The Fresh Loaf

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SFBI Artisan I, Day 5

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longhorn's picture
longhorn

SFBI Artisan I, Day 5

Today was the final day of Artisan I. We made four baguette doughs: a hand mix, and three doughs with preferments - poolish, sponge, and prefermented dough. The week of dough handling clearly showed. Our shaping and scoring were much improved as the photos will illustrate. The hand mix was very similar to the short mix done in the spiral mixer on day 2. Our prefermented doughs were a little less acid than usual and this was attributed to the fact that the temperature overnight was 5 to 6 degrees cooler than normal. 

The liquid nature of poolish is favorable to protease activity and doughs based on poolish tend to be more extensible due to the degratation of protein. The sponge tends to promote acidity which tends to strengthen the dough. We were able to feel that in the doughs. The dough based on prefermented dough was the most elastic and the least interesting in flavor. Then the short. Today we preferred the sponge but Mac said that was varible from day to day. Both were superior I think to the autlyse...but when in a hurry the autolyse is a good idea. Ignoring the prep for the preferment and the overnight fermentation, the time from mixing final dough to baking was significantly shorter with the preferments.

We mainly made baguettes. With the hand mix we made epis and played. I included those photos. I was particularly pleased with my split epi. Photos  are followed by some overall comments about the experience.

The dual epi!

This is a typical crumb shot. All the doughs were quite similar in crumb.

This was a great week. Lots of good hands on experience with a very knowledgeable instructor. And a chance to get first hand experience with serious baking equipment like spiral mixers and deck ovens. The whole experience was very educational and rewarding and I am confident that the skills I honed will translate well to my normal world of sourdough.

One of my big surprises was how uneven the heating of deck ovens is. The back of the oven was definitely hot and the front was definitely cold and aobut five feet in the middle was pretty wonderful. So where you baked made a quite a bit of difference. The loaders were fun and the spiral mixers were addictive. They make such lovely dough! So superior to conventional home mixers.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found nuggets of information you can use.

Bake on!

Jay

 

Comments

lumos's picture
lumos

Well done, Jay!  You must be really tired but at the same time it sounds like it was really satisfying experience. 

I really found it interesting (and jealousy! :p)  you could compare the subtle differences of feeling of the doughs and the taste of resultant baguette depends on what preferment was used. It must've been a really valuable experience that you could actually compare them during the same session rather than relying on your memory, trying to remember the experiences with different preferments done on different days.

Today we preferred the sponge but Mac said that was varible from day to day.

Hmmm.... Is it because the extent of fermentation varies depends on environment, like temperature?   These days, I only make poolish baguettes with long, cold retard,  but maybe I should try with other types of preferments again.

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful 5-day events with us. Look forward to your future posts to show us how you implement what you've learned in your breadmaking at home. :)

best wishes,

lumos

 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Thanks for the kind words! I must thank David Snyder for pushing me over the edge! I had thought about coming here for several years but was reluctant to do so. David's great posts from last year proved to me that it was well worthwhile.

The curriculum is well planned and the experiences build on each other. And the ability to compare doughs and preferements and such head-to-head is very beneficial. Of course you can do that at home - but will you? The subtleties of shaping, in particular, and scoring (somewhat less so) are really helpful. I am getting much more tension out of wet doughs than before and that is really important to great baguettes. And getting the dough to the right balance of elasticity and extensibility. Those are hard to learn at home. 

And then the big equipment is fun. And the pastries and such for breakfast and breaks are divine. Baking at home won't quite be the same without SFBI pastries during the breaks!

One other topic worth mentioning is that making 18 pound batches in a tub is no longer intimidating. We did it. And I think the results reinforce that larger bulk ferments tend to give better flavor so I am encouraged to up my bakingal scale.

Be well and Bake on!

Jay

lumos's picture
lumos

Of course you can do that at home - but will you?

Non! I'm a bread geek but not THAT obsessed!  :p

I am getting much more tension out of wet doughs than before and that is really important to great baguettes. And getting the dough to the right balance of elasticity and extensibility. Those are hard to learn at home.

Exactly. I'm attending one-day French Bread course at Lighthouse Bakery School (UK) later this month which focuses mainly on baguette making at home (Am I sounding like a broken record?:p), and that's what I'm really hoping to learn there....though I have no idea how their course will be like.  Hope they'll cover that sufficiently.

that larger bulk ferments tend to give better flavor

I presume it's because of less-oxidation with larger batch.  Something a bit difficult for me to do regularly, because 1) my husband doesn't eat bread for breakfast, 2) we only eat bread a few times a week for dinner, and 3) neither my fridge or freezer is big enough to hold large batch of dough or baked loaves, 3) my daughter's off to uni from this autumn, which means 33% down on bread consumption.  Oh, well......

Anyway, thanks again. I really enjoyed your reports!

Happier baking!

lumos

 

 

 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

How did your class go, Lumos? Looking back I know one day helped, but doing (pretty much) the same hands on actions for five days in a row definitely had benefit as I think a comparison of loaves (and consistency) from day 1 and day 5 illustrate. Be sure to repeat the lessons soon!

WRT batch size, the surface to volume ratio rises rapidly in small batches and migration of volatile flavenoids and aromatics should decrease rapidly as batch size grows.  So larger bulk ferments should retain more flavor. Likewise I would expect a taller, narrower fermentation container to have less loss (one of the arguable disadvantages of using tubs as we did at SFBI) and potentially more flavor. Loaves, with the greater surface exposure and smaller size would "leak" a lot worse than bulk dough so...I think it is not surprising that they might have less flavor development. The more intensely mixed doughs at SFBI had shorter bulk fermentation and longer proofing and the latter could potentially contribute to the intense mix doughs having less flavor than the shorter mix/longer bulk/shorter proof doughs. That is MY interpretation and not from SFBI so take it with a grain of salt.

Be well!

Jay

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, Jay!

Thanks for the additonal input. It's really helpful....and confirmed my suspicion. Yeah, I should really increase the batch size to conserve the flavour.  Hmmm.....the problem is that we're only a family of three (or two from October when my daughter starts uni), and we don't regularly eat bread that much (breakfast for me & daughter + sandwich for hubby's lunch). We occasionally eat some bread for dinner, but probably twice a week at most.  So it's a toss between making a large batch and freeze it, or making a small enough batch so that we can consume before the taste deteriorate. 

My bakery course is next Wednesday. It's nearly 2-hr drive away, but I'm really looking forward to it.....though there's no way it'd be as intensive as SFBI course you had.  It's the course aimed more at general public rather than professional or bread-geeks.   Will report how it went. ;)

best wishes,

lumos

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I share the volume challenge! I typically make about five - six pounds of bread (four boules or batards now that I can better shape them) and give one or two loaves away. And freeze one loaf. And eat on one loaf for four days or so and then switch to the frozen loaf. At least that is the theory. Based on my SFBI experience I think even bigger batches work even better. We didn't get into that topic in this class (that is from Artisan II which I  have not taken) but I think a three to four pound batch is viewed as about the smallest batch that develops flavor. And from this class, the approach that makes most sense is a short/hand mix approach which has a longer bulk ferment and shorter final proof. That pattern can easily be done at home - just push the bulk ferment, hanlde gently to minimize unwanted degassing, and a shorter final proof.... You will have to play with the times for your conditions but... should work well!

Best!

Jay

lumos's picture
lumos

Well, it works in a theory, but practically may be not.  One of the reasons I bake in small batches is that I really enjoy varieties in the culinery life, not only breads, but everything.  So I'm not so keen on the idea of making 4 loaves of same bread and having to eat them one after another. Yes, you can bake one kind one week, a different one next week, so on and so forth, but I do not have enough freezer space to store all that amount of different varietied breads. 

I do minimum mix/knead/S &F + long, cold fermentation for most of my breads,  so at least I can take a bit of comfort from that, I guess.....

Maybe I need a big family and a bigger house (for a bigger freezer), but I have already reached the stage of life when you have to start thinking about shriking your life-size, so probably I've got to wait until I'm re-born in the next life.   Reincarnation......But, judging from the way I've lived, there's no guarantee I'll be born as a human being in the next life, though.....:p

lumos

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I agree, Lumos, it IS a challenge. I have historically dominantly done only one bread which is my sourdough boules and I do LOVE them. When I mix it up I end up with three or four breads in the freezer and rotate out - and occasionally have "bonus" loaf gift days. But...it IS a challenge. And it is more complicated as you say if you like to bake varieties.

This class provided a stimulus to do more variety and that will tend to push me to smaller batches. I will probably try to do 3 lb batches (roughly), bulk in a small, deep container, short/hand mix for longer bulk ferment and shorter proof - knowing I have done about all I can to max flavor. (And in most cases use sourdough vs. commercial yeast.)

Thanks!

Jay

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Valuable Feedback Jay! your scoring and shaping looks fabulous..

Thanks for posting

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Thanks!

I included all my baguettes because I was really pleased with the consistency! Yes, there are some stray slashes and some unevenness but...I do want my bread to have SOME hand made look. My loaves are still not as tensioned as they could/should be and I tend to struggle with thicker pieces of dough - but Mac encouraged us to make the dumped dough into a thinner rectangle prior to dividing and shaping. I think that will come easily at home now that I have achieved this level of experience!

Thanks again for your kind words!

Jay

varda's picture
varda

for the class.   Fabulous baking.   I've enjoyed your posts.   -Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You had such a good experience in Artisan Workshop I. Your write-ups were very good at capturing what you learned. I'm positive you would (will?) find Artisan II equally fruitful.

I hope other TFL members are inspired to take these workshops by your account.

David

longhorn's picture
longhorn

As I stated, I will give you credit for getting me there. I had thought about it for a couple of years but...wondered how much I would learn. Your fabulous blog last year told me that it would be worthwhile and it was.

From my perspective the presentations were predominantly familiar information and facts. But I didn't go to learn facts. I KNEW I was relatively knowledgeable about the chemistry and facts. And that was where my reluctance had arisen. I simply wasn't confident the course would provide the nonverbal/experiential/tactile learning I felt I needed. And your blog provided evidence it would. And it did!

As I have stated, I felt the curriculum is very well constructed to build a pyramid of experience to push students to integrate the learnings and to advance their "art". 

I feel indebted to you for pushing my button to get me there!

As an aside, Frank Sally is prepping for a major competiiton in September. He was baking AMAZING breads daily with the assistant he will be taking to Lyon. I managed to obtain a loaf to share with my wife about half an hour ago. I will upload photos and info later but cannot share any info before the competition! Frank is the representing the US in the competition! Big HONOR!

Again, Thanks, Dave! I hope to share an oven with you some day!

Jay

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have followed every day of your adventure at SFBI reading carefully about your activities. Thanks so much for taking the time to relate your impressions each day.

So considering the home baking environment, what would be your choice of hydration and preferment for the most flavorful baguette?

Eric

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Good question, Eric!

Two answers...and both are actually speed factors too...

The first would be...we just got invited to dinner tonight and they asked me to bring baguettes (or I want to take baguettes). That answer would be the autolyse to get more flavor. But poolish was clearly the preferred answer for baguettes (at least for Mac and I agreed). I might go for sponge preferment if I wanted to make boules or batards. But...my inclinations lean to poolish.

The preferment takes some time the afternoon/evening before but you can go from mixing final dough to the oven in less than three hours the next day with world class results and that is not trivial IMO. So when you need to make bread on a "tight" schedule day the poolish/sponge approach has some real advantages. (You can be even faser if you really need to be by elevating the femrentation/proofing temp a bit.

You can also shorten the preferment time by boosting the yeast in the preferment but that is clearly leading to a different effect for the enzymes don't have as much time. Still, given the choice of a preferment based or autolysed dough over a straight yeast baguette with overdosed yeast...I think I know what we would prefer!

Backing up a bit, the autolyse baguettes were really nice! Not as complex as the poolish and sponge but light and really nice! Much superior to the intense baguettes or to any mass produced dough!

One final comment. The traditional role of preferments is to compensate for dough inadequacies. Example...a low protein, weak flour would benefit from a more acidic preferment (like a stiff SD or preferment) to strengthen it. A strong dough needs extensibility and benefits from poolish and degraded flour ( a more liquid preferment).  That may be an important factor in which works best for you!

But my leaning is to poolish!

Thanks!
Jay 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Bakers, especially home bakers have a wide range of tools available to extract and coddle the maximum flavor from the flour or flours used for a particular bread. It seems like each tool is a compromise in some other area of the process. The cold retarded and gently mixed and folded dough of Anis Boabsa requires a full day of planning and space in the cooler. The result is in my opinion, the best baguette I have tasted, baked in my home oven. Your example of a baguette produced with in the same day for a dinner party is a challenge.  While you will be able to take fresh bread to dinner that's better than the store bought variety, it won't be the best you can produce. For that you need time and planning.

I was surprised to see your statement that

The traditional role of preferments is to compensate for dough inadequacies.

I can't say I have thought of preferments in that light. I understand that the choice of which preferment you use will affect the flavor/acidity of the final product but that is a tweek in the flavor profile.  The visual consistency in your final days work is remarkable. It does look like you had the hydration changes needed to compensate for the handling variables, spot on. This class must have been great fun. I'll be curious to see how your home bakes are improved in the future.

Eric

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Sorry to be slow getting back but I was on the road traveling home...

I fully agree with your assessment on quality. The interesting aspect was that the better baguettes we made were shockingly good. Certainly NOT as good as Anis Boabsa's which I would agree are the gold standard (though I have not done a direct comparison - that would make a good home experiment). And thanks for the comment on my consistency! They weren't ideal, I could benefit from a bit more forming tension but as I said, I was thrilled they were so consistent for that has not been a historical pattern!

The comment that the traditional role of preferments is to compensate for dough inadequacies is an SFBI perspective - and stated solo without other comments on preferments (which I did) takes it a bit out of context. A better statement would be that the selection of preferment form (poolish, sponge, prefermented dough, etc.) is to compensate for dough inadequacies. To be more specific (and ingnoring SD which has its own set of considerations which include carrying the levain over from one bake to the next, loaf longevity when baking only once a week, etc.) I think it is fair to say that SFBI would suggest that the reason different preferments have different traditions in different regions evolved as a result of the nature of their flour with poolish being preferred where flours yielded more elastic doughs that would benefit from more extensibility and sponge where doughs were weak and would benefit more from acid which would strengthen the dough.  

From a more modern perspective, we have such great alternatives of flour that we can choose flours that give us the characteristics we want. And we can choose flours appropriate to our flavor preference for preferment form (including SD and retards and all the alternatives). It is also probably worth stating that SFBI is oriented to commercial bakers and bakeries. They tend to be oriented to making the best bread possible - in a commercial environment. So... if one is making baguettes and using a sponge for example and receives a batch of flour that produces dough that is too elastic...it will shrink back to too short following the initial forming - thus requiring a second forming of the loaf to give the desired length. This is not a big problem for the home baker but is when you are making 200 loaves and have to effectively form an "extra" 200 loaves.  A fix could be to simply switch to a poolish with that flour so that the forming process can be expedited. Similarly, if you use a poolish and your baguettes are spreading too much, switching to a sponge would help solve your problem. While the flavor profiles will be slightly different, in a commercial setting, there is an emphasis on speed so that preferment selection is a viable option affecting processing.

Thanks!

Jay