The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My adventures in bread baking

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Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

My adventures in bread baking

I having been baking off and on for a long time, including making bread, but I finally got serious about it last fall.  This blog will chronicle my journey in the world of bread baking.  Warning:  I will be going into baker's percentages and other technical aspects of baking the bread, so this blog may be very boring ;-)


I took two classes at SFBI on artisan bread making and now am trying to re-create the bread we baked in the class as best I can with home equipment.  I finished my last class in February and have been reluctant to start baking again because the class results in the professional deck ovens were so spectacular.  I broke the ice last weekend by baking a challah recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and now am on to various loaves that are made with sourdough, preferments, etc. 


I've been nursing along the sourdough starter from SFBI and haven't killed it (yet).  Post-challah, I've been trying to figure out what to make next.  I'm realizing that most of the recipes (formulas) I like need some planning in advance, which I haven't gotten the hang of yet.  Today, I finally decided to make multigrain sourdough.  This requires a stiff starter, and the one I've been feeding had a higher percentage of water.  So I used the SFBI starter to create a new stiff starter.  After another feeding, it will be ready to use in the multigrain.


Since the stiff starter looked kind of dead initially, and I was concerned about the mother starter being somewhat weak, I made a second starter with more water, using 100% white flour, 50% each rye and KA whole wheat, 100% water and 50% starter.  To achieve optimal fermentation temperature (at least while I am awake) I have the starter in a 80 degree F water bath.  It will get another feeding in 24 hours.


After 3 hours, the stiff starter has lots of bubbles on the bottom.  I think it will be just fine.  Not much action with the wet starter yet.

Comments

Syd's picture
Syd

Glad that you broke the ice.  I look forward to following your blog. :)


Syd

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

Thanks, Syd.

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

After 14 hours since the starters were made, they seem to be doing fine.  My worries about the stiff starter proved to be groundless:  it just *does* look like a inert mass of dough when you first mix it up.  As for the second starter, it more than doubled in size since last night.  I think this is because I used a large (for me) amount of ingredients - 800 grams total, confirming that starters do work better when they have a larger mass.  I also used a tall plastic professional food storage cylinder, which keeps the dough mass in more of a round shape, so maybe it ferments better that way.  It is way easier to keep track of how much the starter has risen, because of the volume markings on the side.

Syd's picture
Syd


I think this is because I used a large (for me) amount of ingredients - 800 grams total, confirming that starters do work better when they have a larger mass.



Yes, dmsnyder also mentioned this when he went on course at SFBI.  What was the minimum reccommended weight, then?


Syd

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

For the starter, they recommend a minimum of 500 g, and for dough, 2 kilos.  This amount is a bit problematic for the home baker, as I can only fit two baguettes on my baking stone at a time.  At 350 g per batard, that is about 6 + baguettes.  When I finally make baguettes at home again, I plan on using some type of retarding scheme - maybe keep the final shaped loaves in the refrigerator, and only take out two at a time to bake.  This would take about 1 1/2 hours start to finish.

Syd's picture
Syd

Yes, those amounts are on the large side for the average home baker.  Were they suggesting that smaller amounts would result in less flavour or was it that the leavening power wouldn't be that great, or was it a bit of both?



I plan on using some type of retarding scheme - maybe keep the final shaped loaves in the refrigerator, and only take out two at a time to bake.



That is exactly what I do and it works pretty well.  Keep in mind that the larger the loaf/baguette the longer it will take to cool down in the fridge and so it might carry on rising for a while.  It might take a few times to get your timing right. 


Syd