The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some Recent Bakes, with Lessons Learned

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Some Recent Bakes, with Lessons Learned

A number of years now reading and posting here and the sentence that rings in my ears as the best advice I've ever had in home baking is Pat's "Get the fermentation right," which I guess could also be said as "Watch the dough, not the clock." Now that the rest of you have moved on to the nicely controlled environment of proofing boxes , I am left to my analog temperature probe and the vagaries of kitchen temperatures. So I've practiced on some basics, watching the dough. Here are three recent examples: A basic boule, Tartine-ish for the relatively young starter and for the covered cast iron bake; Silverton-ish for practicing the half moon score. I'm liking the cast iron right now. Proofed overnight in the fridge and baked from cold.

 

A combination of Hamelman's five grain and his seeded levain. This one has whole wheat, steel cut oats, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds. Need to bear in mind that when fewer cereals go in the soaker (and more seeds not needing to be soaked are used,) the water for it should be cut back. As it is, the dough took some more flour and turned out fine. It's not for nothing that Hamelman says this is one of the most delectable of breads. Despite all the inclusions, the crumb is light and properly aerated. Again proofed overnight in the fridge, but not baked from cold because they hadn't come up enough. I like the zigzag scoring on the large one. Next week I think I'll add a couple of tablespoons of dark rye and/or buckwheat to this formula, just to see what they do to the taste and the form.

 

Wet baguettes. For a long time, I had mixed feelings about these. I couldn't put my finger on it. But now I think I know what's bothering me: this isn't a baguette. A dough this wet, one that can't be properly shaped or scored, doesn't really fulfill the complete idea of the baguette, with its beautiful pointed ends and caramelized ears. This is more likely to be a baton, a long narrow loaf that doesn't need to be scored. Its natural form is ciabatta. Next week, I may try these as batons. If you picture these loaves below, a little wider and a little shorter and unscored, that's the idea. I hydrated the non pre fermented flour and water for 24 hours in the fridge. I also fermented the bulk dough for 24 hours in the fridge. I proofed the formed loaves for too long on the bench, about six hours. So, the appearance is a work in progress, but the taste from the long cold fermentations is fantastic. The crumb speaks for itself.

edited to add: Maybe the nicest baguette-type crust I've produced in an all sourdough version. Pretty thin and very crispy.

Comments

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

bread samples louis!  Eye candy for sure.  I'm guessing that the taste of #2 was what makes it very special?  Nice work Mr Brown.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Absolutely, dabrownman, the taste of this bread is rich, deep and complex. It improves over a day or more. By varying the inclusions, you can alter the flavor profile. An active starter, a fairly short bulk fermentation and the cast iron cooker yield a loaf with an interior that is not at all dense. Really a good bread and a point of departure for so many varistions. It's the one my wife always asks for.

isand66's picture
isand66

Your breads look great.  Excellent looking crumb.  Great job

louie brown's picture
louie brown

so much, isand66.

Syd's picture
Syd

Beautiful breads all round Louie.  Wouldn't it be so convenient for bread baking if the the temperature were the same all year round?  Bread baking for me is a bit like playing an artificially intelligent arcade game: just when you think you have mastered it,  it generates a fresh set of obstacles. 

Lovely scoring and great open crumb. 

I agree with you on the baguettes:  it has to look like a baguette to be called a baguette no matter how good it tastes. 

Best,

Syd

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Thanks for the nice comments. You're right, the variables inherent in home baking at this level can turn the whole process into something surreal and often very frustrating. We do it for the challenge, right?

As for the "baguette," I think we just need to change the form slightly and call it something else and it'll be the right thing.

copyu's picture
copyu

I'd be inclined to keep the hydration high, add a smidgen of rye flour (if it's not already there) to the last item and make it slightly thinner—then call it 'flute ancienne' But that's just my take on the subject...

Beautiful bread, anyway and just the right amount of text to accompany those beautiful photos.

Thank you and warm regards,

Adam

louie brown's picture
louie brown

I like the idea of adding some dark flour and making a flute. That sound really good. I could see using rye, buckwheat (a favorite of mine) chestnut, stuff like that. Is there a formula or method you can suggest, or should I do it the way I normally do, by the seat of my pants?

copyu's picture
copyu

"by the seat of your pants"? <GASP!> Then, by all means, please continue!

I haven't been able to get any of the flute formulae to work yet, but that could be for a lot of reasons, especially lack of effort, recently. I'm paying attention (probably an undue amount!) to the Glycemic Index [G.I.] of the foods I buy and bake, so I'm moving towards more rye and other whole-grains in my diet...just as I got "the pain au levain to die for", I decided I needed to switch to a pain de seigle or something even more 'whole-grain'.

I'm not a 'newby' with rye breads, but I suspect that an entirely new learning experience awaits as I try to incorporate more W-W and whole spelt into my repertoire...because of my crazy work schedule, I have to use the "seat-of-the-pants" method way too often. My results are pretty variable, as you can imagine.

Very best wishes,

Adam

 

   

ananda's picture
ananda

You're on fire louie,

Fantastic Bread!

Best wishes

Andy

louie brown's picture
louie brown

You're an inspiration.

varda's picture
varda

Louie,  These look great in every way - scoring is very interesting - I like the zigzags on the boule particularly - and the crumb is wonderful for all of them.   I wish you would say a bit more about watching the dough.   I don't have a proofer either - don't plan to get one for now - and I'm wondering, for instance, how you decide the bulk ferment is done.  -Varda

louie brown's picture
louie brown

A right side person like me does it by look and feel. I think a lot of people do it that way. Many formulae give a guideline like "four hours at 76 degrees," but it's just that, a guideline. After my folding routine and at about the suggested time, I look at the dough to see if it seems to be about double its starting volume, with the right amount of gluten development for what I'm doing. There's also the poke test. As Syd says, it's a constantly shifting landscape of variables. I guess if you are a more methodical type, you could measure volume displacement. Maybe we should just get the proofer...

lumos's picture
lumos

Beautiful breads! I especially love the way how the crumb came out. All of them! :)

louie brown's picture
louie brown

I appreciate the compliment.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

That's evidence of "right" fermentation. 

Outstanding breads, Louie!

David

 

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Thanks, David. You guys still have me eyeing one of those proofers, though.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Great looking breads louie,

The seeded bread looks like a winner :)

Cheers,
Phil

louie brown's picture
louie brown

a winner, Phil. Even better, it offers a good deal of flexibility. By the same token, the long cold fermentations of the white breads give a terrific flavor too. Thank you for the compliment. I wish I had your natural light for photography. I don't have the patience to play with the white balance.

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi louie,
What fine-looking breads - all are beautiful - perfect crumb and lovely scoring.
So nice to see what you've been baking and to see your success managing temperatures and fermentation.
:^) from breadsong

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Thank you so much! I'dlike to try some new things, but I seem stuck on tinkering with the regulars, always looking for a new way to improve them. Looking at your posts helps a lot. Best wishes.

owlsprings's picture
owlsprings

Great Looking bread Louie! Hats off!! Just a couple of comments on the B&T proofing box as an investment and as a process management tool. I don't think most bakers would view the box as a "set and forget" strategy for fool proof fermentation or loaf proofing. There are just too many variables involved pre and post fermentation. What the device does provide is a stable bench mark for temperature and humidity.  Being able to control (stabilize) those two variables is pretty helpful in making judgements about the condition of the bulk fermentation and the final proofing. I also find that it allows me to manage the loaves easier once formed. I can tuck the baskets into the proofer and cover with a towel because of the controlled humidity. I didn't care for fooling around with all the plastic wrap, oil, bags, etc. in our very warm but extremely dry environment (we heat with wood primarily in winter).  Finally, as someone mentioned, you can use the box to make wonderful yogurt  and other cultured foods without having to have a cupboard full of specialized appliances. The only drawback that I can think of is the size limitations of the box (approximately 12"x 15" x 8 1/2"h). This size might not be adequate for bakers who typically do large bakes, and do not wish to stagger batches.  But the units are well made and I think they are worth the money if you want to add a bit more control to your process. Could you live without it? Sure. Happy baking!

louie brown's picture
louie brown

owspringsl, that makes sense. Just to be able to control temperature and humidity would be a big step in the right direction. "Set and forget" is a little naive. And we'd love being able to make yogurt. Many thanks for the useful comments.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Very beautiful breads Louie, all of them!

You know, you aren't alone there, Louie, i too am left to manage my kitchen temperatures... i'am even thinking of shifting (levain house, that is), as the wife cooks and steam finds its way to the fermenting levain. grr

louie brown's picture
louie brown

The burdens we bear, no?