The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Old Things, New Things, Little Things

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wassisname's picture
wassisname

Old Things, New Things, Little Things

First the old:  An 85% whole wheat sourdough.  I'm still tinkering with this formula and getting good bread, but I'm coming to realize that the way I handle the dough has more impact on the bread than my endless tinkering with the numbers (if only I could spend as much time baking as I do in front of a computer). 

Now the new:  I finally got a copy of Hamelman's Bread.  Wow.  Now I understand.  I also tried scoring with a safety razor-on-a-stick for the first time.  That was weird.  I didn't think it would be so different from scoring with a bread knife.  It will take some practice, but I think it will be an improvement.  Lastly, but no less exciting, I recently discovered that the little health food store in town will happily special order 25lb bags of Giusto's flours at rock-bottom prices.  Who would have thought?

The Little Things:  That's what this bake really threw into sharp relief.  These two loaves came from the same lump of dough and were meant to be exactly the same except for the scoring.  I don't think scoring alone accounts for this much difference.  The larger loaf isn't just larger because of a better oven spring, it actually is larger because I didn't get them divided exactly in half - there's one little difference.  But obviously the larger loaf did behave quite differently in the oven.  Shaping.  I tried a new (to me) method, first on the smaller loaf.  It seems that by the second loaf I was already better at it.  The crumbs differ significantly as well, though they don't look as different in the photos.  A good lesson for me - keep an eye on the little things!

And the garden is in full swing, so I put the bread to good use!

Marcus

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Marcus, Nice looking loaves. I love it when things begin to come together and I can see differences too. A whole new world opens up. If you start using more whole wheat in your loaves Peter Reinhart's book 'Whole Grain Breads' is a MUST! Personal opinion only :-)

I bake with whole grains only and it really taught me a lot - especially about how to get the most flavor and texture out of whole grains with the use of soakers that allow the grains a longer wet time during which the enzymes have time to do their magic.

What I learned there I was able to apply to other formulas I have found here. Lots of fun learning.

Like you I tried many ways to score my loaves but found the best tool on my whole grain loaves is a small 4" serrated knife that I paid less that $5.00 for at a local restaurant supply store. When scoring loaves with a high amount of whole grain you might experiment scoring at a 90° angle rather than a 45° angle. I have found that works better for me but I am still experimenting.

Happy Baking,

Janet

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I’m a big fan of Whole Grain Breads as well, it was the book I started out with when I decided it was time to learn to bake.  It got me on the right track in just about every way.  Recently, though, I’ve been approaching things from the lighter side to see what tricks I can pick-up.  In that light, Hamelman’s book has so much fundamental information that it really fills in the gaps for me, and provides plenty of food for thought.  Like you said, it sure is fun learning!

Marcus

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Marcus,

Glad to know you know about WGB. Your route is like mine. I began with PR and then wanted to know more….BREAD really did a good job expanding on the ground work i got from PR.

What I do now is take formulas from Bread and adapt them to PR's method so the grains still get to soak. I just do the adjustments necessary for whole grains.

Have you discovered 'Laurel's Bread Book' ? Another whole grain goodie and her formulas are very easy to convert to SD and PR's method.

Janet

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I think we really are on a similar bread path!  Here's a link to something of a misadventure I had with Laurel's Ukrainian Black Bread.  I can't blame the book, that one was entirely my fault!  I still go back to the desem chapter regularly as I work on perfecting my 100% WW sourdough.

Marcus

 

lumos's picture
lumos

For such high content of WW flour, you achieved really beautiful crumb, Marcus!  I'm such a chicken I've never attempted anything higher than 65% WW. 

I agree about Hamelman's book. Even when you bake with a recipe not from that book, you always find some useful tip and information you can use to improve your chance of getting good result. 

And a razor as a lame...Well, once you get your hand on it, there's no going back. It was even sharper than a scapel my surgeon friend stole obtained from his hospital for me. ;)

Kind regards,

lumos

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks for the kind words, lumos.  WW's not so bad, it's baguettes that send me into hiding.  Someday maybe I'll get up the nerve!  I think I'm going to like the razor - hard to be subtle with the 8 inch bread knife I was using before, but if I find a knife like the one Janet described I'll probably try that too.

Marcus

lumos's picture
lumos

The problem with WW is, in my case, my family is not too keen on too heavy bread.  That's why I've only dared up to 65%. But the friend who buys bread from me every week is a big fan of WW bread, so most of high-WW bread I bake is for her (though she's also got the family who is not keen on heavy WW bread, so she can only order it once in a while).  The WW bread I blogged about is just about the highest WW both of our families can enjoy.

I make baguettes purely out of desperation, because it's so, so difficult to get a decent baguette in UK.  Many artisan bakeries in London do make their own baguettes, but most of them are nothing to write home about (even branches of famous French boulangeries) and if there's really good one, it's absurdly expensive.  On top of that, public transportation is very expensive here, too, I can buy more than six bags of flour for the price for a tube (=subway in US) ticket to London.

If you'd rather prefer using knife, this is something one of very popular breadmaking instructors in Japan uses (because she's 'scared of using razor blade'). She uses a straight blade but they make serrated blade ones, too, in the same length which some of bread bloggers there said they liked it. After reading the good reviews by homebakers, I bought it myself but.....I must say I much prefered a good old razor blade (double-edged, on a flat BBQ stick).  No match.  Don't worry, you'll get used to it soon enough! :)

lumos

wassisname's picture
wassisname

My family feels the same way, but I just love this kind of bread so I go back and forth.  This one actually elicited a, "Hey, that's good!" from my wife so, maybe that's progress.  Your cocoa walnut cranberry bread is still on my list, by the way, and I think the family will be on board with that one!

Marcus

varda's picture
varda

I use a double edged razor blade duct taped to an unsharpened pencil.   It works great.   Love your breads.   They look like they have a ton of flavor.   Enjoy the Hamelman.    I try to remember to look it up in Hamelman first before asking a question.   Chances are the answer will be right there.  -Varda

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you Varda, that's very kind of you.  And thanks for the pencil and duct tape tip, that will be an easy way to try a straight lame as opposed to the curved version.

Marcus

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Very Very nice wholewheat breads, Marcus! Lovely caramalized crust on both loaves, and the crumb is especially good.

Welcome to "BREAD" club!

wassisname's picture
wassisname

It's always nice to hear from other fans of whole grains, Khalid, thank you!  Seeing loaf after beautiful loaf posted here (many of them yours), citing Bread time after time, eventually even I get the message that this is a book worth having!

Marcus

ww's picture
ww

Hi Marcus,

You would surely have explored Tartine's WW version but just to let you know, in case you haven't, it's worth a try. I dont hve any photos, but when i made it (can't remember the percentage of WW, but it was very high, if not 100%), and with whole, very coarse, farmer's WW flour, i was totally amazed by how open and moist the crumb was. I was expecting a brick but this loaf made me rethink WW - that it needn't be a compromise with lightness, although of course, it will always have a certain heft. And the taste just got better day after day :)

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Another great book and another influence on my WW loaves!  I’ve never followed it exactly as written, but the gentle dough handling and high hydration are natural fits with high % WW loaves.  Looking for all these different perspectives has left me with quite a collection of bread books… a few more and I may start to worry!

Marcus

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Marcus,
Beautiful wheaty loaves!
I hope you will have many happy and successful bakes from 'Bread'.
It's a wonderful book!
:^) from breadsong

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, breadsong.  The book is filling with bookmarks faster than I will ever be able to bake!

Marcus

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Marcus,

as the others have all said, the crumb is superb for such a high extraction loaf.

I hope you enjoy referring to your new book for many years to come

Best wishes

Andy

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Your kind words are always appreciated, Andy.  I should add that criticisms are equally appreciated!  I'm just trying to soak-up all the information I can, and then it's one bake at a time...

Marcus

alpinegroove's picture
alpinegroove

Old post, but I was just about to make your 85% Whole Wheat Sourdough. 

How did you tinker it for the loaves in this posting?

Any other revelations since?

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Hmmmm… I honestly can’t recall how this was different from the other one, but since I didn’t bother to explain it must not have been a big change. The loaves look pretty much the same.

Sorry to say no real revelations. If there was a lesson it was in the power of repetition. I touch on that in the post and I believe it more now than ever – there is no magic formula, it’s more about practice, practice, practice. Of course that’s easier said than done. I get detoured all the time by different breads and new ingredients. When it comes to bread I seem to be easily distracted…

Still, my latest distraction, grinding my own flour, is slowly leading me back to this bread, or something like it. There’s a whole new learning curve there, especially since I bought a cheap-ish grinder and it leaves me working with a not-as-fine-as-commercial-flour flour. If I ever get it figured out I’ll be sure to post.

Did you ever get your loaves to be more sour? I’ve bumped up the sour in some recent loaves by switching to a rye storage-starter and only giving it one feeding before the final build. It brings the sour into the loaf without necessarily having to retard the dough for an extended period of time.

Happy baking!

alpinegroove's picture
alpinegroove

Unfortunately, I have not been able to introduce any more sourness to my breads. I think it may have to do with the yeast and bacteria around since I have tried different kinds of starters and techniques (less starter, more starter, long cold fermentation, long cold proofing, short warm proofing, etc.) . The thing is, I live near San Francisco and some people have been able to make sour sourdough here for a while...

My starter lives in the fridge. I take it out a day before mixing the dough, feed it once, and after it becomes bubbly, I use it for the recipe. 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

That is odd.  OK, one last idea (maybe you have already tried it?):  the two levain method.  Split the levain going into the final dough into two parts, let one part ferment overnight as usual, but start the other part earlier and let it ferment 24-36 or even more hours at room temp. You'd have to figure out the timing, amounts and hydration that work best for you, but the idea is that you have one culture that is highly acidic, but maybe with a not so lively yeast population, and another that has a vigorous yeast population to ensure a good rise. 

And now I really am out of ideas! =)