The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Accidental Loaf

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wally's picture
wally

The Accidental Loaf

              


Now that summer is in full blaze in the Washington, DC area, I've banished my rye and white levain starters to my refrigerator, where they seem to mournfully regard me whenever I open the door.  This past weekend as I was gazing on them I realized they hadn't been fed in the better part of a week and were probably getting cranky.  So I temporarily liberated them from their frosty clime and after an hour or so they were both bubbling and ready to be fed.  But as I started to toss a good portion of both it dawned on me I was about to waste a lot of levain for the lack of a plan.


Now, one thing I learned from TFL that has been driven home daily in a commercial environment is that you don't just toss a bit of this and a smidge of that together in creating a loaf of bread.  Everything is planned, everything is weighed, always.  But it was late and I wanted to just feed my starters and be off to bed, so I grabbed an empty container and a tablespoon and proceeded to throw a couple tbls. of both levains together, along with a handful of rye and one of Sir Galahad which I reckoned came to probably half a cup together, and enough water to create what looked like it might be a 100% starter.  And went to bed.


The next morning I found my mixed-starter healthy and looking for a new home, so I decided to create something on the fly.  At this point I did weigh the mixture which came to 240g.  So with that in mind I decided to construct a loaf that would have a hydration of 68% - making it easy to work with - and where the mixed starter comprised 25% of total dough weight.  Again, an easy number to work with.


Some quick computing, and I came up with the following:


Ingredient      Baker's Percent      Weight
Flour                       100%                       565 g
Water                       68%                        384 g
Salt                            2%                           11 g


Total                       170%                    960 g


All of which was especially convenient since total weight was just over 2 lbs - a nice size boule for my banneton.


Since I already had 240 g of levain, I did some 'guesstimating' based on the previous evenings couple-of-this-and-a-handful-of-that and decided that the compositon of the levain was probably in the neighborhood of 50 g starter, 95 g flour and 95 g water.


With those numbers in hand it was then easy to determine my final dough mix, which I decided would incorporate 20% whole wheat flour:


Sir Galahad             80%                355 g
KA WW                   20%                  90 g
Water                      58%                264 g
Salt                           2%                    11 g
Levain                     25%                240 g
Total                                             960 g


Desired dough temp is 76°-78°F.


I employed an autolyse with the flours and water for 30 minutes, and then added the levain and salt and mixed on speed 1 for 3 minutes, on speed 2 for 2 minutes and speed 3 for another 3 minutes. 


[Long aside] If I were utilizing a commercial spiral mixer instead of my poor Hamilton Beach this would be an overmixed bread. But frankly, I'm beginning to doubt that most kitchen stand mixers are even capable of overmixing in the sense of over-oxygenating dough and consequently wiping out its carotenoids.  In fact, I'm finding that I can either do a very extended mix on speed 1 only, or an abbreviated one using speed 3.  On speed 2 the dough just tends to form a ball around the hook and it just goes round and round, which isn't really contributing to gluten development I think.  By contrast, with my mixer, on speed 3 the dough is forced down the hook and gradually begins to slap the sides of the mixer which is an outcome you look for using a commercial mixer, signifying gluten development.


Bulk fermentation was 2 1/2 hours, with two folds at 50 minute intervals.  I pre-shaped a boule, allowed it to rest for 20 minutes, and then did final shaping, placed in a well-floured banneton, and proofed for 1 1/2 hours.  Because it was now early afternoon Saturday and blazing hot, I decided after this shortened proofing period to retard the loaf in my refrigerator for about 4 hours or so, until the afternoon's heat began to dissipate, making it bearable to have the oven on in my kitchen.


After a little more than 4 hours in the refrigerator the dough came out to a preheated oven at 430° F (my oven seems to run hot, so I stepped down the temp from the 460° temperature I'd otherwise bake at.


Pre-steamed, loaded the boule, and then steamed immediately and again after 2 minutes.  Total bake time was 50 minutes.


                        


For an accidental loaf I'm pleased with the outcome.  It developed a nice crackly crust as it sang once out of the oven, and the crumb is moist and open - but not too open (it's easy to forget that not everything is supposed to resemble ciabatta :>)


      


 


    


This makes a nice sandwich bread.  It's moderately sour, which in my case probably reflects the impact of the rye starter more than the white one.  Lesson learned: easy way to avoid just tossing some extra starter down the drain, and an opportunity to make up a formula on the fly.


--Larry


                                    

Comments

Franko's picture
Franko

That's real nice looking accident you've got there Larry. 


ATB,


Franko

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Franko!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

To even bake in your DC heat!  


That's one mighty fine looking boule - but I don't think accidental gives it justice.  How about "spontaneous"?


It must have had a great chewy taste with that nice flour combination.  

wally's picture
wally

Probably the better word.  I'm so used to planning everything in advance (production schedules) that this was way out of character.  But it felt good to just do a spur of the moment formula - even in the heat!


It's got a nice taste - obviously the whole wheat comes through, and then there's the little bit of sour to round it out.


Lary

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Even as far South as DC I would have thought you would be cool ! We have had over 95 since June 1....it has been miserable and I like heat. We are off to the PNW next week for 6 weeeeeks...ask me if I am elated . 


I don't waste starter .  I don't bother to discard anymore  when I am feeding I just set it out and start adding flour and water every hour and in 2-3 hrs it is happy as a clam, like yours. I haven't had a problem. I also ,as you saw with your formula that I borrowed and altered for time constraints, I am not doing builds per se or preferments in  a special way either. I just feed the starter and weigh out the amount for the final dough and start the formula from there.   I don't weigh my feedings at all. After all this time I know what the percentage hydration is close enough and many of us  are home bakers not pros so there is no reason not to just feel the dough and add flour and water as needed based on the environment temp and the humidity. I guess my "old school" has really taken over. All the % and # and grams is too much for one loaf of bread. If I was baking as a pro and making 100 loaves I would follow the rules. 


I LOVE what you have done ...makes me smile . c

wally's picture
wally

I really don't weigh out my levain feedings anymore either.  You get to know the amount and the feel of the hydration after a time.


Yes, I have a.c., but it only keeps the house about 20 degrees less than the ambient outside temp, so when it gets around a 100 here, it's hot - inside as well as out.


I'm doing most of my baking these days after 7pm till things get reasonable again, weather-wise.


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

You are one creative, spontaneous baker, and that's very good...have a cold beer  : )


Sylvia

wally's picture
wally

and, yes, I think I will have a cold beer.  It's another sweltering day in DC.


Larry

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nice Job on this Successful Sourdough. I admire your courage at steaming a venting oven. I want to give my gas oven a chance and try pre-steaming and steaming as you did, but afraid to loose too much heat while doing so. I'll gther the nerve with my bake today.


Khalid

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Put together with knowledge and the confidence it will work. Nice job Larry.


Eric

wally's picture
wally

As I went through my back-of-the-envelop calculations on a yellow pad I recalled a reply to a post where you shared a picture of a top-of-the-head recipe you'd quickly scratched out on a yellow pad.


I think I'm at the point where it's time to be a bit more adventuresome.  I don't want to foresake good recipes in books, but it's definitely a different kind of fun to just create one with some notion as to what the finished product should be like.


Larry

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Larry you are an experienced baker in a commercial environment so I know you are way more competent than I am at these "Top of the Head" mixes. But I am at the point where I enjoy knowing the basic ratios that work in my head. My handling handling has improved to where I can shape most anything well thanks to you and others here who have shown the light. When I look at a written recipe in a book now, I see the differences from the formulas I am familiar with, mostly from Hamelman,  Reinhart and Lepard. I haven't had a total dud in a while so maybe I'm not pushing the envelope hard enough:>)


Eric

wally's picture
wally

has taught me as much if not more than the commercial environment.  There is a lot more experimentation here than there, where the chief goal is consistency.  So I'm obliged to you and everyone else I've learned from.


Larry


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Your crumb bears testimony to your good mixing and fermentation and shaping. It's outstanding.


I wouldn't call that loaf "accidental." It was well-planned and made with expertise that you have systematically developed. I'd call it "artisanal." 


David

wally's picture
wally

Many thanks David!


Larry

holds99's picture
holds99

and an interesting story.  It's always reassuring to find out the starters are still alive and kicking.


Howard

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Howard - and yes, there was a time when I whether my starters would be alive the next day.  Now, it's a matter of just determining how hungry they are :>)


Larry