The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some recent breads, and a few general questions

  • Pin It
Simon280586's picture
Simon280586

Some recent breads, and a few general questions

I need to start taking better notes. I've accumulated a lot of pictures recently, and looking through them I find I have trouble remembering exactly what I actually baked. Also, a couple of the breads seem to have fairly nice crumbs in hindsight (I tend to be quite critical at the time), so I wish I could remember my precise handling methods and timings. Oh well.

 

I think this was a Pain au Levain from Hamelman.

 

 

This was from Forkish's FWSY, either a white bread with poolish or biga. I made some pizzas with it too.

 

 

 

 

This was a white bread with poolish from Forkish, but I reduced the hydration to around 65% because I wanted to work with a less sticky dough:

 

I made it again a few days later, this time at about 63% hydration. Somehow the high percentage of poolish (50% of total flour) allows for a fairly open crumb even at this low(ish) hydration. Environmental variables and flour type may be partly responsible too, of course (I think the weather was a little bit more humid than usual when I made this).

 

 

There are some more (including a French boule which had a very nice crumb and noticeably sweet taste) but I took them on someone else's camera and still need to copy them off there. Just wanted to clear my backlog a bit.

 

I also have a few questions, if anyone is inclined to answer. These are mainly related to differences in approach I've noiced between Hamelman's recipes and Forkish's.

1) None of Hamelman's breads specify a volume (eg double, triple) for bulk fermentation. Nor does he (as far as I can tell) give much indication of how to assess whether bulk fermentation has progressed enough. Do any of you try to reach a specific volume, after folds? And what do you look for when deciding whether the dough is ready to divide and shape?

It may be because I'm not using American flours, or because I make smaller quantities of dough, but I've noticed that my doughs invariably take longer to rise during the bulk stage than specified. For instance, for the Forkish recipes where the dough is meant to triple, my dough can take hours longer than specified despite meeting the target temperature or even exceeding it. So I'd prefer not to rely solely on time. I do look at things like the amount of aeration and volume, but I'm interested in your thoughts.

 

2) The Forkish recipes I've been making recently (white bread with poolish or biga) involve 2 or 3 folds after a light hand mixing, no autolyse period, and a 2.5-3x volume increase during bulk fermentation. I found it interesting because Hamelman's recipes tend to involve a similar number of folds, but only after a good few minutes at second speed in a professional mixer, at which point the gluten is already moderately developed. Neither does Forkish include any preshaping in his recipes. In addition, the high-hydration of Forkish's doughs mean the gluten develops more slowly (if I remember correctly). So why are 2-3 folds after a light mix sufficient in his recipes? I suppose the longer fermentation times have something to do with it, as in no-knead recipes. I'm really just curious.

 

3) I'm still conflicted as to the appropriate amount of degassing during shaping. Forkish suggests not trying to degas at all, to preserve the gases and structure of the dough, which I've found to be quite tricky as the dough (when tripled in volume) is very light, fragile and gassy. On the other hand, Hamelman's method involves degassing multiple times, during both preshaping and final shaping. If you watch the King Arthur Flour Youtube video where he demonstrates shaping techniques, during the final shaping of the boule you can see he really squeezes his fingers quite firmly into the dough during the initial rounding, and seems to not be overly concerned about maintaining the majority of the gas. Both methods seem to result in beautiful, open crumbs, judging from the photographs in their books. What's your favoured approach?

Comments

golgi70's picture
golgi70

I'll try and offer some answers and I'm sure many others will fill any gaps and add further incite.  

1) How much rise there should be during bulk depends on the dough.  The Forkish doughs you mention are yeasted I believe and his approach to the yeasted doughs is to use a small amount of yeast and give a good amount of time in order to develop flavor.  Generally with yeasted dough bulk fermentation is complete when the dough has at least doubled but in some cases it will nearly triple in volume.  I think the higher hydration the more volume increase you are looking for.  J.H.'s recipes are much lower in hydration than most of K.F. 

For naturally levained breads we generally aim for a 30-50% increase in volume during bulk.  But as has previously mentioned its not just volume but a feel to the dough.  That is well aerated and the gluten stable behind the volume.

2)  There are numerous reasons why your dough may take longer to achieve the same rise as KF's book indicates.  First off you mention you use different flours.  If your flour is weaker it may not gain the strength to triple like the stronger American Flours he uses.  Temperature of dough is very important.  If your dough is cooler than indicated (even just a few degrees) can make a big difference on yeast reproduction rates.  And finally if you are referring to naturally levained breads it may be because their starter is fed more regularly and much more vigorous than yours.  If that is the case there are remedies to get your starter up to snuff.

 

3)  Degassing.  During bulk with both types of dough mentioned a gentle degassing to remove excess CO2 is necessary(during folds).  But when it comes to shaping usually the wetter the dough the less you want to degass.  You want to maintain the flavors built within the gentle yet strong gluten you've developed.  With a stiffer dough we can push these gasses out and have a strong foundation to retain yet another full proof.  

Hope some of this is helpful and others come to add more depth

 

Josh

 

Simon280586's picture
Simon280586

Thanks for the thorough and helpful answers. I definitely need to get more experience in how the dough feels during bulk rising, as I never know when the dough is developed enough or needs more folds or time.

golgi70's picture
golgi70

The breads looks great so your on the right track.  Just some time and experience and you'll start to be able to follow the dough more than the clock.  Although the clock is an excellent tool as to set some "goals".  As far as development goes there are "tests" that can be done to feel confident all is going well.  

You mention you would like to keep notes better. This will be your most helpful tool seeing as you have already tuned yourself to produce a great loaf.  Now take notes, of times, temps, pictures/or at least  a good mental image of the feel of dough at different intervals.  There is a bunch of science that can help lead you towards the target but the feel/intuition of dough just comes over time.  We are all learning more everyday, every batch we make.  Your breads look excellent 

Cheers

Josh

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

Hey Simon,

Great questions ! I will try to answer adequately the ones I feel capable of answering; any ones that I miss, you can attest to ignorance or diffidence on my part, comme vous voudrez.

1) A propos of bulk fermentation - this is a monster that I still have not yet fully conquered, and I would bet that even well-seasoned bakers would be hard-pressed to give a perfect description as to what constitutes the end of "Phase: Bulk Ferment." There are many variables to consider, and different doughs will require different levels of fermentation, depending on what the baker is aiming to express through a particular formula. For example, if a very sour flavor is desired, then one would probably stretch the bulk ferment (and proofing) quite extensively, in order to develop the acidic qualities. On the other hand, if a milder flavor and denser texture are desired, then one does not need to extend the bulk fermentation. Additionally, the level of gluten development and the amount of whole grains will also affect the time necessary for bulk ferment. As far as how I determine the "done-ness" of the bulk fermentation of my doughs, I usually go by feel, smell, and taste: but again, I don't exactly know how to convey, precisely and analytically, the criteria by which I make the determination. The best I can say is, it FEELS done. You should definitely experiment, and I think you are wise not to adhere slavishly to the suggestions of Hamelman and Forkish . Especially with 100% sourdough breads during the winter months, I am lucky if, during bulk fermentation, my doughs expand to 1.5 times their original size. But I can still achieve nice, airy loaves (if that's what I'm after for a particular bread).

2) Not knowing Forkish's formulas, I can't comment on exactly why he calls for a certain procedure of mixing and folding; such a procedure is adapted, I imagine, to the flours of which the dough is composed and the hydration level. Wetter doughs (high 70s, low 80s and above) typically call for more stretching and folding, while stiffer doughs need (pun unintended, but you're welcome) more kneading.

3) For me, the aggressiveness of my degassing campaigns all depends on the shape of the dough I am producing and the amount of time i will be setting a loaf into final proofing. More time in the final proof, more degassing (the inverse also holds). Batards I usually degas less than boules, but I can't explain why. Just how I've always done things, and it has yielded me good results. I will say that I do try to squeeze out the giant air bubbles that can find themselves ingratiated in a dough after a long bulk ferment (especially with SD); those guys, no matter what the shape, they have to go because they have in the past wreaked havoc on my crumbs.

I hope you find my answers at least a little helpful. Keep on baking and keep us posted !!! 

Simon280586's picture
Simon280586

Thanks for your answers! I think I need to try to experiment a bit more, feeling the dough at different stages, and not get too worried about sabotaging the end result.

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

It should be noted that the breads you have baked so far look absolutely fantastic. Whatever you're doing --- it's working !

Simon280586's picture
Simon280586

Wow - thanks!

NExes7979's picture
NExes7979

nice

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You have already received some very good advice and perspectives from Josh and lepainSamid. I have just a few other thoughts.

To make some of the underlying assumptions more explicit: When bulk fermentation is "enough" is best judged by the feel of the dough, I believe, rather than by how much it has expanded. The doubling tradition works much better for intensively mixed, yeasted doughs fated for proofing and baking in a pan. Use of sourdough for leavening, whole grain flours, non-wheat flours, seeds, soakers, etc. will all impact dough expansion. Getting the feel for a dough comes with experience. Moreover, the "right" feel will vary from formula to formula. Consequently, your feel for a dough will improve as you make a particular bread over and over.

The second thought is that Hamelman makes certain important assumptions, for example regarding dough temperature and ambient temperature, in his introductory sections. These are not reiterated (except for DDT) in each formula. If you adhere to his assumptions, his times work well, in my experience. If you don't, you have to go by the dough feel mostly. See the preceding paragraph.

Third, as has been said, most of Forkish's doughs are higher hydration than most of Hamelman's, and their "target" for the desired crumb structure is, I think, quite different. Forkish prefers much more open crumbs, as seems to be the current fashion. Hamelman prefers a well aerated crumb, but not one with lots of bigger holes. These differences call for the differences in mixing, hydration and dough handling you have observed.

Lastly, as you gain experience, you will learn how to define your own targets and how to modify your formulas and procedures to achieve them. For now, I agree with my friends: The loaves you have shown us look wonderful! Your questions are good, but you are clearly doing a lot of "right" stuff.

Happy baking!

David

Simon280586's picture
Simon280586

Thanks, I will bear all that in mind. I suppose the best thing to do is bake more bread :)