The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Formula Development VII – Miracle on N-tee-Nth Street

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proth5's picture
proth5

Formula Development VII – Miracle on N-tee-Nth Street

I may have mentioned somewhere in passing on these pages that I have a koi pond in my backyard.  It is a beautiful and peaceful thing in the warmer months, but can be just a little grim in the clutches of a Rocky Mountain winter and fatalities among the inhabitants can occur.  Since I am an omnivore, I try to be unsentimental about this, but there are always two factors that come into play in any fish death.  One, even though fish must die some time, as with all living things, I always feel that it has been some failure on my part to provide them with the right environment that caused their demise.  Two, these are not small fish.  Death involves finding a place and digging a fairly large hole to dispose of the remains. Pulling the body from the water in winter conditions cannot accurately be described as being easy.


So it was with sinking heart that I saw the tail of one of my 10 year old fish projecting from the rocks at the edge of the pond moving limply with the movement of the water.  Thinking there was little I could do, I went about more urgent business and mulled over where the burial would take place.  It seemed like the coldness of the water had preserved it well and the death had been recent since the scales still had a sheen to them.


My house sitter dropped by to tell me a fish had been missing for three days. As we surveyed the protruding tail, I saw real movement.  "That fish is alive," I said, "But stuck in the rocks." (Koi are not over intelligent, but they do have creative ways of getting into jams that will eventually do them in.) Without a moment's hesitation I lifted the heavy blocks that hold down the winter netting and began to remove rocks.  The pond is a beautiful thing to look at, but was not built with rock moving in mind.  Rock moving has to be done with one hand - one hand in water that in some places was still crusted with ice.  If you wish to try this at home, take a large bucket of water and drop in a rock about the size of your head.  Let the water stand in a warm sunny area until surfaces are uniformly covered in algae.  Then chill the bucket until a crust of ice forms.  Break through the ice with your non-dominant hand and attempt to pick up the rock.  Imagine that if you drop the rock you will crush the life out of the creature you were trying to save.  Let me know how it turns out.  For bonus points have a small cut on one finger.


In the end, the rocks were moved, the fish spent a few moments collecting itself, and then simply swam away to join its buddies.  They're tough little spuds.  My finger got some extra special attention (the infections one can get from pond water are many and can be quite nasty) and is recovering nicely. 


Life - Death - Life, again.  A miracle on the pond.


So what does this have to do with formula development?  Well, a second miracle occurred at the Crumbled Abode on that day.  I really liked the flavor of my developing formula.  With the formula math corrected it turned out to be a lovely balanced bread with both the flavor of the grain and the sweetness of the molasses.  I even liked the color which with the return of the molasses had turned back from tan to brown (which is not really shown well in the picture.)  I really think that I have achieved contentment with the base ingredients. Perfection?  No.  But contentment. Yes, the doctors at "The Place" would call it a miracle.


The crumb remains a bit too fragile, but I am still reluctant to try higher gluten flour.  Examining a loaf that I had shaped using a different method, I am convinced for now that the fault, dear readers lies not in our gluten, but in ourselves.  After years of light handed shaping, I think I am not putting enough oomph into forming the simple loaf.  Also I transitioned to a larger pan at some point during my formula addling and I may be over proofing to compensate. Perhaps I will need to beat myself up for a few weeks over this until I give in and use bread flour or high gluten flour or perhaps I will just give in and steal from the best sooner rather than later, but I don't want to turn this bread into a chewy textured bread.  (Geez, back to struggling to get the crumb right...)  If anything, though, this bread rises too well and the crumb is too airy - which would seem to indicate that gluten itself is not a problem.


But contentment with the base flavor frees me to consider inclusions.  This bread already has some visible inclusions in the form of the steel cut oats and I don't want to turn this into seedy, nutty bread, but I think it could use just a little jazzing up in the form of another inclusion.  Since the mighty Diamant stands ready, there are any number of cracked grains to consider.  I've thought about millet - which is something I used to add to a beer flavored quick bread, but I'm not sure I want the crunch.  Although I know that nuts would be flavorful, again, I am reluctant to put them in a sandwich loaf.  I kind of feel the same way about dried fruits (although I ponder that once I get the base dough right loading it up in this way would be a tasty variation.)  Well, I have time to consider.


This week's formula:


Total Dough Wt

 

64.098

oz

Levain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

 

 

Percent of Flour in Levain

0.1

 

Final Dough

 

 

 

%

Wt

UOM

%

WT

UOM

Ingredients

Wt

UOM

Total Flour

1.00

27

oz

1

2.7

oz

Total Flour

24.30

oz

Whole Wheat Flour

0.30

8.1

oz

 

 

 

Whole Wheat Flour

8.10

oz

KA AP Flour

0.60

16.2

oz

 

 

 

KA AP Flour

16.20

oz

Triticale Flour

0.10

2.7

oz

1

2.7

oz

 

 

 

Additional Water

0.13

3.618

oz

0.6

1.62

oz

Additional Water

2.00

oz

Rolled Oats

0.17

4.59

oz

 

 

 

Rolled Oats

4.59

oz

Steel Cut Oats

0.11

2.97

oz

 

 

 

Steel Cut Oats

2.97

oz

Boiling water

0.74

19.98

oz

 

 

 

Boiling water

19.98

oz

Shortening(leaf lard)

0.03

0.81

oz

 

 

 

Shortening(leaf lard)

0.81

oz

Molasses

0.06

1.62

oz

 

 

 

Molasses

1.62

oz

Agave Nectar

0.05

1.35

oz

 

 

 

Agave Nectar

1.35

oz

Milk Powder

0.04

1.08

oz

 

 

 

Milk Powder

1.08

oz

Salt

0.03

0.756

oz

 

 

 

Salt

0.76

oz

Yeast

0.004

0.108

oz

 

 

 

Yeast

0.11

oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed

0.008

0.216

oz

0.08

0.216

oz

Levain

4.536

oz

Totals

2.074

55.998

oz

1.68

4.536

oz

 

64.098

 

 

Mix pre ferment and allow to ripen 8-12 hours

Pour boiling water over the two types of oats and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Combine oats and pre ferment with the remaining ingredients and mix for 6 minutes on the sole speed of a spiral mixer (or use your preferred mixing method) 

Bulk ferment 4 hours at room temperature (warmer this week...). One fold.

Shape. Proof 1.5 hours.  Bake at 360F for 45 minutes.

 

Have fun!

Comments

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

From appearance and from your description, perhaps your dough is under-mixed, resulting in a less than optimum gluten development for a sandwich type loaf.  You don't say what the one speed is on your spiral mixer, but I'd expect an intensive mix for this type bread, or about 8 minutes or more at 200RPM; longer at slower speeds.


You use a long slow preferment, which provides for the desirable flavor and acid development, so a long bulk rise does not seem appropriate or helpful. I'd think you would simply rest the dough for 30 minutes or so, then pre-shape, rest, shape and pan. Final proof would run about 2-3 hours, give or take.


I would not presume to advise you, my experience being so limited compared to yours, except that I've been trying to develop an ideal sandwich loaf for the last two years. It was txfarmer's blog on pain de mie stressing the gluten development that made the final difference for me. Michel Suas's Advanced Bread and Pastry made clear the science.


For your consideration,


gary

proth5's picture
proth5

I've thought about the possibility of undermixing, but, to my hands my dough doesn't feel undermixed and I do get a windowpane.


Folks tell me that the mini spiral has an RPM of 160 -  so to get 900 turns (per Hamelman)  that's about 5-6 minutes - so I fall well in the range.


I'll admit to wimpiness on mixing times because you can get dough development with time and folds and overmixing will just destroy those pesky carotenoid pigments. Even in a panned bread there has got to be some impact from an intensive mix.  I think back to those beautiful breads in Japan that tasted mostly of nothing and the intensive mix seems like a bad idea. But  I keep coming back to: the dough doesn't feel underdeveloped.  I'll pay close attention to that, though, on my next try.


I do use a long, slow pre ferment, but not much of it and with a grain that has low strength anyway.  I'm not completely sure I can skip the bulk ferment.  Although that's an interesting thought.  The orginal, original called for about double the yeast and a rise time of one hour, shape, and proof.  Most of the older panned bread recipes that I used to bake called for a rise, a "punch down" another rise and then a shape  (no pre shape) and proof - and some for a "sponge" - which roughly parallels my process.  I hate to fool with something when I'm content with it,though.  But the question that I ask myself (and you) is: If we use pre ferments in lean breads (and we do) and we still do a long bulk ferment (and we do that, too) why would a long bulk ferment not be helpful in an enriched bread?  What's the harm (other than wasting time)?


If I hadn't cut into my "three small boules" loaf - which I shape very tightly and found a sturdy crumb, I'd be more convinced on dough development, but the edges of my regular loaf are perfectly fine - just spots in the middle - leading me to believe it's my shaping.  For now.


But I will pay closer attention to my dough development on the next try, because I'm pretty sure I won't be using a higher gluten flour.


Thanks for the food for thought.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

That 900 revolutions (Suas calls for 1,000) is what Suas calls an modified improved mix, needing a little stretching and folding usually, and is generally the preferred level for lean breads with moderate volume and larger, irregular holes; the usual hearth breads. With panned sandwich breads, we usually find a higher volume and a tighter, more regular hole structure desirable.  This requires an intensive mix, about 1600 turns for a strong windowpane.  (See txfarmer's post, linked above, for her discussion.)


There is definitely a loss of flavor due to the intensive mix, but it is ameliorated by the preferment. The prime benefit of the preferment seems to be the acidification of the preferment's flour. That improves the flavor profile, and increases the shelf-life of the bread. I imagine that the presoaked grains also lower the pH. You might also use buttermilk dry solids instead of or with the dry milk solids.


I haven't found any benefit to a long bulk ferment for sandwich bread unless I'm going with a direct dough, no preferment. There does need to be some time allotted either at the start or at the first ferment for flavor development. I am learning to love the 8-12 hour poolish for that purpose, with a short bulk ferment.


cheers,


gary


//edit: modified s/b improved

proth5's picture
proth5

txfartmer's post earlier and looked at it again.


I guess my point - revolutions aside - is that I've made these panned breads for many years and have some education left in my hands.  This dough passes every criteria that I generally use for proper dough development.  If it didn't I would mix it longer.


The dough rises well (perhaps too well - I'm getting plenty of volume) and to me this would not make the arguement for under developed dough.


I go back and forth on the issue that I've loaded the thing up with a lot of oats and triticale and maybe a higher gluten flour is the answer. Of course, the original, original was mixed by hand - by me - to what I thought was the proper level of dough development and didn't have this problem.


But I can't get past (I really can't) that a second loaf of the same dough that was shaped more tightly did not show the crumb problem.  I know that I've gotten a little slovenly with my loaf shaping lately (just a lot of stuff going on..) and I think I need to explore that before I try a lot of other things.


I have considered that it might be better to mix the dough and then add the steel cut oats towards the end so that the dough develops in their absence first.


Again, I'm going to pay careful attention to this in the next batch - but I'm also going to get back into the game on loaf shaping and watch my proof a little better.


As for the time spent in bulk ferment - it seems to do no harm so I hate to mess with flavors that I like. I guess I'll fall back on the old "that's how we used to do it" line.  It doesn't bother me to use the elapsed time to let the thing ferment.  Some flavor must be brough to the party that way. I have done lean breads that started with a pre ferment and then were mixed intensively and pre ferment aside, they suffered substantial flavor loss.  Yes, I could goose up the taste with ever more ingredients, but I don't think that is my goal.  I've got unique grains and precious hand milled flour in there - why not let the flavors of those come through?


Again, good food for thought.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Am I calculating correctly from your formula?


I get a total water amount of 25.22 oz


...1.62 oz (from levain)


...3.618 oz ("additional water")


...19.98 ("boiling water")


With a total flour weight of 27 oz, that gives a hydration of 93%.


I realize some of the water is absorbed in the soaker of the rolled and steel cut oats and doesn't release into the dough, but it does seem high, especially given that you also have two kinds of liquid sweetner.


I should take the time to go back over your previous formulae and see whether the overall hydration varied but I am lazy. So I'll just ask whether previous bakes had lower total hydration.


I am sort of wondering whether the high hydration contributes to the fragility of the crumb, but that's just an errant thought. I could be quite off-base.


 

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

I saw that too. You must consider that both rolled and cut oats will absorb an awful lot of water. I put the over all hydration at about 67%, if I remember correctly. Since there are whole oats, I suspect the dough did not feel wet or slack at all.


You may be correct in worrying about the hydration level, but I saw nothing in her description or the photo to indicate that it was a problem.


cheers,


gary

proth5's picture
proth5

there's the problem with a soaker not being "hydration neutral" - it is very difficult to understand the hydration of the bread. 


Those oats really take up a lot of water. I found that without that additional water I really had a dry dough.  Also, the triticale absorbs more water than wheat flour and whole wheat flour absorbs a little more than white flour.  The hydration is very close to the original.


Also notice that the 1.62 oz of water in the levain is part of the "additional water" (got to read one column at a time) so you are double counting.


The dough is a nice stiff panned bread dough - just slightly tacky but not sticky.  Previous bakes had a very slightly lower hydration and some were even a bit dry (my last one was really dry due to a math error)


So I'm not particularly concerned about the hydration.  If I had ciabatta dough on my hands, I'd worry, but this is not the case.


I'm still considering (see above) that the thing is getting loadied with a lot of stuff and a higher gluten flour is in order.


Which is the point of the exercize - to see how the bread is changed by the various things I do.