The Fresh Loaf

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Formula Development II - The Quest for Taste

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proth5's picture
proth5

Formula Development II - The Quest for Taste

 


Despite the advice of my graduate school advisor- "Rules are for suckers" (an attitude which I have always thought accounted for the number of indictments among those who went to the Dear Old Place) I have always been the kind of person who tries to follow the rules.


So when (shameless plug coming) the Bread Baker's Guild of America (BBGA) tells me that soakers should be "hydration neutral" - I'll do my best to comply. This week's bake however left me wondering about glib statements and vowing that some teacher in some class in the hopefully near future will be faced down with unrelenting questions about what the heck that means and how does one achieve it.


So it seems I have tipped my hand that I have included another soaker in my formula for panned bread.


In what can be considered a daring move for me, I also included a pre ferment (Varying two things at a time - oh! the horror!). True to my nature, I agonized about just what kind of pre ferment to include. I just knew that a touch of levain would add depth to the flavor of the bread, but I thought long and hard about the general tone I have sensed on these pages that one must use levain to produce great bread. I continue to hold on to my belief that commercial yeast can still make great breads, but when push came to shove I realized that I have plenty of starter just hanging about the house waiting to be put to use, and it was foolish not to do it. Not that I wanted a pure levain bread - but a little bit couldn't hurt. As an offset to this I did lower the yeast content.


But first, on to the soaker. I had some wheat bran in the house from an earlier milling run. Always mindful of folks' desire to get a little more "roughage" in the diet in painless ways, I was thinking about the bran - which could be re-milled to powdery softness and maybe - put in a soaker! How to determine "hydration neutral"? I thought that I had a method for that - just put a measured amount of water to the bran and then the next morning strain out the water and voila - hydration neutral!


I was alarmed when the bran/water mixture became more a slurry than anything else but assumed (and you know what that makes of you and me) that in the morning the bran would settle to the bottom and all would be well.


Meanwhile, I mixed up the pre ferment, which I made at 60% hydration so as not to use up too much of the water that would be poured over the oatmeal. I only wanted a touch of flavor, so I settled on 5% of the flour in the pre ferment (which is somewhat in line with what I have been using in my lean hybrid breads.) And so - to sleep, perchance to - oh, you know.


Next morning full of the optimism that a warm and sunny day in the Mile High City always inspires in me, I confronted my bran soaker (well, the first thing - and I do mean the very first thing - I did when hitting the kitchen was to heed the words of "my teacher" who told us that we need to invoke our "baker's instinct" and always check the pre ferments upon entering "the bakery") which had, indeed, not settled out into any kind of distinct layers, but sat in the bowl as the same slurry it was the night before. As I poured it into my finest sieve, little water came out and it remained in the sieve as a quivering, gelatinous mass - not dripping water, but distinctly moist. Hydration neutral my clavicle.  Nothing to do but mix it in and see what happened.


What happened was a gloppy mess in the bowl of my precioussss. I've seen slack doughs in my life, but this was beyond that. I added measured amounts of flour until it became a soft, sticky dough.


Of course, we are not supposed to do this. Why? Anyone? Bueller? That's right. Because we add other ingredients as percents of the flour and greatly adjusting the amount of flour will throw off the balance of the formula. But in my defense, this is formula development - not a final bread to be sold to customers. The formula presented below shows amounts against my adjusted amount of flour.


I have considered (and rejected) doing an intensive mix for this bread to up the volume (although the volume is certainly acceptable). I've had the opportunity to taste what intensive mix will do to baguettes and while this bread is deriving plenty of flavor and color from the molasses, I still wanted to preserve the wheat flavor by not mixing intensively. Although I do consider that I am being chicken hearted with my mixing times with some other products...


After a fold, the dough behaved very well and was shaped/proofed and baked.


How was the bread? I was right about the levain - it added depth of flavor without making the bread sour. The bran was invisible and did not interfere with the rise at all, nor did it seem to taste of anything. I'm not sure the bran was worth the effort and I'll be removing that from the next iteration (Bran Soaker, please pack your knives and go!). The levain will move forward, although I'm considering how that might morph next week.


Still no pictures this week. I am doing a little work with the doctors at "the place" about why I hate photography so much and perhaps next week. But the loaves were brown little loaves - fine crumb.


In the meantime, here's the formula that I used just so the record is complete. It isn't bad - it's just that the bran soaker was more trouble than it was worth.  This doesn't have all the cool color codes of the BBGA formula format, but the actual data is in the correct format.  Don't be too distressed by the baker's percentages - they are actually calculated as they should be and are correct, but may be just slightly different than others you have seen.


Because I haven't converted the oatmeal solution to a proper soaker (since apparently I don't know how), there is a bit of variation with boiling water (for the oatmeal) and levain water being two separate water measurements.


If you are baking this bread - do NOT use the "Total Dough" column to mix or weigh anything.  Use the "soaker" area to weigh/mix for the soaker, the levain area to weigh/mix the levain, and the final dough area to weigh/mix your final dough.  This is similar to, but not identical to the usage of columns in "Bread, etc".  Be careful.  I have a little quip about this, but it is too rude for TFL. 



Total Dough Wt

 

72.414

oz

 

 

 

Percent of flour in Levain

0.05

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

Total Dough

 

 

Soaker

 

 

Levain

 

 

Final Dough

 

 

 

%

Wt

UOM

%

Wt

UOM

%

WT

UOM

Ingredients

Wt

UOM

Total Flour

 

27

oz

 

 

oz

100%

1.35

oz

Total Flour

25.65

oz

KA AP Flour

100%

27

oz

 

 

oz

100%

1.35

oz

KA AP Flour

25.65

oz

Levain Water

3%

0.81

 

 

 

oz

60%

0.81

oz

Levain Water

0

oz

Rolled Oats

17%

4.59

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Rolled Oats

4.59

oz

Steel Cut Oats

11%

2.97

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Steel Cut Oats

2.97

oz

Boiling water

74%

19.98

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Boiling water

19.98

oz

Shortening(leaf lard)

3%

0.81

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Shortening(leaf lard)

0.81

oz

Molasses

11%

2.97

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Molasses

2.97

oz

Milk Powder

4%

1.08

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Milk Powder

1.08

oz

Salt

3%

0.756

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Salt

0.756

oz

Yeast

1%

0.162

oz

 

 

oz

 

 

 

Yeast

0.162

oz

Bran

4%

1.08

oz

100%

1.08

oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soaker Water

37%

9.99

oz

100%

9.99

oz

 

 

 

Soaker

11.07

oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed

1%

0.216

oz

 

 

 

16%

0.216

oz

Levain

2.376

oz

Totals

268%

72.414

oz

200%

11.07

oz

176%

2.376

oz

 

72.414

 

 

Combine the two types of oats, boiling water, milk powder and shortening.  Allow to cool to lukewarm. 

Add the salt, molasses, yeast, levain, soaker, and flour.  Mix 5 minutes on the single speed of the spiral mixer. Or use your preferred method of mixing.

Let rise until doubled - 2 hours at cool room temperature.  Fold.  Let rise again - about 2 hours at cool room temperature. 

Shape and place in greased pans.  Proof (1 hour) and bake at 375F for 40 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on a rack.

Until next time - Happy Baking!

Comments

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

Couldn't help but laugh at the bran soaker.  I have done that before, years ago, what a messy yuckiness it creates!  Glad your bread turned out good though....


Love your posts, always something good in them!


Joanne

proth5's picture
proth5

for the kind words.  I guess that bran soaker is something that you have to try once.  It seems like such an innocent thing...

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Isn't that the Dracula guy?


Thanks for the entertaining lesson, Pat.


Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Now I recall, Glenn, Vampire drool!


The UCLA Med. Center ER does get the most interesting patients.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

that line sounded familiar ;>)


Wonder if it was by accident....

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Am trying to wrap my head around this hydration neutral soaker concept, Pat.


In the formulas I've made that use a soaker, the water contained in the soaker is always a part of the overall formula.  In making a soaker, at a minimum the weight of the water should be at least the weight of the grain/seed.


If the weight of the water of the soaker is included in the overall formula, doesn't squishing out the water change the hydration of the dough?  If it's not included, wouldn't the moisture of the soaker still have some (albeit small) effect on the hydration?


What is a hydration neutral soaker supposed to accomplish - other than perplexity?

proth5's picture
proth5

I thought I had my head wrapped around it - but I didn't.


I think you have access to the BBGA members area, so take a look at Breadlines  Vol 17 issue 3 for the formula standards.  Yes, the weight of the soaker water is included in the overall formula, but it is supposed to be completely absorbed by the soakee so that adding the soaker doesn't change the hydration of the dough either by giving up water or absorbing water.  The claim is that this gives better control over the consistecy of the dough. (There's a callout that explains this on page 13.)


So you are supposed to rebalance your formula (I guess) so that you adjust the soaker water to be only what is needed to soak into the grains that you are soaking.


Or so goes the theory. 


Of course, even the BBGA admits determining this takes "trial and error." Okaaaaay. I've got the "error" part worked out.


That way when you look at the % of water in the formula, you can tell the true hydration rather than wondering what % of the hydration actually comes from the soaker water.


Which is why someone in the very near future will be pestered by a raggedy home baker about how this is really done.


I don't expect to be writing formulas for the BBGA anytime soon.  I'm just trying to up my game a bit.


Hope this helps.


Pat

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Thanks for the reference, Pat.


Will visit the BBGA site later tonight so I can become even more confused.


Maybe I'll do a search of the BBGA forum and see if it's been talked about there.

proth5's picture
proth5

that if you've been using Mr Hamelman's formulas - the BBGA standard is just ever so slightly different. His soakers are not "hydration neutral" but rather you do count on the soaker water to add hydration to the bread.


That may be the source of some confusion.


Remember that his book was written some while ago and time, like an ever rolling stream...


Hope this helps.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

In the BBGA forum, all in 2004.  Abram Faber wrote in response to a question from Mike Avery:



When we add soakers of any kind to our dough's we look at them as hydration neutral because we try to design them to only have as much water put in as they will absorb or to drain off the excess water before mixing (By the way ³hydration neutral² is my own term I coined for when we finally figured out how to hydrate raisins to not have dry voids around them or to bloat, and is probably unscientific in some way). So we include none of the water that goes in the soaker as part of the hydration. Because we are not using it to hydrate the flour. We are simply reconstituting some other ingredient with it. And if the excess water has some beneficial properties to the dough that you don¹t want to waste that it got from being part of the soaker (kind of like a tea) it can always be added back in as part of the final mix¹s water when that is weighed out separately.



The point about reconstitution makes sense.  


Now off to read Volume 17.3

proth5's picture
proth5

that I read that between the lines when I read the definition in Breadlines.


This is why I am not a teacher...


Thanks for posting a better explanation.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Volume 17.3 did offer a tiny blurb expanding on Abe's definition:



 The right amount of soaker liquid required to make the final soaker "hydration neutral" depends on the ingredients, and is often arrived at by trial and error. "Hydration neutral" means that the grain or seeds in the soaker will not give up extra water into the dough or take up water from the dough, skewing the fnal desired consistency.



The "trial and error" is the amusing elephant in the room, since that paragraph precedes a graph containing columns of baker's percentages with so many numbers, my eyes nearly crossed.


The only soakers I've made used seeds which were soaked overnight.  The soaker water was part of the overall formula.


Uncle Ben's Wild Rice came to mind because it can be cooked so the rice is quite firm, or quite soft.  Would firm rice take up water, or soft rice add water to the dough?   Maybe if large amounts were added to 25 pounds or more of dough.  I'm just not sure how noticeable the effect would be with a cup of rice added to two pounds of dough.


I guess that's were trial and error comes in.


Thanks, Pat.  I learned what hydration neutral means and was able to figure out the BBGA formula format.  The latter was harder than the former.


It's been a good day.