The Fresh Loaf

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Citric acid as a preservative

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hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Citric acid as a preservative

I really have enjoyed baking ~ 3# size loaves of pane integrale (25% whole wheat, 75% bread flour, 70% hydration) using a pre-ferment that uses ~ half of the total amount of flour used.  But I've been having issues with the bread molding before I and friends could finish it.  Having read so much in TFL about sourdough breads that have longer keeping qualities but also having found the whole sourdough thing to be too much work for my personal bread baking style, I decided to do a small experiment.  I began adding food quality citric acid to the loaves I bake in increasing quantities until I reached a point at which the bread keeping quality was extended to 5-6 days but I still couldn't detect the flavor of the citric acid.  For me this was using 1/4 tsp of citric acid in a 3# loaf.  The citric acid is added to the dry ingredients (along with fine-grained salt) during the second day just before adding the water, yeast and pre-ferment.


If anyone wishes, I will post the complete recipe.


aloha,


Dave Hurd, Hilo, Hawaii

GregS's picture
GregS

I would appreciate a post of your recipe. I understand your problem, I live near Kona!


GregS

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Hi Greg,


First of all, the basic approach to this bread is from Hamelman's "Bread" book and is somewhere between his "Country Bread" and "Rustic Bread".


Pre-ferment:


400 gm either APF or Better for Bread Gold Medal flour


240 gm water


10 gm (1 tsp) salt


1/8 tsp yeast


I warm the water 15 seconds in the microwave and add the yeast to it, waiting ~5 minutes before I add the water/yeast to the flour & salt. Using my elderly Bosch UM-3, I pulse the mixture several times to begin incorporation and then run it on speed 1 until the dough clears the bowl, ~ 3-4 minutes.  The resultant soft-ball-sized dough is then put into an oiled bowl, and covered overnight.


Main Ingredients


260 gm Better for Bread


220 gm Whole Wheat


368 gm water


1/2 tsp yeast


10 gm (1 tsp) salt


1/4 tsp food grade citric acid


First put the pre-ferment on a lightly floured counter and flatten.  Then weigh out the water, heat for 25 seconds and add the yeast (mix).  Now put the bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt (I use fine-grained salt) and citric acid in the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly with a spatula until well mixed.  Add the water/yeast to the dry mix, pulse to begin the mixing process and then switch to speed 1.  Wait until the dough begins to look hydrated (~2 minutes or so) and then add small chunks of the pre-ferment until everything is uniform.  I continue mixing for a total of ~5-6 minutes.


Turn the dough out onto a well-floured countertop.  I now use a moistened hand and an oiled plastic drywall spatula to do the stretch and folds.  Oiling the spatula prevents the dough from sticking to it.  I do a total of four stretch-and-folds, each separated by 30 minutes.  After the last one, put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, covered and wait until it ~doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, flatten, tuck the corners onto the top, turn over and push the dough sideways to increase dough surface tension.


At this point, I've shaped a piece of parchment paper in a collandar, lightly oiled it and dusted with corn meal.  The dough is then put into the collandar, misted with oil, covered with another collandar and a cloth over that.  I now turn on the oven to 450 F.  After ~30-45 minutes (for me) the dough leaves a slight dent when I press it so it's time to bake.  I score the dough with a small, serrated steak knife, mist with water and put into the pre-heated Dutch oven.  Now I turn the oven down to 415 F and weight 30 minutes.  Then remove the Dutch oven lid and wait another 25 minutes.  Then remove the whole Dutch oven from the oven, gently remove the bread by using the edges of the parchment paper and put the bread alone back into the oven for another 25 minutes for the crust to brown.  Because of the ~70% hydration, the crumb is very open and even.  No big holes but I'm OK with that...


The great thing about this basic recipe is that it's a great jumping off place for simple variants.  For example, I like to add a tablespoon of finely ground carraway seeds to the day two dry mix to give the flavor of rye bread.  Or, cut up half of a Portuguese sausage and fold it in during the stretch and folds;  or put in a full cup of craisins;  or half a jar of Calamatta olives; etc. etc.


All pau!


David

GregS's picture
GregS

Mahalo David!


GregS

charbono's picture
charbono

Have you tried vinegar?


 

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

I haven't tried vinegar yet but I'm sure it's in recipes for some sort of bread somewhere.  Converting from the amount of citric acid I use to the amount of vinegar to use would be an interesting exercise since I'm a former chemist.  I'll give it a little thought...


I do use vinegar when I'm cooking rice on the stove.  A teaspoon in the cooking water for each cup of rice keeps the finished rice from spoiling during warm weather.  A little in the cup that holds the shamoji (rice paddle) also keeps it from getting slimey as well.  Ah, life in the islands...


David

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi David,


using citric acid how long does your bread last without being affected by mold? I don't have such problem because my rye bread lasts a couple of weeks, but I'm curious.


I can tell you that a couple of months ago I made a wholewheat bread that came out horribly sour, basically toxic;-) Well, it lasted one month and a half witout the smallest trace of mold!


I may consider vinegar  for my other breads (essentially spelt and durum)  but I'd like to know how much should I use for 1KG of dough.


Thanks.

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Aloha Nicodvb,


Without the citric acid, my bread would spoil beginning about day 4.  Using the citric acid, I just begin to see spoilage around day 7.


I haven't done the citric acid to vinegar equivalence calculations yet.  I'll do them this evening and get back to you.


aloha,


David

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Aloha Nicodvb,


After making a few simplifying assumptions I came up with the conclusion that it would require ~12 cc (2 1/2 tsp) of 5% vinegar to have about the same acidity as 1/4 tsp of citric acid.


Since in the recipe above the total weight is 1500 grams, for your 1000 gram loaf, you would need about 8 cc of vinegar.  Of course these are just approximations...


  aloha,


David

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I'll surely try to add that amount of vinegar and report.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

how to keep off mold in a climate like yours. My daughter worked at a resort in Kona as a chef and said they didn't have any good breads over there.


Karin

hilo_kawika's picture
hilo_kawika

Hi Karin,


I have to agree with your daughter.  Much of Hawaii is a Wonderbread culture.  The large supermarkets bring in frozen base product and "bake" it.  I've seen so many cream colored "baguettes" coming out of Safeway here in Hilo that it just makes me crazy. 


Most folks here are just used to gummy bread.  Even toasting doesn't make this stuff edible although its consistency does make it perfect for fish bait when mixed with canned mackeral. 


And more remarkably when we had an "artisan" bakery here, their bread still had to be toasted to make it palatable.


I often bake some pane integrale variant for our Rotary Club breakfast meetings and am pleasantly surprised at how many compliments I get for what is really just a four ingredient (perhaps + 1 more) bread.


There may be good bread bakeries in Honolulu.  I'll have to check with my older daughter in that regard.


  aloha,


David