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.
KAF AP flour
BRM Dark Rye flour
Mix the firm starter (1:3:5 – Starter:Water:Flour). Let it ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the starter and dissolve it in the water.
Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix thoroughly using the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
Repeat the “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and do one stretch and fold.
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.
Repeat the stretch and fold on the board. Reform the dough into a ball and replace it in the bowl.
Allow the dough to continue fermenting until the volume has increased 50%.
Cold retard the dough for about 20 hours. (The dough had more than doubled and was full of large and small bubbles.)
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately transfer it to a lightly floured board.
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.)
Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.
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)
Pre-steam the oven. Then transfer the loaves to a peel (or equivalent). Score them, and load them onto your baking stone.
Turn the oven down to 460ºF.
After 12 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus. Turn the loaves 180º, if necessary for even browning.
Continue to bake the loaves for another 15-18 minutes or until their internal temperature is 205ºF.
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.
Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.
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.
“Scoring” is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread before it is baked. Some breads are not scored. For example many loaves baked in pans are not. However, almost all free-formed “hearth breads” are scored.
When is scoring done?
Scoring is generally performed just prior to loading the loaves in the oven. French rye breads (pains de siegle) are sometimes scored right after shaping, before proofing.
Why are breads scored?
Intentionally creating a weak spot on the surface of the loaf prevents the loaf from bursting at weak spots created during shaping.
The type of scoring performed controls the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.”
The pattern of cuts made, the angle at which they are made and the depth of the cuts influences the rate of expansion and the formation of an “ear” - a raised flap of crust at the edge of a cut.
The pattern of cuts can create a pleasing visual pattern on the surface of the loaf. While there are some very traditional patterns, for example for baguettes, the baker can use the scoring pattern to identify the type of bread or to create an unique pattern that identifies the loaf as coming from his or her oven.
The effects of scoring on loaf shape are discussed in more detail below.
What do you use to score bread?
The blade used to score bread is often referred to as a lame (pronounced “lahm.”) This is simply a French word with means “blade.” Breads may be scored with straight or curved razor blades, either held in the hand or mounted on a handle. Scoring may be performed with other sharp, straight blades, even with a straight razor. Some bakers prefer serrated blades.
For some types of scoring, a straight blade is preferred. Straight bladed knives are preferred for cuts made with the blade held perpendicular to the loaf's surface. This sort of cut is generally used for round loaves (“boules”). For other types of scoring, a curved blade works better. Curved lames are generally used for long breads like baguettes which are scored with cuts parallel to the long axis of the loaf.
Video on Choosing a Blade: http://youtu.be/vF7eFluzHXc
How are the cuts made?
The scoring stroke should be firm, rapid, smooth and decisive. For the beginner, it may help to take “practice swings” or to visualize the movements and totally focus one's attention before making the cuts. Understanding the functions of scoring and the effects of the variables described can help, but there is no substitute for experience. In this respect, scoring bread is no different from an athletic skill or any other art or craft. (Tourist: “Please, sir, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice.”)
The cuts should generally be 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. A wet, sticky dough requires a more shallow cut than one would make in a dryer dough.
Scoring a boule (round loaf)
The angle the blade of the knife makes with the surface of the loaf is important in determining how the cut will open up. If you want the cuts to spread equally from the cut and to open quickly, as is traditional with round loaves (boules), the knife should be held vertically – at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf.
Video on Scoring a Boule: http://youtu.be/gnL7mvR9wFg
Besides the “tic-tac-toe” pattern, boules can be scored with diamond patterns, simple crosses or much more elaborate and creative patterns.
Miche scored with a diamond pattern
Scoring a long loaf (bâtard)
If you want the cuts to spread more slowly and create an “ear,” as is generally desired with long loaves (baguettes and bâtards), the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle with the surface of the loaf, at about 20-30 degrees or so. Many find using a curved blade helps make this type of cut. The blade is held with the concave surface facing up (away from the loaf). A flap of dough is created that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”
Video on Scoring a Bâtard: http://youtu.be/UC5HLCWAyMo
The effect of scoring on loaf shape
Michael Suas, in his book "Advanced Bread & Pastry," provides some information about how scoring patterns influence loaf shape. Scoring is not just to make a visually pretty design on the top of a loaf. It is also how the baker controls the direction in which the loaf expands. This impacts the shape of the loaf cross section (rounder or more oval), the height of the loaf and, for a boule, whether it stays round or ends up more oblong.
According to Suas, long loaves like bâtards and baguettes are traditionally scored parallel to their long axis. This may be a single long cut or multiple cuts that are almost parallel and overlap somewhat (for ¼ to 1/3 of their length, generally). This pattern promotes sideways expansion of the loaf, resulting in an oval cross section when the loaf is sliced.
Baguette showing overlapping cuts, almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf
For breads with high-rye content which have lower gluten and less oven spring, the traditional objective is to encourage a higher rise in the oven spring resulting in a rounder cross section. This is achieved by "sausage" or "chevron" cuts.
"Sausage cut" on the left. "Chevron cut" on the right.
Boules are scored in a variety of patterns with differing effects on how the loaf expands. The common "tic-tac-toe" pattern and a simple cross will direct the expansion upward. More complex patterns like diamonds result in a relatively flatter loaf.
One of most interesting effects is that scoring a boule with multiple parallel cuts encourages expansion at a right angle to the cuts. This results in an oblong loaf shape.
Two boules scored differently. Note the effects of the scoring pattern on the final shape of the baked loaves.
What's the point of an ear? Controlled bloom!
This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.
Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.
What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."
The angle of the blade is important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.)
These photos illustrate nice "ears," but they also show that the bloom occurred slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from right to left. The darker part on the right obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occurred too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration.
In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:
The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.
The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.
The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.
Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occurred.
A final word
This tutorial focused on the mechanics of scoring, but the other steps in bread making impact the behavior of the cuts you make and the final appearance of your loaves. In fact, every single step, from your choice of ingredients and their proportions – your formula – to how you steam your oven plays a role in how your cuts will open. Your best looking loaves will result from a series of choices that are mutually dependent, where how you score a loaf takes into account the other choices you have made about the formula, mixing, fermentation, shaping, proofing and baking.
In The Bread Baker's Apprentice Peter Reinhart offers up three variations of brioche: Poor Man's Brioche, Middle-Class Brioche, and Rich Man's Brioche, each version getting more full of eggs and butter than the previous.
This weekend I came up with a brioche recipe that I'm extremely happy with. I dubbed it the "Lazy Man's Brioche."
This recipe is based on the brioche recipe from Ciril Hitz's Baking Artisan Bread. I started with Hitz's recipe but then rounded every number and cut every corner I could. The result is perhaps not as authentic as Hitz's recipe but still delicious.
There are two pieces of gear required to keep this recipe lazy: a mixer and a scale. I'm sure you could make the same thing using measuring cups and kneading by hand but that would take work. Using brioche pans or adding little tetes on top of each bun would also be more authentic and attractive, but the goal here was not to be beautiful or complex, just come up with something simple, repeatable, and delicious.
Add all of the ingredients to your mixer and mix it until the dough becomes silky. This takes a long time, somewhere in the 10-20 minute range (I think I did around 15). If the dough sticks to the sides or the paddle too much, take breaks and scrape the dough back down into the bowl.
When it is well mixed, shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Degas the dough and allow it to rise a second time, for another hour or so.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces (I used the scale and weighed them out at 3 ounces each). Shape the dough into balls. If you want to fill them, do so here by placing the chocolate chips on them before pinching them closed.
(Those are mini-chocolate chips by the way... the entire bun is only two or three inches across.)
Place the dough balls seam side down in brioche pans or muffin tins. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to rise until doubled in size and well above the pan, approximately 45 minutes.
While they are rising, make the egg wash and preheat the oven to 365.
Brush the brioche gently with egg wash before putting the pans near the middle of the preheated oven. I placed mine on the third shelf down out of four.
Bake the brioche for 10 minutes then rotate the pan. Bake them another 10 minutes or until they appear to be done.
If your pans were greased well, you should be able to shake the brioche out of the pan while they are still hot. Be careful if the eggwash spilled onto the pans though, because the cooked egg will "glue" the brioche into the pans. I had to gently break through the eggwash with a knife before I could get a few of my buns out of the pans.
I thought I would make a post on how I keep my starter for those who have an interest in doing the same. My method is based on several wants. First, I don’t want to maintain or feed a starter for up to 16 weeks. Second, I want to keep as small amount of starter as possible so that I can bake a loaf of bread each week using a bit of it and still have it last 16 weeks. Thirdly, I want a starter that is sourer and has a higher LAB to yeast ratio than the normal 100 to 1 found in most starters. Finally two more wants, I don’t want any waste and I want to make any kind of bread with it.
To get these characteristics I make a stiff (66% hydration) whole rye starter in the 100g range and keep it in the fridge. Stiff is relative, since many breads are made with this hydration but mine tend to be quite a bit more wet than 66%. I take a small bit the starter each week and when it gets down to 10 g or so I build it back up using a 3 stage starter build. As follows:
I usually build the 101 g total line for my 1 loaf of SD bread a week. The first two feedings are 4 hours each at 100% hydration and the starter should double 4 hours after the 2nd feeding. I it doesn’t then toss the 2nd feeding total amount in weight and redo it. The final 66%hydration is accomplished by using much less water for the 3rd feeding. Once the starter rises 25% in volume after the 3rd feeding, that is when you refrigerate it for its long term storage.
Make sure you are maintaining 80 -84 F while building the starter. This is the temperature range that suits yeast reproduction rates and the LAB will still be out reproducing yeast at that temperatures. What happens, over weeks of storage time in the fridge, is that the starter will become sourer as time progresses. The bread it makes after 8 weeks in the fridge is worth the wait.
But, like most things it is relative and the resulting bread isn’t too sour either. If you want really sour bread do some of the following at 94 F – build the starter, levain build, gluten development, bulk ferment or final proof after shaping. I like using a small amount of starter to build a levain amount under 10%, a very cold bulk ferment, counter warm up and a 94 F final proof when I’m going for a really sour bread.
Now, to get this small amount of starter to last for 12-16 weeks you want to make bread with a small amount of it to build the larger levain you want for the bread. Here is a chart to use for 800g of dough (1 loaf for me) that can be used for different times of years, various ambient temperatures, how much time you have (faster or slower process needed) and how much sour you want for the time you have. Making a 3-5 day loaf of retarded bread in the summer is much different than making 1 day SD bread in the winter. I like to retard dough to bring out its full flavor and fit my schedule better. So in the warm summer, I use half the levain that I might in the colder winter months to get a 12 hour retard into the process. To get more sour in a 1 day (after a 12 hour levain build process), I might use 30% levain (the 240 g line) to speed things along and still keep some of the sour I want. Here is a chart to use for various levain builds for 800 g of dough using this starter.
The method of the levain build remains the same – (3) 4 hour builds. If the levain fails to double 4 hours after the 2nd build then toss the 2nd build weights and redo the 2nd feeding. I usually refrigerate the levain for 24 hours after it rises 75% -100% after the 3rd feeding to bring out more sour and fit my schedule.
If you mill your own flour and or have a sieve, you might consider sifting the whole grain flour and use the sifted out hard bits to feed the levain. He levain seems to love these hard bits and getting them wet for a longer period will help to get these hard bits as soft as possible potentially resulting in better spring, bloom and a more open crumb. I even do this with sprouted, dried and milled whole grain bits but build less levain as these grains are on steroids already and might turn the dough to goo if trying for a 12 hour retard.
For the 3 stage starter and the levain builds it might take 8-12 hours in the summer if your kitchen is a warm as mine and more than 12 hours in the winter if you don’t use a heating pad. You can make any bread with this starter and levain method by using the flour you want for the levain build. Use white flours for white breads and various whole grains for bread with whole grains in them. Any combination of levain flour works - at least for the more than 100 varieties of bread I have made with it. Without any maintenae of the starter or throwing any starter or levain away.
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.
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.
ww starter (100%), 16g
ww bread flour, 48g
1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.
rolled oats (I used old fashioned), 53g
boiling water, 240g
2. Mix and cover for 12 hours.
- final dough
ww flour, 319g (I used KAF)
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
Norm, I haven't had a decent onion roll since I left NY about 25 years ago, and I'd kill for one -- you know the kind I'm talking about -- the big ones, 4" in diameter, browned with a crisp crust and flecked with chopped onions and (maybe) poppy seeds ... the kind that needs nothing more than a schmear of cold, unsalted butter ....
I’m finally getting around to posting Maggie Glezer’s firm sourdough starter recipe. For those of you having problems with your starters you might wish to give this a try. Most people here are using batter-style starters so it might be interesting to see if there is any discussion on firm starters. Plus I need help in learning to convert properly for use in recipes which don’t use a firm starter and there are always questions that come up. I have photographed my starter from mixing the dough ball and pressing it into the pint-sized jar through several hourly increments where you can see how grows and finally it quadruples in 8 hours, or in this case just short of 8 hours, which is the “gold standard” Maggie talks about for a firm starter to be ready to leaven bread.
I realize there are many opinions and methods on sourdough starters and this is only the one I’ve chosen and that works for me. But as many of you know, I’m a bread newbie and a sourdough newbie and I’m interested in all the information. Some of you were asking about a firm starter so thought this might help.
(How to make sourdough bread in two weeks or less)
To begin a starter, you need only whole rye flour, which is rich in sourdough yeasts and bacteria, bread flour, water, time, and persistence (lots of the last two). Amounts are small because I like to use the minimum of flour practical for building the sourdough, as so much of it will be thrown away. If you are baking bread in the meantime, you can add any of these discards to a yeasted dough for extra flavor.
SUNDAY EVENING: Mix 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) whole rye flour with 1/4 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) water to make a thick paste and scrape it into a clean sealed jar.
TUESDAY MORNING: The starter should have puffed a bit and smell sharp. Add 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour and 1/4 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) water to the jar, stir it well, and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula to clean them. Reseal the jar.
WEDNESDAY MORNING: The starter should have risen quickly. It is now time to convert it into a stiff starter. In a small bowl, dissolve a scant 2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) starter (discard the rest) in 2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) water, then add 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour and knead this soft dough. Place it in a clean jar or lidded container, seal it, and let it ferment.
THURSDAY EVENING: The starter will not have risen at all; it will have only become very gooey. Repeat the above refreshment, throwing away any extra starter.
SATURDAY EVENING: The starter will not have risen at all; it will have only become very gooey. Repeat the same refreshment.
MONDAY MORNING: The starter will finally be showing signs of rising, if only slightly! Repeat the refreshment.
TUESDAY MORNING: The starter should be clearly on its way and have tripled in twenty-four hours. Repeat the refreshment.
WEDNESDAY MORNING: The starter should be getting stronger and more fragrant and have tripled in twenty-four hours. Repeat the refreshment.
WEDNESDAY EVENING: The starter should have tripled in eight hours. It will be just about ready to use. Reduce the starter in the refreshment to 1 tablespoon (15 grams/0.5 ounce) starter using the same amounts of water and bead flour as before.
THURSDAY MORNING: The starter is ready for its final refreshment. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams/0.4 ounce) starter, 2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) water, and 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour.THURSDAY EVENING: The starter is now ready to use in a recipe or to be refreshed once more and then immediately stored in the refrigerator.
Refreshment for a complete Sourdough Starter
MAKES: About a rounded 1/3 cup (90 grams/3.3 ounces) starter, enough to leaven about 3 1/3 cups (450 grams/16 ounces) flour in the final dough
This stiff starter needs to be refreshed only every twelve hours. Use this formula to refresh a refrigerated starter after if has fully fermented and started to deflate. If the following starter does not quadruple in volume in eight hours or less, refresh it again, with these proportions, until it does. If your kitchen is very cold, you will need to find a warmer area to ferment your starter.
MIXING THE STARTER: In a small bowl, dissolve the starter in the water, then stir in the flour. Knead this stiff dough until smooth. You may want to adjust the consistency of the starter: For a milder, faster-fermenting starter, make the starter softer with a little more water; for a sharper, slower-fermenting starter, make the starter extra stiff with a bit more flour. Place it in a sealed container to ferment for 8 to 12 hours, or until it has fully risen and deflates when touched.
Conversion of a Batter-Type Starter into a Stiff Starter
MAKES: About a rounded 1/3 cup (90 grams/3.2 ounces) starter, enough to leaven about 3 1/3 cups (450 gram/16 ounces) flour in the final dough
If you already have a batter-type starter – that is, a starter with a pancake-batter consistency – you will need to convert it into a stiff starter for the Glezer recipes, or to check its strength.
1 tablespoon (15 grams/0.5 ounce) very active, bubbly batter-type starter
1 tablespoon (15 grams/0.5 ounce) water
1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour
MIXING THE STARTER: In a small bowl, mix the starter with the water, then stir in the flour. Mix this little dough until smooth, adjusting its consistency as necessary with small amounts of flour or water to make a stiff but easily kneaded starter. Let it ferment in a sealed container for 8 to 12 hours, or until it is fully risen and starting to deflate. If the starter has not quadrupled in volume in 8 hours or less, continue to refresh it with the proportions in “Refreshment for a Completed Sourdough Starter” until it does.
I haven't made this bread in a long time but it is a real treat, and gets devoured as treats tend to do. The precise formula doesn’t really matter so much with this bread – any light sourdough will do - it is the addition of polenta and pepitas (aka, pumpkin seeds, “polenta pepita” is just more fun to say) that makes the magic. The combination is featured in Tartine Bread with the addition of rosemary and corn oil but I’ve never tried it that way. I like the versatility of this herbless version. A little cranberry sauce on a toasted slice really sings.
Build starter and ferment for 8-10 hours.
Prep the polenta – mix with boiling water and leave to soak 8-10 hours. Use plenty of water, the excess will be discarded before the polenta is added to the dough.
Lightly toast the pepitas if desired. Allow time to cool before adding them to the dough.
Drain the polenta.
Mix flour, water and polenta. Autolyse 20 minutes.
Add the starter and salt. Knead about 2 minutes to incorporate
Stretch and fold about every 15 minutes until the gluten is developed. Add the pepitas on the second or third round. I think I did five rounds of S&F, but this varies depending on the flour so I go by the feel of the dough rather than a set number.
Total bulk ferment was about 4 hours at 76⁰F. Final ferment was about 2 hours.
Bake at 450⁰F for 45 minutes total. Steam the first 15 minutes.
I thought some detail on creating laminated dough for croissants etc may be a popular subject.
[AS % OF FLOUR]
Strong White Flour
Mix the ingredients for the dough to form cool, developed dough.
Put in a plastic bag in the chiller and rest for 30 minutes. Cut the butter into 4mm thick strips and put back in the chiller.
Roll the dough out to a rectangle 8mm thick. Put the butter pieces flat onto 2/3 of the rectangle, and fold as below:
Turn the dough piece clockwise through 90°. Roll out to the same size as before, fold as above, and turn. Repeat once more.
Chill the billet for half an hour and give 2 more folds and half turns as described. This gives 168 layers of butter in the croissant dough. Chill again for half an hour.
Roll the dough piece out to 5mm and use a croissant cutter to cut out triangle shapes. Stack into piles of 6 and rest covered for 2-3 minutes. You can use a template made from wood, or, cardboard, to cut out the individual triangle shapes instead. Please see the video, at 1 min 35secs, for a brief view of the croissant cutter on the left of the screen.
Tease out each triangle, fold up the top edge and roll up tightly. Roll out the feet to pointed ends and move round so these feet join up to make the classic shape. See Vicki demonstrating this in the pictuure below. For Pain au Chocolat and Pain Amande, cut the dough into strips, 6 x 10 cm; cover with small chocolate chips, or a thin layer of almond paste, and roll up so the seam is well pressed down on the bottom.
Place on silicone lined baking sheets and brush with beaten egg. For the pain amande, dip in flaked almonds
Prove at 38-40°C, 80%rH for 40 minutes.
Bake in a hot oven, 235°C for 12-15 minutes; a deck oven should be set at 7 for top heat, and 5 for bottom. No steam is used, and a damper is not needed.
1. The dough should not be too wet. If the dough is soft, it will stick to the bench and the pin, and the laminations will quickly be ruined. If the dough is too tight, it will be difficult to roll out without the dough insisting on springing back. Some have advised that the dough need not, therefore, be fully-mixed. This is because all the rolling and folding will continue the dough development. My own thought on the matter is that the dough should be developed to the level allowed by the choice of flour used. So if a top grade flour is used, the dough should be mixed accordingly. If the flour is not so strong, it will not tolerate intensive mixing anyway; by hand, or, machine.
2. The best way to deal with dough which springs back is to allow extra resting time. Allowing plenty rest between turns is the first key principle to grasp. If you compare the folding process to working out bicep muscles in the gym, you should not go far wrong. Bicep curls would be repeated to the point where the muscle is so tensed up it cannot do any more. After a period of rest the same moves are repeated. The moves are designed to strengthen the muscle by continued work. But there has to be rest in between to allow the muscles to relax. It is exactly the same for the gluten-based protein fraction in the dough.
3. The other key principle is to be able to work cold. It is generally cold and raining here in the UK, but I am aware many who write on this site have problems creating cool enough conditions in the kitchen to lessen the burden of making these items; I wish I lived where it was warm too, don't you believe it! Here are a few options:
Use a chilled marble slab, or, a refrigerated work surface.
Use crushed ice in the dough, or chill the dough water for an extended period prior to dough mixing.
A good trick is to chill the dough overnight. Give the dough 3 half turns, then bag and chill overnight. Waken up early the next morning, give the dough its last half turn and process from there. Bake off the croissants and serve straightaway for breakfast. You have just made yourself soooo popular with everyone in the house, forever!
4. What about the choice of laminating fat? Commercial croissants tend to be made with specialised and plasticised fats. This means the final product tends to be just a lot of air! Worse still if the fat is cheap, the melting point will be high, and the product will stick in the roof of the mouth [palate cling] These fats are not exactly renowned for their health-giving properties, either. So they are used on cost and performance grounds. As far as I am concerned croissants are made with all-butter. It is possible to buy a concentrated butter commercially. This is great, because all the water has been removed, so it means the butter block can be rolled out to a sheet, without it melting. Household dairy butter has a water content of 15-20%, so the problem with not working cold, is that the butter can easily start to melt, meaning the death of all the laminations you have worked so hard to achieve. So, performance-wise, butter is not the best, but for flavour, it obviously has no competition. I'm pretty sure concentrated butter is only available commercially; this is definitely the case for the UK and rest of the EU too.
5. Regarding lamination; due care and skill is the 3rd principle. I teach that croissant are given 4 half turns. Danish are often given only 3. Full puff paste employs equal laminating fat to flour used in the dough. This is usually given 6 half turns. The more turns, the more layers created. Above I state 4 turns gives 168 layers. Another 2 half turns works out as follows
168 x 3 = 504 504 x 3 = 1512. So many layers is incredibly difficult to achieve. Yet, to commercial bakers it is essential. The number of layers dictates the amount of "lift" in the product, giving greater volume to weight ratio! This affects product yield; well-aerated puff paste yield more products. Given these doughs use expensive ingredients, a baker cannot afford to miss out on achieving correct product yield.
6. In terms of volume and lift, it is important to explain how this works with yeasted doughs like these. When the product goes into the oven, the fat layers melt into the dough layers beneath, creating cavities between the dough layers. These cavities are filled with steam from the water content of both butter and dough. The steam exerts pressure on the dough layer above, causing the product to expand. See diagram below. So, it follows that the more layers, the greater the pastry will rise. So, what of the yeast? Well, the benefit is in terms of a first fermentation for sure, but it has to be achieved in cold conditions, as we have noted. This should mean the yeasts are far from worked through when the croissants are set to prove. Note the yeast level is relatively high. Any benefit has to be derived from rapid expansion as the croissants hit the hot oven. So, testing the dough for evidence that fermentation is slowing down is not a relevant test. We have no need for any sort of complex fermentation at this stage.
7. Lastly, oven treatment tends to be incredibly forgiving to croissants , so long as the oven is hot enough. Although, I think I'd be hedging my bets with items that were becoming tired and spent, in line with the notes just above. My practical classes last anywhere between 3 and 5 hours. 3 hours is really not very long to make these items with skill from start to finish; and the resting between turns really can be so crucial here. But I cannot think of a single class I have facilitated on this product where the students have been anything other than delighted by the tasks they have carried out, and the products they have made. It's the colour, and aroma; these items just look and smell great when they are baked. Fabulous!
See the photos attached below, and the link to the video below that.
TIPS: dough ball sizes and weights for common bread shapes
I wanted a quick reference list for dough ball sizes for common items I bake: breads, rolls, pizza. I haven't found one on TFL, maybe it's here, but no luck yet. So I figured I'd share what I have so far.