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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Sourdough Italian Baguettes

Sourdough Italian Demi-Baguettes: Variations on a Theme 

David M. Snyder

May 3, 2015

  

Last month, I made some Sourdough Italian Rolls, using a formula I had developed and used previously to make bâtards. This week, I continued to play with this formula. I increased the proportion of durum flour in the dough, doubling the amount in the final dough, and I shaped the dough as demi-baguettes. (I wanted to make bâtards. My wife wanted more rolls to use for sandwiches. Demi-Baguettes was the compromise. We use that shape for sandwiches frequently.)

 

Total Dough

 

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Bakers' %

AP flour

334

60.7

Fine Durum flour

200

36.4

WW flour

11

2

Whole Rye flour

5

1

Water

400

72.7

Salt

10

1.8

Sugar

14

2.5

EVOO

14

2.5

Total

988

179.6

  

Liquid Levain

 

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Bakers' %

Liquid starter

40

40

Water

100

100

AP flour

70

70

WW flour

20

20

Whole Rye flour

10

10

Total

240

240

  1. Disperse the liquid starter in the water.

  2. Add the flours and mix thoroughly.

  3. Ferment at room temperature until expanded and bubbly (8-12 hours). If necessary, refrigerate overnight and let warm up for an hour before using.

 

Final Dough

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

AP flour

300

Fine Durum flour

200

Water

350

Salt

10

Sugar

14

Active liquid levain

100

EVOO

14

Total

988

Procedures

  1. In a large bowl, disperse the levain in the water.

  2. Add the flours and sugar to the liquid and mix to a shaggy mass.

  3. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Add the salt and olive oil and mix thoroughly. (Note: I squish the dough with my hands until it comes back together, then do stretch and folds in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball and the oil appears completely incorporated.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a 2 quart lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl tightly.

  6. After 30 minutes, do stretch and folds in the bowl. Repeat 3 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  7. Continue bulk fermentation for another 30-90 minutes, until the dough is puffy. If fermented in a glass bowl, you should see lots of little bubbles throughout the dough. Volume of the dough may have increased by 50% or so.

  8. Refrigerate for 12-36 hours.

  9. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and pre-shape as rounds or logs. Cover with a clean towel, baker's linen or plasti-crap and let rest for one hour.

  10. Shape as Demi-Baguettes or Ficelles.

  11. Roll the loaves on damp paper towels, then in a tray of sesame seeds. Alternatively, you can brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

  12. Proof for about 45 minutes, seam-side down, on parchment paper pleated to separate the loaves and supported at both long sides by rolled-up dish towels. Cover with a damp towel, baker's linen or plasti-crap.

  13. One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  14. When ready to bake, uncover the loaves. Pull the parchment from both long sides to flatten out the pleats and separate the loaves.

  15. Transfer the loaves, on the parchment, to a peel. Score them as baguettes. Transfer them to the baking stone. 

  16. Steam the oven, and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.

  17. After 10-12 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus. (Note: If you have a convection oven, switch to convection bake and turn the oven down to 435ºF for the remainder of the bake.) Continue baking for another 6-8 minutes or until the loaves are nicely browned and the internal temperature is at least 205ºF.

  18. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before eating.

 

After cooling, the Italian bread crust was soft. The crumb was nicely aerated, but not as open as expected for this level of hydration. I suspect this is because of the durum flour (higher protein but poorer quality gluten) and the extra handling installing the sesame seeds. The flavor is heavenly. This is a sweet white roll with the nuttiness of durum and sesame seeds, dipped in high quality EVOO. How could that not be delicious?

One of the baguettes was consumed for dinner. 

Panino with roast chicken breast, caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar, sliced dried calmyrna figs, emmenthaler cheese and a light smear of Dijon mustard.

Such a sandwich can only be washed down with good Italian beer, of course. 

I also baked a couple boules based on the "Overnight Country Blonde" from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. Summer has arrived, and my kitchen is running 75 to 78 dF, so fermentation runs faster than the book specifies. The result is that bulk fermentation was complete in 5 hours. I refrigerated the dough overnight and divided and shaped the next morning. Even with the dough starting out cold, proofing was complete in about 2 hours. 

All of the sourdough breads I have made from FWSY have a strong family resemblance but more or less distinctive flavor profiles, depending on the flour mix used, the percentage pre-fermented flour and the fermentation routine. This bread had a crunchy crust and cool, chewy crumb. The flavor had that nice wheaty sweetness and a quite present but mild sourdough tang, with the creamy lactic acid tone dominating. Although this is a higher hydration dough, the flavor profile is very much like the Pain de Campagne from Hamelman's Bread. And that's not bad! Like my San Joaquin Sourdough, it contains mostly AP flour but with about 10% whole grain flours, divided between whole wheat and whole rye. The procedures I used for this bake, with the overnight retardation before dividing and shaping, gave such nice results, I am going to use it for a while and try increasing the whole grain flours, maybe adding some toasted wheat germ for its nutty flavor and who knows what else.

It has been a good bread baking day.

Happy baking!

David

isand66's picture
isand66

Hamburger Onion Parmesan Buns

We bought some chicken Buffalo style sliders the other day so I wanted to make some tasty buns to go with them.  The buns needed to be hearty enough to hold the burgers and the fixings as well as soft enough like a hamburger bun needs to be.

I adapted a recipe from KAF and made several changes including the flour types and changes and additions in several ingredients.  I added some dried onions and some Parmesan powder to give it a little extra flavor and just enough honey to round out the flavor profile.

These would have been perfect had I not left them in the oven a few minutes too long since I was working at the same time I was baking these.  One of the benefits of working from home but also one of the possible pitfalls.  In any case these tasted great and made perfect burger buns and sandwich rolls as well.  If you try these you will not be disappointed, of that I can guarantee you.

The European style flour I used has a small percentage of white whole wheat flour and malt which along with the Spelt flour and Durum flour really gave these rolls some excellent flavor.

Hamburger-Onion-Rolls

Directions

Bring the milk up to a boil in a heavy-duty sauce pan and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.  Take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature before using.

In the mean time leave your butter out at room temperature or soften in your microwave.

Mix flours with yeast to combine.  Next add remainder of the ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute and then for 9 minutes at speed number 2 and 1 minute at speed number 3.  You want to mix/knead until you develop a nice thin window pane which will ensure that the rolls end up nice and soft.

Take the dough out of your mixer and form it into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl or dough rising bucket.  Make sure to cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature of if you have a proofer set it to 82 degrees and let it rise until doubled.  It took me about 1 hour to double in my proofer.

Next gently deflate the dough and form into rolls and place on cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cover with a moist towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour until the rolls have almost doubled in size and pass the poke test.

NoSeedsRisen

Around 30 minutes before ready to bake the rolls, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and prepare your oven for steam as well.  I use a heavy-duty pan in the bottom shelf of my oven and pour 1 cup of boiling water in right before placing the rolls in the oven.

Right before you are ready to bake the rolls prepare an egg wash, paint your rolls and add  your topping of choice.

Seeded-Risen-Rolls

Seededclosup

Bake the rolls at 450 degrees for the first 5 minutes and lower the oven to 425 degrees until they are nice and brown.  Just make sure that they don't turn into charcoal like mine almost did :).

These should take about 25 minutes to cook thoroughly.  When done  let them cool on wire rack for at least half an hour before digging in if you can wait that long.

Crumb

IMG_0130
Cleopatra didn't mind the "dark" rolls at all....
Susan's picture
Susan

Simple Sourdough (9/09)

50g firm starter, 204g water, 275g high gluten flour, 25g white whole wheat flour, 6g salt.  All mixed minimally by hand, rested for 30 minutes, one Stretch & Fold, two more S&Fs at 1-hour intervals, let rise to double.  Kept the dough temperature in mid-70'sF.  Pre-shaped, rested 15 minutes, shaped, then plopped into linen-lined colander.  Put in plastic bag, then into fridge for overnight.  Out of fridge for 2 hours before scoring, then baked at 450F for 20 minutes covered followed by 20 minutes uncovered.


Section I: Introduction

There are few things that smell quite as good as a loaf of bread baking in the oven. But there are other benefits beyond just that lovely smell of baking your own bread. It’s cheaper, tastier, and, more often than not, healthier than buying it from the store.


Our goal with this e-book is to help amateur bakers produce the kind of bread that they would most like to pull from their ovens. We hope that it helps you.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

YW Primer

Teketeke Bread

teketeke got me going with my YW a couple of years ago and I have helped quite a few others, as she helped me, to get theirs going. Here is what I basically sent them but fixing all the spelling and grammar errors I could find.  Hope this will help all who want give YW a shot – it is so worth having another child in the kitchen.

 teketeke's post on YW is a good one if you scroll down far enough when the pictures start to appear again - way down. She is a great YW baker from Japan and I bugged the heck out of her to get my YW going.  Worked first time too - and she is a master and I named my first original YW concoction after her as thanks!

The idea is to get a slightly acidic base to start from, be a little on the warm side temperature wise, don't use any sugar - use honey instead, use bottled water, open the lid often, right before shaking and get some fresh air in the jar by fanning it with a piece of paper, shake the container often and be patient - like starting any other wild yeast

The fruit you start with matters. I started mine with orange and tangelos from the back yard because they are acidic, I left the skins on the pieces for one day to inoculate the water with the wild yeast on the skins and then replaced the fruit with skinned oranges and tangelos because the skin can be a little toxic to the yeast. - but I would do it differently today.

 

Teketeke's Japanese White Sandwich Bread

You want to make sure the fruit you use is organic thus no fungicides and herbicides on the skins and it has to have the skin on. What you want to do is get an organic apple and some organic raisins. People have their own opinions as to which ones work best but using both is really the cat's meow. Don't wash the apple or the raisins since the yeast you want is on the skin. I use a plastic 14 oz re-purposed peanut butter jar for my YW container but anything with a screw top lid will work.

Take 20 raisins and mash half of them. Take half an apple, leave the skin on, take the stem and base off and core the seeds out. Chop the 1/2 apple into 1/4 inch cubes. Mash half the apple pieces. Save the other half of apple by rubbing the cut side with lemon, lime or orange juice and refrigerate it.

Place all the 1/2 apple and raisins in the jar including the mashed portions. Add 1 T of orange juice. Fill jar 3/4 of the way up with bottled mineral or reverse osmosis water that is absolutely chlorine free. If you are using other tap water then pour it into an uncovered container 24 hours ahead of time so the chlorine can dissipate.  Do not add any honey at this point.

Keep the jar warm around 78 -80 F. I used a heating pad with kitchen towels folded on top till I got the right temperature and then covered the whole shebang with another towel to keep the heat in.

For the first 2 days, every couple of hours, open the jar fan some new air in it, close the lid shake the jar vigorously, loosen the lid a tad to let CO2 out and let it sit on the heating pad that way till you do it all again.

Yeasr Water Babka

On the 3rd day add 1 tsp of honey.  Keep up the fanning, shaking, loosening the lid till day 4. By that time, after you shake, the mix should bubble, easily be visible and remain for awhile. The jar lid should hiss as compresses CO2 escapes when you open the lid after shaking it.

After a week or so you should have some nice YW to bake with. To know if it is ready just make a levain with 50 g or the yeast water and 50 g of flour and see if can double in volume in 6-12 hours.

YW/SD multigrain bagels

Each week after the beginning week, strain everything out of the jar. Put 3 T of old YW back in the jar with a few pieces of old fruit say 4 raisins and 4 pieces of apple. Add more fresh raisins and half a diced apple you put in the fridge (you don't have to mash them up anymore).

Add 1 T of honey and fill 3/4th full with water. Leave on the counter. The next day it will be ready to build a levain with again. After it settles itself in, after a couple or three weeks, you can then refrigerate it 4 hours after feeding it and it will be ready and peaked to make bread after 2-3 days in the fridge. I now feed mine every 3 weeks and keep it in the fridge all the time

YW/ SD combo levain multi-grain with scald and seeds - YW will open the crumb of any usually heavy crumb.

You can replace any SD levain with YW.  If the recipe calls for 220 g of levain just use 110 g of YW and 110 of flour to make it. When it doubles it is ready to go about 6 hours or so. If you bake a lot like Janet does, or a little like me, when you use the YW just replace it with new bottled water and a little honey shake it up and leave it on the counter for a couple of hours before refrigerating.

 Happy YW baking.

YW/ SD Durum Ricotta with pistachio pumpkin and millet seeds.

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Home with bread / Fighting gravity

For the first time in five months I baked bread at home and it made me very nervous.

It is an entirely different proposition to make a hand full of breads in a home oven as opposed to the rhythm and flow that working in large batches provides. My attention and perfectionist streak is focused on too few ... the dough is essentially the same (though not quite as rewarding) ... but the loading of a home oven is problematic and inefficient.

... the nicest dough in the world can be ruined by a lousy oven.

So while my time with a wood-oven at Chester St has come to a close it seems that more possibilities may be ahead of me soon. Bread is my way forward ... it is my future ... but in the meantime I am thankful for some time to spend with my family and friends ... they have missed this busy baker.

 

 

 

There has been sadness this week though, as my good friend Daryl sadly lost his father Keith Taylor. Daryl worked with me in the kitchen at Chester St and his parents would visit us on occasions which was always a treat. Keith would stand opposite my bench and chat as I busied myself shaping or rounding loaves. He loved bread ... it was from his past ... it was a part of him.  As a young boy his father owned a bakery in Brisbane running a large scotch wood-fired oven and Keith was granted a special license at the age of 14 to deliver bread to the local community. The smell of dough and baked bread transported him back and he had many tales to tell. I will cherish those talks.

These breads are for you Keith ...

Keith Ian Taylor 23/12/1933 - 3/6/2013. R.I.P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

My time at home has also allowed me to catch up on another activity ... reading. The latest book I am ploughing through is Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael PollanIn it he has a chapter called "Air" which is related to bread fermentation where he discusses the many aspects of bread and its production with the likes of Richard Bourdon, Chad Robertson and Dave Miller (my biggest bread influences).

While reading this I was inspired to begin milling and fermenting freshly milled flour. I couldn't help but do it ... I had to ... It has been so long since I have made honest heart-felt bread like this. This formula is influenced by Dave Miller's method of milling and mixing on one day then shaping and baking the next.

Fresh milled wholewheat (4 x 1000g)

Formula

   

Final starter build – 3 hrs 27°C

 

 

Starter

93g

50%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

186g

100%

Water

120g

65%

 

 

 

Final dough - 24°C

 

 

Whole wheat starter @ 65%

348g

18%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

1899g

100%

Water

1709g

90%

Salt

44g

2.3%

 

Method

  1. Mix final starter and leave to ferment for 3 hours at 27°C
  2. Mill flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 100 grams of water) and autolyse for a one hour.
  3. Add starter to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 100 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Bulk ferment for one hour at room temperature. Stretch-and-fold after one hour and place in a fridge at 4°C for 12 hours.
  5. Remove from fridge. Divide. Preshape.
  6. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape.
  7. Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 22°C
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then bake for a further 40 mins. 

 

 

 

 

 

While shaping the bread the words of Dave Miller resounded in my head "You're always fighting gravity with wholegrains" ... I shaped them tight ... If I was going to struggle to get loft then I wanted bloom!

... and after 5 months of baking in ovens without windows I was again awestruck as I sat before my glass fronted home oven and watched oven spring unfold ... perhaps my home oven is good for something :)

Happy baking everyone ...
Phil 

Syd's picture
Syd

White Sandwich Loaf


Poolish

250g all purpose flour
250g water
1/16 - 1/8 of a tsp yeast (more if it is cold, less if it is hot)

Mix together and leave for 12 hours.

Dough

300g white bread flour 
130g milk (scalded)
unsalted butter 6g
10g salt
3g instant yeast
a little less than 1/4 tsp of ascorbic acid


[Hydration = 69%]

Scald milk and add butter and salt to it. Stir until dissolved. Allow milk to cool to room temp.  Add to poolish, then add dry ingredients.

Knead for 5mins - rest for 5mins - knead for 5mins. Allow to proof until doubled. A stretch and fold half way through fermentation is necessary not so much for gluten strength, as it is to degas the dough.  Pre-shape. Shape and put into a two pound tin. Let it rise until coming about an inch over the top of the tin. (My tin is a 10x19x11cm 900g loaf tin).

Bake at 230 C with steam for 15 mins and without steam at 190 C for 35 mins. Remove from tin for last 10 mins .


 



This loaf has a crisp crust and a tender, moist crumb.  It toasts very evenly and makes a good sandwich.  It keeps well, too.


Syd


 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Gingerbread

I baked gingerbread for the first time last night. Yum.

gingerbread

I was amazed at how good the house smelled when I came home from work today. It really smells festive, like the holidays are here, even 24 hours after baking it.

I looked at a few different recipes before settling on something closest to the recipe from the Joy of Cooking.

Gingerbread Makes 1 large or 3 small loaves

1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt (can be omitted if using salted butter)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons crystalized ginger, 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the butter, egg, brown sugar, and molasses in a bowl and stir until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients, then add hot water and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into greased baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, between 30 and 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

gingerbread

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My sourdough starter routine: a FAQ

My Sourdough Starter Routine: FAQ

December 30, 2014

 

I get questions about how I manage my sourdough starter frequently enough that I decided to put the information in a single blog entry to which I can refer in the future. What follows applies to a sourdough starter/levain containing mostly white wheat flour. Mostly rye and mostly whole wheat starters are different beasts.

Please understand that this is my routine. It has worked well for me for a number of years. I am not presenting it as the only way to manage sourdough starters. It may not be the best way at all for some one else. But, as I said, it works for me, and here it is:

My starter was originally was purchased from KAF in about 2008. (See: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter - 1 oz.).

Taking care of mother

I keep my "mother starter" in the refrigerator. It is fed at a ratio of 1:2:4 (Starter:Water:Flour). When feeding the mother, I mix 50 g starter, 100 g water and 200 g flour to make 350 g total. This is refrigerated imediately after mixing. I refresh the mother every 2 to 3 weeks. The flour feeding is a mix of 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Medium or whole rye.

Getting active

When preparing to make bread, I generally refresh the starter as a liquid starter at a ratio of 20:50:50 (Mother starter:Water:Flour) using the same flour mix described above. This is fermented to peak activity at room temperature (generally about 12 hours). 

This refreshed liquid starter is then fed again according to the specific formula I am following. In other words, the degree of hydration, the flour mix, the ratio of levain:water:starter and the fermentation time and temperature are variable.  When posting a formula, I specify these variables. This may involve converting the refreshed liquid starter to a firm starter.

Ripening

How long it takes to ferment a starter before it is ready to feed again or mix in a final dough depends on four variables (at least those are the ones I can think of at the moment):

  1. What flours you put in the starter. For example, flours with whole grains ripen faster because of their mineral content.

  2. The ratio of seed starter:flour:water. If you introduce relatively more seed starter, it has a “head start” and will ripen faster. All other things being equal, a more liquid starter will ripen faster than a more firm starter.

  3. The ambient temperature. A warmer temperature speeds up metabolic processes, including fermentation, at least within the usual range of kitchen temperatures. (The Temperature/Metabolism curves for fermentation and acid production are beyond the scope of this FAQ.) This effect can be rather dramatic. As a consequence, any instruction for how long to ferment a levain without specifying the ambient temperature should be taken with a grain of salt. (In fact, adding salt to the levain is one way of slowing fermentation down, but that's another topic for another day.)

  4. The flavor profile you want for the bread you are making. A “younger” levain will generally be less sour. A more “mature” levain will have more acid and make bread that is more sour. (Assuming the formula for the bread is otherwise the same.)

 How can you tell how ripe a levain is?

There is a lot of confusion about the criteria to use in judging the ripeness of a levain. The most common criterion I see is how much it has expanded, and “doubled in volume” is most often the specific criterion. The problem with this is twofold. First, unless you are fermenting your levain in a graduated container or have marked your container yourself, doubling is hard to measure accurately. Second, I don't think doubling carries the same meaning for liquid as for firm levains. And, at no extra charge, here is a thirdfold: Depending on the flavor profile you want, doubling (even if you could measure it accurately) may be too much or not enough.

So, as implied, I use somewhat different criteria depending on the levain's hydration, and I do use a container that is graduated, and I do use a semi-transparent container, so I can view the internal structure of the levain, not just its surface. My container is also tall relative to its diameter and has relatively straight sides. It is more like a cylinder than a bowl. This provides support to the ripening levain that permits greater expansion.

My Sourdough Starter Fermentation Container

Ripeness criteria for a firm levain

A firm levain is one with a hydration level of around 50%. That is, it contains half as much water, by weight, as flour. A firm levain can expand in volume a lot more than a liquid levain. So, volume expansion is actually a useful criterion for ripeness. A doubling in volume is generally associated with enough yeast activity to raise your dough well, but it may not be ripe enough to have fully developed flavor. I usually let my levain triple or quadruple in volume before I mix it in the final dough. In addition to volume expansion though, I look for an extensive network of large and small bubbles throughout the levain. I can see these through the walls of the container. I look for a well-domed top of the levain. And, last but not least, I look for any signs that the levain has had a decrease in volume, which indicates excessive ripeness. This is indicated by a concave surface, rather than a dome.

There is a lot of wiggle room between “ripe enough to raise dough” and “peak of fermentation, just short of collapse.” A less ripe (“young”) levain will make a sweeter bread, one with more creamy flavor from lactic acid formation. A riper (“mature”) levain will have relatively more vinegar-like, acetic acid sourness. Besides the criteria already mentioned, the aroma of the levain tells you the relative prominence of lactic versus acetic acid. You could use your sense of smell alone to judge when your levain is at the point of maturity you desire, in order to achieve the flavor profile you want for your bread.

 

Firm Levain, just fed

Firm Levain, 10 hours after feeding. Note: Approximately doubled in volume. Full of bubbles. Domed surface. I regard this as a still "young" levain.

 

Firm Levain, after 10 hours. Note: Domed surface. Some bubbles on surface.

Ripeness criteria for a liquid levain

A liquid levain is one with a hydration level of around 100%. That is, it contains equal weights of water and flour. A liquid levain cannot expand as much as a firm levain. Quite simply, all those water molecules get in the way of connections between folds of the long gluten molecules that provide structure to a firm levain and a bread dough. Now, a liquid levain does expand as fermentation produces CO2 gas, but this forms bubbles that rise to the levain surface and pop rather than getting trapped in a gluten web and causing levain expansion. If you use a glass container or a semi-transparent plastic one to ferment your liquid levain, as it ripens you can see the internal structure of the levain become full of tiny bubbles – almost like a mousse.  On the surface, you see bubbles forming, faster and faster as the levain gets riper, until they actually form a froth on the levain's surface. The surface of the ripe levain often has a "wrinkled" appearance.

As with a firm starter, one can choose to use the liquid starter “young” or more “mature.” With a liquid starter, as with a firm starter, levain recession or collapse indicates that you have let your levain over-ferment.

 

Liquid Levain, just fed.

 

Liquid Levain, just fed.

 

Liquid Levain after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbly interior.

 

Liquid Levain surface after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbles forming. Surface just beginning to wrinkle. This would still be "young."

The consequences of levain over-fermentation

Over-fermentation implies any combination of several bad things. The yeast may have fermented all the free sugars they can get at. Reproduction and fermentation will both slow down. The levain may not be as potent in raising the dough to which it is added. The levain may also contain excessive amounts of metabolic byproducts, especially organic acids. A little acid is good for both flavor and gluten strength. Too much acid is bad for yeast growth. An optimally ripened levain has positive effects on gluten structure, but, over time, protease activity increases, and those enzymes will degrade gluten. (That's why a very over-ripe sourdough starter that hasn't been fed new flour for a long time gets more and more liquified.)

What's missing?

There is another important variable in my routine for sourdough starter feeding and use, and that is the manipulation of fermentation temperature. Temperature effects the rate of yeast and bacterial growth and metabolism dramatically. Different metabolic processes are favored by different temperature ranges. Temperature changes can change the flavor of your bread. However, that is an advanced topic which is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

 The one temperature manipulation I will discuss is cold retardation. I often refrigerate my levain, usually at the point that it is nearly fully mature. I do this for two reasons, primarily. The first is, quite simply, my convenience. If I have to go out (or go to bed) at the point that a levain is going to be optimally ripe and ready to mix into a dough, I will stick the levain in the refrigerator, maybe for a few hours, maybe for a day or even two. The other reason I refrigerate a levain is to make it more sour. Especially a firm levain will generate more acetic acid in a cooler environment.

If I have refrigerated my levain, before mixing it into the final dough, I will usually let it come to room temperature. Sometimes, I will let it ferment further at a warm temperature, for example 86 dF in a proofing box. It is appears almost over-ripe already when it comes out of the refrigerator, I usually use warmer water when I mix the dough, so the over-all dough temperature is no excessively lowered by cold levain.

 I believe I have addressed the questions I get asked most often about my sourdough starter care and feeding. As indicated, there are additional more advanced topics I have not addressed in this FAQ. Maybe I will another day. 

I hope this helps.

Happy baking!

David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mini's 100% Dark Rye & Chia Recipe ...Love at 104% hydration

 

This rye recipe is my Chilean version of my favorite rye ratio recipe using a rye sourdough starter and the addition of chia seeds that increase the dough hydration yet maintain a nice shape.  Use a large Dutch oven for a free form shape. 

I designed this recipe for one narrow tapered loaf pan:   cm: 30 x 11 x 7.5   or   inches: 11 3/4 x 4 1/4 x 3 

It is my basic rye recipe (starter:water:flour) (1: 3.5 : 4.16) plus 6.1% chia (on total flour weight including flour in the starter) plus 4 times the chia weight in water added to the dough.  Also added nuts, seeds and 90g to 100g arbitrarily selected moist rye altus (day old bread.)

 

DARK RYE & CHIA BREAD

The wet:

  • 175g vigorous peaking rye starter  100% hydration
  •  90g  moist rye altus 
  • 812g  water  24°C   (75°F) 

        1077g

The dry:

  • 728g rye flour  (dark rye 14% protein)
  •  50g chia seeds
  •  17g salt   (2%)  
  •  17g bread spice  (2%)  (toasted crushed mix: coriander, fennel, caraway seed)
  •  17g toasted sesame seed  (2%)

         829g    (total dough so far 1906g) 

           (optional:)

  •     4g black pepper  (0.46%)
  • 100g broken walnuts
  • 150g chopped Araucaria Pine nuts   
  • sunflower seeds to line bottom and/or sides of buttered form 

 

Method:

Inoculate (1:5 to 1:10) sourdough starter soon enough to have a vigorous starter when ready to mix up dough.  

Plan to bake in 3 hours from the time you start combining liquids with the flour to make dough.  

Combine liquids and break apart floating altus.   Stir dry ingredients and add to liquids stirring until all dry flour is moistened.  Scrape down sides of bowl, cover, let stand 2 hours.  No kneading ever!  Dough will stiffen as it rests.   (Another order for combining is to add the chia and spices to the wet ingredients and allow to swell 15 minutes before adding flour, salt and nuts.  Not sure if it makes a difference but if you find you're getting a gummy crumb, let the chia soak in the water and swell before adding the flour.)

Smear bread pan with butter and dust/coat with raw seeds, crumbs or flour.  Spoon or plop dough (trying not to trap air) into form or floured banneton.  (The recipe lends itself well to free form in a large Dutch Oven.)  Use a wet spatula or wet fingers & hands to shape dough.  Pile the dough up higher in the center for a nice rising shape.  Sprinkle with seeds and press lightly into dough while making a nice dome shape.  

Let rise about an hour.  Meanwhile heat oven 200°C to turn down to 185°C (365°F) 15 minutes into the bake.  Make a cover for the loaf from a double layer of alufoil or flip an identical pan over the top.  Leave room for loaf expansion.  

When ready dock,  take a wet toothpick and poke about one hole every inch, all over, toothpick deep.  Wait a few minutes and smoothen over with a wet spatula.  Dough is ready to dock when you see the dough surface threatening to release trapped gasses under the surface.  One or two little pin hole bubbles is enough to start docking.

Spray or rinse the inside of foil or empty bread pan cover with water and cover the dough to trap steam during the bake.   Bake for about 40 minutes on the lowest rack, then rotate and remove the protective cover to brown the loaf top.  Finish the loaf in another 20-30 min for a rough total of one hour baking time.  Inside temp should reach 94°C, sound hollow, but I tend to shoot for 96°C or 205°F.   Cool on rack.   Wrap when cold.  

Here is the cold loaf (after 12 days, last 6 in the fridge) and you can see how much the dough rose. The shaped dough would have been rounded under the rim.   There are no nuts in this loaf other than what came from frozen stored altus.

Free form using floured rice sieve:           Oops, I spy a few docking holes!  

Have fun,  I do!    Really proud of that one!   

 

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