The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yeast water bread - Wood Fired Oven

varda's picture
varda

Yeast water bread - Wood Fired Oven

 

Over the last few months I've been trying to bake bread with yeast water and found it challenging to say the least.   However the taste of these breads is so wonderful and the prospect of lovely open crumb so enticing that I keep coming back to it.   I have made a number of adaptations to keep the yeast water from consuming the dough before baking (from aggressive enzyme activity) that seem to be working.   At the same time, I've been trying to learn how to use my WFO.    For the first many bakes, I was plagued by pale doughy crust.   At first I attributed it to the tight seal on the oven door which wasn't allowing the crust to develop.    But tipping open the door for the last half of the bake didn't help.   Then I got an infrared thermometer, and finally realized that I wasn't getting high enough temperature in the oven to start with.    So the bread was baking at a low temp that wasn't high enough to finish the crust.   I insulated the top of the dome which had the highest heat loss, sharpened my fire building skills and went back to work.   Yesterday I was  successful beyond my wildest dreams.  Ok.   Not really.   I incinerated two loaves of whole wheat Pain au Levain that never did me any harm.   Too hot.   Way too hot.   It's one thing to have a good thermometer.   It's another thing to know how to use it.   Today, I made a number of adjustments and got only a too hot oven - rather than a way too hot oven.   And baked a yeast water loaf.   Since the oven was too hot (floor at around 650F) it expanded too fast for its own good and baked too rapidly.   But I did start to see a hint of the crumb I've been looking for.    Onward and upward. 

Yeast water loaf with oven in the background. 

Not like Akiko's yet, but I'm getting there (I hope.)

I prefer charred crust to the pale doughy stuff I've been getting but I'm still not the master of oven temp.

Updated with formula and method:

8/19/2011    
     
Yeast water9362%  
KABF150   
     
8/20/2011    
 FinalStarterTotalPercents
KAAP500 500 
KABF 150150 
Yeast water 9393 
Water362 36270%
Salt12 121.8%
Starter243  23%
percent yeast water   20%
   1117 

Night before mix yeast water and flour and leave on counter overnight (around 10 hours).   Next day mix all ingredients but salt and autolyze for 1 hour.   Add salt and mix for 4 minutes in stand mixer at medium speed.  Bulk fement for 2.5 hours with first stretch and fold in the bowl and second on the counter.   Shape into boule and place upside down in lined basket.   Proof around two hours until soft.   Slash and bake in WFO for 20 minutes at high heat (over 650F)  - crack door open after first 10 minutes.  Leave another 5 minutes in oven with door open to bring internal temperature up to 210F. 

A few points:  I used King Arthur Bread Flour in the starter to have enough gluten strength to counteract the high enzyme activity of the yeast water.  I also used a fairly low hydration starter (62%) for the same reason.   The dough was quite wet after the mix and required an aggressive in the bowl stretch and fold to develop.   That worked.   For the second stretch and fold I was able to stretch it out on the counter.   When I removed it from the basket it sort of flopped out in all directions.   However when it went into the oven it sprang up immediately - probably due to the high heat.  I did not use steam in the oven and perhaps if I had the cuts would have opened up better.  

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Varda,

That's a really nice looking loaf to me!

Isn't the learning curve somthing!  Amazing that as kids we learned anything....so much trial and error involved and we are attempting to do the easy stuff!  Totally concrete learning rather than abstract!  

I love my IR thermometer too.  Having the right 'tools' is half the trick!

A side note on YW in bread.  I was just reading a thread written by Codruta about a loaf of hers that was growing mold on the 3rd day....Khalid's reasons 'why' make perfect sense.  You might keep an eye on your loaf - if it lasts 3 days....

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24741/mold-spelt-bread-made-apple-yeast-water-why

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Do you bake bread in your oven?   Have you posted on it?   I would love to see.    I feel like I'm going to have to bake outside into November to take advantage of this slo-mo education I'm getting.   We're already almost through August and I don't feel like I've quite got it yet.    I did read Codruta's post and Khalid's answer.   If I baked a high percentage whole grain bread, it would generally take around 4 days to finish it around here, but a white fluffy bread like this - two days tops.  And yeast water just gives it that extra addictive something - I don't know what.    Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

I don't have a WFO but I do have an IR therm. for my wood burning insert - our indoor heat for the winter time here.  

I bake my loaves in an electric oven in my kitchen - lined with 2 baking stones.....no way would I attempt what you are undertaking! My husband would kill me :-0  He already hates all of my wood burning in the winter and sighs a huge sigh of relief when warmer weather approaches knowing I will soon be putting away my wood burning 'toys'.........

I just like reading about your adventures here.

Janet

lumos's picture
lumos

Lovely crust colour, Varda.   Hail to the infrared thermometer! 

It may not be 'the perfect' to your high standard,  the crumb looks wonderful and open, and, more importantly, you're definitely getting there.

the prospect of lovely open crumb so enticing

I know, it's the real charm of yeast-water bread. S'ppose it's due to no gluten in the water unlike flour-based sourdough. In one of Japanese bread books I have, there's a formula for yeast-water based baguette with really beautiful open crumb. But the thought of the combination of yeast water AND baguette is just too scary.....:p

Look foward to your next WFO-YW report!

lumos

varda's picture
varda

on yeast water.   I only know it from this site.  Akiko's baguette postpushed me over the edge after lurking for awhile on the many fascinating posts on the subject.   But I'm not planning to try it on baguettes.  I figure if I'm still baking bread in a few years, and if my husband decides to build me an extra large oven then I'll take up baguette baking.   Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, Varda!

Have you tried making yeast-water with mango?  According to several bread bloggers in Japan, that seems to give you most active yeast water. May be because of higher sugar level than raisin, I don't know......But I know a few of them who make their yeast water with mango, nothing but mango. Either fresh mango (both skin and flesh, or even the stone) or dried one seem to work equally well, though using fresh one seems to be more common.  Never tried it myself, so it's their fault if it doesn't work! :p

lumos

varda's picture
varda

Hey Lumos,  I'm a novice as far as yeast water goes.   I did a couple of bakes with banana yeast water and then transitioned to raisin which is very easy and convenient so I just stuck with it.    When I really feel like I have a handle on this stuff I will try other fruits and now thanks to you, mango is at the top of my list.   Usually when I open the lid of my yeast water container after it's been in the refrigerator for a week or two the smell is so powerful it knocks me back.   Not bad exactly but very strong.   This time when I opened it it was fragrant and fruity - almost like wine.     I didn't take a swig but the odor was quite intoxicating.   So I don't really understand what happened.   The container was in the back of the refrigerator (very cold) for around two weeks, so I don't know if that had something to do with it.    I guess I'll file it under the mysteries of yeast water.  -Varda

lumos's picture
lumos

According to a book written by a professional baker, fruit-based yeast water seems to last like 2-3 months in a fridge no problem.  Maybe yours sort of 'matured' with the time, just like fruit liquor improves the flavour longer it's left?  As I said before (I think I did....???), the main purpose of keeping yeast water is to use it as a 'mother starter' to make levain. It's easier than flour based mother starter because you don't have to feed it regularly to maintain.  It's only a relatively recent trend (my recent is 'several years' because I'm old) that people there started making bread with yeast water directly mixed into the dough ingredients. Until then doing it was the way of quantity control or using up the left-over before starting fresh, new yeast water.

I simply admire your will power for resisting the urge of downing the yeast water in one go when it smelled as good as wine! :p

lumos

varda's picture
varda

Hi Lumos,   Not sure if I'm understanding what you are saying but I did build a levain from the yeast water.   I mixed flour and yeast water the night before and left on counter for around 10 hours.   Then prepared dough as usual using the yeast water based starter.   Is that the method you are saying is standard, or new or what?    What I used is the methodology in Akiko's post if I recall correctly.    Ron Ray does something different where he builds the dough using yeast water in successive days.   I did try to make bread once pouring yeast water directly into the final dough and it wasn't a pretty sight.  I'll update my post to include all this although I don't view this as the definitive approach nor formula.   -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I think your crust and crumb look beautiful, Varda!  A couple of burnt loaves is just part of the process and you obviously are doing very well at learning your ovens ups and downs :) of heating!  How about steaming, do you steam in your oven?  

Tools come in handy.  One of the best hints I got was you don't have to invest in some of the expensive wfo tools.  Just buy some good old garden tools like hoes, shovels ect..just make sure they don't have any 'plastic parts'.  Great for moving around coals and stuff...thank you C. Hitz again!

 How about that new DIT 'digital infared thermometer'?  I just love mine, I use it all over the place, not just the oven.  

Sometimes just to keep the feel of things I still count my mississippi's with my hand in or near the oven or I like tossing a small amount of flour on the oven floor for a quick temperature check to see how long it takes to turn tan, brown or black.  If it turns black, it's probably in the neighborhood of about 700F or pizza oven temperature, dark brown in a few seconds would be about 500F, good for bread and tan in a few seconds is good for roasting.  It works pretty close to tell what's happening with the 'conductive heat', 'floor temperature'.

You found that heating up the top of oven 'dome' helped even more baking your bread.  That is your ovens 'radiant heat'.  Radiant heat is the primary heat soure for baking or roasting in your wfo.  

Wood-burning ovens use five types of heat for cooking.  Conductive, radiant, burning logs create a broiler effect with their intense heat rolling over the dome, creating a convection flow of heat and the high heat of the coal bed is the main power source of the oven.  Those coals are so great for grilling up some fantastic meats and veggies.  You might like to find a little grill with apx. 3 to 4 legs that will fit through your oven door.  Push some coals right under it and grill away.

It takes experiments, each oven is different and understanding  these heat sources and how they effect your oven will be of great help to you creating the different enviroments for what you are cooking.

Sometimes if I want to cool my oven floor down a little faster.  I mop it with a 'not' soaking wet mop.  I use a wringed wet rag on the end of a wooden stick.  This can cool your floor down apx. 50F. and cleans up the floor of ash.   Also, open your oven door for apx. 10 min. at a time.  Put the door back on and give the oven another apx. 10 to regulate.

Happy WFO baking, Varda!  You've got a real Ocean Liner going there : )  Beautiful Bake!

Sylvia 

 

 

 

varda's picture
varda

So much great stuff in your comment I don't know where to start.   Last year I read up on tools in Kiko Denzer's book.   He is a real minimalist so I didn't go overboard.   The best tool I got was a child's hoe.   It is a real metal hoe but just the right length to move logs around, clean out the oven etc.   I also got a window washer's brush minus handle that I use for brushing out the ash and a small metal trashcan with lid to dump the remnants of logs and the coals.  But for thermometer all I had was a dinky wood stove magnetized spring based thermometer that I lay on the floor of the oven.   The IRT gives a heck of a lot more information than that, and I'm really glad I got it.   I like your throw flour on the hearth trick and I think I'll try it - high tech methods step aside.   I know I could have brought down temperature by mopping or leaving the door open but I have had so much trouble with the temperature dropping too low (mainly because it was never hot enough in the first place as I now understand) that I didn't want to risk it.   I also didn't really know what would happen to bread baked at 650+ degrees.  Now I know.   It trippled in size in the first 10 minutes and was completely baked by 20.   I think that's a little too fast for over a kilogram of bread.    I have not used my oven for other cooking than bread (and a totally disastrous pizza baking episode) but every time I rake out the glowing coals I think that it's a waste.  I love your idea about putting a grill over the coals and cooking away.   Now what should I grill?   I'll have to go back and reread your fabulous posts.   Thanks for sharing your expertise!   -Varda

varda's picture
varda

Sylvia.   I meant to ask a couple of things.   Do you steam and if so how do you do it?   And do you think I am missing something useful in the tool department?    Meant to include both of those in my response to your comment.   Must be exhausted from all this WFO baking.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi Varda!  First I have to apologize for the long post. I just read it..OMG.. Can't help it, my favorite baking and cooking tool..wfo!  

The breads I steam would be the same ones that require steaming in any recipe.  I've used several different steaming techniques.  My two methods of choice for my wfo is adding a large broiler or roaster type pan or loaf pans of steaming hot microwaved wet towels 'my favorite method'.  I also have a very large water spritzer bottle that I use alone or with 'my favorite method of steaming'.  It can be aimed directly at the back of and side of the wfo walls and I spritz..the spritzed water actually burst into steam before hitting the walls.  I also allow for the bread's own steam and how many loaves fill the oven.  The wfo's are not going to let steam be vented out like a home oven.  I don't have a wooden door.  Some soak the doors in water or hang a wet rag over them, which also helps the doors seal tighter.  I have never tried hanging a wet towel over my door...but considering it.  I just wouldn't want any water dripping from the towel onto the floor.  I would think whatever works in your home oven would work in your wfo..just allow for some differences..like interior size of oven and how many loaves you are baking.  Each oven is always different.

My favorite tools 'for actual baking' are the my wooden pizza,  wooden long baguette paddles, for transfering breads and pizza's, into the oven and metal pizza paddles for removing.  My Palino tool - peel.  It has a long metal handle with a 'round' apx. 8" metal peel at the tip..it turns a pizza, breads, pans, and even lifts wood and moves it about...very handy.  A pizza needs to be rotated/turned while it bakes and bread, it turns a pizza perfect around and around keeping it in the same spot for browning the crust in front of the fire.   Also great for moving things about..square long handled metal paddles can make this turning a real chore or mess.  I have several long, short, medium length paddles a kit came with my oven and I have purchased extra.  The wooden short handled paddles come in handy.  I make my pizza's directly on them or quests can use them.  The cleaning tool I use most is my metal long handled brissel brush for sweeping ash.  The head of it is wood..so I soak it in water before putting it into a very hot oven.  I need to be able to reach back at least four feet into my oven without having my hands go into the doorway...it can get very hot as you know!  Your oven will tell you what tools work best in it 'lol'  but pizza paddles come in very handy and tools for sweeping and shoveling hot coal and ash, I think you have and maybe use shorter handled varieties.  You'll be able to muster up lot's of cooking baking utensils around the house for cooking in your oven.  I like using tin foil baking pans on top of a cookie sheet for support and ease of moving about the oven..easy cleanup..no dishes.  Iron anything skillets, I don't really care to use to much stoneware or anything breakable...but I have a really nice old clay bean pot, heavy stainless steel roasting pan is good too.  If you can get about 4 fire bricks..they are great for setting pans on for roasting..keeps them off a hot floor if you are roasting with a fire. 

[What to grill]  Easy first...Grill a steak over the wood coals...yumm! Bistecca Fiorentina...Italian classic over the coals!  You can even get a very thick steak and cook it right on the hot coals...no grill!  Anything you make indoors, outdoor grill, stove or oven you can make in your wfo :) Added:  Only better :)

Have a great vacation :)

Sylvia  

 

varda's picture
varda

Sylvia.   Thanks for your detailed answer.   It gives me plenty of food for thought.   I had thought there was no need for steam in the WFO but I'm going to try it out and see what it does to the results.   I have a pizza peel that used to be round.  My husband cut it down for me since it was too fat to fit through the door.   I use that to load the oven but it seems you have some other recommendations that I will need to investigate.  Perhaps one paddle is not enough.   And I MUST grill in my oven.   Silly me, for not having thought of that before what with all those hot coals.    Thanks again for your advice.  -Varda  

Mebake's picture
Mebake

650F? Wow, no wonder why WFOs are ever so popular with artisan bakers.. Nicely done, Varda! beautiful crumb, and crust..!

varda's picture
varda

Well I now know that 650 hearth temperature bakes bread around twice too fast, and 750 hearth temp incinerates it.   But I am curious do you think that bread can survive such high temperatures intact?   If I had steamed yesterday do you think I would have got a better result - cuts opening and so forth?   Thanks.  -Varda

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi varda,

What a delicious crust and creamy, glistening open crumb!

I know you've worked hard to get your wfo up and running but how fantastic to be able to bake fruit yeast loaves in a wood fired oven:-). I'm sure an  IR thermometre is really useful - because of the difference between hot zones but also as it can be used from a distance! That sounds like one hot oven!

Best wishes, Daisy

varda's picture
varda

Daisy.    It is a hot oven and if you try to point from the outside to the back wall of the oven it averages all the intermediate temperatures and so you get a low reading which is one of the things that has been confusing me.    To get a good reading you have to have your thick workman's glove covered hand almost inside the oven and then it goes from around 120F to 900F (sorry don't know my centigrades).   And then when you remove the fire and so the radiant heat the temperature changes completely.   It definitely takes some experience figuring out what's going on even with a good thermometer.   Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

Love the crumb to your loaf.

It is outrageous to be able to bake with that level of bottom heat.

However, having baked with a wood-fired brick oven approx 3m wide and 3.2m deep, and fired to around 550*C over 4 hours, I know only too well what is actuallt possible.

The Infra-red thermometer is an invaluable tool...one I never had the luxury of using back in the 1990s!

So long as the base of the loaf does not burn, or the top singe black, then the benfits of baking hot are here for all to see.

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Hi Andy,   I guess a little charring never hurt anyone.   I feel like I need to be more in control of what's going on, though.   Right now every bake in that oven is a learning experience.   550C is amazingly hot.   The highest I've measured so far is around 900F (482C)  before removing the fire which seems to drop into the 700F neighborhood with fire out.  But mine is considerably smaller - less than a meter diameter.     And of course we could all bake without the latest tools but they sure do make it easier.     I hope that you are able to get back to baking in your WFO soon and I look forward to the results.   Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda