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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Chausiubao's picture
Chausiubao

Beauty and the Beast (A true beast, if not the truest beauty!)

 



I had the good fortune of being placed on the bench this morning, which translates to many, many baguettes. Here for your viewing pleasure were the best (probably) and the worst (probably) of the bake. My beastie caught underneath the loading board as it was being slid into the  oven, so its back end got tucked underneath itself on the loading.


In addition, because it caught underneath itself, it glued itself to the baking stone, and didn't slide in on ball bearings of flour as it should have, so it was a bit warped. Add imperfect shaping and scoring and what we've got is quite the beastie looking baguette.  But despite all my heavy handed-ness, the crumb wasn't too badly torn up inside.


I blame elderly dough! The older a dough is, the harder it is to work with, whether dividing, shaping, or scoring. A more relaxed dough with much acids built up in it will be elastic and have little extensibility, sticky and difficult to handle, sticking to hands and blades alike. On the one hand acids toughen up the dough increasing elasticity and on the other hand the dough is starting to break down (if this hypothesis is true, the dough has probably reached its limit of fermentation products, which work to break down the gluten, maybe)



I do hope I'm finally getting the hang of scoring, particularly with a lame. I'm getting less "breaks" between the openings of the scores, and I was actually able to notice the grigne opening up properly, due to the angle of the blade. All in all, not a bad bench day. Now I just have to master bench-work with a miche, heavy shaping, and a busy store.


--Chausiubao

MmeZeeZee's picture
MmeZeeZee

Managing a Long-Term Starter

There's a great thread on starting starters.  What about managing them?


I bake three to four times a week out of necessity.  I have two children under the age of four and a husband in the military.  I'm not really able to cultivate three or four different starters, so I'll let you in on a secret: I'm actually hacking a starter.  I made one according to Lepard's instructions and it worked like a charm.  Since then, I've been refreshing six days a week or so with whatever flour I'm using at the moment.  I'm guessing it's 50% whole wheat, 40% white, and 10% rye at the moment.


Today, I used a liquid starter when I really should have used a stiff starter.  Honestly, the difference in hydration is so minor for the whole loaf, I thought... really?  We won't eat bread for two days because it's not stiff enough now?


How do you maintain your starters?  Do you maintain multiple starters (and have children and tomato plants and a husband)?  If you don't, how many refreshings do you do before you consider it good to go?  Etc.


 

jvafis's picture
jvafis

meaning of "strong flour"

I just picked up Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf" in which many recipes specify a "strong flour.." In his discussion of flour he doesn't make any reference to this. Does he mean a high protein flour, like a bread flour, or is that just a British way of saying all-purpose wheat flour?

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Vollkornbrot and Schadenfreude

In Portland (the Downeast one) the unbeatable Number One Bakery is, without question, the Standard Baking Co. Their baguettes and pains au levains not only make droves of bakery customers happy but also guests of the wonderful "Street & Company" and the noble "Fore Street Restaurant".


Today they offered Vollkornbrot. Of course I had to get one, out of curiosity, though Vollkornbrot is not my favorite - being force-fed with it as a child - to compare it with my own products. It looked quite nice, and had the right consistency, too. But, as with all the Vollkornbrot I've so far tasted in New England, the taste was bland and lacked any complex flavor. Even without any additional sweetener German dark rye breads (Vollkornbrot, Schwarzbrot and Pumpernickel) should have a hint of sweetness from rye starch turning into sugar due to pre-doughs and long fermentation (mehrstufige Teigfuehrung).


On one hand I was disappointed and a bit sad that my favorite bakery didn't do a better job introducing their customers to this German specialty, but on the other hand I felt a nasty little bit of Schadenfreude. Their crusty, holey baguettes might be way superior to my modest pains a l'anciennes - but my Vollkornbrot could beat theirs anytime!


Dear Dana Street, for this immoral impulse I will shamefully atone - next time we're in Portland we will not only spend our dollars at "Street & Company" (wolfing down as much pain au levain with our fish as we can) but also by buying not only two baguettes AND a large miche, but also a bag of rugelachs.


 


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Today's breads - Vermont Sourdough & San Joaquin Sourdough


The boules are Vermont Sourdough from Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread." I made these using a San Francisco Sourdough starter from Sourdo.com that sat, without being fed, in the way back of my refrigerator for at least 6 months. It had been a firm starter, and while looking kind of gray on the surface, came back to life after 4 feedings at 125% hydration. And by then, was really, really happy to be making bread.


The Vermont Sourdough has a crunchy crust and chewy crumb. The flavor is just about perfect - moderate sourdough tang but not so sour as to mask the complexity of the wheat flavors. 



Vermont Sourdough Crumb


The bâtards are my San Joaquin Sourdough. No crumb shots or tasting notes on these. They are being frozen to take on a family vacation next week.


David

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Breaducation of a rookie

First of all, kudos to everyone who has worked to make this such a wonderful, educational site. I am looking forward to participating in the fun here on Fresh Loaf.


I have been baking from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and the BBA, for several months now, but have had no other experience of bread-making during my 69 years of life. I thought that Artisan Bread stripped things to their esentials until I came across Lahey/Bittman bread on You Tube. Made a pot yesterday, and must say the first time was a charm.  The crumb and crust are obviously excellent looking (though the crumb may well be too thick for some people), but I found the taste a little disappointing, after the long --- 19-hour ---- ferment. It was good, but not nearly so good as some Ancienne baguettes I made recently following BBA religiously. With those loaves, I died and went to heaven.


I have two questions: (1) does maxiumum taste seem to be an issue with this manner of baking? (2) if the fault was mine, does anyone have any suggestions re getting superior taste when using this method?

mido_mijo's picture
mido_mijo

Baking Stones - Glaze in tiles

I bought some tiles at Lowes, and the employee there showed me some unglazed tiles that he would recommend for baking. But since he didn't have any experience or people asking him, I searched online for some info on the tiles.


 


So far I found out an answer to my question.


 


Do I need to seal the Rialto, Botticino, Positano or Murano series tiles carried at Lowe's?
No. During production process there is glaze incorporated in the mixture to help prevent stains.


http://www.delconcausa.com/lowes/faqs.htm


 


So does this mean it's not safe to bake on since there's glaze incorporated into the tile mixture?


 


Thanks in advance.

gauri's picture
gauri

Struggling with whole wheat bread in India!

Hi,


I've been browsing the site for a while now, but after my n-th not very good whole wheat loaf, I'm writing to check if anyone can please give me some pointers on where I'm going wrong! Basically, my bread bakes up quite dense, and it nearly does not rise at all in the oven.


I have tried Peter Reinhart's 100% whole wheat recipe. Some changes I made were


- I use the regular atta that we use for chappatis at home. We get the wheat ground ourselves. But I do not know if the wheat is hard or soft.


- I seem to end up using a lot more flour (nearly 1/2 cup more in today's loaf) since the dough kept sticking to the work surface. I'd knead it and put it on the counter, and it would start sticking. I can keep wetting my hands and kneading it (like I do for chappati dough) but I'm afraid I might get too much liquid into the dough.


- I use buttermilk for the soaker, but its nearly 40 degrees C here (in Ahmedabad) and I can leave the soaker out only for about four hours before it begins to get sour.


- The risen dough always has tiny holes all over the surface. Am I letting it rise too long?


- I have a little oven (of about 34 L capacity) that we keep on the counter top.


If anyone can suggests anything that I doing obviosuly wrong, please do let me know. I'd like to know if I can get a better crumb without adding any other ingredient to the list.


Thanks a lot. Would appreciate any help!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Pain au Levain+Semolina Sourdough from "Bread", and some semolina pasta

Pain au Levain, delicate, well balanced flavor. Not sour at all. DH loved it, I prefer it a bit more sour. Borrowed this shape from SteveB's blog here



Another shape:



Nice open crumb, for a 65% dough, it's surprisingly open:



 


Now the semolina Sourdough, pretty straightforward formula, the dough indeed rose pretty fast just like the instruction says



I didn't mix sesame into the dough, put them on the surface instead. The shape is from "Amy's Bread". I like how the seam opened up during baking, and sesame got seperated on either side.



Open crumb, but holes are mostly distributed on the outside, probably due to the swirl shape



Made semolina pasta to go with the semolina sourdough above



With homemade pesto sauce & a generous piece of salmon, yum!




 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The best baking show ever broadcast

You have to be "of a certain age" to have seen the best baking show ever broadcast. It was a demonstration of making a Banana Cream Pie by Marshall Efron, an episode of The Great American Dream Machine broadcast on PBS in 1971.


I've thought of this landmark broadcast many times over the years and wished I could view it again. Well, I found it this evening, and I want to share it with you all. 



Marshall Efon - Better Living through Chemistry


Enjoy!


David

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