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Rye Class at King Arthur - Pictures Added

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varda's picture
varda

Rye Class at King Arthur - Pictures Added

This weekend,  I and three other TFLers took a rye class at King Arthur with Jeffrey Hamelman.    Larry - aka Wally -  Faith in Virginia, and Otis - aka burntmyfingers - were there each driving from a different corner of the region.   It was fantastic to meet them for once, knowing them only from their bread and words up to now.  The class had 11 students (one didn't show up!)   ranging in age and experience, with the one from furthest away hailing from Malibu, CA.  

If I had any hopes in advance for the class, it would have been to gain a bit more skill in particular areas like mixing, shaping, slashing.   I can safely say that I did not make even an inch of progress in any of these areas.    That does not mean however, that I didn't learn anything.   Here are the lessons I learned in the order that I think of them. 

The most tangible lesson to come out of this class for me  is that my rye starter needs work.   The smell of the Hamelmanian rye starter is like nothing I've ever smelled before.   Since of course we were dealing with large enough quantities of starter to make 25 large loaves of bread for each of the 4 formulas we made over the weekend the mass was much larger than anything I'd ever worked with.    The smell was completely overpowering, and I had to move back a pace or two just to keep from keeling over.   My rye starter, even with my nose right up to it, just cannot compare.    This carried through all the way to the taste of the breads.

Chef Hamelman gave us a disquisition on the benefits of taking good care of our starters, explaining that extended refrigeration without feeding  (mea culpa) leads to an acid buildup that in turn begins killing off the yeast and beneficial bacteria.    While the King Arthur bakery feeds their wheat and rye starters twice a day, every day, he understood that might be tough for those of us who only bake once or twice a week, but he nevertheless suggested that we up our feeding schedule to at least a few meals per week.   While I have been skeptical of this in the past, I am not anymore.   In fact, if I could get the flavor in my breads that came out of the King Arthur classroom ovens yesterday, I would gladly feed twice a day no matter how much I had to throw out.    Consider me converted at least in theory.   We'll see what happens in practice.  

Home bakers are at a disadvantage when it comes to equipment.    Our loaves came out of the ovens with a sheen that I have never been able to achieve with my gas oven and various steaming techniques.    One press of a button and the deck ovens filled magically with steam which was then vented at just the right moment.     The spiral mixer just mixed the heck out of all the doughs while we all stood around with not much to do.   What can we do about this?   Be jealous.   That's it.

Chef Hamelman spent a lot of time testing us on when things were done.   Is the dough mixed enough?   Proofed enough?   Baked enough?   He kept a poker face throughout, there were always divergent opinions, and most of us were wrong as often as right.     What I did learn is that you can't just knock the bottom of a loaf to see if baking is done.   He recommended squeezing, looking, etc.   He did not pull out a probe thermometer and check.    Glad of that as I fried mine awhile ago and haven't replaced it.  

Peels with 8 or 9 loaves of bread on them are really heavy and getting them into the hot  oven was too scary for me.   I finally took a stab at removing a load, and that was bad enough.   Chef Hamelman's assistant was a quite thin and small young woman who was originally a baker in the KA bakery, so some are made of sterner stuff than I.    Other than that, the professional baking environment seemed much more manageable to me than I had imagined (see lesson about equipment above.)

Steam matters.   I already knew this, but we had a great accidental demonstration.   In addition to the 100 or so loaves that got made over the course of the two days, we also made a batch of salt sticks,  and a batch of deli rye rolls.   These were baked in the same oven as some 80% rye panned loaves - not a deck oven.    They came out looking very inedible, as it turned out the steam wasn't hooked up to that oven much to Chef Hamelman's surprise.   The loaves made of the same dough that were baked in the deck ovens were burnished and plump as could be.    The 80% rye did fine however, as it was very wet, and had the protection of the pans.  

Loaves made were a deli rye (best I've ever tasted) the 80% rye pan loaves, a flax seed rye, and a quark rye.    We each came home with two of everything but the pan loaves and I immediately wrapped most of it up and froze.   My husband who has always expressed an aversion to rye, has been chowing down on the flax seed loaf, and says it is the best loaf I've ever made.    Well I didn't really make it in any sense other than shaping it.    As my son put it,  I paid a lot of money to find out just how much I have yet to learn (and he didn't say it quite as nicely as that.)  

Final lesson:   if you are going to depend on your phone for picture taking, you have to remember to take the charger.   

Hope other participants will post themselves or add to this.

I sign off tired but happy.

-Varda

Update:   Rod, a student in the class, kindly sent in his excellent pictures and descriptions for posting:

Jeffrey put whole rye flour on the top surface of the sourdough as much to pay homage to his German mentor and less for environmental control.  In pursuit of tradition.  This sourdough was developed after 16 hour at room temperature with a plastic wrap cover over the container.

From the French word  gémir, to groan.  The backbreaking work of the third year apprentice.

So few caraway seeds in the deli rye dough but the flavor was pronounced.

Never far from the mixer.

Applying flour to the outer edge for an artistic flare.   It was recommended to perform this task while the dough was still moist and consider using niger seed for a more dramatic effect.

Here is a shot of the quark loaves.   Remember how hot they were when we were attempting to determine if they were done.   It was easier to compare the color in the loaves in the oven.

Fruits of our labor.

Comments

varda's picture
varda

(That's your starter crying out in its little cold dark container.)

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

Thank you for posting about your experiences, and so quickly too.

Appreciation of the benefits of a spiral mixer and witnessing the powers of a leaven used to raise so many loaves of bread day-in, day-out offers fantastic learning opportunities to the homebaker.   I can only wonder about the other information imparted by your course instructor and how that will embed itself into your future baking

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Hi Andy,  

I find that if I don't report quickly on something, then I  might as well not at all, as somehow what I want to say deteriorates quickly as I move on to other things.    JH spent a fair amount of time talking about technical aspects of bread making - baker's math, dough temperature and so forth.   He also talked a lot about formula development, and what needs adjusting as you change one thing or another.   Quite interesting.   

What was most interesting to me and what I'm still mulling over is what I guess I would call his attitude to bread and baking.   I'm not sure exactly what he said, but he made it clear that baking bread is very important, and that there is no settling for ok bread or even good bread - you should do your best to make great bread, and not make any excuses about it.  

He asked a question late in the day about which loaf the baker should take home - the worst loaf or the best loaf of the day.   I (and several others) said the worst loaf as you should try to sell as much as you could.   As always he was keeping his poker face so we wouldn't know what he thought.   Then he asked his assistant (Amber) the question and she was trying to tell him that she would also take the worst loaf, but that she knew he would say the best loaf because he thought the baker deserved to eat the best bread.   He misheard her and thought that she was saying she would take the best loaf rather than just restating his opinion.  That made him very happy.   This question obviously meant  a lot to him.   At one point he said something like the baker is doing public service by feeding people, and that's good for society.  

He was also trying to get across that we needed to be engaged with the bread with all our senses to understand when it was good and when not.   At one point he was asking us if a particular loaf was well enough baked.    Larry rapped the bottom and it sounded hollow so I said I thought it was done.   He wouldn't move on though, until I reached out and touched the loaf, as I wasn't being sufficiently engaged.    Then he popped the loaf back in the oven to bake some more.  

He was very casual about certain things.    When I asked him why he didn't put the doughs in the proofer, he just shrugged me off.     And other things obviously mattered a great deal to him.   He emphasized trying things to see if they were better methods.   And he knew about Fresh Loaf and said that he thought good things would come from it, as it is a laboratory for innovation.  

Thank you for asking.

-Varda

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Varda, having taken three classes with JH and heard similar messages, I think his attitude grows out of the very traditional German/eastern European appreciation of bread's place in society. Remember he mentioned that soldiers used to be paid in bread and they had baggy trousers so there was a place to put the bread. The baker's role was literally to feed people and keep them nourished so they could work productively and justify their place in a feudal society. While he doesn't want us to go back to those days (I hope!) he wants us to respect the importance the baker has traditionally held so we can feel proud of our work and dedicate ourselves to it.

As to the proofer, I got into a side conversation with Faith at that point about putting light bulbs in coolers so didn't realize he didn't address the issue with you. Since everything at KAF is temperature controlled they would not seem to need a proofer as long as everything goes according to schedule. You will just have to take another class to get clarification of this issue! Otis

varda's picture
varda

what you are saying.    I remember reading a story in the only college French class I took, where a baker's wife left him for another man, and the whole town had to work on bringing her back so the baker would start making bread again.   Can't remember what it was, and I think it went over my head at the time, but the teacher patiently explained that it wasn't about morality, it was about the common good.   As for the proofer, I just asked him if they had one or not, and he said of course.   So I asked him why he wasn't using it, and he just shrugged.   Of course the bread came out great, so he was right that we didn't need it.  -Varda

grind's picture
grind

That story you read in college sounds similar to the movie  La Femme du Boulanger.

varda's picture
varda

I lost that book of stories years ago.    I see that the movie Femme du Boulanger was taken from was a novella, Jean Bleu, so if that is the right one then Jean Bleu was probably the guy the baker's wife ran off with.   I doubt my French is still good enough to be able to read it though.   -Varda

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

I would love to add to your post but,  I now have the flue and it is kicking my butt. the thought of his starter or the smell of rye bread is putting me over the edge.  So I will add to this once my stomach can handle the topic.

varda's picture
varda

Faith,  I hope you feel better soon, and would love to hear your thoughts and see your pictures whenever you are up for it.  -Varda

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Varda, what a great post and thread followup.  It seems that the challenge of rye inspires us to learn more and more.  I am trying to achieve a great deli rye for my new cottage food business and am now in the midst of trying Nancy Silverton's "Izzy's NY Rye" from her La Brea bread book.  She has a 3-stage starter made in two days after the first day of an initial rye starter.  I have been maintaining a rye starter for awhile but, like you, simply don't feed it every day, just when I'm preparing to bake my fave, (yes, Hamelman's) pain au levain with mixed starters.  So I revived my starter with two feedings and have just finished feeding Silverton's 3-stage, 2nd day starter.  I was thinking of cheating and going on to make the bread tomorrow, but now that I've read your post, I'm going to stick with her complete 3-day regimen, 3 feedings again tomorrow and bake the following day.  What's noticeable with her starter is that the water amount is double the rye flour amount, so it's not the usual uber thick, sticky mass but rather a thick soup.  It smells tangy, but I doubt that it has the overpowering smell of Hamelman's starter that you describe.  It bubbles up nicely in 4-5 hours.  The third stage is supposed to ferment overnight at room temp (around 58 deg. F here), "8-12 hours, no more than 15."  There's no refrigeration of the starter at all (David Snyder, referring to Greenstein's rye, told me it's best not to refrigerate the starter as well).  For the short fermentation times during the day, I've been putting it in the oven with the light on and the door slightly ajar, which seems about right.  I'll have to wait and see how this bread turns out (high hopes).  I also have tried to make a medium rye by sifting (fine mesh) my whole rye flour for the third stage; I was surprised to see a nice little residue of rye bran in the sieve.  I'm going to try to get some kolinji (chernushka) seeds at the Indian market (never tried that before) to add to the caraway seeds (I'll grind some caraway for the dough in my spice grinder).  In the final dough, there's 13 oz. of rye flour and 19 oz. of high gluten or bread flour, plus 20 oz. of rye starter  (Silverton doesn't deal in grams), so that's a lot of rye.  I'll use white rye in the dough and have been using whole (and my "medium") rye in the starters; she says she used whole rye in starters and white rye in the dough (big discussion with Izzy Cohen, who inspired the original recipe).  If it comes out well, I'll post it.  I have made the old-school Jewish deli rye from ITJB several times, but the time before the last, it didn't have much oven spring.  I think the problem was a long first rise instead of just bench rest for 15-20 minutes, and, in the bake, I probably left the steam apparatus (a towel routine similar to Sylvia's) in too long.  Like Hamelman, Silverton steams (suggests spritzing )-; ) for just the first 5 minutes; I'll use the towels.  And--she says to dock the loaves by "pressing a wet finger 1 inch into the center of the top.  Like a cut with a razor . . .this prevents the bread from cracking open during baking."

How lucky you are, Varda, to have learned from the master baker himself.  Maybe someday . . . I can dream, can't I?  Oh, I almost forgot--in the 2nd edition of Bread, he says you can forego the ice water bath after boiling bagels "if baking a batch that fits in one oven."  I remember you rinsing bagels in cold water instead when you taught a bagel class.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us--so inspiring!

Joy

varda's picture
varda

what you are up to Joy.   How is your business going?   I have been feeding my rye and wheat starters twice daily for the last few days, and it's like having a pet.    I am dead tired and want to go to bed, and then remember - time to feed the starters.   We'll see how well I do with it over time.   Hope to see your new bread when it comes out.   -Varda

isand66's picture
isand66

So are you feeding your mother starters by building them up twice a day or throwing out part of the starter each time and refreshing?

varda's picture
varda

except not throwing out.   I have a little bin in the refrigerator where I keep the discard.   Yesterday I made crackers with them.   The taste was delicious.   Texture still needs work.   Mass effect or no, I am keeping very small amounts of starter going (around 50 grams) for each wheat and rye.   I'll build up volume when I'm ready to make bread.   We are still going through the loaves from the KA class so I'm giving myself a baking break.   -Varda

isand66's picture
isand66

Wow....that seems like a lot of work...let me know if it is worth it.  I keep a YW starter and my AP starter and convert over to rye or whole wheat over 2-3 builds as needed.  Don't know if I have the patience to do what you are attempting.

On another note, I am very curious about his thoughts on when a loaf is actually done.  I use an instant read thermometer and I find it works just fine, but I would love to know what the Professor has to say about this and if it is something I could incorporate into my procedures.

I find I get very good oven spring and a dark crust more times than not by using 1 cup of boiling water in the bottom of a heavy duty baking sheet that I place on the lowest shelf.  I use 1 baking stone on the second lowest level and another on the top.  I would love to experience what you have using the steam injected ovens to see what the real difference is.  We should all put our minds together and come up with a home steam injector method we could sell that would work on any oven.  Maybe I could retire early.....right now I think I will be greeting people at Wal-mart when I'm ready to retire :).

varda's picture
varda

if you count it, but that's more than zero which is what I'd usually spend on a day where I wasn't planning to bake the next one.   

The Hamelman school of loaf doneness includes squeezing (a hot loaf - these guys have no feeling in their hands anymore) smelling (for carmelization of the crust I guess)  looking inside the score cuts to make sure it's not too white down there.   He kept putting loaves back in the oven that I thought were done.  

So the great home steam injection oven?   Doesn't seem impossible does it?    These deck ovens are stacked up to the ceiling.   What about just one of them for home use.   Same technology.   I'm guessing that they are fussy and require a lot of service, so not quite the thing for a home oven.    I guess I'll meet you at Walmart.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and yes... lurking here often... :)   Maybe he can tell doneness also by loaf weight.  If it feels to heavy, it hasn't lost enough water weight yet.  ???  Did Master H lift the bread before deciding to bake it longer?  

varda's picture
varda

But he was all over that bread, so  maybe so.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

full days building the 'Italian white starter' for authentic panettone which is a similar starter endeavor, I had stored enough  left over levain builds to bake 5 (or more) large loaves of bread of 1,000 g each afterward.  It had to total over 1,000g of discard.  I'm not complaining because all of the resulting breads came out fantastic but it took nearly 3 weeks at my normal baking, of 2 breads a week, to get rid of it all.  Perhaps that is what I should do all the time,  at least the starter will be built to ramming speed every 3 weeks but, right now, my 80 g of full strength starter at 65 % hydration lasts about that long before refreshing and - no muss, no fuss with the leftovers.    The resulting bread is also fine.

If I baked every day, say 2 loaves a day, I would certainly consider the master baker J. Hamelman's starter maintenance method and schedule but I might use some 'old dough' too after the recent test bake :-)

It is great there are so many ways to do the necessary bread things that can fit any baking and baker situation and circumstance.   Baking would be more difficult otherwise for all of us  and, since I am already Wal-Mart bound, I don't need more  pesky difficulties :-)  

I like the cracker idea too.  Next panettone - we will have to try out some crackers - 5 times.

Happy baking

varda's picture
varda

I made pain au levain yesterday with my twice daily fed white starter and it was the best I've ever done - absolutely fantastic.    We spend all of this work trying to make good bread.    A bit more effort and you have great bread.   

I can tell you what not to do with discard starter.   Do not add a bit of flour to tighten it up, then some salt, then treat it like a regular dough.   That one went out for the coyotes double quick.   Might as well have just thrown out the discard.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

when your oven is hot?  (pppp?)  pour out a little bit on a parchment (like you say don't tighten it up)  salt, seed, flour dust it to make a skin, raise or not raise it and nuke it to "spring" it, finish drying and browning in the oven or fry pan as a cracker.  :)

varda's picture
varda

but first going back to my "recipe" that I tried the other day.   First of all mixed white and rye starter discards refrigerated over a few days.   Add olive oil, salt, a bit of water and a bit of flour.   Mix it up.    BF until puffy.    Roll out thin with a rolling pin on parchment.   Brush with OO, sprinkle with salt and seeds.   Cut into parallelograms with a pizza cutter.   Bake.   Hope it works this time without someone breaking a tooth.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

On another thread Stan Ginsberg just posted that there is no such thing as medium rye - it is whole rye and the term medium is just a marketing ploy / term and nothing more.  I guess sometimes well thought out logic in bread making is exactly the wrong thing to do :-) 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Nice writeup Varda, thanks. 

One question. Did you nick some of KA's JH starter while you were there?

Wild-Yeast

varda's picture
varda

WY,  I was just too slow on my feet taking it all in, so when he offered the leftovers things moved on too quickly for me to take some.   Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I loved reading about your rye class and how much you gained and enjoyed by going. Very nicely written up.

Thank you for sharing, and I enjoyed the photo update too.

Sylvia

varda's picture
varda

It was an exciting experience and I learned a lot.   Thanks for checking in.  -Varda

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Varda,
It is so good to read about your rye breads class, and see the photos.
Reading your description of what was covered takes me back.  I am very grateful for Mr. Hamelman's teaching, and lessons about starter maintenance;  seeing (and experiencing the aroma of) a healthy, robust rye starter
was invaluable to me. 
I am so glad you had the opportunity to take this class, and to enjoy those beautiful, flavorful breads!
:^) breadsong

varda's picture
varda

Me too.   Thanks so much breadsong.  -Varda

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Me too, Varda!  I made Hamelman's pain au levain with mixed starters yesterday (my go-to bread) and I had the same result!  The best ever!  And I have you to thank for initiating this discussion about feeding starter 2 x day.  I never paid attention to Hamelman's discussions re. starters in Bread (2nd edition replacing the 1st that was falling apart) but now I am studying them!  And my new mindset:  We don't have a dog or a cat (just 2 little guppies in an aquarium), just my two starter pets, which need and deserve food like any other pets.  Now to use at least some of that discard!  (I may try Mini's cracker trick above.)  I keep the starters in Kilner jars, covered with a linen tea towel we got in Australia (all the aboriginal figures on the cloth seem to add energy to the jars).  New permanent fixture on the countertop.

And, yes, I have pics of the La Brea "Izzy's NY rye" bake, which I shall post as soon as time permits.  The bread was surprisingly easy to shape, and it rose, proofed, baked, cooled and appeared just as Silverton indicated.  As for taste, well, I'd say it was good but not great.  Of course I didn't exactly follow instructions to the letter, as I'll explain in my posting (soon, soon).  But it was such a worthwhile experience.  I'm searching for a rye to match Brent's deli rye (in Northridge, CA), which we used to bring home (what was left at the table plus a purchase at the counter).  Onward!  Thanks again, Varda! --Joy

 

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Hi again, Varda,

Just saw your posting on crackers from discards.  What's "BF until puffy"?  How did they turn out?  

To respond to your prior query, yes, business is going well.  The first two weeks were super busy (10 orders, two items per order--I'm offering 7 items, probably too many to start but I got carried away), now it's slowing down a bit (that's OK 'cause hubby and I had bad colds last week, and I used the time to play with rye).  I think it's important to keep up the contacts and do things like food fairs, etc. (a Jewish arts and crafts/food festival coming up in April, so maybe a booth).  Starting a business has pushed me to keep improving and learning.  Love it!

Joy

varda's picture
varda

Joy,   BF until puffy - means bulk ferment but I could as easily have said "leave on counter until dough puffs up (that took around 2.5 hours.)    My crackers were fine but not quite there yet.   Needs work, and perhaps some research on how this really should be done.   Great to hear what you are doing.   -Varda

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Well this is the first day that I have been able to stay awake for more then 15 minutes at a time.  Slept 5 days almost straight , lost 20 lbs, had not eaten in that 5 days and drinking was a forced issue.  I've had some crazy fever induced dreams about bread.  Still the thought of baked goods makes me queasy.   I hope that will go away soon.

Let me add a few pictures here.   Varda has been doing such a great job covering the topics covered...between her clear descriptions and my memory of taste and smell of the dough and bread...it's really making me ill.

I think what I took from that class was a point of reference.   You can take all the words and pictures of dough and still be guessing what it should look, feel, and taste like.   Reaching in that mixer and tasting the dough and giving it a tug, forming a loaf and feeling it's consistency gave me a reference that I was needing.  I now know my brand of rye four does not absorb as much water as Hamelman's so my hydration was way off.  Now I know I need to adjust for that.

I also appreciated his taking a moment to discuss the many types of rye flour.  I have been confused in the past primarily in the "gray line" of difference between "dark rye" and "whole rye" flours.  Hamelman suggests to stay away from the dark rye flour.

Enough for now...nap time.

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

hah! You certainly put to rest the question of "can you really see clouds of steam" (or whatever it is), Faith. Feel better soon... sounds like you got hit by a freight train of a virus! Otis

isand66's picture
isand66

Why does he suggest to stay away from dark rye flours?  I use KAF pumpernickel flour all the time. 

Hope you feel better soon.

Ian

varda's picture
varda

Sorry you are still sick, and thanks for posting your pictures.   They add a lot to this running documentary.   GET WELL SOON!  -Varda

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Pumpernickel is a whole rye four and is recommended.

This is where  I had the same confusion because mills don't have any standards as to what is what.  Let me try to explain without pictures.

Take a rye berry and give it layers such as an onion.  If you mill just the center of that berry you get "light rye flour"(low ash and little nutritional value).  The next layer outward "medium rye flour" (higher ash and better nutritional value). Every layer outward increases in ash and nutrition.  Next layer out is the "dark rye flour"  This is just the very outside of the berry so it has all the bran and the outer layer and does not have any of the inner layers. The "whole rye flour" is as it is stated the whole berry ground.

Hamelman stated the the dark rye flour is difficult to work with and does not taste very good.

Pumpernickel, rye meal, chops, rolled rye are all make of whole rye berry.

Think I got them all.

 

 

 

 

 

isand66's picture
isand66

Thanks for the explanation.

Makes sense now.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm late to the party, but I intentionally saved my reading of your report until I could give it the attention it deserves. 

You make me really want to take that class, even though I live about as far from New Hampshire as one can and still be in the contiguous 48. My own experience at the SFBI convinced me that there is no substitute for face-to-face learning with a great baker and teacher, as Mr. Hamelman clearly is. 

Hamelman's strong advocacy for frequent starter feedings (and I assume this applies to all starters, not just rye sours) is justified, I'm sure. But it is hard to pull off twice daily feedings, even if not working outside the home, if you are baking only a couple times per week. I will follow your efforts to do this with interest.

On a related subject, did Mr. Hamelman have anything to say about the volume of starter/sour having an impact on bread flavor? The instructors at the SFBI felt that one needed to keep it at at least 350 or 400 g to achieve a balanced flavor. This was said of a wheat flour starter. I don't know how it applies to rye.

I'm looking forward to your assessment of your breads made with pampered sour.

David

varda's picture
varda

David,   I think you would love this class, or anything else taught by JH.   He left a lot of time for questions, and I ran out of things to ask.   Of course I thought of a bunch more when the class was over.    But if you head to New Hampshire you will have gone one state too many.   It's only in Vermont - much closer to you.  

He did say that there is a mass effect for starter.   Undoubtedly there is.   I am acting under the presumption that keeping the yeast and bacteria alive and happy instead of ailing in an acid bath will have a greater impact than building much more starter than one can practically use.   In fact, I am maintaining tiny quantities of both my rye and wheat starters - 12g seed, 20g flour, 16g water for the rye sour, and 12g seed, 20g flour, 13g water for the white starter.   It has not been difficult to add this feeding schedule.   A few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at night.   But the proof is in the baking (so to speak) and so we'll see.   Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My apologies to Vermont.

Keeping a small amount of starter and feeding twice a day would provide an interesting comparison to my current routine of keeping a refrigerated starter and refreshing it with 2 or 3 feedings before making bread.

David

wally's picture
wally

Thanks for putting this together!  It was great to finally meet some TFL'ers after years of messaging.  

Two days baking with Jeffrey is a soul-rejuvenator!

Larry

varda's picture
varda

Yes indeed.   It was great to meet you Larry.   Strange to know people but have never seen them.  -Varda

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

I did make the switch from a similar routine (starter in fridge, refreshed a couple of days, twice daily, before baking) to feeding twice a day every day even if not baking.  I was feeding white and rye.  Well, when I made my go-to pain au levain w/ mixed starters (Hamelman formula), the bread was beautiful, had great oven spring, good grigne, good color, smelled great (that sweet-wheat carmelized fragrance).  But, when we sliced it hours later, the usual tang was missing.  The flavor was flat.  I posted my question, and MANNA answered saying that it probably was the change in starter routine.  I'm beginning to believe she's right.  The starter formerly developed more acid, had more "sour," more "tang."  We liked it that way.  So I'm back to the old routine.  It's in the fridge now, and I'll refresh a couple of days before baking.  Oh yes, same thing with Silverton's "Izzy's NY rye":  flat flavor even though all the physical properties were beautiful.  I haven't had time to post pictures and description, but the dough handled beautifully, took shape easily and just as she described, had cracked ("Like old porcelain") crust as it cooled.  But it tasted flat.  Her formula required three days of rye build.  So what's going on here?

Joy

PeterS's picture
PeterS

Manna nailed it. The shorter refreshement schedule (2x daily) doesn't give the lactobacillus bacteria (LAB) enough time to regenerate the two acids, lactic and acetic, that are primarily responsible for the tang that you desire. Also, by refreshing you are removing some of the acid in the starter that you don't use in the refreshment. You have a couple of choices: extend your refreshment cycle (refrigeration also favors the acid production--the LAB are more active at the lower temps than the yeast cells) and or do an elaboration when you decide to bake. The latter is taking all the starter, doubling (for 100% hydration) it by adding 1 part flour, 1 part water and doing that twice before you bake at 4-12 hour intervals depending on how active your starter is--which is dependent on your yeast & bacteria populations, temperature, salt concentration (if any) to name three variables. 

I ran into this same issue with my pain au levains when I started making Pandoro breads and changed my routine to accommodate them. I use a 24 hr cycle for maintenance, my room temp during the winter ranges from 60-68F depending on the time of day. I have been baking milder sourdoughs lately so my last refresh is only 6-8 hrs before mixing. I like the shorter cycle, no refrigeration, because my starter is generally more active and has greater leavening power, i.e. shorter fermentation times.

If your dough is still too mild after a three day build, you likely have an LAB defficient starter.

There is a lot of  info about this in many other threads on the freshloaf, notably Debra Wink's fantastic explanations (search on her name and starter and they will pop up).

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

for confirming what Manna suggested and I suspected.  I appreciate your explanation as well as the reference to Debra Wink (the microbiologist).  The 24-hour maintenance sounds appropriate, as the ambient temp. in my kitchen has approximately the same range as yours (65 to even lower through the night, about 56F., which makes me think the starter didn't have enough warmth/time to fully develop).  BTW, when I prepare the final rye preferment for pain au levain w/ mixed starters, I place the bowl of starter in my B&T proofer set at 70F (Hamelman's recommended temp.) and give it at least 12-13 hours, sometimes more.  I just threw out my aged rye starter and begain a new one with a nicely active white one.  The rye looked pretty "dead," so it may have been contaminated or LAB deficient. 

Sure wish I had chemistry in high school!

Joy

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thank you so much for this post Varda.  It must have been such a pleasure to be in the presence the master himself at work.

This post could not have come at a better time for me.  I am currently fermenting my rye sour from last night and ready to bake today.  Some good tips to keep in mind for today's bake!

John

varda's picture
varda

Good luck with your rye.  -Varda

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thank you Varda.  A bit off topic on this post, however can you please help me on my recent post topic on rye preferment time?

I would appreciate it!  I am in panic mode.

John

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