The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Mother of All Loaves

Dixongexpat's picture

The Mother of All Loaves

It started out innocently enough. There I was, looking at my starter, and I thought, "Hey, I know. I'll just go ahead and reboot the starter into a straight NMNF batch, really dilute the last of the whole wheat out of it, get it up to 95%+ rye. That's what I'll do." And so I did. Pulled 8 grams out, washed out the jar, put the 8 grams back in and added flour and water, set the timer.

Then I took the leftovers and added it to the leftovers in the fridge. It was a lot. And then I thought, "Hey, since I'm on the NMNF plan now, I won't be creating any new leftovers. Maybe I should go ahead and just use all of this up in something!"

And that's how it began.

So I looked at the usual suspects - pancakes, waffles, etc. But I didn't really need 30 pancakes. So I kept looking and ran across an interesting recipe. 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough. This picture really caught my eye...

Doesn't that just look yummy? And what an interesting shape and scoring! OK, I'm in.

So I put the recipe into a spreadsheet and convert everything to grams. As it turns out, it's a pretty hydrated recipe. Over-hydrated until you get to the last step, which is basically "just keep adding flour until it stops sticking." Sounds like a plan. Also sounds very familiar. *ahem*

It called for a cup of starter, approximately 250g. I have 500g. But I wanted to use it all up at once, so I adjusted the recipe in my spreadsheet. And that would have fixed everything just right, but evidently I have a problem following recipes, even my own adjusted recipes in a spreadsheet. And when I got down to the liquids part, I looked at the wrong column and added the full amount of soy milk and water. *doh!* Fortunately I discovered this before I got to the end, so I knew I would need to adjust the flour back to original levels as well. Actually, above the original levels by 125g. So I did all that and mixed it and...........still too wet.

So I added flour 30g at a time, over and over, until finally I had a nice big pile of dough that I could handle. Holy crap, that's a huge blob! After the first rise I punched it down and added some blueberries in as I folded it. It is now doing its final rise in my dutch oven. It's pushing the boundaries of my parchment paper. This should be interesting!

Pics in a bit...


dabrownman's picture

bread way that only the addicted baker can come up with on bake day!  Good luck with that blueberry thing you have going on.  Hope you didn't change the oil in your car today too!

Dixongexpat's picture

So the shape was close to the original recipe, although it did fall a bit when I bumped the pot once

So probably a bit dense, but wow that's a hefty loaf!

Danni3ll3's picture

The way you describe things makes me laugh out loud! I get very strange looks from the cat in my lap! 

That loaf looks good enough to eat. Can't wait to see the crumb!

Dixongexpat's picture

It is, as I suspected, a whole-grain density. Blueberries are hiding in there somewhere. But it tastes pretty good.

nmygarden's picture

persistence (or as my mother refers to it, stubbornness), and it may be genetic. That's my story and (true to character) I'm sticking to it. I love how you coped when things took a turn, you assessed, adjusted and even threw in the blueberries in a confident flourish. Ever determined and optimistic, and it worked out great.

So enjoy it, for the next week or so...  ;)


Dixongexpat's picture

...I was fairly calm and collected. The next step up will be to pick a better balanced recipe, more flavorful ingredients, and plan ahead, to include having all the ingredients at hand ahead of time! I'm also looking forward to using a small piece of starter to build a levain.

Up to this point I've been approaching a recipe starting with what I have on hand, a clump of starter, then trying to fit that into the recipe and having to adjust all the amounts. It occurs to me that the better way to approach this is to take an existing recipe then grab a portion of the water and flour it calls for and put them in a separate container, drop in some of my starter and then build the levain from that. Same end result either way, but maybe this will help me avoid some confusion when I'm up to my elbows in dough :)

IceDemeter's picture

I'm kinda speechless - that there is a BEAST of a miche!

I took all of my leftover starter and threw it in to a huge batch of muffins (carrot muffins - all sourdough rye - seriously yummy) so that I wouldn't be tempted to attempt something like this!  I know - I'm a coward...

Kudos on coming out with a pretty darned good result for another *change on the fly* bake!  I generally suck at following recipes, but have found that deciding on the flour blend / additions / timing first (and having it all on hand) works the best for me.  The timing tells me how much prefermented flour I want in the levain, and then I set up the levain and the autolyse so that I'll be at around 70 - 75% hydration when they are mixed (depending on the grains used).  I then add water as I'm kneading, until it *feels right* (Danni3ll3 puts it as "feels like your earlobe"), which seems to most often end up between 78-83% for me so far.  I pre-weigh a few small containers of water (with 25g in each container) and use them for my additions, so I'll know where I ended up at.

The nice thing about this approach, in my opinion, is that I find it easier to fully develop the gluten in a lower hydration dough, and then work it up from there.  By having the water weighed before I use it, then I have a record of how much I added, and will have a better idea of where to start off with on the next bake.  I assume that it would work the same way for adding flour instead of water, but I just find it easier to get the gluten developed at the lower hydration, and find it easier to not mess up the spread-sheet when I don't mess with the flour amounts!

Looking forward to your next adventure - keep baking happy!