The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Overnight Country Blonde

adm's picture

Overnight Country Blonde

Well, I haven't posted here in quite a long time....

I have been trying to make the perfect sourdough boule for a year or so now with only limited success. I bought "Tartine Bread" and tried hard to make Chad's basic country loaf. I even bought a Lodge combo cooker and some bannettons specially to get it right.

The bread was always good. I never managed to quite get the rise that I wanted though and the big airy holes eluded me. Almost, but not quite....

I bought Forkish's "Flour Water Salt Yeast" and read through that. Similar technique, longer ferments etc... I tried his Overnight Country Blonde a few times. Again, pretty good but no cigar. The first couple of times I tried leaving the dough in bulk overnight at room temperature it was way overblown by the morning. Still made good bread though.

Then I had a thought. I have a temperature controlled fridge that I use for fermenting home brewed beer in. Well....I haven't brewed any beer in a while, so I thought "Why not use it as a bread proofer". Tried the OCB recipe again with the bulk fermentation overnight at a strictly controlled 13C. That worked. Still not the perfect crumb, but better.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought an Ankarsrum Assistent mixer (Electrolux DLX, Magic Mill...) and started playing around with that making sourdough pizza dough. There was a learning curve with that - but some great pizza! Having been using the stretch and fold / turns hand mixing methods for the bread for a long time, I thought I'd have a go using the Assistent to mix up a batch of sourdough bread.

Bingo! What a difference.....great crumb, good oven spring all almost just happened almost by accident! I presume that in my earlier attempts, the gluten just hadn't developed enough with the stretching and turning. I had also tried this previously with my Kenwood stand mixer, and it just didn't do any better - the dough kept riding up the dough hook and obviously wasn't getting worked properly. I think the gentle action of the Assistent mixerusing the roller and scraper is just perfect though. I know I can do it, it's time to refine, tweak and generally mess around until I have it down pat. I know that using the mixer might not be seen as truly "artisan", but it certainly took the bread up a level and I am happy with that. I can feel "Pain au Bacon" coming on, and the levain has just been fed.....


evonlim's picture

nice bread.. learning from failure and mistakes. being innovative and making use of what you have in hand instead of buying more! great success!! this is how i learn as well. thanks for sharing

looking forward for pain au bacon in your next post!!


Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

That looks REALLY good.  Great job!

But I disagree with one thing, even with the mixer, your still using a very hands on method, so you are TOTALY within artisan territory!

dabrownman's picture

good - both crust an crumb are fantastic.  Glad you fond what woks for you.  So how sour is this bread?

Happy baking

FlourChild's picture

Gorgeous loaf, congratulations!

Your experience in learning bread sounds a lot like mine.  It took me a while to figure out that I was being too wimpy in my stretch and folds, so that I either needed to add in extra folds or focus on pulling the dough a farther distance, or both.  Sounds like your beautiful mixer did a great job of developing the structure of your bread.

Enjoy the pain au bacon, I liked it a lot when I made it :)

adm's picture

Thanks all for the kind comments!

Just finished up a milano salami, leerdammer and habanero mayo sandwich on that loaf and it was great.

dabrownman - the sourness is fairly assertive. I think the length of time taken to make it definitely lets the lactobacillus flavour shine through. The starter gets 24 hours, then the levain gets another 8 or 9 hours, then the dough gets 12+ hours overnight, plus 4 more hours for the final proof. I certainly think it has a more assertive tang than the Tartine loaves I made with a much younger leavain.

I have just cooked the bacon for the pain au bacon.....smells great!

tgrayson's picture

I'm skeptical that the mixer makes a difference, as long as you make whatever adjustments necessary to ensure the proper level of dough development. I get great results with my food processor and 15 seconds of mixing.

adm's picture

I agree - I think whatever method of kneading is used, as long as you get the right amount of gluten development, the results should be the same if all other variables are kept constant.

I conclude that previously, I just wasn't getting enough development, despite slavishly following the recipes and techniques....maybe "four turns over two hours" means a completely different thing to a professional baker than an enthusiastic novice!

gmabaking's picture

and the inside is just as beautiful. In the books, I read that to mean two hours with the four turns and then stop and wait. But there is a third hour usually needed. Now I fold around every half hour until the dough "sets up" meaning that the shape of the last turn holds its shape for a few minutes. I began to have predictably good results once I started using a huge bowl for the fold and turning stage. Thinking that it was just coindence I kept using the same bowl anyway. Last week that bowl was already in use so I went back to the 6 quart bucket, being careful to extend stretch of the fold. For whatever reason, the results were just like when I first started following the Forkish or Tartine methods. Good tasting and presentable bread but not awesome. Tried the huge bowl and it worked like a charm when I tried again. Maybe it doesn't have any scientific basis and is simply beginner's luck but as long as the bread is good then I'm okay with that.

adm's picture

What I was doing (when I was trying to follow "Tartine") was a set of turns (4) every thirty minutes or so for the first two hours, then leaving for an hour and doing another set, then leaving for another hour. Originallly I was using a fairly small container (as in the pics in Tartine), but I think you are right - when I bough FWSY I bought some much bigger 12qt containers and definitely got better results doing the turns in those. I think it was down to the space allowing me to stretch the dough more.

The Pain au Bacon boules are now proofing. I think there's a significant difference between American bacon and the stuff we get here in the UK...... Forkish says to crumble the bacon, which is kind of difficult here as it's very meaty (more like Canadian bacon I think?), so I have some big old chunks of bacon meat in the dough which made it kind of hard to shape the boules and get much tension on the outside. It'll be interesting to see how they turn out. Fingers crossed.....

callie22's picture

I will have to try that!  I was having the same problems!  Thanks for the information.