The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

shape before ferment, or ferment then shape?

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

shape before ferment, or ferment then shape?

Hello all,


 I've been using Dan Leader's "Local Breads" and while I've had some good results, I've also had some problems. Most have to do with typos and errors, such as a baker's % sayingi it's 32% but when you do the math on the actual weights it's more like 130%. In that case it turns out the % was correct, not the weights. And there has been more than one error. So I am cautious about what I read and always have an eye to what changes I might have to make on my own. I also recognize that the focus audience is more likely a home baker and not a professional. I sort of fall in the middle in that I don't bake like a home baker but I don't do it professionally either.


   One recipe calls for shaping the dough into flutes and then refrigerating the flutes for 12-24 hours. My question is, why is it necessary to shape and refrigerate as opposed to bulk refrigerate and shape just before proofing? My experience has been that with the shaped flutes on a floured couche or parchment, it all sticks eventually. The recipe also calls for removing the shaped flutes 2 hours before baking. The combination of the sticking flutes and what appears to be prolonged time out in the open, contribute to over proofed and collapsed flutes. I intend to try it differently this weekednd, by bulk proofing in the refigerator for 12 -24 hours, mostly depending on my schedule, and then shaping the flutes and proofing them right there. But I don't expect to proof for more than an hour, 45 minutes shpuld do it. Any thoughts?


   Thanks,


Kim

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi Kim,


I have heard that if you want blisters on your crust, then you need to retard the final shaped dough. Some people consider this a bread flaw though. 


That's really the only circumstance that I've heard of where retarding the shaped dough is key. 


BTW, when dusting the couche or parchment, are you using rice flour? This helps tremendously with reducing sticking.  


 

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

No, I  haven't tried rice flour. But if I learned that it was absolutley necessary to retard the shaped flutes, that bulk fermenting was not a good idea, then I might consider it. But I can't see that it is necessary at all. This is the on'y bread (that I've worked with or read about so far) that askes for the refigeration of the shaped loaves. So what's so special about it? I can't understand all the little differences in some bread recipes. For example, I still haven't figured out why some recipes say to add water to a levain, then add flour to autolyze, wheras others just have you mix water & flour first , autolyze, then add the levain (pooloish, biga...).


 


I'm actually considering doing a comparison test of reatrding a few shaped loaves and of bulking the rest. I'll be doing about a dozen loaves so it;s an easy test.  The sticking & collapsing in the past has caused lost dough so this test couln't possibly be any worse. We;ll see. Saturday.

jcking's picture
jcking

The overnite in the fridge promotes an increase in flavor


Jim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Isn't this due largely to the retarded fermentation, regardless of the shape?

jcking's picture
jcking

Regardless of shape, yes. Let's see if I can clarify some concerns mentioned above. Bakers and recipe writers give instructions as to what will give them the results they're looking for. It's often possible to achieve the same results using different processes, to each their own. Home bakers such as most here, opperate with what they have within the time constraints they encounter. Some books take this into consideration and give options, some don't. In some recipies you'd have to stay awake for 24 hours to develope a certein type of loaf; a fridge retard helps. AS one learns about bread it becomes amazing as to the numer of differnt shapes and flavor profiles that one can get with just flour,salt, yeast and water.


Jim

jcking's picture
jcking

Yes I've made them once. As to the sticking; I've been using rice flour on parchment. Works better for me. I did get some spreading out of the fridge. Next time I'll follow Hamelmans idea (It doesn't matter if the loaf going into a hot oven is 40F or 75F). I'll take the loaves out of the fridge, pre-heat the oven and load (with steam) after 1 hour instead of the two.


And yes there are a few bungles in the book. In the early 90's I worked in desktop publishing and when you get more than one person working on a project strange things happen. Cutting and pasting can cause disasters. I would place half the errors on the layout people.


Let us know how you make out. ( I mean baking, not the huggy kissy thing) :)


Jim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

The huggy kissy thing will remain a secret, no worries. It will occur, but not for public consumption. And, yes, I will get back to you with a report on Saturday's results.

Occabeka's picture
Occabeka

Due to work commitments, I usually mix the dough at night, then chuck it in the wine fridge (at 13 C) for 8 to 10 hours. It usually doubles in size by early morning.


I will then shape it, place it in a banetton, and keep the loaf in the fridge (at 4 C). It will be ready for baking by evening. I bake it right out of the fridge, or wait a while for it to fully proof.


It works just fine for me.


Occa

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Sort of a combination method. It illustrates a degree of flexibility with the recipe.

proth5's picture
proth5

I don't know the actual formula of which you speak, however I have heard tell (and have personally experienced) that you can add enough strength to a dough with a levain based pre ferment that it becomes difficult to shape after it has been undergone retarded bulk fermentation.


My personal expereience is that with as little as 7% of the flour prefermented in a levain based pre ferment, the dough will fight back against shaping attempts for a baguette shape.


With the rather suggestive name of flutes, one might suspect that this bread has a long and narrow shape, which may be difficult to achieve after a retarded bulk ferment (unlike a boule or a batard).


Ease and speed of shaping is a big factor for a professional baker and would lead to advising that shaping take place before retarding should the dough develop too much strength in the cold.


I personally don't experience much sticking if I do a retarded proof on a couche,but this may be a function of my couche material (linen) and a dry climate.


Something to consider.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

One reason to retard sourdough bread is to put the yeast and LAB in a condition where the relative growth rates largely favor the LAB and thus acid production.  There is a limited amount of yeast food in any batch of dough, and depending on the particulars of your sourdough culture, the LAB and yeast have different preferences for what they consume. If you have a real SF culture, then the maximum LAB/yeast growth rate occurs at two points, around 10°C and also at the high end of the yeast growth temperature tolerance scale (above 36°C where there is no yeast growth). If you bulk ferment long enough there will be no yeast food available for final proof. If you want a more sour loaf (with or without the addition of some whole wheat or rye flour), you need to give the LAB time to do their thing without depleting the source of nutrition for the yeast (you want the loaf to be fully proofed when you are done making acid - which will be when the dough pH reaches about 3.8).  If you try to bulk retard (like pizza dough) you get the flavor components, but you don't have anything left to inflate the loaf after you shape it.


The same logic applies to yeast-only breads except that the only things you are concerned with are the flavor enhancers that are favored by low temperature fermentation, and extinction of the food supply for the yeast.


Doc

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

What's LAB?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost
sam's picture
sam

I was playing around with temperatures earlier this week, did a sourdough WW+Spelt levain for 24 hours at 10C (50F), which was fine, then the final dough was also at 10C for another 24 hours.  No issue with shaping or final rise -- the bread came out OK physically, but it was immensly sour.  I mean so sour, it was like cooking raw starter.  Pretty much inedible.


 

jcking's picture
jcking

Hold on please she's not dealing with sourdough. Lets not confuse the situation.


Jim

sam's picture
sam

Oops, sorry jcking...   Didn't mean to confuse things.  I just saw the LAB post about 10C and thought I'd chime in...  sorry again.  :-)


 

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Hold on "she's" a "he". Kim... I know. Confusing, isn't it? Named for Rudyard Kipling's Kim. So if anyone was beng polite based on gender confusion, no need for such decorum. Let it rip.


But you're right. It's a simple poolish.

jcking's picture
jcking

Kim, my Man;


Well I'm batting 50/50 anyway. With the international crowd we have here it's not good to assume. many pardons. Now on with the show.


Jim

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Nothing to really do with the topic but it does address the mistakes in Leopard's book....


He has a web site that has the corrections listed which might save you some aggravation...


I would post the link but I don't have it.  Just know I did find it awhile ago when I had to make some adjustments of my own while using his book.


On topic...sorry I am clueless as I am a novice and haven't tried that recipe yet....


Good Luck and Happy Experimenting


 


 

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Well, I just did French bread on Sunday night, and did the overnight retardation before shaping. I regret that, as the dough seemed to tighten up and lose a lot of expansion when I shaped it. Next time will shape first.

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

I ran an experiment by doing a few loaves pre-shaped and I left a bowl full of dough in the 'fridge to shape up later. According to Leader I was supposed to cover the loaves with plastic but, right or wrong, I just tend to resist plastic so I covered them with cloth. This probably caused the "skin", or hardedned, drier outer layer to form, which I fully anticipated. These loaves didn't rise much beyond the sizee they were when I shaped them. A little. Not a lot. When it came to shaping the bulk dough, I had no difficulty at all. I sort of pre-shaped, let them rest a few minutes, and finished the shaping. Absolutely no problem.

 

  After letting all the loaves out of the 'fridge at room temp. and proofing the later-shaped loaves, for about an hour or a little more, I saw no real difference by sight between the two batches. But when I lifted the loaves out of the bannetons and onto the peel, I think the pre-shaped loaves just felt lighter, airier, like a puff pastry: full of air. The later shaped loaves felt denser. But they were all the same weight and size. When it came time to score the loaves those with the skin were not as easy to penetrate but I did it.

 

All the loaves baked the same, got the same oven spring, and all look and taste the same. The only thing I feel a need to change would possibly be the plastic covering of the pre-shaped loaves.It is certainly easier for me to place a bowl full of dough in the refrigerator than it would be a bunch of pre-shaped loaves in bannetons or on sheet pans. So far I see no benefit or difference between the two procdures.

 

 

jcking's picture
jcking

Kim,

No matter what the book says home bakers need to find what works for them. I believe when home bakers encounter problems it's not so much the recipe, but the steps leading up to the bake. Again, good show!

Jim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

I also believe that some books cater to the home baker and don't consider that some of us could handle things if they were addressed to the professional. So at times the recipe - or the procedure & method - feels "dumbed down". (Not to disparage home bakers.)  I have done baking as - and I am reluctant to use the term - a professional. By that I mean I worked for others and was not always in on all the procedures. I was more the muscle and less the brains. So I would show up in the wee a.m. and find dough already made, ferementing in the 'fridge. I had to shape, proof & bake but I never found out what took place the evening before. I also did a lot of Freanch pastry many years before that. I also had a small pastry business. So I have a certain amount of technique knowledge and skill but lack some others. Sometimes when I read a recipe I realize that my equipment and skill are not considered. Or that I might not go to certain lengths to get the better results.  But there are plenty of instances in which I simply have no clue as to the reason for a particular step and no explanation is offered. Add to that the fact that sometimes I simply do not think out what I already know. For example, with the bread in question here, I tried putting too many loaves on the sheet pan before refrigerating and, needless to say, when they expanded in the refrigerator they melded and blended into one huge mass of dough. I knew better too. This most recent time I used bannetons and I have no idea why Leader didn't suggest that. I also don't know that it makes any difference beyond refrigerator space. So, we learn as we go and modify as needed. No matter how it all ends up, I absolutely love having a good strong learning curve going on in my life. Marriage and kids provide a lot but so does baking. I also have a 42" wood fired oven and that's a good source for challenging my head. Today is pizza.

Thanks Jim.

jcking's picture
jcking

Wood fired oven, I'll be right over. What part of the world do you live in?

Jim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Saugerties, NY. Ulster County. 100 miles north of NYC. When should I expect you? Dinner's at 6.

jcking's picture
jcking

I'm gonna oil the chain on my bike (gas prices too high) and if (big IF) I leave now ( from GA) Mabye three, four weeks :) Thanks for the offer. Nice country up there; Daughter lives in Mass. Born and raised in NJ.

Might need a headlight for my bike.

Jim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Wow, and it's all uphill from Ga. to NY. I'll leave the light on the front porch for you. The key is in a lantern on the porch. Let the cat in if you see her.

Kim

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

What was the temperature of your refrigerator and how long do you think it took for the dough (both in the loaves and in the bowl) to get down to that temperature? From what you describe I suspect that you are running cold (below 38°F) and that due to loaf shape/size and bowl/dough configuration it didn't take too long to cool down.

Doc

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

No clue. I'll stick a thermometer in there and find out.

 

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Hi Kim

I just did EXACTLY the same thing: last night proofed and shaped some French bread boules (using Peter Reinhart's French Bread master formula II from 'Crust and Crumb') and unthinkingly covered with cloth (dry cloth) rather than plastic. This morning the breads have a bit of a dry skin on them. I think a damp cloth might work better. My loaves definitely rose - although I'd say 'spread' rather than 'rose' - more outward than upward movement. So I've got two swelled-out breads waiting to bake out this morning. After all the spreading, they're a bit squashed on their single pan (though still two distinct shapes), but I don't feel like I can move them, as even the lightest touch is causing a bit of crumpling. Is the 'spreading' right? And how do you move a shaped, risen loaf, anyway?

Best

Lisa

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

To move a shaped, risen loaf will depend on whether it sticks to the parchment or couche. Provided it doesn't, you can scoop the loaf up with a board. Check out Vincent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO_AarQdaqE&feature=related. And just for your further edification, hang out with Vincent and his videos. Even if you learn nothing he's quite a character and a good show.

I don't like simply lifting a collapsed loaf with my hands but I've had to. If the loaves are sticking, well, there's the challenge. And as far as my experience goes, I'd say there isn't much you can do to save a stuck loaf. Especially when it's stuck to both surfaces - the one it rests on and the one you cover with.

 

When I first made the flutes they stuck to the couche, spread and merged and stuck to the cover. I don't want to over-flour either the couche or the loaves partly because eventually the raw dough absorbs some of the flour and renders the whole process moot. Sticks anyway. And what doesn't get absorbed will cake on the surface and won't brush off. Why it all changed when I switched to using bannetons (which are really cheap bread baskets from the dollar store) I don't know. Same couche. Same flour. Same dough. Same refrigerator.

 

I'm glad you brought up the damp cloth idea. I'm reminded that that's how my mother did it, back before we all became so plastic dependent. I usually try to favor older techniques because I feel that not all modernization is necessarily the same as improvement, especially when something has worked for millenia and no problems have been reported. Did we simply move to plastic because we have plastic? The very idea of using plastic is wrong to me.

 

Now you have me wanting to get back and do that bread again. But I have a 42" wood-fired brick oven I built so I do a dozen loaves at a time. I freeze them and use them as needed,or give some away to friends. So I sort of have to wait a reasonable amount of time before I just bake away.

 

I'd be curious to learn how you progress. When I do this bread next time I'll report back.

Thanks,

Kim

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Thanks for the reply, Kim.

OK, clearly it's time for me to get couches or bannetons to proof on, not metal trays! I put photos of the collapsed breads (this morning's bake) vs last night's risen loaf on my other post on this forum. Over-proofed it seems. Less yeast and colder fridge next time I think. Wow - 12 loaves at a time!! My little oven will take 2 at most. Will keep you posted on developments.

Lisa

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

San Francisco Baking Institute has the best prices on couches and banneton/brotform liners.  They have a web site but you have to call your order in.  Very nice group to deal with.

When getting bannetons/brotforms be careful as to where they are made.  You do not want the ones made in China!  I didn't know that in the beginning and when I found out I ordered new ones made in Europe and there is a big difference in quality.

I have included the link for where I got my brotforms and below the SFBI link too.

http://fantes.com/brotforms.html

You will note that these are brotforms....don't ask my what the difference is because I am not sure I just know I LOVE these....Think it is what they are made of (Brotforms are made out of wicker.) but I am sure you can find that info. here somewhere.....

http://www.sfbi.com/baking_supplies.html

Have fun :-)

Janet

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

More success today! I've been keeping notes on my blog here: http://relentlessabundance.wordpress.com/

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

If you have a sewing machine and want to make your own couche, try using a heavy hemp linen canvas. (the spam filter won't let me post the direct link but if you search on the Dharma Trading Company site for hemp canvas it will show up).


A few years ago I looked at a number of different materials, bought and made couches from flax linen, hemp linen, and cotton in at least two different weights for each.  The cotton canvas was too stiff though it did work reasonably well. I never found a heavy flax linen but made couches from some lighter weight fabrics and they worked quite well (I still use them as cover cloths when I need an extra one). But the hands down best of them all, by a long ways, was the hemp linen canvas. I know that I got it from Dharma Trading Co. but I am not sure what the weight was (I can't find the order at the moment) but it could have been the 12 oz material.


I made a long one and a short one (both 20" wide) and they remain fabulous to work with.  They drape beautifully, and are so absorbant that it really surpasses all of my expectations.  My habit is to reflour it before use, then as soon as the bread goes into the oven I take it outside and shake it out before drying it off and folding it up again.  All it takes to keep it from coming apart is to carefully cut and zig-zag the edges - no hemming required.


Doc

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks Doc for this information.  Something new to add to my 'collection'.  Never thought of hemp......I did find the fabric and will see if I can add the link here:

http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/1643912-AA.shtml?lnav=fabric.html

Looks like it worked!

Now to see if I can make some brotform liners with it!

Janet

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Janet,

Yes that is the link, just pick the 100% hemp linen canvas.

I found a note saying that the cotton duck that I tried was 10 oz material and it was too stiff.

I just weighed and measured my hemp canvas couche and with the flour that it is currently carrying is now around 16 oz/sq yd so it is most likely the 12 oz material.

The linen cover cloth that I use is unbleached, about 8.5 oz/sq yd, and  I don't see that particular material on the Dharma site right now.

Doc

proth5's picture
proth5

For ummmm certain reasons, hemp has always been a problematic fiber to get ahold of, but as a bast fiber (a fiber from the stems of plants) it would have many of the great properties of linen (lint free being the primary one).

Proper linen couche canvas can be had from TMB Baking.  You may wish to compare prices. My recollection is that neither is "cheap" but that hemp was a bit more expensive in general.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Ordered some last night and it is on it's way and I am making a prototype liner for my brotforms since that is how I use liners when I am dealing with a sticky dough.  Fun to do but I am out of elastic so my project is on hold until I make an 'elastic' run today.  

I will post pictures of my method later on as they are very easy to sew and much cheaper to make yourself.

They don't have the usual linen.  SFBI has it and does sell it by the yard.  Very nice stuff.  It is also mold resistant and I am thinking the hemp will be too which is nice to know when dealing with wet doughs....

Thanks for posting the information :-)

Janet