The Fresh Loaf

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Fine Tuning process

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davidg618's picture
davidg618

Fine Tuning process

Over the past three or four weeks I've been experimenting with small adjustments, one at a time, to my process. Three of them appear to be adding positive nuances to my loaves. They are:

• longer autolyse, prior to adding yeast (or levain) and salt.

• using  new steam-generating containers.

• warming retarded, pre-shaped dough, and final proofing at elevated temperature: 82°F

With both baguettes and sourdough loaves I've been hydrating the flours for five hours before adding yeast, levain or salt. With the sourdough I've cut the hydrated flour-water ball into cubes, with a bench knife, before adding the liquid levain. With baguettes I simply sprinkle the yeast and salt on the dough ball (on alternate sides) before resting it in the refrigerator for five hours--a trick I adapted from the USA baking team's baguette formula published by the BBGA in Bread Lines.

Recently, a TFLer posted a backyard grill "moisturizer" (?) as a potential steam-generating vessal for bread baking. I tried to find his/her post again using the search function, but couldn't find the magic words, so I can't give credit. Nonetheless, when I read it it seemed like a possible alternative for me. In response to an earlier posting I'd made Mebake commented I should be getting better bloom from my baguette scoring, and attributed the lack thereof to my using a towel-lined sheet pan, on the top shelf, to generate steam; i.e., the pan was seriously preventing radiant heat from reaching the tops of my baggettes.  I took that comment to heart, and have since been searching for long, narrow pans--two of them--to replace the sheet pan to place one on each side. Until I read the aforementioned post I'd had no success. Subsequently, I found the pair pictured on Amazon--they are longer and narrower than ones in the post. I found, loaded with hot water, they sloshed badly so I added the small towel fragment rolls on either end, and I've been using them without their lids. I'm certainly satisfied with the bloom I'm getting on sourdough loaves. Next weekend I'm baking baguettes for the first time since purchasing them. I'll also be revisiting steaming from the bottom of the oven with these new containers in another future bake.

I retard both sourdoughs and baguette dough at 54°F for 15 hours. Heretofore, I've been preshaping the loaves immediately after removing the dough from the chiller, and resting them for an hour at room temperature, which varies between 68°F and 76°F depending on the seasons. Subsequently, I'd final proof in my homemade proofing box at 76°F, or in the kitchen when the air-conditioner was controlling the temperature, also 76°F. For the past three weekly bakes I've pre-warmed the proof-box, and rested the pre-shaped dough in it at 82°F, and final proofed at the same temperature. Doing so has consistently cut 1/2 hour off of the final proof time. More importantly, I'm perceiving I'm also consistently getting a modestly more open crumb.

....and today's results.

David G

 

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Davidg618, Like you I have tried numerous steaming methods none of which have 100% satisfied me. I have never seen the vessels you have posted and now will have to ponder giving them a try. You certainly have nice loaves which speaks well for all you have tweaked. Thanks for the post and your notes and photos.. Take Care, Janet

 

P.S.  I just came back to add a P.S. and the message screen is looking a lot different than my original message.  Sorry if it all prints out as one long paragraph.

Anyway, I just went to Amazon to see if I could find the pans you have pictured and I came up with nothing.  Can you please tell me the exact words you used when doing your search?

Thanks!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Hi, Janet

Go to Amazon.com and search for: Charcoal Companion CC4071 Moistly Grilled Grill Humidifier

and that's them.

David G

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

David,

No wonder I couldn't find it :-)  What a name to give an item!  How on earth did you ever find them???

Nice to know you get 2 and that they aren't huge or too heavy.

I have the link stored file and will continue to watch your posts on any further comments you might have about these.

The timing of this post couldn't have been more perfect due to the fact that my current favorite steaming method (ice cubes on the floor of my stove) is having problems at the moment.....our auto. ice machine just quit working and the repair bill is just too high to justify getting it fixed....these seem like a good alternative.

Take Care,

Janet

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

would they be smoker boxes?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...are specifically marketed as grill moisturizers, but, being a BBQ smoker, I think they'd work fine. Conversely, I also think the sheet-metal, perforated-lidded boxes sold for holding smoking chips would work as steaming devices. I specifically  wanted metal boxes that had long, thin profiles. I'd looked for 14" x 2"; those I bought are 12" x 1-7/8": close enough.

David G

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Those look great, love the crumb!  Enjoyed following the tweaks to your process, thanks for the post.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

In a couple of weeks I will have been on this leg of the Bread Baking journey 3 years. I have to say, with TFL'ers help and guidance I've come to a satisfactory level--and, it's all been fun.

David G

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Beautiful Sourdoughs, in every way, David!

Glad to know that your fine tunings are bringing about great improvements! and Glad my advice was of help. I learned many tricks from members on TFL. Isn't it a great site?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I'm about to reach my third anniversery on TFL. I sometimes think I'd still be trying to get a sourdough starter started if I hadn't found this site. Your advice was thought-provoking. I looked online, off and on for five or six months trying to find the right shaped and sized pans. I also asked a local handy-man if he could convert a double-loaf baguette pan I don't use--cutting it in half length-wise, and adding closure on the ends. He tried but the non-stick coating defeated his brasing effort to attach the end plates. I'd pretty will given up, until I read the TFL posting mentioned in my initial thread. I hope the poster, who I couldn't locate, sees this thread.

Thanks, again

David G

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

are definately working .  Very nice SD you have there.  They look very tasty.  Now if you could just get the oven temp right :-)

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Thanks for the thumbs up.

I'm curious. Your oven temp comment: the smiley added seemed to imply it was meant jokingly, but I'd like to know the thought behind it. Do you have a suggestion re oven temperatures? If so I'd like to know it.

Thanks,

David G

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that you were making all kinds of changes to your processes and investigating many different technique tweaks and was just joking that one area missing from your projects was baking temperature.  I personally have always wondered why the same bread can and is baked from 400-700 degrees by different bakers with different results.  Your breads look great and I was wondering what temperature you baked them at and how you arrived at that temperature to produce such fine bread.

I was also especially interested in you 5 hour autolyse with salt and yeast sprinkled on the dough afterwards too.     

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Lean doughs I bake at 450°F after preheating the oven to 500°F. These temperatures seem to be the standard recommendation in most recent baking books. Most home ovens don't go much higher than this. My oven peaks at 550°F. I've only been in one commercial aritisan bakery (King Arthurs) and I know we baked all our breads at higher temperatures than I do at home, but I don't remember precisely what, and I didn't write it down knowing I couldn't set it on my home oven.

The salt and yeast trick I found in the sample copy of the newletter, Bread Lines, published by the Bread Bakers Guild of America for its members. Unless they've changed it there is an article re the USA baking team's 2008 Baguette formula. They make direction for distributing the salt on the hydrating flour-water mixture during autolyse. I thought it was a good trick--the salt begins to dissolve, making it easier it incorporate subsequently. Since I use instant dry yeast, I saw no down side to sprinkling the yeast on also, in a area seperate from the salt. So, I've adopted the technique.

David G

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

David,

When I first read this thread I was focused on the steamers....not your process with your dough. One track mind here :-) 

I just caught sight of your comment about salt sitting on top of the dough during the auto. and am wondering how it gets dispersed evenly throughout the dough once the mixing begins in earnest.  Wouldn't it all have been absorbed by the flour and water it came in contact with and then be hard to evenly distribute?  I assume there is a saturation point so that may be the reason this method works but I am not sure and couldn't locate the article you mentioned in your reply above.

Janet

davidg618's picture
davidg618

After about a year hand mixing, kneading and manipulating doughs, to learn their "feel", I've returned to machine mixing and kneading. I'm confident the post-autolyse machine kneading I do homogenizes the dough thoroughly. Furthermore, when salt dissolves in water it dissociates into Chlorine and Sodium ions, which are drawn to dipole water molecules, forming the strongest of the weak molecular bonds, i.e., salt water is a physically different liquid than plain water, its not just a mixture . It does take heat energy from the water to dissociate into ions. Mixing and kneading expose the ionized salt to lots of unattached water molecules. I've made about five or six doughs doing this trick with the salt, with no apparent difference. If anything the salt, in its post-autolyse slushy form--it partially dissociates and attaches to "local" water molecules--seems to distribute more readily, but I've no real evidence of that. I don't think it is the source of either any dough improvement or damage. I do think if you're prone to occasionally forget putting in the salt after autolyse, adopting this trick will reduce the incidence of forgetting;-)

David G

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi David,

Thanks for the explanation of what is going on at a molecular level between the salt and the water.  Fascinating.

Have you done this method with enriched doughs or just lean doughs?

Do you have a link to the original article you read describing this technique?  I would be interested in reading it.

Take Care,

Janet

P.S. 

My proofing box - inspired by yours - is working out wonderfully.  In fact, I have a jar of cream sitting in it now and, hopefully in about 10 more hours, it will be sour cream.  Couldn't have done this before but now that I can regulate heat - it is a cinch.  So nice to have a reliable and stable temperature.  All on automatic as I rigged the lamp, thermostat and the fan up to timers that come on and off without me doing a thing!  I just load it up and it does the rest :-)

Thanks you sooo much again for posting yours with the photos!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

http://www.bbga.org/bread/baguette_formula

When the page opens scroll to the bottom of the text. Click on "here" in"read the entire article here" The salt trick, et al, is in the "Final Dough" section. It's in PDF format, so you have to have Adobe Reader to open it--Most people have it, but if you don't just Google "Adobe Reader free" and follow the instructions.

David G

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

David,

Thanks for the link.  Will check it out :-).

Janet