Below are the (very) rustic loaves proofed, loaded on my "Super Peel" and ready for loading into the oven.



I baked these on my unglazed quarry tiles, as exactly according to direction as possible, even spraying the oven repeatedly during the early 90 seconds of the bake.



These loaves were not shaped perfectly, but they live up to "rustic" in character.



The folds are quite evident in my loaves, not that I think that is a bad thing.  It adds to the rustic character, and does not detract from the taste at all in my opinion.  The overabundance of flour, however, is another thing entirely, as the next shot shows.



This dough needed to be wetter, and the crumb attests to this.  The directions specify a variable amount of water from 3 to 6 ounces.  I used most of the 6 ounces.  In a sidebar Mr. Reinhart advocates raising the hydration even more, so long as the dough will sustain the stretch and folds needed to develop the gluten.  My loaves indicate this is not only a good idea, but necessary to achieve truly good results.



This closeup of the crumb shows how truly "bready" the crumb turned out.  It very much needed more water/less flour.  In addition, the small white "scrolls" in the crumb disclose my excess in flouring the dough between stretch and folds, and in shaping.  I was a bit too enthusiastic in "generously" flouring the dough between operations.  Controling this, too, will help me improve next time.


These recipes are for the same bread, but as I turned them out they seem to be from different planets.  Despite the lack of loft in the RL version I think I did the bestjob of that bread.  I got a much more true result, albeit altitude challenged!  The BBA recipe bears repeating as well, because with still higher hydration, and more moderation in that "generosity" between operations it will, no doubt, turn out a beautiful loaf.  I much prefer the bBA approach to shaping, and I like the rustic nature of the loaves once they are baked.


Two pairs of slippers: Two different ciabattas.  Too much fun!
Thanks for stopping by.
OldWoodenSpoon


 


Footnote:  For those not aware:  ciabatta is Italian for "slipper" and the shape of this loaf is supposed to evoke the image of a slipper when done correctly.  Hence the name.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

Sometimes you just have to admit it:  you messed up.  My turn!  Again...


This time it was this sad loaf of Pugliese, sitting along side the boule of sourdough that is my redemption for the day's baking.  Here they are together.


Sourdough and Pugliese Together


 


Resuscitation:  I had another go at Rose Levy Berenbaum's "Brinna's Pugliese" Friday night, but this time I tried it with a 20% substitution of semolina flour.  I started the biga on Thursday night and let it ferment in a back room cupboard (about 60F) till Friday afternoon.  Then I put all my things in place (Ha!) and prepared the dough.  Everything was going along just fine until, about 90 minutes into the bulk fermentation I noticed...  nothing.  The dough had not grown at all.  I had it in a warm spot, so I left it for a while, until I realized the truth:  Except for the biga, I had not put in the yeast.  I had gotten distracted with rechecking the flours after the semolina substitution, and never even got the yeast out of the refer.  So much for "everything in place"!  Oh, no, now what?


I opened up the container and sprinkled the yeast (IDY) over the top, and folded it in.  I got out my board and did several folds to incorporate it as well as I could, but this dough was wet, slack, super-sticky and gloppy.  I had to continually wet my fingers to handle it at all without becoming part of it myself.  I managed to get the yeast worked into it, and got the dough back into the bowl where it immediately took off.  I could not believe it, but it nearly doubled in an hour.  I formed it into a boule as well as I could and turned it upside down into a very well floured banneton.  It filled the banneton and topped out in just another hour.


I could not resist compounding my errors.  The recipe says to bake on a sheet with steam added, but I had already baked the sourdough that follows below, and my La Cloche baker was in the oven already hot.  I was determined to make this baby jump after having made such a mess of it.  So I turned it out onto my superpeel ( a mistake), slashed it (another mistake since it was so fragile) and then "dropped" it off the superpeel into the preheated La Cloche (final insulting mistake for this poor loaf).  It collapsed.  It fell, flatter than one of my plain flour pancakes.  As soon as I saw it I realized my error(s), and knew they were all my own.  I put the cover on and baked it.


The good news about baking for a hobby is that, most of the time, you can eat your errors.  That will be the case with this pugliese.  As you can see in the crumb shot here:


Pugliese resuscitation crumb shot


this loaf only turned out poor, not really bad.  It forgave me more than I deserved here I think.  The La Cloche pumped some spring into it so that it has a little bit of loft and a nice tender crust.  The crumb is pretty dense for pugliese, but as you can see, there is a nice gelling of the starches, and it came out okay considering all the insults.  The flavor is quite excellent, and the semolina addition has really had a positive impact on the taste.  I will certainly be revisiting this loaf again with even more semolina in the dough.  In the end this loaf resuscitated me after my near apoplexy at the glaring chain of mistakes.


I'll learn from my mistakes and go on.  After all, in a couple of days nearly all the evidence will be gone anyway!


 


Redemption:  The sourdough loaf was actully baked first.  This is another of "my" sourdough loaves, but this time I was determined to proof more fully than last time.  This formula is one that I've been using to break in and get used to my new willow proofing baskets, and I'm quite happy with the results so far, considering the low 64% hydration.  Here is the loaf:


Straight Sourdough Loaf


As you can see, I'm still not doing a proper job of preparing the banneton before I put the loaf in for proofing.  I'm hoping that as I use them more, things will level off.  Right now there are sticky spots where lots of flour stays, and there are dry spots where very little to no flour at all will stay.  I'm currently layering on AP flour first, then white rice flour lightly on top of that.  The flour that remains on this loaf is dry in places, and pretty oily in others.  The oil is from the initial spraying of Baker's Joy flour/oil spray I used to "season" the banneton initially in accordance with the instructions.  Since then I've just been applying the flours, proofing the dough, then letting the bannetons dry out on the counter.  When dry, I brush them thoroughly and put them away till next time.


The crumb of this loaf is better than my last effort thanks to better proofing, and the loaf did not explode so much in the oven when baked.  It was baked in La Cloche for 15 minutes covered, with the temperature at 500F for the first 10, then down to 460F for the rest of the bake.  The cover came off at 15 mintues, effectively ending the steaming time at that point.  I let this loaf bake a little extra long because I was trying to darken the crust.  I got most of what I wanted, but ended up with an internal temperature of 209F when I finally gave in and declared it done.  It is not the least bit dry though, and the crumb is very tender.  Here is the shot:


Straight Sourdough Crumb Shot


There were really two loaves, and the crumb shot is of the "other" one.  The cut loaf is already gone, and the uncut loaf was gifted to a neighbor.  I'll just have to try again I guess.  Darn. :)


OldWoodenSpoon

RobynNZ's picture

THANK YOU ALL

October 27, 2009 - 7:00pm -- RobynNZ

 


I had the most delicious lunch today, salad all picked from my spring garden accompanied by the first baguettes I've ever made. I wanted to come here and say thank you to everyone, for all the points and tips that helped me gain the confidence to even try. Actually it was watching Steven Sullivan ACME baking with Julia Child in the video Marc linked to the other day, working with his dough, which made me finally decide I could at least give it a go. 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I had occasion to try several new things last weekend: Rose Levy Berenbaum's recipe for "Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread, one of my recently acquired bannetons from SFBI, and the Pampered Chef equivalent of a La Cloche (which has been sitting around unused for years).  This also marked the second time that I have made bread on the new soapstone countertops that were recently installed.

The recipe comes from RLB's "The Bread Bible".  The bread contains 3.3 oz of rye flour, vs. 8.5 oz of bread flour, so it is scarcely any more sticky than a wheat dough would be.  And with 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds, rye isn't the dominant flavor.  The bread begins with a yeasted sponge, which is allowed to ferment 1-4 hours.  It eventually bubbles through a flour layer that is placed on top of the sponge:

Fermented sponge 

Once the sponge has fermented, the flour mixture, oil and salt are stirred in.  The dough is then kneaded and left to ferment under an overturned bowl for a 20-minute rest:

Resting dough

After the dough has rested, it is kneaded again and then allowed to rise until it is doubled.  At that point, it is given a letter fold, then returned to the bowl until it doubles again.  After the second rise, the dough is flattened slightly and then shaped into a ball and allowed to rise until it has doubled.  Ms. Levy recommends that the final rise after shaping occur in a covered bowl.  I opted to use a fabric-lined banneton, dusted with rice flour, covering the exposed surface with plastic wrap to keep it from drying.

Ms. Levy suggests baking either on a baking sheet with steam, or in a cloche.  In both cases, she recommends having a baking stone in the oven as it preheats, then setting either the baking sheet or the (also preheated) cloche on the baking stone.  It seemed like overkill, but I followed the instructions as given, using the cloche.  The risen loaf was tipped out onto parchment paper, slashed, then placed in the cloche and covered.  I'll need to practice the technique a bit.  I was a bit gun-shy about burning myself on either the cloche base or its lid, so I wasn't as gentle with placing the loaf as I should have been.  It deflated slightly but recovered most of the loss with oven spring.

Based on the directions, I pulled the cover from the cloche about 10 minutes before the estimated completion of the baking time, expecting that it would finish browning during those last few minutes.  Instead, I saw that the loaf was already well-browned.  So, I stuck a thermometer in it, which quickly registered 210F.  At that point I declared it done and placed it on the rack to cool.  Here's how it looked:

Cooling rye bread

And a shot of the crumb, taken the next morning:

Crumb of Levy's rye

More of the color comes from the malt syrup in the recipe than from the whole rye flour that I used.  The crumb is firm and moist, the crust thin and chewy.  It makes a mean ham and Swiss sandwich. While I like caraway in a rye bread, the amount in this bread is more than I would use for my tastes.  Next time I make it, I will either cut back on the caraway, or substitute fennel or dill, which will be more to my liking. 

Thank you, RLB.  This is good stuff!

Paul

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