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Help with bread from The Village Baker (Pain de Seigle sur Poolish)

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thihal123's picture
thihal123

Help with bread from The Village Baker (Pain de Seigle sur Poolish)

I need some help with a recipe in Joe Ortiz's "The Village Baker" book, in particular his pain de seigle sur poolish (sponge-method rye bread). It seems to me his recipe measurment is way off. I like to convert his recipe from volume measurment to weight measurment. The first time I made this bread, I first measured almost everything in volume and then recorded the weight measurment. Turned out the dough was so wet (like 88% hydration!) I had to keep adding flour (about 2 cups additional) to make this even work with the slap-and-fold technique.

Here is Ortiz's original recipe on page 114:

The Poolish

2 packages (2 scant tablespoons, 1/2 oz.) active dry yeast

2 cups water

1 cup organic, unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour

1 cup rye flour

The Dough

1 1/2 cups warm water

All of the poolish from previous step

2 cups rye flour

2 cups organic, unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour

1 tablespoon salt

Glaze: 1 egg wisked up with 1 tablespoon milk

----------------------------------- 

Here is what I recorded after weighing almost each volume measurment:

The Poolish

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I think it is a misprint to say 2 packages of yeast is 2 tablespoons. 1 package is only 1/4 oz, so two packages is 1/2 oz which is way less than 2 tablespoons! First error in Ortiz's recipe above).

473g water

125g white flour

128g rye flour

The Dough

355g cups warm water

All of the poolish from previous step

256g rye flour

250g white flour

1 tablespoon salt

Glaze: 1 egg wisked up with 1 tablespoon milk

 

When I got to the dough stage (i.e., after incorporating the poolish) the dough was still unworkable. I had to incorporate an additional 2 cups of flour to make this workable even for the slap-and-fold method. Turns out the dough, before the additional 2 cups of water, was 108% hydration!! (Total flour = 801g, Total water = 823g, which equals 108% hydration). No wonder it was not workable!

So, can anyone help me figure out where Ortiz's recipe error is, and how do I correct it? I like the method of making this rye bread.

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Okay, so I'm making the bread again today and I re-measured EVERYTHING. I used Ortiz's volume measurements but weighed what each measurement is on my OXO digital scale.

The only thing I did not follow with Ortiz's measurement is his inaccurate yeast measure. The book says "2 packages (2 scant tablespoons, 1/2 oz.) active dry yeast". Well, 2 packages of active dry yeast is 1/2 oz, which is 14g, which is 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon. It is NOT 2 tablespoon as his recipe says.

Having re-measured everything, I have the total weight of flour at 780g, and total weight of water at 787g! That makes a hydration of 100.8974%! That is impossible to work with as far as bread dough is concerned. RIDICULOUS!

To make the dough as the following hydration levels, I will only have to add the following additional water during the pocess when I add the poolish to the rest of the ingredients:

• to make 60% hydration dough, add 8g additional water

• to make 62% hydration dough, add 236.g additional water

• to make 65% hydration dough, add 47g additional water


I can't figure out what hydration level this bread is supposed to be at though. It's a French-style rye bread. I still have a couple of hours before the poolish is ready so I still have time to decide. Any help? If I don't hear back before I have to make the rest of the dough, I'll shoot for 65% hydration dough.


========================================

in case you are curious what my weight measurements came out to be this time around, here it is:

The Poolish

14g yeat

460g water

117g white flour

137g rye flour

 

The dough

327g water

270g rye flour

256g white bread flour (I ran out of all-purpose flour which was called for in the recipe, so I had to use white bread flour)

10g salt

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

for a 50% whole rye dough seems low to me.  My 100% rye bread are near 100% hydration and the 45% whole grain breads are 72% - 75%.    

thihal123's picture
thihal123

At the back of "The Village Baker" book are Ortiz's formulas for so-called professional versions of similar recipes. For his professional recipe for the pain de seigle sur poolish, the hydration level is 66%.*

Am I misunderstanding something here because I have never heard of near-100% hydration level for bread! We're not talking about rye grain here, but rye flour. From everything that I read, Italian breads use what is typically considered high hydration level bread and that's about 70% to 75%.

In Ortiz's book, he defines regular doughs as between 60% to 62% hydration level while moist doughs (which he also says is rarely used in French bread) is 65% hydration. I don't know if these figures are a misprint, but it's what his book says.

 

*Note: Ortiz's formulas for the professional versions of the home recipes are not exactly always using the same ratio of ingredients. For example, in his professional formula for this pain de seigle, the poolish does not use any white flour, and the dough uses bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

what kind of rye flour you are using but if it milled 100% whole rye it is very thirsty as is 100% whole wheat.  Even a medium rye is way more thirsty then AP or bread flour. We make all kinds of breads that are 100% hydration - not just rye, as so many others do too,  and we do many more breads that are 75% or above with less whole grains.    It is not unusual at all.  We rarely do bread less than 75%  but the French ones tend to be  75% hydration even if using all white flour for baguettes.  The ones I have proofing now are 75%  but do contain 15% whole grains, a mix of rye, WW and spelt.  Ciabatta is anywhere from 84% to 90%  hydration too

txfarmer uses 75% hydration for her white flour baguettes too.    There is no question Joe is a great professional baker, his recipes are fine and we use his cumin, milk, water and WW to make a really nice Desem starter that you can use after 3 days to make bread.  But, there are all kinds of breads that use higher hydration levels mainly to open up the crumb to large holes  and make the crust perform in a thin but crisp way.  Check my blog and you will see all kinds of breads with higher hydration but there are many other blogs that specify high hydration as the whole grains go up in % of the door flour.

KAF's standard baguette recipe on their web site is 66.7% hydration but they don't get the holes that a 75% one will.  Check out isand66's baguettes he posted this morning.  Those are 75% hydration and it will be tough to beat those holes. 

One of the great things you can do is up the hydration on any recipe and see what happens.  You can also vary the flours  and kinds of starters and see what effects they have on the bread too.  They will be dramatic in some cases but once you know how flours, water and starters and commercial yeasts react with each other - anything is possible - like a new bread no one has ever made or tasted before.  But probably, someone has already done it since bread has been baked for thousands of years, by millions of people,  all kinds of ways that none of us has heard of much less tasted :-)

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Thanks, dabrownman. Yes, my rye is 100% stoneground whole rye from Hodgson's Mill ( http://www.hodgsonmillstore.com/en/All-Natural-Flour/Rye-Flour/71518-05007-001_Group.aspx ). I can see a 75% hydration dough would work, but I really had trouble with the first batch of rye bread from this recipe that went above 100% hydration. I added enough flour to make it something like 88% hydration (I can't remember and can't refer to my posts right now since I'm writing this note). But in any case, I found that even at 80 or 88% hydration, this dough didn't keep a nice boule shape. It was kinda flat.

My main reason to believe that this recipe has some errors in it (probably typos) rather than user error (despite me being pretty much a novice) is because when I calculated the hydration levels for his so-called professional recipe for the same bread, that hydration level was at 66%. According to Ortiz in that book, the professional recipes are similar to the homemaker recipes with only slight tweaks. I say the difference between 66% hydration and over 100% hydration is not a small tweak, hence my assumption that the homemaker recipe might have some misprint in it.

I don't doubt that Joe Ortiz is a fine baker, so I don't doubt his intentions for the recipe. In fact, I used to live in Santa Cruz, the neighbouring town to Capitola where Ortiz and his wife have their bakery (Gayle's Bakery) and so know his breads. What I do doubt is the printing of the recipe. Having written monographs myself, I know how easy it is for errors to creep in. So, I don't doubt his intentions for the recipe but suspect there's a typo somewhere.

In any case, I'm going to make this bread a third time and reduce hydration level because I want to make a boule that doesn't simply spread out upon hitting the baking tray. I know very wet doughs spread out a lot. I don't want a dry bread either though. 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Active or instant dry yeast in packets here in the U.S. typically weighs 7g per packet.  That's about 2 teaspoons each (hence Ortiz' "scant tablespoon" description; very typical of recipes written in that era).  The combined weight of the packets is 14g, as you note, and that's very nearly the same as 1/2 ounce.

If the water in the poolish is used and no additional water is included in the final dough, the hydration level works out to be about 59%; that is, 460/(117+137+270+256), using your measurements.  Given the rye content, and further assuming the use of bread flour instead of AP flour, that will make a somewhat dry bread; even more so if the rye flour is whole rye instead of white rye.

Since I most often use whole rye flour in my rye breads, I'd probably aim for a hydration level of about 80% for a panned loaf, which would require 164g of water for the final dough instead of 327g.  That's about on a par with dabrownman's suggestions. 

Without knowing other important information (baking temperature and time, panned vs. hearth, etc.), I'm hesitant to offer further suggestions.

Paul

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Thanks for thoughts. This bread is intended to be in boule form. I used whole grain rye flour from Hodgson's Mill (sp?).

What I ended up doing was this:

I first added 54.8g of water to the final product making this 66% hydration. Then later as I continued working with the dough, I added more water a few times adding 138g of water (total water in entire dough is then 77% hydration).

So, to sum up, I used a total of  597g water to 780g of flour, so about 77% hydration. The actual hydration is a little higher because I wet my hand throughout the process of kneading. I used both the typical push-fold method for kneading and also the Reinhardt method of mixing.

Dough is now proofing.

 

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Active or instant dry yeast in packets here in the U.S. typically weighs 7g per packet.  That's about 2 teaspoons each (hence Ortiz' "scant tablespoon" description; very typical of recipes written in that era).  The combined weight of the packets is 14g, as you note, and that's very nearly the same as 1/2 ounce.

 

Yeah, the thing is the recipe writes 2 scant tablespoons of yeast, not 1 scant tablespoon. 2 tablespoons (=6 teaspoons), if using my measuring tablespoon, is about 28g!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Ortiz nailed the number of packets (2) and the weight (1/2 ounce).  It's the interpretation of "scant" that throws a monkey wrench in the works, not to mention the variation between measuring spoons.

Paul

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Yeah, you're right that that's why using weight measurement is so much better. Even when I measured out in volumes my cups of flour and then weighed each one, each cup had slightly different weight measurements!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if the amount of water in the poolish was 260g instead of 460g?  That comes out to 77% hydration which is more in tune to the above statements.

Or in the cup recipe, the two cups of water in the poolish is the error, should read one cup.  That would straighten out the recipe.  correct?

thihal123's picture
thihal123

This could be a way to straighten out the recipe!

Another question: should I reduce the water in the poolish or in the dough in order to have the hydration level come to, say, 77%? 

In the two breads that I've made from this recipe, I've fidded with the amount of water in the dough portion of the bread but not the poolish. In terms of mathematics, hydration level can be adjusted either at the poolish or dough (or both) but I'm sure that it makes a difference in practice.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

because a poolish should be closer to 100% hydration.  Then add enough water in the dough to come out to 77% hydration. It is the easiest correction to make.  :)

I think using cups the hydration comes out to anywhere between 71% and 78% when the poolish is reduced to one cup of water, which sounds very reasonable.

Questions:  Did anyone search for errata on the book?  or a list of corrections?  Do all editions of the book have the same recipe?  

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Mini Oven, thanks for the advice. Sorry it took me a while to respond. For my third attempt at this bread, I'm going to make a 100% hydration poolish and then adjust the dough water hydration to be about 70%.

It never occurred to me to search for an errata, but I just did on Google and came up empty. The book I have is a used copy since I believe his book is now out-of-print. I think mine is the first edition.