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Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 1

You know what they say... Life is a journey. But have you ever been pulled down a path that you otherwise would have walked on by? That's what happened to me when I started playing with sourdough. I didn't even like sourdough, or so I thought until about seven and a half years ago. I was watching the food network one day, and Daniel Leader appeared as a guest on Cooking Live. He was demonstrating how to make a sourdough starter from nothing but flour and water. How fascinating! I had no idea you could do that. Bread science was nowhere in the curriculum when I went to university almost 30 years ago, let alone sourdough. But for someone with a microbiology degree and a passion for baking, sourdough is the perfect marriage of two loves. I had to try it for myself. And so began the journey. The path so far has taken some surprising twists and turns, and led to meeting many interesting people along the way. Including Peter Reinhart, who has been nothing but gracious and supportive throughout, and who is ultimately responsible for getting me to sit down and record this story in my own words. Now, back to the beginning...

In early 2002, I was a member of the King Arthur Baking Circle, a message board for baking enthusiasts. With this brand new interest in sourdough, I found myself reading all of the threads under that category. In March another member, Pat Doucette began posting of the difficulties she was having in getting a starter going. She had tried a few different recipes with no success. Now she was following the formula in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and... still no luck. Newly armed with all of the advice that she was getting from others on the forum, she started over. And once again, she got results that were nothing like the book describes. But a pattern was becoming clear. On the second day, her seed cultures would fill with bubbles and expand to over three times the starting volume when minimal growth was expected. And then do nothing on the third and fourth days when they were supposed to be expanding more and more. They came on strong and then died at the same point each time. A pattern holds a clue, so I offered to do the procedure myself and see if I could reproduce what she was seeing. I followed the directions to the letter and, lo and behold, my results duplicated Pat's perfectly. I may be the only person on the planet who would be excited about this, but it gave me something to study and troubleshoot. There was something unexpected going on at the microbial level. Living things are funny that way, and microorganisms don't always follow directions.

One by one, other people on the message board began to speak up and post that they had experienced the same thing. In fact, it seemed that many more saw that scenario than the one described in the book. This phenomenon had nothing to do with local strains of lactobacilli and yeast as some had surmised, because Pat was making starter in Massachusetts and I was in Missouri. Others chiming in represented various regions of the country from coast to coast. This pattern is apparently quite common. We ran the gamut of theories on why yeast were coming on like gangbusters, only to quit and become non-responsive. We tested each theory by trying different flours at various points, increasing the feeding frequency, changing the hydration and water source, cooling it down, and anything else that anyone thought might help. But in the end, nothing fixed the problem, and the results weren't making much sense to me.

At that point, I had to do what microbiologists do when things don't add up---go back to the microscope and take a look. That meant packing up my starters, taking them to work, and having to answer all the curious questions about what I was doing and why. But the microscope answered a few of my questions, and that day proved to be the turning point. No wonder things didn't make any sense! We were operating on the assumption that we were growing yeast. What I found was that there were no yeast or lactobacilli to be seen anywhere in all the activity of day two. Not a single one. But it was like a three-ring circus in there---different kinds of bacteria, some round, some rod-shaped, some motile, some not. Some were spinning, some were twirling, some flipping or zigzagging, and some were just darting back and forth across the field. What were these bacteria, and which one was responsible for all the gas?

I knew, from having made so many starters by now, that this pattern does turn into sourdough if given more time. So, I looked at cultures each day in the process, comparing them to my established starter which was yeasty and stable. Everything quiets down in there and yeast emerges a few to several days later. They don't appear to be coming from the air as many people believe, because it happens even in a covered container. But if they are already in the flour as the more reliable sources say, then why couldn't I find any? Obviously, there was more to this than just a symbiotic relationship between lactobacilli and yeast gradually increasing in number, good guys out-competing bad---the usual explanation. It was evident that there are many more bacterial and fungal species present in flour than just sourdough lactobacilli and yeast. But where were the good guys? Why weren't they growing? It was time to close the cookbooks and open the textbooks.

I turned to a large, newly updated food microbiology tome, and was disappointed to find only two brief paragraphs on sourdough, and not much more on yeasted breads. So it became a challenge to find the information, mostly borrowed from chapters on wine, beer, dairy, and other food fermentations that share something in common with sourdough. I was able to narrow down the gas producer to a Leuconostoc species. The tip-off was reading that almost 90% of spoiled doughs are caused by Leuconostoc mesenteroides or Leuconostoc dextranicum. When I started searching for more on the genus, I found Leuconostoc mesenteroides is considered the primary agent in the fermentation of an Indian steamed bread called idli. (Spoilage is a subjective thing from culture to culture.) After soaking grains for a day and then grinding them with water into a paste, there is a 15-24 hour fermentation during which the idli batter increases in volume by about one and one half to three times---the same as our wild day two growth.

Leuconostocs are also occasional spoilage bacteria in wine making, "but they undergo little or no growth during the alcoholic fermentation and tend to die off because of competition from yeasts. Nevertheless, these bacteria are capable of abundant growth in the juice and, if yeast growth is delayed, they could grow and spoil the juice or cause stuck alcoholic fermentation."[1] Many microorganisms produce characteristic aroma compounds, and so smell is also an important clue. I had previously described an unamended, all-white seed culture as smelling like sour milk with a hint of rotten cheese. Then I learned that some leuconostocs are added to dairy fermentations (such as cultured buttermilk, and cheeses like Gouda, Edam, blue cheese and havarti) for their carbon dioxide and aroma compounds. Together, these pieces all fit what we were seeing, and according to the chapter on fermented vegetables, leuconostocs are quite common in nature and found routinely on all kinds of produce and plant material. So, we can expect them to be present on grains and in flour.

Knowing how bland a flour-water mixture starts out, and seeing how the microscopic picture becomes more subdued as the sourness increases, it was apparent that the shift in populations and activity are tied to changes in acidity. pH is a fundamental factor in microbial growth. Some like it neutral while others need more acidity or alkalinity, but each species has its own pH range. The reason that the starters had become quiet on day three was because the pH had fallen and the gas-producing bacteria were no longer growing. Even though I still wasn't sure what these bacteria were, it was clear that whenever the gas-producing one or ones grew, the starter would subsequently become still and take longer to finish---sometimes by several days. I reasoned that the best solution might simply be to keep them from growing. And since they stop growing as the pH drops, why not add an acidic ingredient to the mixture to lower the pH and inhibit them from the outset?

It was May now and Evan Shack had entered the picture. Unaware that this was already a hot topic, he began posting to the message board seeking help after having just tried to make starter and getting the same result that we had. Evan was interested in learning the science behind it, and he and Pat were both eager to get to the bottom of the problem, so they volunteered to do some testing. Soon after we joined forces, Gary Wray contacted me and we invited him to join our little task team. With so many different recipes to choose from, it was clear that there are several approaches to making starter. But we needed to pick a direction to focus our problem-solving efforts. And because so many people on the message board were loyal fans of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, the group decided the goal would be to use that formula, altering it as little as possible, and make it proceed as described in the book. The fix should be simple, with ingredients readily available at home or in the average grocery store. Our choices for the acids were ascorbic (vitamin C), citric (sour salt), tartaric (cream of tartar), acetic (vinegar), lactic (yogurt), and mixed acids (fruit juices).

For our first trial we chose ascorbic acid, because it is readily available in the vitamin supplement section, known to be beneficial, and widely accepted in bread-making. Pat and I used vitamin C tablets that we had on hand. We crushed them and mixed the powder with the flour and water on day one. And much to our amazement... it worked! No gassy bacteria, and we were both growing yeast on or before day four, where it had been taking about seven days. But I discovered a little problem with supplement pills, which is that some are buffered without being labeled as such. I was not getting the pH to drop in mine even though I kept adding more and more vitamin C. When I took a closer look at the bottle, I found two ingredients listed which together, formed a buffer system that was keeping me from reaching the pH I was aiming for. Pat's vitamin C was not buffered and her starter took off in only three days.

Buffer problems aside, neither one of us enjoyed the task of crushing pills. And whirring them in a blender with the water only worked so-so. We also had no idea what the best dose would be. Gary and I both had ascorbic acid powder, so we did another experiment testing different doses ranging from 1/8 to over 1 teaspoon mixed with the 4.25 ounces of flour on day one. It was a fun experiment to do. With the jars lined up next to one another, they looked like perfect stair steps as the starters began to rise. It was easy to see which doses were most effective by how fast and how high the cultures rose. For me, the most active jars were the ones with 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder. For Gary, the best results came from 1/2 and 3/4 teaspoon, and so we settled on 1/2 teaspoon as the recommended dose. While the ascorbic acid worked quite well, and may be the ingredient of choice for purists or professionals, the average person must go a little out of their way to find or mail-order it. So we decided to press on.

All of the acids that we tried, inhibited the gassy bacteria effectively, but sour salt (sometimes found with canning supplies) was so strong that it was hard to measure the tiny amounts accurately. Cream of tartar (found in the spice section) was too weak, and required an impractical amount to effectively lower the pH. We dismissed lactic acid because we didn't want to deal with dairy or go to the trouble of draining yogurt for the whey. And vinegar was so highly inhibitory to yeast in the doses required to lower the pH, that it was no solution at all. That left fruit juices. I tested the pH of various juices and made a list for the group to try---apple cider, orange, lemon, grapefruit and pineapple juices seemed like the most suitable candidates based on wide availability. But whenever trying a new juice or acid, I had the group run a negative control alongside---a duplicate to the test in every way, except using plain water. This would show whether changes in the result were due to the ingredients under evaluation, or to chance or variation in experimental conditions. Time after time though, the control jars followed the familiar pattern, while the test jars proceeded by the book.

While the trials were under way I went back to basics, monitoring the changes in acidity and examining seed cultures under the microscope every day. I recorded pH readings, growth measurements and observations at the beginning and end of each 24-hour feeding cycle. After a number of runs, I gathered my notes to compare and look for patterns. (My pH paper was only sensitive to the nearest 0.5 increment, so readings are approximate.) I found that when I acidified the day one mix to 4.5, it stayed at 4.5 until I fed it again on day two. If I didn't add more acid at that time, the freshly fed starter would read 5 and the gassy bacteria grew on day two and followed the oh-so-familiar pattern. If I acidified the day one mix to 4, it stayed at 4 until I fed it on day two, after which it read 4.5. The gassy bacteria did not grow and the culture started producing its own acid as other lactic acid bacteria were increasing in activity. During the second 24 hours, the pH dropped to 3.5 and the starter tasted really sour. Yeast usually appeared the day after. When I acidified the day one mix to 3.5, I actually got some yeast growth on day two. I'm not sure that this is the best way to go, though. I've only done it once with citric acid and yeast were not as vigorous the next day as I had hoped to see them. More testing could be done. But the key points here are that the gassy bacteria grew at or above pH 5, not at or below 4.5, and the cultures I was growing all failed to produce acid of their own in the first 24 hours. That is important because a day one flour-water paste measures about 6---quite inviting to leuconostocs. And even more importantly, in all my trials I have never seen yeast before a starter gets sour, but it usually follows very soon after.

I was hoping orange juice would perform well, since it is a good source of Vitamin C and a staple in many homes. But, it turned out not to be acidic enough to meet the group's objective, which was to use it only on the first day. However, Orange juice and apple cider do work well if they are used in place of the water for two or three days. Pat was the first to try pineapple juice, which has a lower pH than most other juices, and just happens to come in handy 6-oz cans (exactly the right measure for day one). She liked it so well that she stopped testing anything else and started recommending it to others. Almost everyone who tried it was thrilled with the results, and so pineapple juice became the solution that stuck. While the group's mission was accomplished, the story doesn't end here. But the rest will have to wait until next time, so please stay tuned...

References
1.
Doyle, Michael P., Larry R. Beuchat, and Thomas J. Montville. 2001. Food Microbiology Fundamentals and Frontiers, 2nd ed. American Society for Microbiology Press, Wahington, DC.

-------------------------------
This article was first published in Bread Lines, a publication of The Bread Bakers Guild of America.
Vol. 16, Issue 1, March 2008

The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 2 | The Fresh Loaf

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Ficelles made with Anis Bouabsa's baguette formula

 

 

  • Flour500 gms Giusto's Baker's Choice
  • Water375 gms
  • Yeast1/4 tsp Instant
  • Salt10 gms
  1. Mix flour and water and autolyse for 20 minutes.
  2. Add yeast and mix by folding dough in the bowl.
  3. Add salt and mix by folding dough in the bowl.
  4. Mix dough by folding and stretching in the bowl for 20 strokes. Repeat this 3 more times at 20 minute intervals.
  5. Refrigerate dough, covered tightly, for 21 hours.
  6. Divide into 4 equal parts and preshape gently for baguettes.
  7. Allow preshaped pieces to rest, covered with plastic, for 1 hour.
  8. Shape into ficelles (short, thin baguettes).
  9. Proof en couche or on parchment paper dusted with semolina for 45 minutes.
  10. Pre-heat oven to 500F with baking stone in middle rack and a cast iron skillet and a metal loaf pan on the lowest rack. Preheat 45 minutes or longer before baking.
  11. 3-5 minutes before baking, place a handful of ice cubes in the loaf pan. Shut the oven door. Bring water to a boil.
  12. Transfer the ficelles to a peel and load them onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of boiling water into the skillet. Close the oven door.
  13. Turn the oven down to 480F.
  14. After 10 minutes, remove the loaf pan and the skillet from the oven.
  15. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until the loaves are nicely colored, the crust is hard all around and the bottom gives a hollow sound when tapped. Internal temperature should be at least 205F.
  16. Cool on a rack completely before slicing.
Anis Bouabsa is a young Parisian boulanger who won the prize for the best baguettes in Paris in 2008. He gave Janedo, a French home baker extraordinaire and a member of TFL, his formula, and Jane shared it with us. He uses a technique of a long, cold fermentation which has been used, with variations, by a number of contemporary French bakers.In addition to producing wonderfully flavored bread, it also permits the home baker to make bread using two blocks of about 2-3 hours rather than requiring longer time blocks. For example, I mixed the dough yesterday evening after dinner. I took it out of the refrigerator at about 4:30 pm this afternoon, and we ate it with dinner at 7:30 pm.These ficelles sang loudly coming out of the oven. I cooled them for only 20-30 minutes. The crust was very crunchy, and the crumb had a sweetness that would make one think there was sugar in the dough. Very yummy.Variations on Bouabsa's formula, adding 100 gms of sourdough starter and substituting 10% rye or whole wheat flour for an equal amount of white flour, make a delicious pain de campagne, which has become a favorite bread of several of us.This is described in my blog entries under "Pain de Campagne" and "San Joaquin Sourdough."Enjoy!David

 

Flax Seed Wheat Bread

flax seed wheat bread

I finally got my copy of Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf, a book that the Brits on this site have been recommending to me for a while. Occasionally imported copies will show up on Amazon for a reasonable price, but I found it cheaper to order a copy from a bookseller in Ipswich via Abebooks. It is a splendid book, with great photos, easy to follow instructions, and excellent recipes; well worth the cost of admission for a baking fanatic. His website is also worth checking out.

Of the recipes I've baked so far, the Linseed and Wheat Bread has been my favorite. The first loaf I baked we ate in under an hour. I was forced to bake it again the next day. The horror.

The recipe I'm posting below is based on his Linseed and Wheat Bread. I modified it some to match the ingredients I had on hand and my personal taste.

Flax Seed Wheat Bread
makes 1 one pound loaf

200g bread flour
50g whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
100g flax seeds
2 teaspoons malt powder
150 grams water
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the flours, salt, seeds, malt, and yeast in a bowl. Stir in the water and mix until thoroughly combined. This dough is not a terribly moist one: it should be slightly tacky but not sticky. When shaped into a ball it should easily hold its shape.

The seed and bran from the whole wheat prevent a high level of gluten development in this dough, so extensive kneading is not necessary.

Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined, place the ball of dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for an hour to an hour and a half.

Shape the dough into 1 large or two small loaves, cover the loaves with plastic, and give them another hour to rise. In the meantime, preheat the oven and baking stone to 425 degrees.

Brush the top of the loaves with water, score the loaves, and place them in the oven. Bake them at 425 for 20 minutes, rotate them 180 degrees, then bake them another 20 to 25 minutes. When done, they will be nicely browned on the outside, make a hollow sound when tapped upon, and register approximately 205 degrees in the center when measured with an instant read thermometer.

flax seed wheat bread

These loaves remind me of yams.

flax seed wheat bread

Related Recipe: Five Seed French Bread

Struan Bread

In the 15 years since I first tried Brother Juniper's Struan Bread, I've tasted a lot of great bread, but I still don't think I've tried anything that makes as great toast as Struan Bread does. Nor have I tried any bread is so universally enjoyed: everyone who tries it agrees that this bread makes killer toast.

It isn't bad for sandwiches either.

I have to admit though that this bread occasionally gives me nightmares. Click "Read More" to learn why.


The Nightmares

When I was in high school I worked in the Brother Juniper's bakery and cafe. For the most part I worked on the slicing machine, but I also helped scale and shape the loaves. Oh yes, and top the loaves with poppy seeds.

The poppy seeds. The poppy seeds are what give me nightmares.

I have no idea how many pounds of poppy seeds we went through a day, but I know we made as many as 500 loaves of Struan Bread, each one covered with hundreds of poppy seeds. Those seeds would get everywhere: in your hair, under your fingernails, in your clothes, everywhere you can imagine. Even a few places you can't imagine: I recall a number of times pulling poppy seeds out of strange places (like my book bag for school or a clean pair of pants) and wondering "How in the world did poppy seeds get in there?!?

I still avoid poppy seeds most of the time, though I'll admit they are wonderful on top of this loaf.

About Struan Bread

Struan Bread (properly pronounced "STRU-en bread", but most people I know call it "STRON bread") is a harvest bread. I believe the story is that Peter Reinhart read something about a traditional bread that Irish villagers baked into which they threw a little bit of everything they were harvesting. Struan Bread as we know it is an attempt to capture the spirit of that loaf.

Regardless of the origin, this bread is wonderful. One is certainly free to experiment with including different or additional grains. I've done so a bit and the bread has turned out quite good, though I don't think any of them have be as excellent as the combination found in the original recipe (reproduced below).

Oh yeah, I need to add that this recipe is roughly the recipe found in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I believe he includes versions of it in most of his other baking books (Crust & Crumb and Brother Juniper's Bread Book come to mind). If you don't already have one of his bread books on your shelf you owe it to yourself to pick one up.

Struan Bread

Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

Soaker
3 tablespoons polenta
3 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons wheat bran
1/4 cup water

Dough
3 cups unbleached bread flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons cooked brown rice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup water

topping
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Mix together the ingredients for the soaker. Cover and allow to soak for at least half an hour or as long as overnight.

In a larger bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then stir in wet ingredients and soaker. Add more flour or water until the dough can be formed into a ball that is tacky but not sticky. Place the ball of dough on a clean work surface and knead it for 10 to 12 minutes, then return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to ferment until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

struan bread

Remove the dough from the bowl, degas it gently, and split it for two loaves or shape it as is for one. Place the loaves in greased bread pans, spritz or sprinkle water on top, and sprinkle a handful of poppy seeds on top.

struan bread

Cover the pans loosely with plastic and allow the loaves to rise until doubled in size again, approximately 90 minutes.

struan bread

Bake these loaves at 350 for 40 to 60 minutes, until the internal temperature is around 190 degrees. When ready the loaves will be quite brown on top and will make a hollow thud when tapped on the bottom.

struan bread

struan bread

Doesn't that look good? Trust me, it is WONDERFUL! Try it, it is worth the work!

Related Recipes: Maple Oatmeal Bread

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Anis Bouabsa's baguettes

 

Anis-Boabsa-baguettes

Anis-Boabsa-baguettes Crumb

Anis-Boabsa-baguettes Crumb

 

Last month, Janedo visited the bakery of Anis Bouabsa in Paris. This young baker had won the prize for the best baguettes in Paris this year. Jane was able to acutally meet M. Bouabsa, and he generously shared his formula and techiniques with her, which she then generously shared with us at TFL. See her blog topic: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8066/great-baguette-quest-n%C2%B03-anis-bouabsa Eric (ehanner} and Howard (holds99} have successfully made baguettes from the recipe I extracted from Jane's notes. I attempted them once with poor results, but that was while on vacation, in a rented house on the Oregon coast. I was eager to try these baguettes again with my familiar home oven and equipment. I was happy with the results, although not completely. Formula for Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes Flour 500 gms (about 3.85 cups of AP flour) Water 375 gms (about 13.25 oz or about 1-2/3 cups) Yeast 1/4 tsp (for instant yeast) Salt 10 gms (about 2 tsp) Mix ingredients and knead. Ferment for 1 hour, folding every 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 21 hours. Divide right out of refrigerator and pre-shape. Rest for one hour. Shape. Proof for 45 minutes. Score and Bake at 250C (480F) for 20-25 (?) min. Notes: I used King Arthur French Style Flour, filtered tap water, Balene Sea Salt and SAF instant yeast. The dough was initially quite gloppy. I did a few french folds with minimal change in it. I then placed it in a covered glass bowl and folded every 20 minutes for an hour. Even before the first of these, after a 20 minute rest, the dough had come together nicely. It was still a bit sticky, but the gluten was forming surprisingly well. After the 3rd folding, I refrigerated the dough for 22.5 hours, then proceded per the recipe above. The dough actually almost doubled in the refrigerator. It continued to form bubbles after preforming and the formed baguettes rose to about 1.5 times during proofing. I baked with steam at 460F with convection for 10 minutes, then for another 10 minutes at 480F without convection. I let the loaves rest in the turned off and cracked open oven for another 5 minutes. I got nice oven spring and bloom. One of the loaves burst along the side. In hindsight, I probably didn't seal the seam well enough in forming it. The crust was more crunchy than crackly - a bit thicker than standard baguettes. The crumb was fairly open with a cool, tender/chewy mouth feel. The taste was not bad but not as sweet as classic baguettes. I wonder why. I'm going to have some tonight with chicken cacciatore (made yesterday), buttered broad beans and fedelini. Matter of fact, I better go get it all going! David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Pizza Bliss

I like pizza quite a lot, but my wife loves it. She told me last night that Pizza is the one food she can “over-eat.” I could not start to list the foods I will predictably over-eat given the opportunity, but my wife has this super-human self-control. So this confession tells you that pizza is really special to her.

I've made some pretty good pizze and some not so good. Last night I made the best pizza I've ever made by a long shot. In fact, I do believe it was the best pizza crust I've ever eaten.

The crust was based on the “Overnight Pizza Dough with Levain” from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. I say “based” because, while the ingredients and procedures were pretty much as Forkish prescribes, the timing of many steps was different. Some of those differences were planned, and some were …. accommodations. I'm not going to claim that the crust turned out so well because of my baking genius, but I am going to try to capture what I ended up doing so I can do it again … on purpose next time.

  

Total dough

Wt (g)

Baker's %

Levain

 

10*

Caputo 00 flour

980

98

Giusto's fine whole wheat flour

20

2

Water

700

70

Salt

20

2

Total

1720

172

* Percent of total flour that is pre-fermented.

 

Levain

Wt (g)

Baker's %

Mature, active levain

25

10

Caputo 00 flour

100

80

Giusto's fine whole wheat flour

25

20

Water (90 ºF)

100

80

Total

250

190

 

  1. Dissolve the levain in the water.

  2. Add the flours and mix thoroughly.

  3. Ferment at room temperature until expanded by 2 to 2.5 times. (Note: Forkish specifies fermenting for 8 to 10 hours. My levain was ripe in 6 hours. So, I went to step 4.)

  4. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

 

Final dough

Wt (g)

Caputo 00 flour

900

Water (90-95 ºF)

620

Fine sea salt

20

Levain

180

Total

1720

  1. Take the levain out of the fridge 1-2 hours before mixing the final dough.

  2. Mix the water and flour to a shaggy mass and allow it to rest, covered, for 20-60 minutes (autolyse).

  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and add 180 g of the levain divided into 4-6 pieces. Mix using the “pinch and fold” procedure described by Forkish.

  4. Bulk ferment for 5 to 14 hours, or until the dough has expanded 2 to 2.5 times. Do stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals 2-4 times . Then just let the dough ferment undisturbed. (Note: I know this time range (5 to 14 hours) sounds absurd. Forkish's instructions are to ferment overnight for 12 to 14 hours, but my dough had doubled in 5-6 hours and was very bubbly. If I had let it ferment for another 6 to 8 hours, I would have had soup.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a well-floured board. Dust the dough and your hands with flour. Divide the dough into 350 g pieces. (You will get 4 pieces of 350 g and one that is larger.

  6. Shape each piece into a fairly tight ball and place them in ZipLoc-type sandwich bags with a tablespoon of olive oil in each.

  7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and for up to 3 days.

  8. When you are ready to make your pizza/e, 2 1/2 to 4 hours before shaping the pizze, take the number of dough balls you will need out of the fridge. Let them warm up at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The balls should expand by a third to a half.

  9. Put the dough balls back in the fridge for the last half hour to an hour before shaping them into pizze. This is because the dough is a bit more elastic and less fragile when cold.

  10. Take one ball of dough at a time out of the fridge. Shape it. Top it. Bake it. Enjoy!

 

This “in and out of the fridge” stuff may seem unduly complicated. It happened because we changed our minds about going to a concert a couple times before finally deciding to stay home and make pizza. See, if we had decided to go, there wouldn't have been time to make pizza and eat it beforehand. But, in hindsight, this procedure makes a lot of sense. A longer fermentation improves flavor, but retarding the dough in the fridge was needed to prevent over-fermentation. The warm-up in Step 8. just completed the fermentation to an optimal degree. I could have just let the bulk fermentation go a bit longer – say about an hour – and then not needed Step. 8 and 9 at all.

This dough was a delight to shape. It had just the right balance of elasticity and extensibility. When baked at 500 ºF for 10 to 11 minutes, the edges puffed up beautifully. They were crackling crispy. The dough under the toppings was moderately chewy but not at all “tough.” The most remarkable feature was the flavor. It was mildly sour but very wheaty, sweet and complex. It was astonishingly delicious. My wife, who often leaves pizza crust un-eaten, actually left the center part un-eaten and ate the outer crust in preference.

How much of this was the procedures and how much the use of 98% Caputo 00 flour? That's hard to answer. I suppose I need to make this dough again using a good AP flour to find out.

I made two 10 or 12 inch pizze. One was a classic Pizza Margherita made with olive oil, fresh mozzarella, fresh, locally grown San Marzano-variety tomatoes which were par-boiled, skinned, seeded and cut into strips and fresh basel leaves from our garden, added after the pizza was baked.

 

The other pizza was topped with a heavy spread of good olive oil, fresh, finely chopped rosemary and fleur de sel. After baking, the top was rubbed with a cut San Marzano tomato which was then hand-shredded and spread over the pizza. (Note to self: Lose the salt, if you don't want Susan to complain. Substitute thinly sliced garlic.)

 

Well, we do have 3 pizza dough balls left, including a 380 g one. I am going to make a potato pizza that's been on my “to bake list” for a few years, ever since I first read about it in Leader's Local Breads then again in Maggie Glezer's Artisan Breads.

Yum!

Happy baking!

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Tortas de Aceite

Our family traveled to Spain this past Spring, and Sevilla was our favorite city on the trip, we were there during Semana Santa.  We particularly enjoyed the Tortas de Aceite- yeast-leavened olive oil wafters laced with sesame and anise.  This version is a little different than the standard torta in that it is leavened with sourdough and uses star anise instead of anise seed.

 

A view of the courtyard in Sevilla's Alcazar, the Royal Palace.

 

Tortas de Aceite Recipe

 

Levain  Baker's   %  
 Sourdough starter, 60% hyd.6g  Total flour200g 
 KAF AP30g  White flour100% 
 Water, room temp18g  Hydration60% 
     Salt0.7% 
Main Dough   Levain flour10% 
 Unbleached AP, 10% protein180g  Sugar6% 
 Sesame seeds, toasted1Tb + 3/4 tsp  Olive oil27% 
 Sugar1 Tb     
 Salt1/4 tsp     
 Water, room temp108g     
 Levain32g     
 Olive oil54g     
        
Topping      
 Star anise1 piece     
 Granulated sugar2 tsp + 2 Tbs     

 

Night Before:

Mix levain, allow to ferment ovenight at 68-70F.  It should rise but not yet be fully mature.

 

Next Morning:

Weigh flour into mixing bowl and coat a 3-4 cup bulk ferment container with olive oil.

Use spice grinder to grind toasted sesame seeds, salt and main dough sugar until fine.  Stir into flour.

Add 32g levain (the rest is for perpetuating the culture), water and oil to the flour mixture and mix until combined, then knead by hand about 10 minutes.

Transfer to oiled container and cover. 

Ferment until dough has doubled, about 5 hours at 81F.

Using olive oil to grease work surfaces and dough, stretch and fold 3 times in first 3.5 hours, then allow to rise.  Ready when rounded peak reaches a little past 2 2/3 cups.

 

Afternoon:

Divide and pre-shape into 12 rounds.  Place on oiled sheet pan and rest one hour, covered.

In spice grinder, grind star anise with 2 tsp sugar until fine, then scrape into bowl.

Preheat oven to 450F, placing rack in middle of oven.  Prep a half sheet pan with silpat or parchment.

Spread 2 Tbs granulated sugar on a plate.

Flatten dough balls slightly, then sprinkle the top with 1/4 tsp of the anise-sugar mixture.  Spread mixture over dough disc with fingertip.

Shape six discs into pizza-like tortas about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, then turn face down in sugar plate to coat with sugar. 

Place six tortas on one half sheet pan and bake 8 minutes, then rotate and bake 3-5 more minutes, until nicely caramelized.

Repeat with remaining six tortas.

 

Editing to add notes:  

Don't be tempted to add the anise into the main dough- it has potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities and will kill off every discernable trace of sourdough culture (did this with my first go at these).

These re-heat and re-crisp beautifully in the toaster.

 

Dough Rounds:

 

Flattened Discs with Anise-Sugar Mixture:

 

The Shaped Tortas:

 

Plaza Nueva at Sunset:

 

Sevilla's Cathedral:

 

Torta Crumb:

More Tortas:

 

Looking for Tapas:

 

 

Your First Loaf - A Primer for the New Baker

The Fresh Loaf
Pocket Book of Bread Baking

Now available for Kindle

When I tell people I am into bread baking, people often respond by telling me that they wish they could bake bread but it just seems too complicated. I find this discouraging, because baking a basic loaf of bread is about the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. Once you understand what is going on in a simple loaf of bread you should be able to look at 90% of more difficult bread recipes and have a sense of what that loaf will taste and feel like.

Bread, at its core, is just four things:

Flour
Water
Yeast
Salt

That's it. There are even methods to cut out at least two more of those (yeast and salt), but the end product is unlikely to come out tasting like a typical loaf of bread.

Each ingredient and step in the process of making bread serves a distinct purpose. Once you understand what role each ingredient performs and what is occurring in each step of the process you will feel liberated to experiment and create your own recipes.

Understanding the Ingredients

  • Flour. There are a million different types of flour. Among them are those made from different grains, those made from different types of wheat, bleached and unbleached flour, enriched flour, blended flours, whole grain flours, and on and on. Don't let this intimidate you! Realize that your standard grocery store, All-Purpose Enriched Unbleached Flour that comes in a ten pound bag for under two bucks is good enough to produce an excellent loaf of bread. It is probably higher quality than the flour that 90% of bakers throughout history have ever gotten their hands on. Ok, you are unlikely to win the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (The Bread Baker's World Cup) using it, but that isn't what most of us are aiming for.

    Flour forms the basis for your loaf of bread. No flour, no bread.

  • Water. You can probably find some of this around the house, can't you?

    Water activates the yeast and dissolves all of the other ingredients. Adding more water results is a stickier, flatter loaf with less regular holes in it, like a Ciabatta. Too little water restricts the expansion of the dough and results in a tight, dry, hard loaf.

  • Yeast. Once again, basic Instant Yeast (also known as Bread Machine Yeast) from the grocery store that comes in those little packets is good enough for all but the most elite baker.

    Active Dry Yeast, another kind commonly found in grocery stores, needs to be activated by pouring it in warm water prior to mixing it into the dough. So read the back of the packet before adding it to your mixture.

    Yeast is what causes the dough to rise. Adding more yeast will cause the loaf to rise more quickly. Adding too much yeast can cause a beery, off taste in your loaf. A teaspoon or two of yeast per loaf is typically called for.

  • Salt. Table salt works well enough. The kosher salt or sea salt that most grocery stores carry tastes a little better, but it isn't worth picking any up just for baking your first loaf: use whatever you've got in the house.

    Salt retards the yeast and helps control the fermentation process. It also adds flavor that most of us expect in even the simplest of breads.

These are the fundamental ingredients for making a decent loaf of bread. Additional ingredients add flavor or complexity to your bread. These will be discussed in a later article.

Once you understand the way these four principle ingredients function, you can look at any recipe and realize that the basic rules of how bread works don't change.

Understanding The Process

For a basic loaf, all you need to do is put the ingredients together in a large bowl, mix them together with a wooden spoon, and then knead the dough on a hard surface for approximately 10 minutes.

Kneading


before rising

Kneading is more than just stirring: kneading actually releases and aligns a protein in the flour called gluten. Gluten strands are what allow bread to form irregular pockets of carbon dioxide. Without this step your bread will have uniformly small holes, more like a muffin or loaf of banana bread.

As long as you aren't tearing or cutting the dough it is hard to go wrong with kneading. Squish and roll, squish and fold, applying a fair amount of pressure on the dough, is a basic kneading technique.

At some point, typically around seven or eight minutes into the process, the consistency of the dough will change. It'll become silky and smooth. You should feel it change. This is a good sign that you've kneaded enough. I typically give it another 2 or 3 minutes before calling it quits.

At this point, drop the dough into a bowl (it's helpful if the bowl is greased to keep your dough from sticking to the bottom - regular spray oil will usually do the trick) and throw a towel over the bowl, and leave it alone to let it rise.

Rising


after rising

Status check: by the time you are ready to let your loaf rise the yeast should be activated and the gluten should be aligned. The yeast does what any organism does after a long nap: it eats. The yeast feeds on the simple sugars that occur naturally in the flour. The yeast then releases carbon dioxide, which causes the bread to swell and form pockets.

If you have kneaded properly the dough will form long strands of gluten which allow large air pockets to form in your loaf. If not you will end up with numerous smaller holes. No holes in your dough means your yeast failed to activate.

The loaf must rise until it is approximately double in size. This typically takes from 45 minutes to a couple of hours, all depending on how much yeast the recipe called for. Temperature too is a factor: the warmer the room is the quicker the yeast will rise.

Punching Down and Shaping


shaped loaf

Some recipes call for one rise before shaping the loaf. Other recipes call for punching down the loaf to allow two or more rises. Punching down means simply to squish the risen dough down and re-knead it so that it is smaller again.

The purpose of punching down is to free up more food for the yeast. The longer the yeast feeds, the more complex the flavor of the loaf. Too many rises, however, can result in off flavors, such as bitterness and a beery flavor, to occur in your bread. As well as carbon dioxide yeast releases alcohol and acids. Too much acid in your loaf can actually cause the yeast to die off.

You do not shape the loaf until you are ready for the final rise. Either you place the loaf in a loaf pan or you shape it into a baguette, batard, round, or whatever shape you want. Then you give it another hour or so to double in size again.


scored loaf

Scoring the bread is just slicing it. You'll want to use something really sharp so that the dough doesn't fall and collapse again. A razor blade does the trick if you don't have fancy knives. The purpose of this is to release some of the trapped gases in your loaf so that it doesn't tear open while baking. It also makes your loaf look nice.

Baking

In the first five minutes in the oven your loaf will have one last growth spurt. This is called oven spring. Think of it as the yeast feeding itself quicker and quicker as it heats up until the rising temperature finally kills it off.



done

Many bakers use baking stones, which retain heat, to try to maximize the oven spring. This is helpful but not necessary when starting out.

Let's Make a Loaf!

OK, now that you have the basic idea, let's try it out with a really simple basic recipe. I tried this one today while stuck inside during an ice storm. This worked out well, since the freezing rain hit before we had realized that our refrigerator was lacking eggs and milk, along with a variety of other grocery items!

A Generic Recipe

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/8 cup water

Mix everything together. If it is too wet and won't come free from the sides of the bowl or keeps sticking to your hands, add a little more flour. If it is too dry and won't form into a ball, add a bit of water.

Knead it for 10 minutes. Cover and set it aside to rise until it doubles in size, approximately 90 minutes. Punch it down and let it rise again. Shape it, either by putting it in a greased loaf pan or by rolling it out into a long loaf and putting it on the back of a cookie sheet.



Ready to eat!

After it has risen to twice it size again, another hour or so, put the loaf into a preheated oven at 375 degrees. Let it bake for 45 minutes and then pull it out. If you made it into a long skinny loaf, it may cook 5 or 10 minutes quicker, so adjust the time based on what shape you chose. I baked the loaf in these photos for 40 minutes). 350-375°F for 45 minutes is typical for a loaf in a loaf pan.

Eat!

Wrap Up

Well, how was it? It may not be the best loaf of bread you've ever had, but it ain't bad.

There are many additional ingredients and techniques that are used in creating world class breads (some of which I will talk about in future articles), and each step of the process that we discussed (kneading, rising, shaping, scoring, baking) can be further elaborated on, but the approach used in this recipe is at the core of almost every other recipe you will encounter.

Continue to Lesson Two: Adding Something More to Your Loaf.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

San Joaquin Sourdough: another variation produces the best flavor yet.

 

My San Francisco Sourdough starter from sourdo.com is now two weeks old. I made another pair of my San Joaquin Sourdough breads with it yesterday. I modified my formula somewhat. I used a 60% hydration starter fed with AP flour only. I increased the amount of starter by 50%. I used KAF AP flour for the dough. I used no added instant yeast.

 

Ingredients

Weight

Baker's Percentage

Firm starter

150 gms

30.00%

KAF AP flour

450 gms

90.00%

BRM Dark Rye flour

50 gms

10.00%

Water

360 gms

72.00%

Salt

10 gms

2.00%

 

Procedure

  1. Mix the firm starter (1:3:5 – Starter:Water:Flour). Let it ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

  2. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the starter and dissolve it in the water.

  3. Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix thoroughly using the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

  5. Repeat the “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and do one stretch and fold.

  7. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Note the volume of the dough. Cover the bowl tightly. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

  8. Repeat the stretch and fold on the board. Reform the dough into a ball and replace it in the bowl.

  9. Allow the dough to continue fermenting until the volume has increased 50%.

  10. Cold retard the dough for about 20 hours. (The dough had more than doubled and was full of large and small bubbles.)

  11. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately transfer it to a lightly floured board.

  12. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape them into logs or rounds, depending on whether you want to make boules or bâtards. Cover the pieces with plasti-crap and let them rest for 60 minutes. (Give them a shorter rest if the kitchen is very warm. You don't want them to expand very much, if any.)

  13. Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  14. Shape the pieces and place them in bannetons or on a couche. Cover the loaves and proof them until they have expanded by 50-70%. (30-45 minutes)

  15. Pre-steam the oven. Then transfer the loaves to a peel (or equivalent). Score them, and load them onto your baking stone.

  16. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

  17. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus. Turn the loaves 180º, if necessary for even browning.

  18. Continue to bake the loaves for another 15-18 minutes or until their internal temperature is 205ºF.

  19. Turn off the oven, but leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for another 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  20. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  21. Cool the loaves completely before slicing.

 

The loaves were already singing when I took them out of the oven. The crust developed crackles, which can be credited to the use of AP rather than higher gluten flour and the drying in the oven (Step 19., above).

 

The crumb was nice and open.

 

The crust was crisp when first cooled and crunchy/chewy the next morning. The flavor was sweet and wheaty, like a good baguette, with the barest hint of sourness. This was po

ssibly the best tasting San Joaquin Sourdough I've made. I think I'm going to stick with this version. Next time, I may use this dough to make baguettes.

David


Submitted to YeastSpotting


 


 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Sourdough 100% Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Bread - whole grain breads can be soft too

A while ago, I posted about how to make "shreddably soft" sourdough sandwich bread (see here). I got some questions regarding whether the same thing can be achieved with whole grain breads. Well, yes and no. The more whole grain flour there is in the dough, the lower the gluten is, so 100% whole grain breads won't be exactly AS SOFT AS the white flour one. However, with the right formula, and proper handling, 100% whole grain breads like this one CAN be very moist and soft - even shreddably so.This one is made using just sourdough starter, extra delicious when the rich flavor of ww is combined with the slight tang of sourdough.

First of all, there needs to be enough ingredients in the formula to enrich and moist the crumb. This bread is adapted from my all time favorite whole grain bread book "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" , in addition to oil, honey, and sourdough levain, oatmeal is soaked in boiling water the night before to add moisture to the final dough, which contributes to the soft crumb. My adaption to the formula is to chagne the dry yeast to sourdough, and increased hydration a tiny bit.

Secondly, ww doughs have lower gluten level, which means while you still have to knead it really well (to full developement), the windowpane you achieve won't be as strong as the white flour one. This also leads to a denser bread, which means for the same tin, you will need to add more dough to get the same volume. Since ww flour absorb more water, but absorb it slower, so it really helps to autolyse, and autolyse longer (40-60min) than for white doughs. It's easier to overknead a ww dough (in a mixer) too, so be very careful - for that reason, I usually finish kneading by hand.

Thirdly, it's also easy to over fermentate ww doughs. I kept the levain ratio in this dough pretty low, and made sure when it's taken out of fridge for proofing, the temperature is relatively warm(~72F). I found if it takes too long for the dough to finish proofing (once I left it by the window, where it's only 68F, it took 10hours instead of 6 hours to finish proofing), the crumb gets rough, and the taste gets unpleansantly sour.

Finally, the ww flour I used here is King Arthure WW, I have used other ww flour before, but KAF gives me the most consistent result.

 

Sourdough 100% Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Bread (Adapted from "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book")

Note: 15% of the flour is in levain

Note: total hydration is 89%, higher than usual because of the oatmeal soaker

Note: total flour is 375g, fit a 8X4 loaf pan. For my Chinese small-ish pullman pan, I used 330g total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I have not tried it myself, but I would suggest using about 600g of total flour. Obviously for pullman pans, you can bake with or without lid.

- levain

ww starter (100%), 16g

water, 26g

ww bread flour, 48g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- soaker

rolled oats (I used old fashioned), 53g

boiling water, 240g

salt, 8g

2. Mix and cover for 12 hours.

- final dough

ww flour, 319g (I used KAF)

water, 60g

oil, 30g

honey, 38g

all soaker

all levain

3. Mix together everything, autolyse for 40-60min.Knead until the gluten is very developed. This intensive kneading s the key to a soft crumb, and proper volume. The windowpane will be thin, but NOT as strong as one would get form a white flour dough. For more info on intensive kneading, see here.

 

4. Bulk rise at room temp (73F) for 2 hours, the dough would have expanded noticably, but not too much. Fold, and put in fridge overnight.

5. Divid and Rest for one hour.

6. Shape into sandwich loaves, the goal here is to get rid of all air bubles in the dough, and shape them very tightly and uniformly, this way the crumb of final breads would be even and velvety, with no unsightly holes. For different ways to shape (rolling once or twice, i.e. 3 piecing etc) see here.

7. Proof until the dough reaches one inch higher than the tin (for 8X4 inch tin), or 80% full (for pullman pan). About 6 hours at 72F.

8. Bake at 375F for 40-45min. Brush with butter when it's warm.

Nice and soft crumb from both the 8X4inch tin (rolling once) ...

Baked another one in a small pullman tin (rolling twice, 3 piecing, baked without lid)

 

Excellent ww flavor enhanced by sourdough, without any hint of bitterness. Stays soft and moist for days.

 

So, yes, 100% whole wheat breads can be soft, like THIS

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

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