The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough bread: Good results with a new tweak of my steaming method

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Sourdough bread: Good results with a new tweak of my steaming method

 


I made a couple of sourdough boules today. I'm quite happy with them. I used a slightly different formula, but the exciting thing to me was the effect of a modification of my oven steaming method I've been meaning to try for some time.



 


Ingredients

Amount

Baker's percentage

High-gluten flour

450 gms

90

Whole rye flour

50 gms

10

Water

362 gms

72

Salt

10 gms

2

Levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F)

100 gms

20

Total

972 gms



194


I used KAF Sir Lancelot flour and Bob's Red Mill “Dark Rye” flour.

Procedures

  1. Mix the flours and water to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 20-60 minutes.

  2. Add the salt and levain and mix to moderate gluten development.

  3. Transfer to the bench and do a couple of folds, then transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover it. Note the volume the dough will achieve when doubled.

  4. After 45 minutes, do another stretch and fold, then allow the dough to double in volume.

  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape into rounds. Let the pieces rest, covered, for 10-20 minutes.

  6. Shape each piece into a boule and transfer to well-floured bannetons, seam side up. Place each in a food-grade plastic bag, seal the openings.

  7. Allow to proof for 30-60 minutes (less in a warmer environment), then refrigerate for 8-14 hours.

  8. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator 2-4 hours before baking (depending on how risen they are and how warm the room is). Allow to warm up and expand to 1.5 times the loaves original volume.

  9. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500F with a baking stone on the middle shelf and a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks on the bottom shelf. (I suggest moving the stone ove to within one inch of the oven wall on your non-dominant side. Place the skillet next to the wall on your dominant side.)

  10. When the loaves are ready to bake, pour 1/3 cup of boiling water over the lava rocks and close the oven door fast. (Strongly suggest holding the kettle wearing an oven mitt!)

  11. Transfer the loaves to a peel or to parchment paper on a peel, and load them onto your baking stone.

  12. Immediately pour ½ cup of boiling water over the lava stones and quickly close the oven door.

  13. Turn the oven temperature down to 460F and set a timer for 10 minutes.

  14. After 10 minutes, remove the skillet. Reset the timer for 20 minutes.

  15. The loaves are done when nicely colored, thumping their bottoms gives a “hollow” sound and their internal temperature is at least 205F.

  16. When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves in the oven with the door ajar for 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  17. Cool thoroughly (2 hours) before slicing and serving.

The crust was remarkably shiny when it came out of the oven. This effect, due to starch that is gelatinized early in the bake, I have only achieved before with breads baked under a stainless steel bowl for the first half of the bake. I also got quite satisfactory oven spring and bloom in these loaves which I had feared were a bit over-proofed.

It is evident that using the skillet with lava rocks for both pre- and post-loading steaming is superior to either a) pre-steaming by throwing ice cubes in a hot metal loaf pan or b) compensating for insufficient pre-loading steam by over-steaming post-loading. Some methods of steaming, when used to excess, actually interfere with the cuts opening and produce pale-colored loaves.

The bread I tasted has a delightfully crunchy crust and a chewy crumb with what I would regard as medium-strong sourness – just how I like it best.

As far as I'm concerned, this experiment was a success.

David

Submitted to Yeast Spotting

 

Comments

patnx2's picture
patnx2

Some day I hope to bake a loaf like that, How many days have you been baking.


My breads are slowly getting better as I learn, what I call, new levels of understanding. Again great looking bread.  Patrick

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks for your kind words.


To answer your question: I baked some breads 30 years ago, but stopped for about 25 years. I started again about 2 1/2 years ago, but, really, I started understanding what I was doing when I bought Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb" and found TFL.


Reinhart introduced me to the the concepts used by professional bakers as they think about ingredients, time, temperature and bread formulas. TFL was a source of inspiration, information and help solving problems.


As you say, "My breads are slowly getting better as I learn, what I call, new levels of understanding" every week.


So, stick with it. Stay curious. There's a reason (beyond Murphy's law) for every glitch, and there are many other folks here who are happy to help you rise above them.


Happy baking!


David

97grad's picture
97grad

That's interesting, I didn't know that the way steam is provided could make a difference, I thought I just had to pour some water in a pan at bootom of oven. Great experiment David, thanks for posting, your loaves look amazing and I'm sure they taste great too.


Tereze, Sydney

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

If you do a search on "steaming" or "oven steaming," you will find some amazing discussions and a fair amount of useful information.


In choosing a steaming method, it's helpful to understand what it does for your breads. What works best for you does depend somewhat on the kinds of breads you bake and on your oven. 


David

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

to steam the oven before and after the dough is loaded onto the baking stone.  Thanks for posting your experiment. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

For many months, I'd been using the method Hamelman suggests on page 27 of "Bread," throwing ice cubes in a loaf pan before loading and pouring hot water in a skillet after loading. This method was improved by adding lava rocks to the skillet - it gives a bigger burst of steam. Now, I seem to have found that pre-steaming also works better using the skillet with lava rocks, rather than ice cubes in the loaf pan.


Of course, this was one bake. (Actually two bakes. I used the same method with the 66% rye, also with good results.) I'm eager to try this method with other breads. Hmmm ... Baguettes are the biggest challenge, but I've too many in the freezer at the moment.


I trust you got home without too many hassles.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

David,


Great looking loaves! I'm going to try your steaming method, although I've been happy with 1 and 1/3 cup tap-hot water over lava rocks simultaneous with placing the dough in the oven.


Question: Why do you use high gluten flour? The common wisdom ala DiMuzio and the KA bakers is all purpose flour is preferred for sourdough breads. The 10% rye doesn't seem to be enough to requre it. I follow your postings carefully; they've been a reliable source of information.


Thanks,


David G

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, David G.


I would agree that, to make a French-style pain au levain, AP yields a more authentic product. However, this is an Americain-style sourdough, and the high-gluten flour results in a very chewy crumb and crunchy crust that were what I was aiming for in this bread.


I've made similar breads with KAF Bread Flour, Giusto's "Baker's Choice" (similar to KAF AP flour) and with KAF "European Artisan-style" flour. They have all been somewhat different, all good. Today, I used Sir Lancelot. I don't know what I'll use the next time I make this type of bread. 


I'm very aware that the steaming method I used needs replication. When you try it, please let me know how it works for you.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

After a good night's sleep, I woke with another question.


Do you bake in a conventional or convection oven?


My reason for asking: I bake in a convection oven. When I create steam I put a towel over the oven's vent, but I'm suspicious steam escapes around the door, and this is aided by the circulating fan.


I'm proofing Solome's Rye Bread with Walnuts as I write, and a second loaf with bleu cheese added. I intend to try your steaming method, but I want to replicate your oven condition too.


David G.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, David G.


Well, what I actually did was to bake with convection and the oven set 20F cooler until I removed the skillet, then switched to non-convection and set the temp. to what I said in the procedures.


I've never done a real test of this, but my reasoning is that convection circulates the moist air better. I got the notion that there is more venting in my oven with non-convection baking, but I can't recall where that comes from.


Salome's potato-walnut bread is super! I think you will enjoy it.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...but, I don't think it's because of your tweaked steaming protocol. I think the dough I was working with--35% whole rye; 65% high-gluten flour; 68% hydration (my formula tweak); and a sourdough starter at 114% Hydration (Salome's formula)  made entirely with whole rye flour except for the miniscule seed starter, and contributing 32% of the final dough can't be compared to your sourdough, nor mine.


Here's what I did. I baked the walnut and cheese laden boule at your temperture profile: 500°F, immediatly dropped to 460°F, and used your before and after steaming procedure with 1/3 cup/1/2 cup H2O prescribed. I vented the oven after ten minutes and finished the bake in another 15 minutes at 460°F. I experienced moderate oven spring, but no surface gelatinization.The oven was in convection mode throughout. (The East Coast/West Coast time difference did me in. I got your reply to my waking question when the loaves were cooling.)


I baked the walnut only batard using my usual baking and steaming protocols: 500°F for ten minutes, then vent oven and reduce temperature to 440°F to finish; flash 1 and 1/3 cups H2O on lava rocks immediately following loading. Baking finished in 20 mins, again, there was no surface gelatinization. Oven spring was subjectively the same as observed with the boule.


A couple of comments:


I routinely get surface gelatinization on my sourdough loaves using my usual procedure. I thnk the lack of it, in both cases, is attributible to the amount of rye flour in this dough.


I'm definately getting venting at the top of the oven door in convection mode. That may be reason to stay with my usual routine.


I'll try your tweak again, next time I make sourdough loaves.


Both these loave are destined for the freezer. I baked them, just to be baking something. There's the remains of a loaf of my wife's white sandwich bread, and the remains of a sourdough loaf already in the bread basket. I bet you can relate. Consequently, I'm not doing photographs.


I think your tweak deserves further experimenting. Next time I will make identical loaves and bake one using your protocol, and the second using the same before and after loading steaming, but increase the after water infusion to 1 cup to accomodate for the convecition mode door venting. I'll use the same temperature profile for both loaves.


Ain't this stuff fun?!


David G.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think you are correct about the effect of rye. I've never gotten a shiny crust on ryes, except when I glaze them.


Thanks for trying the double steaming. I'll look for further reports from you.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

David,


I made two loaves of my tweaked version of Vermont Sourdough yesterday. I used your before and after steaming method with one change. Because I'm certain my oven vents some of the steam my after-loading infusion was a full cup of water.


With both loaves, baked individually, I experience oven spring as good or better than ever before. Since maximizing oven spring is my primary reason for steaming I'm going to continue to use your before and after method hereout.


Thanks for posting the idea.


David G.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And I'm happy you got good results.


I used the double steaming method on the rye I baked yesterday. I used more water for pre-steaming than last time and didn't get a burst of steam when I added water after loading. I think the lava rocks hadn't gotten back up to temperature.


I'm about to bake another pair of sourdough boules using this technique. Stay tuned for my results.


David

Doughman's picture
Doughman

That´s a wonderful looking bread you have there, David!!!  I like bread that has a sour "umphff" in it!  Both crust and crumb look wonderful!!!

erg720's picture
erg720

In that case, i'm agree with Hamelman. The less water the better.


as a chef who bake a lot everyday the less water is the better.


when i bake i pour 1/3 glass of water to pretty much warm oven, load


the bread and that's it.


May i note that i don't bake those kind of breads but the direct


and with APF. I don't know, it work for me well.


 


Ron

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Ron.


I'm not sure that is generalizable. Hamelman gives steaming instructions individualized for each bread. My challenge is translating instructions for a commercial oven with steam injection to techniques I can use at home.


David

erg720's picture
erg720

Yea, i know. But i found that advise good for me even with this kind of bread.


So why should i change that.


Yesterday i made his Vermont Sourdough and the bread came out beautiful


with just almost 1/2 glass of water as a steam.


 


Ron

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Good going David!   That sure looks tasty!


Mini

DonD's picture
DonD

Fantastic loaf David! The result speaks for itself. I will have to try your double steaming method.


Don

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Please let me know how the double steaming works for you.


David

Susan's picture
Susan

Thanks for always giving me something to shoot for!


Susan from San Diego

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Oh, Susan! The results you get with your sourdoughs is always the ideal to which I compare my breads.


David

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Thanks for the report, David. I'm going to try the pre-steaming next time I bake a hearth-style bread.   -dw

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Please let me know how the double steaming works for you.


David
SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Lovely Crumb and Crust, David! 


Sylvia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi David!


I am particularly struck by the thickness of the crust which seems to suggest the double steaming did some good. The crumb is also quite lovely as you know which seems likely to be related to your minimal handling approach.


I will be making sourdough boules in the next two days and will try your approach and get back to you.


Thanks!


Jay

davesmall's picture
davesmall

David - I'd like to try this but have a few questions.


Could you please explain Levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F)?


I have a 50 pound bag of General Mills Harvest King flour. It has a lower protein content that the KA flour you used. Should I add a bit of gluten flour?


The rye flour I have on hand is General Mills from the super market. Do you really think your brand of rye flour is critical?


Thanks


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Could you please explain Levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F)?



I assume you have an active sourdough starter. The ratio refers to the relative amounts, by weight, of starter, water and flour mixed together for a starter feeding.


If you are using a lower-protein flour, I would hold back on some of the water. For example, if I were making this bread with a 12% protein flour, I would expect to use about 350 gms of water.


If your General Mills rye flour is not "white rye," it's probably just fine. Otherwise, try to find a whole grain rye flour. By the way, if you can't find it, using whole wheat or white whole wheat in this formula, rather than rye, gives a slightly different but still very nice flavor. 


David

davesmall's picture
davesmall

David


I have Peter Reinhart's Barm (very active). Don't think that's what you mean by starter.


Thanks

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, davesmall.


What Reinhart called "barm" in BBA is a sourdough starter. It sounds like you're in business.


David

davesmall's picture
davesmall

David - Do you know whether adding pure Gluten flour gives you comparable flour?


The high gluten wheat that you used (KAF Sir Lancelot) is a whopping 14.2% Protein. The General Mills Harvest King hard winter wheat that I have (and like a lot) has about 12% protein (estimates I found online range from 11.3 to 13.3. Walmart's web site lists specifications for this flour and shows 13.3%).


So let's say Harvest King is 12% protein vs Sir Lancelot's 14.2%. Would that mean that there are 2.2 grams more gluten in Sir Lancelot for each 100 gram portion? If so, then I could bump up the Harvest King to 14.2% by adding 2.2 grams of gluten flour for each 100 grams of high gluten flour used in the recipe. In this example, you are calling for 450 grams of flour so 2.2 X 4.5 = 9.9 grams. That's a very small amount of four.


If I'm understanding this correctly, adding just 10 grams of Gluten to the Harvest King would give me a comparable protein level.


Harvest King costs about $20 for a 50 pound bag. Sir Lancelot costs $6.95 for  3 pound bag from KA plus shipping.


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, davesmall.


I've never used "pure Gluten flour" or vital wheat gluten.


My inclination would be to just use your Harvest King flour and realize that your dough will be like a higher hydration dough compared to mine. Or just use a bit less water, say 350 gms.


Your bread will be fine (all other things being equal).


David

wally's picture
wally

David- Your loaves look great - crumb, crust and scoring.  I've been using Hamelman's technique (ice cubes to pre-steam, followed by hot water when the loaves are loaded), but I'll give yours a try.  One thing I think I've ascertained (in my gas oven), is that too much steam will seal my slashes.  So I think I'm looking for a solution that allows extra moisture to be retained over a longer period of time, versus one gigantic blast of steam.


Thanks for sharing -


Larry

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Yeah. I've had problems with cuts sealing with too much steam, especially with baguettes and batârds where you cut at a shallow angle to create a flap that is supposed to open to form and "ear." Finding the right amount of water to pour over the lava rocks is still a challenge, but I think the amount I used this time was about right, at least for this bread. 


Several authors recommend prolonging a low level of steam by repeatedly spraying the oven with water for the first few minutes of the bake. This has always bothered me, since each time you open the oven you lower the temperature.


My experience with baking loaves covered (Susan from San Diego's "Magic Bowl" technique) is that I get great bloom but seldom get "ears." I assume the flap seals before it can rise up.


When I use Hamelman's pre-steaming method and I'm loading multiple loaves sequentially, the loaf loaded first always has the best oven spring and bloom. I assume this is because it's the one that gets the most benefit from both oven pre-heating and pre-steaming.


Note that the loaves in this blog entry were loaded simultaneously. I dumped them both on one large sheet of parchment which I then transferred to the stone using a Super Peel.


That's a bit more background on my continuing steaming tweaking. I'll be interested in your results.


David

davesmall's picture
davesmall

I'm getting nice crumb, great crust, good rise. I'm also getting lots of complements on my loaves from family members and guests. I'm pleased that I've been able to make naturally leavened breads.


But I haven't been able to get that really really sour flavor and moistness that comes with the San Francisco Sour Dough you find on Fisherman's Wharf and in San Francisco restaurants. I think the starter should have a sour dough aroma that knocks your socks off. Mine smells a little sour but bubbles like crazy.


Where have I gone wrong?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

This bread is not super sour. If I were to want more sour, I would make a firmer starter, say 50% hydration. I would let it ferment to double, then refrigerate it for 2 days. Thicker starters and cooler temperatures promote acetic acid production by heterofermentive lactobacilli.


You could also increase the percent of total flour that is pre-fermented. You could also bulk ferment your dough at a lower temperature for longer. The cold retardation of the formed loaves also increases the sourness.


Lots of variables to fiddle with, and they all make a difference. :-)


David

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

I usually pre-steam by throwing a wet towel in the oven for a minute or so prior to loading the bread. I have not been sure whether this does any good or whether all the steam is allowed to escape when I put the bread in. I think your method would produce much more steam and hence a greater chance that more would be retained. I'm going to try it. You certainly got excellent results, although I'd be hard-pressed to think of any bread of yours that has not turned out beautifully.


Interestingly, I think that, in my oven, less steam is retained on the convection setting, so I rarely use it. As you say, each oven is different and it's worth spending some time and effort to determine what methods work best for one's own oven and preferences.


Thanks for another great post, David!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Please let me know how the double steaming works for you.


The objective is to have a humid oven at the instant the loaves are loaded. I'm sure there are many possible methods. If you throw your wet towel on the baking stone, it would cool it and reduce oven spring, so I'm assuming you throw it on another shelf.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

David,


I used your technique again on a recent bake. Again, I got very good oven spring. The results are on my blog.


Vermont SD and DiMuzio Pain au levain twained


David G