The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

IBIE - Monday

proth5's picture

IBIE - Monday

Monday 8:30 AM (Hey! This is like work!) saw a room full of bakers and imposters gathered to hear a lecture on commercially yeasted pre ferments from Didier Rosada and Jeffrey Yankellow.

I don't think it is fair, nor do I think it is possible for me to record the entire content of this two and a half hour lecture in this blog.  However, there are some highlights that bear reporting.

Mr. Rosada introduced a slide on the effects of fermentation and told the crowd that the mastery of this slide was the secret to great bread.  In short, fermentation produces CO2, alcohol, and acidity.  And he then told us in short the secret to great bread: "The secret is time."

Most home bakers are familiar with the principle of using pre ferments as a way to add flavor to our breads.  However pre ferments create acidity and also start some enzyme activity.  The acidity can add strength to a weak flour (up to a point) so a lower protein flour will perform like a higher protein flour.  Liquid pre ferments in particular favor "protease" activity which degrades the gluten somewhat and can add extensibility to the dough handling qualities.  In fact, a liquid pre ferment is the "classic" baguette pre ferment because a baguette must be rolled out and extensibility matters.

This really gave me something to think about.  For example, I have usually used a liquid pre ferment for my whole wheat loaves.  However, because it is home milled and because the wheat is usually freshly ground, I am essentially adding extensibility to what is already a somewhat weak flour.  It might be better to use a firm pre ferment and strengthen the dough a bit more.

While we're on that topic, there was discussion on the how the percent of the total flour in the formula that is pre fermented also can impact dough strength (more pre ferment making the dough more strong).  I've been yapping about the importance of this little variable on these pages, but it mostly gets ignored.  I knew it was important because I saw what changes in the percentage of flour pre fermented made in my own bread, but I didn't know exactly why.  This is Didier Rosada and Jeffery Yankelow (ok, I don't normally like to drop names, but this time I will) telling you folks - it matters.  A higher percentage of flour pre fermented will increase flavor, but have such a large impact on dough strength that the dough is impossible to shape. Something to consider in formula design.  I do think about these things from time to time.

Mr. Yankellow gave us a brief presentation on that most controversial of subjects - standard terms for various pre ferments.  I know that Humpty Dumpty is appalled by this whole idea, but I find it comforting to actually know what the person I am talking to means when s/he says "poolish" or "sponge."  Maybe it's just a limitation of my tiny mind.

Both of these gentlemen are advocates of salt in a poolish as it gives more control over when it will ripen and a longer "usability" window.  Using pre ferments - particularly poolish - at the right stage of ripeness was emphasized.

The lecture continued on with points that are more apropos for professional bakers than home bakers, but all in all it was still a very worthwhile session.

Then it was out to the exhibition floor.

I was immediately drawn to a robot bread scoring machine - which used a blade more closely resembling a tomato knife than anything else.

For the individual looking for a home deck oven (breadfairy!)  - well, this show really wasn't about home bakers.  I did encounter several "small" deck ovens being used in demonstration booths.  Miwe has the Gusto - which is a very small commercial convection oven, the Condo (small deck), and the Wenz 1919 - which they describe as a nostalgic deck oven.  The Bread Baker's Guild of America demonstration oven was a Matador (deck oven) designed for "in store" baking - which had the cutest little loader I have ever seen.  It is included with the oven, but I'll be doing research on buying one separately.  There must be some way to rig that thing for home ovens.  TMB baking was showing a TMB Mini Tube oven.  No one had printed collateral.  That's the best I could do.  You can type those names into your favorite search engine.

But while hanging about the combined TMB and SFBI (San Francisco Baking Institute) booth I did make quite a discovery.  SFBI is creating videos that demonstrate the making of every product in "Advanced Bread and Pastry".  They will be offering these as downloads with a projected subscription price of $60 per year.  Sooooo cool!  They scanned my badge so I will get an email when the product is finally released.  Wow.

The two or three people who actually read my blogs will know already that after getting a significant number of samples at the SFBI booth, I would be drawn like a moth to a flame to the Rondo booth where I could pine over a large variety of sheeters.

I then stopped by the booth of some kinda ingredient seller to find "my teacher" forming high hydration baguettes and batards.  Not only was it a joy to see those hands forming dough (and chat), but I found out that (shameless plug coming) The Bread Baker's Guild of America would be having a class in my very own Mile High City with "my teacher" at the helm.  So would make me want to join to get the announcement on that class (if I were not a member already.)  Wild dogs will not be able to keep me away.

Then on to North Dakota Mills to chat about how we home bakers might get some of these more specialized flours (no conclusion reached - go to the website and find a distributor was their suggestion) but mostly to score a plastic scraper.

I did drop by the Louis LeSaffre Cup where Teams Costa Rica, Argentina, and Brazil were baking, but my poor fragile feeties were beginning to hurt.  Reminding myself that this was indeed a vacation where I wanted to get rest and care for my rapidly aging body, I decided to go back to the hotel and rest.  Although I will not get to taste the offerings, they will be on display tomorrow.

All in all a good day at the show.  For me, to see "my teacher" made it the best of all possible days.

So I sit with my feet propped up waiting for a decent time to have a martoonie (of course, this is Las Vegas...) in anticipation of tomorrow's session on levain based pre ferments.  I can't decide if I am just pitiful or one very lucky gal.

Happy Baking!


SylviaH's picture

Very nice write-up, thanks for sharing! 


proth5's picture

very welcome!

wally's picture

Thanks for sharing what you've learned.  In particular, as someone who has had a lot of experience with poolish and knows that if allowed to overripen it can wreak havoc with a dough's gluten structure, I'm glad you mentioned the addition of salt as a way of extending/retarding its ripening process.  I've long known that salt can be added to a levain for this purpose, but I never thought to apply this to poolish.  Duh!!

Thanks again.


proth5's picture

on salting poolish.  I have been told to never use salt, however, I do have to give serious consideration to its extending the usability window.

Not a particularly big concern for home bakers, perhaps, but something for people working in a production environment.

LindyD's picture

Great reporting, Pat.  I think you should have your own column in the WSJ's Life and Culture section. 

I recall reading about salting a sourdough culture to control ripening (Hamelman), but his text on pre-ferments uses yeast percentages as the control method.  I think in either case, you'd have to do some experimentation in the home kitchen where temps fluctuate, especially in the winter.

Your description of the robotic bread scorer brought to mind a vision of a Komachi-wielding ASIMO.

Any compact sheeters?  

Thanks.   Wish there was some way we could buy a live feed of tomorrow's lecture.

proth5's picture

What I should do is wear a sign around my neck "Will blog for tote bags and samples."

Oooo, I'll let the sleeping dog of what Mr Hamelman advocates lie.  I will say that discussion wound around to a nominal sacrifice in extensibility for adding salt. 

Saw a couple of compact sheeters in demo booths.  But those great big indutrial sheeters! >>Oh oh oh!<<

These robotic bakery tools are way cool.  Most are a cube of supports with a single arm that moves in all directions.  There was one that inspected hamburger buns for defects and could kick them off the line if they weren't perfect.  It would then straighten them for packaging.  No bakers required.

I'm looking forward to today's lecture, too...

breadsong's picture

Hi there proth5,,

I'm so looking forward to getting down there tomorrow afternoon. I'll try to take some worthwhile pictures and post them. Thanks for writing about what you've seen so far.

With thanks from breadsong

proth5's picture

that you get some pictures at the LeSaffre Cup - beautiful breads and very impressive decorative pieces.

dmsnyder's picture

I'm enjoying your account.

Here's a video on the mini-tube oven you mentioned:


proth5's picture

I was confident that there would be internet "oven porn"

louie brown's picture
louie brown

...for the great reporting. I had hoped to make it out there. This is the next best thing.

proth5's picture

it gives you some flavor of the thing...

You're welcome.

Mebake's picture

I'd say one very lucky gal!

PAT, our TFL ambassador to the oven world!

proth5's picture

with just a little pitiful in me. 

Thanks for the kind words.