The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Bread from SFBI Artisan II

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Sourdough Bread from SFBI Artisan II

Sourdough Bread made with Liquid Levain fed twice a day

from the SFBI Artisan II Workshop

Probably the key experience provided in the SFBI Artisan II workshop on sourdough baking was baking a series of breads with liquid versus firm starters, starters fed either once or twice a day and breads with different proportions of starter. Each variation produced breads with noticeably different flavor profiles.

Our instructor made it quite clear that he and his colleagues at the SFBI had a clear consensus that the best-tasting bread was produced using a liquid levain fed twice a day and with the liquid levain constituting 40-50% (baker's percentage) of the final dough. The dough had an overall hydration of 68%.

The characteristics of bread made in this manner were a very mild sourdough tang with a predominance of the “milky” sourness provided by lactic acid but a dominance of sweet, wheaty flavor over acidity.

It has been quite a while since I have made bread using this formula, although I did like it a lot. I made it again this weekend. I have made some minor modifications in the procedures prescribed by the SFBI. Note: Apparent discrepancies in the ingredient weights are due to scaling down from the original formula for a much larger dough batch and rounding.

 

Total Dough Formula

Baker's %

Wt (g)

AP flour

95

641

Rye flour

0.83

5

Water

68

438

Instant yeast (optional)

0.1

0.5

Salt

2.1

13

Total

166.03

1097.5

 

Levain

Baker's %

Wt (g)

AP flour

95

102

Rye flour

5

5

Water

100

108

Liquid starter

40

43

Total

240

258

Note: for the starter feedings, including the levain mix, I actually used my usual starter feeding mix of 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Rye. So, in the levain, rather than the AP and Rye specified in the SFBI formula, I used 107 g of the above mix.

  1. Mix ingredients thoroughly.

  2. Ferment 12 hours at room temperature. (Note: Because of my own scheduling needs, I refrigerated the levain overnight before mixing the final dough. This was not the procedure at the SFBI, and it would be expected to make the bread somewhat more sour. If you can, omit this levain retardation.)

Final Dough

Baker's %

Wt (g)

AP flour

100

517

Water

60

310

Instant yeast (optional)

0.1

0.06

Liquid starter

50

259

Salt

2.5

13

Total

212.6

1099.06

Procedures

  1. Mix all ingredients except the salt (and the yeast, if you are using it) to a shaggy mass.

  2. Let rest, covered, for 20-60 minutes.

  3. Add the salt (and yeast, if you are using it) and mix at Speed 2 for 5-6 minutes. Adjust flour or water to achieve a medium consistency. (Note: I did not use added instant yeast.)

  4. Ferment for 2-3 hours at 76ºF with 1 or 2 folds, as needed to strengthen the dough. (Note: The fermentation time depends on whether you use the instant yeast and on your fermentation temperature. As usual, “Watch the dough, not the clock.” The dough should end up expanded by about 20% and should be somewhat light and gassy. If you ferment in a transparent container, your should see the dough to be well-populated with tiny bubbles.)

  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as boules.

  6. Let the pieces rest, covered, for 25-30 minutes.

  7. Shape as boules or bâtards.

  8. Proof for 90-120 minutes at 80ºF.

  9. Bake at 450ºF with steam for 25 minutes.

  10. Leave in the turned-off oven with the door ajar for another 10 minutes.

  11. Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.

 

The crust softened as the bread cooled. I think this was mostly because I adjusted the dough consistency by adding a little water. This made for a more open crumb but a less crunchy crust. The aroma of the cut loaf was very nice with a noticeable acetic acid aroma. However the flavor, while more tangy than this bread is meant to be, was still only mildly sour. Otherwise, it had the delicious sweet-wheaty flavor I remember.

This bread was lovely. I am happy with the results I got, but it merits another bake following the SFBI formula and procedures without my modifications.

 David

 

Comments

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

What lovely open crumb you achieved with such modest hydration! I think the Vermont sourdoughs in Bread are also fairly low in hydration, so I guess it only goes to show how important the type (and hydration) of the preferment is.

I'm sorry to hear about the softening crust, though... As I told you a couple of days ago, I know how frustrating that can be. Was the crumb noticeably soft and "sticky" due to excess moisture once you sliced it? Oh, and did you bake it at 250dC for 25 mins, or do you mean 450dF?

I think a course like Artisan II would be very stimulating for many of us TFL'ers, as it's often experiments with fermentation that peaks our interest (stiff or liquid, feeding intervals, feeding with white or whole flours, dough temperatures, retarding in bulk or during final proof etc.). I pulled out AB&P after reading your post, and browsed through some of the chapters related to the baking process. From reading the mixing section, I get the impression that the "improved mix" is something they advocate quite strongly (i.e. the best of both worlds - efficiency in the production setting combined with good shelf-life and bread characteristics). Did you use either short or improved mix during your classes, David, or did you get to try them all? I take it that it is quite difficult to go much beyond improved mix with our rather limited powered home-mixers.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I baked at 450dF for 25 minutes - actually 450dF conventional for 15 minutes then 10 minutes at 430dF convection.

The crumb was well-baked - moist and tender but not at all gummy. I had a slice ... well, 2 slices ... for bedtime snack, with nothing on it. The flavor was even better with more sweatness and complexity. I could have eaten a whole loaf just for the taste.

The idea of the improved mix has to do with a very short time on high speed to achieve moderate gluten development without too much oxidation. You get a more open crumb than with an intensive mix. That is not hard to achieve with a home mixer, although the mixing time in a KitchenAid is about twice that in a commercial spiral mixer, in my experience. To achieve an intensive mix effect, you need to mix at high speed for a pretty long time - 10-15 minutes. I have done this with enriched pan loaves. The crumb is much more even but there is a perceptible loss of flavor.

In the workshop, we always used the improved mix for lean breads. In Artisan I, I think we used an intensive mix one time, just to witness the effect on baguette crumb.

David

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

40-50% levain? Seems like quite a bit.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Bread,

It's true that the weight of the levain in the final dough section is roughly 50% of the flour weight in the final dough, but the weight of the levain includes both prefermented flour and water. If you look at the formula in more detail, you'll see that only some 16.9% of the total flour is prefermented (at least if my spreadsheet is set up correctly), and that's a good baseline for this kind of bread.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Two things raised my eyebrows.

  1. The percentage of optional yeast is 0.1% and you show that to be 0.06g in the final dough, and more correctly to be 0.5g in the total dough.
  2. You say, "Bake at 250ºF with steam for 25 minutes." Do you mean centigrade rather than Fahrenheit? ~480℉ would seem reasonable.

cheers,

gary

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The yeast percentage difference is a function of the difference in yeast/flour in the final vs total dough, pluse rounding.

Yes. There was a typo in the oven temperature. I have corrected it. Thanks for pointing it out.

David

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi David,

Beautiful bread as always; that is a really good formula from SFBI.

It had me reflecting on my time at Village Bakery where we made French Country Bread across each shift as the bakery operated 24 hours a day.   Though we used stiff levain, it was remarkable the level of activity with the leaven from 3 refreshments every 24 hours.   Of course, holding 41kg as stock, and building that up to over 130kg served to increase strength and activity all the more.

SFBI will also be in the position of refreshing their levains for use on a virtually continuous basis too.   Understanding this is key to successful adaptation of leaven feeding to home production on a less frequent basis.

Very best wishes

Andy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

At SFBI, where they were not only giving workshops but also baking for their retail bakery in San Francisco (Thorough Bread Bakery), the levain was fed at 5 am and 5 pm. I can't recall the fermentation temperature they used, but I do recall the levain was kept in a temperature-controlled cabinet, not at room temperature. 

I like several things about the twice-a-day feeding schedule. The starter is more active than it is after a single refreshement. The bread made with it has a better flavor balance. Baking only on weekends, I am not currently able to do daily twice a day feeds, but I think, with discipline and planning, I can get a similar effect by starting my baking routine on Thursday evening by activating my refrigerated starter and going from there.

The challenge is that, after a second feeding, my starter is mature in much less than 12 hours. I suppose, the answer is to use a smaller inoculation, but won't this actuall result in a more sour starter?

David

isand66's picture
isand66

Hi David,

Can you tell me what hydration level is your liquid starter at?

I use a firm starter so I would need to know this to convert it over to a liquid one.

As always your results are excellent and I appreciate your thorough write up.

Thanks,
Ian

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

In theory, my liquid starter is 100% hydration. However, I inoculate it with a firm starter which is 50% hydration. So, let's see ....

The stater is activated with 40 g starter, 100 g flour, 100 g water. However, the 40 g of  "mother" consists of  approximately 27 g flour and 13 g water. So, the activated starter has a total of 127 g flour and 113 g water. 113/127 = 0.89 x 100 = 89% hydration.

After the second feeding, it's closer to 100% hydration. You can do the calculation, if you want.

Thanks for your kind words.

David

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Great looking bread David ... excellent crust colour.

Cheers,
Phil

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I may try that levain building approach some time. I'm pretty hooked on pain au levain with some whole wheat, though. Maybe I'll do a liquid levain fed every 12 hours with my usual 70-20-10 flour mix.

I've also been thinking about some of wonderful SFBI formulas you shared that I haven't baked in a while--like the Raisin-Walnut bread.

Very pretty loaves.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I generally favor sourdough breads with 10-20% whole wheat or rye. This bread, with just a small fraction of whole grains, has such a wonderful flavor, I do recommend you try it.

If you can wait just a little longer, you will see the SF SD with walnuts I baked this morning.

David

ml's picture
ml

Hi David,

I was just starting a refresh, wondering about the many different preferences as to how to do this.

I was taught a certain ratio, roughly 14% seed, for 100%. All prof. bakers seem to have a different ratio.

Did SFBI especially like the 40%, as above? Have you refreshed with %, much?

Do you like this, or not?

Great lesson

ML

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, I did like the result I got with the procedure described in the OP.

The SFBI-recommended feeding for a liquid levain was 40:100:100 (starter:water:flour).  This was to activate a starter that had been refrigerated for a few days. To then make a firm levain, the recommended ration was 60:5o:100 for most formulas.

To mix starter for storage, the recommended ration was 25:50:100.

If what you were taught was to use 14% starter, your fermentation time would just be longer, I think. 

Hope this helps.

David

 

 

Syd's picture
Syd

Nice bread David.  Was there any mention of the temperature for refreshing the starter at that 40:100:100 ratio?

Syd

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The starter and the liquid levain are fermented at room temperature. The formula actually specifies 65-70 degrees F.

If I have refrigerated the starter or levain before the next use, I warm it in my Folding Proofer at 76 degrees F for an hour or two, but that's not essential. Before I had the FP, I would just use warm (80-90 degree F) water for the next mix.

David

ml's picture
ml

That's interesting information David, thanks.

Any idea why they preferred a stiff levain for storage?

Do they recommend using the same storage starter as seed for firm & 100%?

ML

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

For storage, you want the yeast to have an abundance of food, but you don't want a lot of yeast multiplication. They multiply faster in a more liquid medium.

Looking over my notes from the workshop, the routine for activating the starter would be to take your storage starter and mix a liquid levain. This gets the yeast multiplying fastest. Then, you use the activated to starter to inoculate either a liquid or a firm starter in a second feeding. See my reply above for the formulas.

I hope this is clear.

David

ml's picture
ml

Yes David, your information is very clear & helpful.

Last question: Which flours does SFBI prefer for starter? Do you use this starter, now? If not, which starters do you keep in YOUR fridge? And why?

Actually, that could be another group question, like the what are your fav breads .

ml

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

In general, SFBI feeds their stock starter with AP or Bread flour, as far as I know. However, in the workshop, the instructor said that you could vary this with the use of rye and/or WW in part to get different effect. The starter feeding mix I use I believe comes from Peter Reinhart. It generates a somewhat more vigorous starter than pure AP and provides a bit of rye and WW to my breads, even if the final dough is all AP flour. I prefer the more complex flavor that results.

I keep one stock starter, as described. However, if I am going to be making a series of rye breads, I will develop a rye sour and keep some of that in the fridge as well. I usually start my rye sour with my stock starter and build it over 3 feedings before using it. 

David

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

After some experimentation to sort it out, I think 50% bakers percentage liquid levain is better than lower percentages like 40% for producing sour, as is; 10% each WW and rye in the total flour, long retardation, higher hydration, building the levain at 72 F and retarding it too while doing the final proof at 85 F.   Much, like the long retard, higher hydration and 85 F final proof, I think I learned from you.  Nice to see at least some confirmation from the SFBI on the % of levain.

It is so nice not to be shooting the dark when it comes to developing sour.  Thanks again David.

Very nice crumb again too!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

General rules:

1. Yeast growth is best in liquid medium with moderate temperature (70-80 dF).

2. Homofermentation is best in liquid at high temperature (80-85 dF). This inhibits yeast multiplication but speeds fermentation.

3. Heterofermentation is best in firm medium and cool temperature (50 dF)

So, my first step is the liquid levain fermented at room temperature. This gets the yeast going. The firm levain at room temperature makes lactic acid. The retardation enhances acetic acid. The bulk fermentation boosts lactic acid. The retardation of the formed loaves increases acetic acid, and the final proof at 85 dF) is mostly for fermentation (gas production). These generalizations are all relative, of course.

I am open to correction by experts like professional bakers or microbiologists like Debra Wink, but that's my current understanding.

Anyway, such manipulations of time and temperature can provide the method for fine tuning flavor, once the principles are understood.

David