The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to baking and having some success (in my mind, at least)

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efaust70's picture
efaust70

New to baking and having some success (in my mind, at least)

Howdy all,

I've just started baking bread and have tried a few recipies from Peter Rehinhart and Hertzberg. So far, I feel like I've improved slightly with each bake. I've been trying to write down all of the variables for each dough and bake so I can compare results later. I think the best I've done so far has been with Hertzberg's Master Recipe. The first loaf was the smaller of the two and was baked the same day that I made the dough (after a 2 hour bulk fermentation). The second loaf was baked with the same dough after 4 days in the fridge. I pulled it out and let the dough come up to room temp before shaping and proofing for another hour. This one seemed a bit better to me and I got that characteristic crackling when cooling that I didn't get with the first loaf. When I ate some the next day it seemed to have a lot more flavor than the first loaf. Both loaves were baked on a baking steel.

Anyway, I was really happy to find this site and have read a ton of stuff so far. 

cheers,

Erik

 

Brokeback Cowboy's picture
Brokeback Cowboy

Congrats on early success, however I'm surprised the 4 day dough turned out fine as I've had negative results with any doughs not used with 2 days excluding sour doughs. If you're interested in  further reading with doughs ranging from direct- to advanced sourdough, Ken Forish's Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast is an absolute must. It's a modern classic with a lot of troubleshooting advice.

Happy Baking

efaust70's picture
efaust70

I've got Ken's book but I don't have all of the equipment yet. I plan on trying one of the sourdoughs this weekend. Interestingly, Hertzberg states that the dough will gain in character and flavor the longer it sits in the fridge (up to a point, I suppose). I think the whole premise of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, is that you make up a batch of dough  and then tear some off throughout the week and bake as needed. I'm not sold on the technique yet and I'm really interested in Ken's book.

cheers,

Erik

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I started my bread baking adventures with Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast and I agree it's a wonderful book. I would only note as far as equipment goes, the tubs he recommends are huge. If you are making the full recipe each time using the full 1000 g of flour, they're ok, but if you usually are baking just one loaf, they are much too large in my opinion. For me, I use 6 and 2 quart tubs, not 12 and 6 quart tubs. I don't find it any trouble to do the stretch and folds in the 6 quart tub.

Also, he makes a massive quantity of sourdough starter, I kept downsizing mine until from the recommended 6 quart tub, I keep it in a 390 ml jar.

Last, while I do use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, I probably would have gone with a La Cloche if I did it over again. Or perhaps the Lodge combo cooker if I wanted more of a multitasker. Not that the dutch oven isn't great, and I do use it for braises and the like as well, but as far as bread goes, it can be challenging to get it in the dutch oven and I feel something with a shallow base would have been easier to work with, especially at the beginning.

efaust70's picture
efaust70

ericreed,

Did you have any issues with scaling the recipes in the Forkish book? I'd really like to make just one loaf at a time. One can only eat so much bread and as it is, I've been bringing in some of my experiments to work for my co-workers.

As far as equipment goes, I've got 2 6 quart tubs and one 2 quart. I've got a Dutch oven and have been looking at the La Cloche (I think my wife might have an aneurism if I buy a $130 bread baking item) but will probably get the Lodge as it's much more reasonably priced. The only thing I'm lacking right now is a banneton or two. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Any idea why Forkish recommends a large container?  Robertson's 1000 grams of dough, 200 grams of leaven and 750 grams of water fits very nicely in a 10.8 cup container piece of snapware pictured below. The dough comes up almost to the top but doesn't touch the lid.  He only expects the dough to rise 20-30% so maybe that is the difference? Do the Forkish yeast breads double, requiring a larger container?

 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I use the baker's percentages and put all my bread recipes in a spreadsheet, so for me changing quantities just involves putting in a desired amount of flour. I've never had an issue with any recipe done with baker's percentages scaling it to my needs, whether from Forkish or other source. I tend to translate all recipes into the "Forkish" style if you will, since a base of 500 g total flour shaped as a boule usually makes a perfect sized loaf for my dutch oven.

$130 for the La Cloche! That's a lot. The one I was looking at is $47 on Breadtopia. I do recommend a banneton, since it allows the dough to breathe in a way that plastic, ceramic, or glass does not. (Though I don't know what the evidence is for that being a good thing, I've read it is. Make of it what you will. The patterns at least are pretty.)

efaust70's picture
efaust70

Good to know on the scaling issue. I'm going to find myself a good spreadsheet or app (if one exists) and start scaling!

Yeah, the La Cloche that I was looking at was the Emile Henry one on KAF. I see from your comment that there's no need to spend so much. Thanks for that.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I haven't really explored spreadsheet apps. I know there's a program called BreadStorm which I haven't used, but have seen the results from, and it looks excellent. (You can see the formatting and output in this post.) They have a beta app for ipad and a Mac version. Nothing for PC or android though, and it's quite expense, $149.

If you need a free spreadsheet program for a desktop or laptop, there's the open source LibreOffice suite. It's comparable to Excel. I've recently started to try and format my stuff off the Bread Baker's Guild of America guidelines, though as I've said elsewhere, it just has to be good enough for me so I'm pretty lazy about it (example here), plus I don't know spreadsheets all that well.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

grain mill with an extra mini seed mill included this past Christmas from Amazon - no shipping charges too..  I

l'll stick to my spreadsheet for free. 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

Some of Forkish's breads he recommends tripling, plus he does all his stretch and folds in the container so he wants enough room to work.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I do my stretch and folds in the container too. I think mine is even a bit larger than Robertson recommends. But it would be too small if the dough doubled or tripled in size.  Of course, not even sure I room on my counter for that much dough.

It is kind of odd to me that the formulas for the same amount of dough yield such different volumes. I feel like if my dough tripled in size I should be able to make 3 loaves instead of two, and this would make for a lower calorie bread. :)

efaust70's picture
efaust70

Thanks ericreed. I'll take a look at those links. I recently bought a myweigh KD-8000 that has a bakers percentage function. That might be the easiest way for me to scale stuff for the moment. I haven't tried it yet but it looks pretty straigforward.