The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Better scheduling through "science"

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Better scheduling through "science"

I've been spending my recent last few months' bakes frequently feasting on a small handful of Mr. Hamelman's formulae.   In general they seem to center around a 125% hydration bread flour based levain, or are modified from IDY to levain, as  my recent take on his potato bread was.  As often as not, I'll use rye instead of bread four.  

He emphasizes a 2 stage build, and initially that is what I was doing.  However, I've been creating a lot more of the 125% hydration levain than I know I'll need to use, and just store the remainder in the refrigerator for next time.  Sometimes next time is a week or more away.  

When it is time to prep for a mix, I refresh that remaining levain from the refrigerator.  In essence, I'm only performing a single stage build as the mix time nears and using the prior levain's build excess as my first stage of the build.  Even if that occurred a week or more prior.  But I'm getting the value of a 2 stage build.

My most recent mix had this 2nd stage of the levain build double in size in just over 4 hours.  Robust, healthy and ready to go to work, although I retarded it for a few hours until I was ready to mix - further control of my schedule.

The more I play with these minor changes and shifts, the more I feel confident that I can go off the rails and modify the process to my schedule.

The bake pictured features a new entry.  More of the Hamelman sesame semolina, alfanso-style.  I decided to make some "small" rolls - I really don't have a classification for them - maybe baby batards?  I really like the size and the way that they came out.

1x700 batard, 2x375 baguettes, 2x275 baby batards

Comments

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

Do you proof using a banneton or linen (or similar) for your baby batards? 275g would be a great size for us as there are only 2 of us. I tend to make 550 gm batards and more recently boules (1 of each so I can bake 2 loaves at a time) and each will do us 2 meals if I am lucky. I prefer batards and yours are beautiful......

I love Hamelman's book but haven't used it much lately - his pain au levain was my first successful SD bake 

happy baking Alan look forward to more posts... :)

Leslie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Hi Leslie,

I only use a linen couche for the shaped doughs.  These were able to sit end-to-end two-to-a-"channel" inside the couche rather than taking up two channels of linen.  

For the babies, I didn't have any template to work from, so I just rested them after divide as flat squares of dough under a towel for 10 minutes before final shaping.  In hindsight, I guess that I could have pre-shaped them as either boules or torpedo-like rolls for final shaping - a thought for next time.  

For the final shape, I merely rolled one up, sealed the seam and evened it out with a the standard back and forth rolling motion.  For the other I treated it like a little mini-baguette in shaping.  It seems as though both ways worked out fine.

Give it a try.  It was a fun and easy shape to execute.  They are too big for sandwich or dinner rolls, but methinks a "good size" for a small bread.

Thanks, alan

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

but wasn't very successful.  I used 50% freshly milled flour and have since learnt that it should have been aged first.  The bread might taste ok but it didn't really spring and bloom. The previous attempt using commercial wholwheat flour was really good. the only difference was the flour. 

It is an interesting sized loaf and I will definitely try again soon.

thanks for the ideas.

Leslie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I was so enamo(u)red with the shape along with a boost from your comment on this that I decided to do it again.  My in-laws are heading back home this morning, and so I thought that I'd bake them a send off package as they really seem to like my bread - deluded as they are :-0

I dropped the size down to 250g per baby batard so that I could get 8 out of a 2000g mix.  As you can see they are all couched which, again, is basically the only way that I do things.  This time I pre-shaped them as for boules/batards, and then used the KAF Martin Phillip method for shaping: https://youtu.be/PmxDKuGLWuE?t=389 .  Seemingly a little harder to do with such a small amount of dough, but actually a very easy shaping activity.  Do try again.

alan

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

the video was good, some of my struggles with shaping come from hydration - I reckon the video used much lower hydration.  will try this next time for sure.

thanks Alan

Leslie

dosco's picture
dosco

Alfanso:

Well done.

I'm envious of your starter. After a week mine isn't very active ... I followed a similar approach on my most recent bake, which was a failure (and thus I didn't post the result here). My starter seems to like a 3 stage build over a couple of days, generally the first build takes 24h, the second and third builds are 8h or less.

Cheers-
Dave

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

There are far more accomplished chaps (and chapesses) on TFL, like dabrownman and Lechem to name just two, that can discuss starters and levains with way more authority than I can.  But I will take a stab at explaining what I have going on in my kitchen.  This is just referencing the 125% hydration 2 stage levains that Mr. Hamelman uses - and my personal experience with them so far.

In general, for the rye version of the levain, by the end of the second stage build, the levain should have at least doubled, and although the top surface will show slight signs of gas venting from the yeasts, the sides of the vessel should show a very pock-marked lattice of gas bubbles along with the levain itself.  This is what I see when I complete that second stage.

For the bread flour version, you probably won't see any obvious gas bubble activity from the side of the vessel, but from the top looking down, it should have anywhere from tiny active "soap bubbles" to downright froth.  This version of the levain will likely not double in size, and may not grow very much at all.  Which may lead one to think that there is a problem going on in there.  But according to my own experience and also what I believe I've seen others indicate, this is a normal outcome.

My continued experiences seem to also find that this 2nd build will allow the bread flour version to double and display a lot of frothy activity.  I can only surmise that it, and likely the rye version, are so active because of the way that I've been maintaining them.  That is to circle back to what I mentioned in the blog entry.  Make way more than a single mix will need and retard the remainder as a 1st build.  Then use that for the basis of the 2nd stage when you are ready to do another mix.

I'm surprised that such a liquid-ey levain can hold its own under retard for a week or more, but pleased to discover that it can do so.

In summary WRT the starter percentages - if I were to make the 2 stage from scratch: this is for the 2000g mix of this dough as shown in the formula spreadsheet and works out as:

2 stage liquid levain build
Stage 1  
Rye88.8 
Water110.9 
Starter35.5 
Stage 2  
Rye88.8 
Water110.9 
Total434.9 

All of stage 1 is used in stage 2.  The amount of levain used in the final mix was just under 400g, leaving me with the Hamelman suggested 35.5 base starter for the next mix.

Thanks and good luck trying this method if you wish, alan

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Dave,

After 4 hours this is what my 125% hydration rye levain looks like, ready to use.  My kitchen is generally ~78dF.  The mark on the container is where the "2nd" build began 4 hours earlier.  This is about 435g of levain in each container and ready to be incorporated into a mix.  It now sits in my refrigerator until later today when I'll use one of the two containers.

If I use it straight out of retard without a warmup it will go into water that is quite warm (I don't temp.).  With a few squishes and swirls together to incorporate the two, the water cools down, the levain warms up - happy medium is met, and then I add the flours.  In cases like this I am already including the levain into the "autolyse".

Hope this helps, alan

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

I hope this will fit my starter's "own schedule" (she takes a long time to get active when left for a long time in the fridge) so I can avoid those midnight feeds to get her ready for the second build the next day to fit my busy schedule.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

above your comment.  i have really found that the refrigerator is a friend to this scheduling like no other.

alan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Your bread is always picture perfect.  Can't help but fall in love with it.  These look especially nice with the seeds covering the outside.  Here in AZ we are back up to 80 F outside already.  Before we know it it will be in the 100's for 5 months straight - never a good thought.    Perfect for making bread now though.

Well done and happy baking Alan.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

skill sets, refrigeration has taken a basic component out of the "artisan" in us and replaced it with a new way to prepare and bake.  Not better or worse, but just a more advanced way to get things done.  And in a more efficient manner, so says me.  I suppose that in bygone days the previous generations had little else to do but tend to the dough.  I also doubt that bread was as good in quality or taste as it has been this past half century.

If not for work, what drove you to leave the Bay Area for the inferno?  We lived in Sacramento for 15 years and whenever we visited our friends in S.F. we looked forward to returning home to more sane traffic and warmer more enveloping climes.  Never walk on the shady side of the street in S.F. was one of my mental mantras.

Ru007's picture
Ru007

Your loaves look perfect. 

I've never done a levain build the way you describe it. Recently, I've just been doing one 12 hour build to fit my baking into my schedule better. The night before I want to mix, i just mix some starter, water and flour and when I wake up its ready to go! Next time i'll try build a bit extra, and put it in the fridge like you do and see what happens. 

Anyway, your loaves are gorgeous as usual, i'm sure those seeds on the outside made the crust extra delicious.

Happy baking 

Ru

alfanso's picture
alfanso

which I just posted a few moments after your comment came through.  You might want to give this method, still relatively new to me, a try.  I can't do this overnight, because as you can see, I'd have to set the alarm to halt the build step or I'd have Frankenstein levain spilling all over my kitchen counter.

Thanks, alan