The Fresh Loaf

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So, I got airless English Muffins, now I'm making pain de campagne honfleur

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berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

So, I got airless English Muffins, now I'm making pain de campagne honfleur

I let it ferment overnight - smells wonderfully sour. I mixed in the hot water, then salt, and then added the flour as said. It was still soupy, added a bit more flour (equally of white and white whole wheat) and kneaded it in a VERY wet dough with the DLX mixer with the dough hook. I didn't take it out of the bowl, but put my hands on it and I 'could' get it out, but it would be like that slime you can make.. So, I left it and It's now on it's first rise.


I have no idea how I'll be able to shape it in this wet condition, but I was afraid to add more flour as I have problems with getting air bubbles. Everything always rises as it should, but never gets oven spring, or with the English muffins last night, griddle spring.


So... with the rise, will it become more manageable? Or will I be adding quite a bit of flour in the last knead and shaping?

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

one thing that does help is use plenty and I mean plenty of flour on the board when you dump out the dough..add enough on top of the dough...'wherever you don't have flour things will stick...roll or stretch it out into about a 1/2 inch thickness and shape you can then cut the the EM out.  I lift them with a spatula onto a bakers linen towel well sprinkled semolina flour and cover to proof, be careful the cover or plastic doesn't stick, spray it with oil if necessary.  Hopes this helps a little.


Sylvia 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Sylvia, so glad you said that, because it's exactly what I did and it 'seems' to have worked so far.


Progress pictures. First two are the risen dough after first rise. It rose enough to bump up the DLX Lid.



Then after shaping:



Then after 2/3s of rising:


berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

OK, all done and it's popular and I'm moderately satisfied, but I'm sure it could be better. First, this made two round loaves (recipe says can be anywhere from one large to 4 smaller loaves).


This one i made with no slashing after destroying the top of the other in the attempt:



 


Here's my attempt at slashing - with a new razor blade. All it did was sort of slice it, but mostly got stuck and deflated the middle of the bread - like always happens to me (and I was moving quickly, not deep):



 


The crumb:


 



 


The bread is only 2.5 to 3 inches tall and about 12" wide. Basically a disk, too much spread (as usual - which is why I typically like to use loaf pans). I did all the tricks of tucking under and using the surface to create resistance and tightening up the top, but it still spreads.


Suggestions? (This loaf is half white bread flour and half white whole wheat - king arthur flours). Baked in a double oven - unslashed one in a regular oven with baking stone and steam added. Other I tried to slash was baked in a convection oven without a baking stone and added steam.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

My personal experience has been that getting a loaf to hold its shape while also using high hydration dough for big holes is devilishly difficult; don't beat yourself up over it. At first my goal was just "please don't pancake"; then for a long time it was "height is more than half width".


If you're like me, you'll need to use some "tricks". These include:


 o constrain the rising, for example by rising on a piece of parchment with rolled up tea towels under the paper on the sides preventing the dough from spreading out too far


 o use molds, i.e. "banneton" pans (or colanders lined with _very_ well floured cloths) for rising, and turn risen loaves out and over only at the last minute before going into the oven


 o proof and bake in a dish (casserole? dutch oven?)


 o proof and bake in a pan (loaf pan? bundt pan?)


-----


P.S. How hot is "hot water"? Any chance you're killing the yeast?


 


 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I must be a complete nincompoop because I can't get bannetons to work for me either. My bread deflates when I flip them out.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Remember that old kids game where you do "surgery" on a patient, and if you move your hand the wrong way a buzzer sounds and you lose? Bannetons are like that: if you have to touch the loaf (or if it has to be moved more than once), you lose.


Put your hand on the bottom of the stack, palm up. Then add the banneton still with the proofed loaf inside it to the stack. Then add a piece of parchment paper. Finally put your peel on the top of the stack. (to review: palm-banneton-parchment-peel).


When you're ready, flip the whole thing over so the peel is on the bottom and your palm is on top. (Squeeze so the stack stays together rather than everything flying all over your kitchen.) The proofed loaf should drop out of the banneton right onto the parchment/peel ready to go in the oven. Since the loaf only drops an inch or two, it shouldn't deflate very much.


The proofed loaf should immediately come free of the banneton. If it sticks, getting it out will inevitably cause bigtime deflation. So flour your banneton more heavily. If that still doesn't work, flour your banneton with rice flour (maybe mixed with semolina).


If you want to do optional slashing/scoring, do it right on the peel after turning the loaf out of the banneton.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I can only imagine that your bread is overproofed if it deflates when you turn it out.


Karin

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

so I'll second her observation that the dough was already overproofed before you put it in the oven.  The texture of the crumb would seem to support that notion, as does your mention of the dough deflating during slashing.  The photo that is labeled "Then after 2/3s of rising", if the dough is unsupported, shows a loaf that, to my eye, is already past due to go into the oven.


I made this bread a week ago and had reasonably good results.  Because all of the measurements are volumes, I had to eyeball the dough consistency while adding flour during mixing (by hand) to determine when it went from too wet to simply moist.  As I recall, the dough was more tacky than sticky when finished.  It's possible that you measure a lighter cup of flour than does Mr. Clayton, leading to a wetter dough than he anticipates.  Your dough has a shiny appearance that I usually associate with "too wet" for this type of bread.


After shaping, I let the loaves finish proofing in bannetons, which is a real plus for hearth breads like this.


Some thoughts, then, to sum up. 


First, what is your gauge for the extent of proofing?  Elapsed time?  Eyeball?  Poke test or something similar?  Putting your dough in a straight-sided clear container with markings is probably the easiest way to determine whether the bulk ferment has doubled.  It's a bit harder with shaped loaves, unless you are baking in pans.  For a free-form loaf like this, some form of touching the dough, such as the poke test, will probably give the best reading of whether the dough is ready for baking.  Remember, you aren't trying to get the loaf to full-size before it is baked.  Oven spring will drive the last expansion, sometimes even more than doubling the size of the loaf.


Second, I know that Mr. Clayton's recipes don't employ weight measurements, so don't be bashful to add some more flour (a tablespoon or two at a time) if the dough looks too wet.  Or to dribble in a little water if the dough looks too dry. 


Third, work with the bannetons until you become adept (it's a practice thing) with them.  They work wonders, especially for a softer, wetter dough.  And, of course, if you haven't overproofed the dough.


Keep trying.  It will come together and you will be as happy with the appearance of your bread as you are with the flavor.


Paul

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

So, how do I know that it's overproofed? The directions say: 3-4 hours first rise. I waited about 2.5 hours as it had grown so much. Then it says shape 10 minutes (it took me like 4-5 minutes for both) and then 2-3 hours second rising and triple in size. So, I let it rise about 2 hours second time and it 'maybe' doubled plus a little more. Almost no ovenspring. (like usual).


What should I be looking for then to know it's been overproofed? I really don't know besides time and size guaging. Now, this one I didn't try to flip out as it was just rising on parchment, but in past loaves I've had that experience (a few years ago when I gave it my only try.)


From his recipe, I added probably 2/3s of a cup MORE flour than he called while mixing (as it was a super wet mess) and then about 1/2 a cup more was incorporated while shaping.


Melissa

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I usually check proofing with the "finger poke" test.  Gently press your index finger into the dough, about half the distance from fingertip to first knuckle.  If the indentation fills back up right away (2 or 3 seconds, say), the dough is not yet full proofed.  If the indentation fills in slowly, maybe over the space of 5-10 seconds, it is fully proofed and ready to go into the oven.  If the indentation just sits there without filling back in, the dough is overproofed.


If the dough is overproofed, you have a couple of options.  You can put it into the oven and pray that the bread doesn't collapse.  Or you can knead it lightly and reshape it before setting it to proof again.  If the first approach works, the bread will taste just fine but the shape and texture (and perhaps crust color) probably won't be what you are looking for.  If you use the second approach, odds are good that you'll have a successful bake although the crumb texture may be finer than you were hoping for. 


Remember that Clayton's time estimates are just that: estimates.  Like any other cookbook author, he's trying to give you a range of possibilities when he has no idea how your kitchen conditions compare to his.  In a warmer kitchen, the bread will rise much faster; in a colder kitchen, much slower.  The old adage "Watch the dough, not the clock" applies.  Similarly, he doesn't suggest that you need to spend 10 minutes in shaping; he's just giving you a time window for estimating how long the process might take.  


Visually gauging a dough's expansion is surprisingly difficult.  We read "doubled", so we reckon the dough has gotten there when it has doubled in all directions.  A simplistic example: a 2x2x2inch cube that doubles in all dimensions grows to 4x4x4 inches but the volume grows from 8 cubic inches to 64 cubic inches.  That is a 8-fold increase in the cube's volume!  To double the original cube's volume, it would only have to grow to slightly more than 2.5x2.5x2.5 inches.  And then there's the minor detail of remembering, precisely, what the original dough size was an hour or two ago.


From what you say of the flour measurements, there are a couple of possibilities.  One, you have a much lighter hand than he when it comes to filling the measuring cup.  Two, your flour is less absorbent than the flour he was using.  Or both.  I have the 4th edition, paper bound, of Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.  On page 714, there is a table of volume and weight measurements for various ingredients.  Flour, unsifted, is listed as 4-3/4 ounces, or 142 grams, per cup.  (Thanks, by the way, for motivating me to go look.  I hadn't paid attention to that table previously even though I've had the book for years.)  Since I typically measure flour in cups by spooning and leveling, my cups usually weigh somewhere in the 125-130g range.  Like you, I would have to add more "cups" to get to the same weight of flour that he arrives at with his method of measuring (which I didn't find, by the way).  That could explain your "super wet mess".  Yet another argument for weighing stuff, I guess.  


Does that help at all?


Paul

Chuck's picture
Chuck

My apologies in advance for harping on the same thing twice, but just how hot is "hot water"?


It's summer time, so your kitchen may be 80F, and even your flour may be 80F. If you interpret "hot water" to be 140F, according to my calculations you get a net dough temperature of about 100F. This is very warm; the yeast will go completely bonkers. Could this explain why you have so much over-rising even though all your times are quite a bit less than the estimates?


The recipe book in front of me interprets "hot water" to be only 120-130F, and in summertime I'd cut that back even more.


Do you have a cooking thermometer (roast? candy? meatloaf? sauce?) you can stick in the dough?

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

My yeast could have been going bonkers. My kitchen was 76 degrees (I have a thermometer I can see). My flours were stored there too.


The recipe called for hot water - 120-130. I ran it from the tap on hot (which I NEVER use more than 105-110 as most recipes say warm water, but this one speciically said HOT water). So, I ran it from the tap and measuring now, it reads at 120 (that's as hot as it will go). My starter grew like bonkers as did the doughs... I could try cooler water temps next time to see if that works better.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Paul, thank you so much! I think I have the second edition (first being 1973, and mine is listed as 1987). I have the list of volume to weights starting on 712, cups of flour are on 714.


I happened to note how much my bread flour and white wheat flour weighed - bread flour - one cup weighed 160 grams (Clayton converts that to 142 grams). My one cup of white whole wheat weighed 136 grams.  My water weighed 227 grams.


Which makes me wonder - your whole "doubling" theory. Do you think they mean visually looks doubled, or actual doubled. As you note, those are two very, very different things. I always assumed it meant visually doubled as no one can actually measure the difference.


I wont' give up, but this is a challenge!

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Quote:
Do you think they mean visually looks doubled, or actual doubled. As you note, those are two very, very different things.

I'll toss in my two cents here (not necessarily what Paul would say:-)


For rising get a straight-sided container (typically a plastic cylinder) that's small enough around your dough covers the whole bottom easily. Then just go for doubling (or tripling or whatever) of height. The other two dimensions will always stay the same, giving you a lot less to worry about, and it's more accurate (I put a bit of colored tape on the outside of my bucket so I "remember" the original height of the dough).


These things are so common they even have names like "rising bucket" and "dough doubler". Here's a first example and a second example and a third example

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

so that expression could play here in SA.  Not that I've heard it from anyone but other Americans...


Anyway, dough doubling is generally understood to be a doubling of volume, not of the overall dimensions.  Which is very much in line with ckollars' example.  That method works great for the initial, or bulk, ferment.  I often use the same approach.


Once the loaves have been shaped, though, we don't want to squish them back into a graduated container.  So, what to do?  Yes, it is possible to do a partial gauge of doubling on a visual basis so long as there is something (a bread pan, a banneton or brotform, etc.) that gives visual cues about growth.  The more reliable proof of the proof is some form of touching the dough.  That might be the poke test, described earlier.  Or it might mean very gently squeezing the dough to assess how inflated it is.  Or even the old technique of pinching off a bit of dough during shaping and dropping it in water when the shaped loaves are set to proof.  When it floats, the bread is ready to bake.  I can't vouch for that approach, having never used it.


I don't know of a foolproof approach.  I still over- or under-proof the occasional batch of bread.  Some honey whole-wheat bread I baked in pans this weekend had more than doubled when it went into the oven and it still would have benefitted from some additional expansion.  Oh, well.  Keep baking, keep taking notes.  The more experience you gain, the fewer flubs you'll have.


Paul

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

i will try the poking tests the next time I bake, but no one make fun of me if my bread comes out looking like a bowling ball with finger holes or worse, a deflated moon full of craters. LOL

Renee B's picture
Renee B

I make that bread all of the time and it has absolutely wonderful flavor, but it does tend to want to crawl across the stone a bit.  I have had to play with it a lot to strike the right balance between a flat, wide, wonderfully textured bread and a dry, crumbly loaf that stands on its own.  I've made it about 50 times and I'm just getting the hang of it.  But the beauty of it is that even the mistakes taste great.  This recipe also adapts very well to a pineapple starter, its one of my best sellers.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

The bread itself tastes great. The crust was crisp, the bread had a nice bite. One loaf of the two was gone in 12 hours. We'll cut the other one tomorrow (I also had those 30 English Muffins to eat up too).


I have a banneton, (two actually), I can try it that way to see if I get more lift, as well as not letting it rise for as long to see if that helps. I know one try is just the starting point.

Renee B's picture
Renee B

You know what works for me to keep my piece of mind when making this bread?  A cast iron skillet.  I like the taste of the bread so very much and the texture is so good when the hydration is high, but I cant seem to sell those humungous flat loaves.  I proof and bake them in a cast iron skillet.  the shape comes out perfectly and the sides of the skillet seem to funnel the loaf upward and give it a roundish bottom and the cast iron really browns the bottom well.  I know its not really that hard-core a way to bake, but it gets the result I want and I don't have to worry about losing the chewy honfleur texture.  I have also cooked it with some success as a demi-baguette in my demi pans.

Renee B's picture
Renee B

Really this bread baking thing should be relaxing instead of so frustrating.  I think my next try with this bread will be to sift the wheat flour to get rid of some of the bran.  I will probably also add a little citric acid and an autolyse.  I think I'm going to try putting the whole final dough together and put it in the fridge overnight, then shape it, proof it for 45min and bake it to see if I get better oven spring.  I think that that book tries to simplify recipes so that they're like every other recipe book, but oven spring seems to be something that arises better from making things more complicated.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Glad to hear it's not just me, but at the same time, if it were just me, I would have more confidence in fixing it. And I agree Renee B - I do think the book oversimplifies the recipe.