The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is It To My Taste?

JoeVa's picture

Is It To My Taste?

Bake, bake and bake, the time passes and you demand more, you want more, you are more exigent.

In my previous post I shared with you a good looking bread but I admitted it was not to my taste. I have to say you that even in my last trip in Paris (March 2010) I didn't find a really amazing bread. I tasted a lot of bread from famous and not so famous bakeries and a lot of bread at Europain Exhibition. Some bread was really good, most of them good, someone bad. Till now I take with me, in my memory, just two or three bread I can say - that's a perfect sourdough!

So I planned a new formula to try the flavor potential of this sourdough bread. It was based on the previous one (85% white bread flour, 10% whole wheat, 5% whole rye. 66% hydration. 25% pre-fermented flour (100% hydration). Short mix with S&F ...

My changes:

  • The preferment was feed (and it is feed) with 97% bread flour 3% whole rye, 100% hydration. This adds a fruity smell.
  • Tested a new white bread flour. This is a strong "type 00" flour (50% extraction rate, low ash content), I think W 340. It could be used for long fermentation. Proteins contents 14% with European measurements (11.8% USA measurements).
  • Longer cold proof. This was not planned but I didn't want to bake early morning before work. So I adjusted the process to accommodate a 20h cold proof at 5°C.
I wanted to take a few shots of the process but I was tired so I took just a photo of my super cheap mixer while waiting my water cools down 2°C.                                                     
And here the levain almost ready to go:
The Bread:

Do you think it is to my taste? ...
I'm thinking these very light (empty) bread cannot be to my taste. It seems that the aroma escape from the loaf together with the water.
Next loaf? Maybe a T80 organic miche.


Shiao-Ping's picture

That's the reason why I am not big on ciabattas.   Last night I read a New York Times article (the link was provided by MC's February 24, 2010 post of No-Knead Bread) where Suas said, and I quote, Water doesn't give you any flavor or structure, so enough to hold the flour together is enough.   I never heard anyone articulate that as such and I thought that was pretty good. 

JoeVa's picture

Yes, water doesn't give flavor.

And I red somewhere (maybe Hamelman speaking) that super-hydrated bread is not the panacea for bad bread. As much water as the flour needs.


dmsnyder's picture

I bake a lot of breads with pretty high-hydration doughs, and I can't complain about their flavor. I admit that the most intensely flavored breads I've made have been lower hydration, but these have been multi-grain breads and rye breads which have more strongly flavored ingredients.

Besides, there is more to the eating experience than flavor. I love the cool mouth feel and tender but chewy crumb of a well-baked, open-crumbed bread.

Would I enjoy a bread I usually make at 75% hydration more if I made it at 65% hydration? Hmmmm .... I don't know.


JoeVa's picture

I don't want to be misunderstood, but what I think is that there's no need to compete on hydration (am I a better baker if I put some more % of water in my dough?). This is why me and Shiao-Ping reported what master bakers say about hydration (... the very "macho" bakers that go up to 90% in their ciabatta dough, who said this?). At SIGEP (Rimini Fiera) I saw a traditional sourdough from Israel, the dough was 100% hydration mixed with double water addition, it was good but Australian triticale sourdough was better with its 70% hydration.

Than there's a lot to say about flour and process. Flours are so different (think only at proteins content measurement, when I say 14% this is your 11.8%) and the process from autolyse, mixing etc can have a big impact. All these things can be adjusted to create the perfect balance between elasticity and extensibility to produce a good French dough that will be a light, well fermented sourdough loaf.

Sure, there is the first baking lesson were you see people scared by dough stickiness and they add flour to a just stiff dough because they do not see forward and do not understand what's the effect of a good bulk fermentation.

But I'm a novice in baking and maybe I'll change/reformulate my opinion one day. I have no preconception but I'm very serious when I taste bread and I am even more serious with my bread. I hope to never reach "my perfect bread" because this somewhat will stop my research.

You love something because you don't have it!


dmsnyder's picture

I don't want to be misunderstood either, Giovanni.

I'm certainly not of the "the wetter the better" school. I was reacting to what I (mis-?) understood you and Shiao-Ping to be saying that wetter doughs (how wet?) don't taste as good.


wally's picture


This may be stating what everyone here already knows, but I think the 'wetter is better' school of baking originated with commercial bakers where it makes economic sense - maybe at the expense of flavor or dough handling.  Higher hydation equals lower per unit cost of loaves.  At the amateur level I get the impression it's more a macho thing.

By the way, the 'macho' remark is from Hamelman (Bread, p.17): "...(really macho bakers go for the 90s, and more's the pity)...."

That's a pretty succinct summation, I think.


Jeremy's picture

Ciao Giovanni,

Tritacle, ha when I told some farmer/bakers I was using it they laughed because they used it for cows! I am starting to use drier levain and lower hydrations and find a different and just as delicious bread, but I think it's because I love bread I don't give any particualr bias, but I think bread matures like a fine mother who lived through the second world war in France told us about miches, 4 kilo kind, rustic but full of flavor and using them at every meal, even dry in soups...bread is really misunderstood I think, we heat it at restaurants to feed you at a meal, so you can butter it and fill yourself with water, bread....we love it but I think we need to know why we eat it, enjoy it and certainly try to master it, even if we know that it is our master....we just tend to it's needs, kneads!


Nice looking bread as usual!



JoeVa's picture

The Australian baker said me the levain is feeds only with triticale (stiff 50% hydration) and kept at 15°C. If you want to see the Australian team look at THIS post wrote by my "baking friend" Glutine. We went together at SIGEP and he had the time to write a post.

... your mother tasted one of the best bread of the world.



copyu's picture

"Time, Temperature and Technique make great bread" I believe. There is no mention of ingredients, location or hydration in this (very simple and tiny) 'philosophy of baking'.

I have made some great bread at very high hydration (well-over 80%) but I don't do it any more. (It's too difficult!) I used to keep my starter at 100% but I don't do that any more, either. (It grows too quickly for my schedule!) I'm learning this craft, slowly, as are many of us on this site, I suppose...I'm adapting American and European recipes to the Japanese climate and market-place. I'm just lucky that "baking" is a hobby here and that stores sell the necessary supplies. (Remember that most Japanese houses and apartments don't even have ovens at all!)

My 'point' is simply this—one's methodology and the local conditions determine the quality of the bread you can bake. I've lived for extended periods on several continents and many islands and archipelagos. I've never been to Europe, so I doubt I could make great bread in France, or Italy, or Germany, immediately upon arrival, no matter what ingredients, formulae or facilities I had at my disposal. I could probably LEARN to do it, though. 

However, I agree with the "Title" of Giovanni's original post. If I made 'good bread' it would have to be good "to my taste"!


nicodvb's picture

I don't know if my mouth is seriously flawed, but in 37 years of life I *never* had a bread made prevalently with white wheat that I can define good, not even passable.
I find it totally tasteless, while for "good bread" I mean a slice that convey a pleasant flavor when eaten alone (rye and durum classify as good to my likings, spelt seems to be another big disappointment).
I even tried to add large amounts of preferments fermented for a while day, retarded the dough in the fridge for 12 hours or risen the whole dough in the fridge for 2-3 days... always with a big disappointment.

I wonder if such a beast even exists.

JoeVa's picture

I understand very well, this is my problem (yes totally tasteless) BUT I know it exists because I tasted that bread. It's made with T80 flour, so we cannot speak of white bread flour but we should say "farine bise".

But not all T80 miche are so good, I think there's also a great care of the levain.

And I agree with you, with rye is easier to get a good sourdough "brick" so full and explicity in flavor, I like rye very much.


Bertel's picture

Hello Joe,

I'm with you, very high hydration doesn't do anything for the taste. Just out of curiousity can you give me the names of the flours you used? I'm still on the hunt for good flour in Umbria. Everything here tastes like wet cardboard. I'm now using molino Rosso bread flour and wholemeal and rye from Marino. I sometimes add durum. I'm going to try to find some wholemeal durum, hardly ever see that but I like the chewiness durum gives.

JoeVa's picture

Ciao Marck, I leave you a private message.