The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Waging a HOL-E War..

Bread1965's picture

Waging a HOL-E War..

I should probably blame Trevor Wilson. His new e-book has got me to think that "yes I can" make bread with beautiful uniform open and HOL-E crumb! But reality has a way of smacking down those whimsical dreams!

Last week I fed my starter every 12 hours with 1:3:3 using AP flour for about four days in a row. I've never seen my starter happier. Saturday night around 6pm I "premixed" 700 grams of flour, 470 grams of water and 14 grams of salt per his recommendation of using a premix. I used 80% unbleached AP flour, 10% whole-wheat and 10% dark rye. It's a mix I know well so I thought it would be a good jumping off point to see how the process he suggests affected the result I'm familiar with. I put the premix in the fridge to cool down, and then took it out around 11pm to rest on the counter over night.

The next morning around 9am I added 140 grams of levain - it had more than tripled from the feeding I gave the night before at about 8pm. The dough was VERY extensible. - soft and easy to work with. I used his mixing method to incorporate the levain over the course of half an hour - five minutes of mixing by hand, fifteen minute rest, mix for five more, fifteen minute rest and then one last five minute mix.

After that I gave it stretch and folds every hour on the hour, and by about 2pm it was totally transformed into a beautiful puffy mass. I was delicate with my folds but the dough seemed stiff and resisted so I didn't push. I think I should have gone for higher hydration on the premix - up towards 75%. I was surprised around 2pm how much it had grown - probably doubled by then. I felt caught off guard. My starter was very active, the kitchen was warm and I had used 20% levain so I shouldn't be surprised in hindsight. I decided i better move fast.

I pre-shaped, found it tacky and after trying with out a sprinkling of flour, decided to sprinkle some flour on the bench and dough to help (Trevor's videos make it seem so easy, but it's not!). I could almost feel it in my hands expanding. I knew I was in some trouble. I gave it a 20 minute bench rest. Then I gave it another final and relatively gentle shape and put it into the basket. Even at that point my traditional finger dent test was telling me I didn't have much time.

I placed it in a cool spot and left it for an hour while I warmed up the oven. It continued to grow, probably another 5-10% in the basket. I'm not use to such a short proof time, but I thought I had to get it into the oven. I used a dutch oven and cooked 20 minutes lid on and 15/20 minutes off.  I gave it a bold score before loading it. I was surprised the score wasn't more effective. When you look at the loaf, you can tell how much it bloomed in the oven from the scoring. But it seemed to be moving so fast I'm not sure if it was under-proofed. The finger dent test would have told me no. The dough was moving much faster than I'm use to, so I wasn't sure what to do other than bake.

I had some good oven rise and am pretty surprised I didn't get more open crumb. I think I just lost control of the dough as I had too much starter in too warm a room. But I don't know what I did wrong. i tried to be much gentler with my handling. It's entirely edible and fine. Its just not the effect I assumed I'd get.

As I said, I'm familiar with this mix of flours and hydration. One thing I would say is that this crumb definitely seems creamier than I'm use to. It's very unlike what I'm use to by way of mouth feel and crumb flavor - there's definitely improvement.

Back to the drawing board to figure this out.. all thoughts, advice and insights welcome! I'll go back to Trevor's book and revisit what he says.. have yet to finish the book which is part of it! I lost the hill, but war's been declared!

bake happy - bread1965!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I would say absolutely nothing is wrong - that crumb is gorgeous! Any holier and you'd have air with a crust!

If you want holes bigger than that, try Crystal bread (Pan de Cristal).

Bread1965's picture

.. but take a look at Trevor's pictures..  this i what I'm now after.. I think it's a worthwhile goal. Admittedly, I'll need a plate under a slice after I slather hit with jam or peanut butter! Thank you..

Danni3ll3's picture

and I am not as far as you are but I would say that you have achieved quite a measure of success! That crumb is way more open than anything I have been making lately. It really does look great!

Bread1965's picture

You're right, it is more open. But I have the image of those pictures in his book - I've still got a way to go. Let's see how it plays out..

leslieruf's picture

your bread looks lovely, and yes it isn't as holey as his, but Rome wasn't built in a day!  your next bake will be yet another step upwards!

I so identify with your comments, have just posted my Champlain "premix" bake and I also found pre shaping, shaping and judging proof difficult and I only had 5% prefermented dough, heaven only knows what would happen with a higher percentage.  maybe next bake.....



Trevor J Wilson's picture
Trevor J Wilson

I think you're being a bit too hard on yourself. This looks like a wonderful loaf to me. The crumb looks soft, open and well-fermented. I'd be happy with this loaf. 

The only thing that stands out to me is the short final proof. I know the dough was moving fast, but it sounds like you developed a good strong dough -- one that can tolerate a fair amount of rise. So it's possible that this loaf could've benefited from a longer final rise. That's just a guess on my part since I wasn't there to see the thing myself. But in my experience, good strong dough -- even when moving fast -- has a high tolerance to proof. Sometimes we need to push it a bit past our comfort zones to get the maximum effect.

Again though, I see nothing wrong with this bread. You did well. 



Bread1965's picture

Thank's Trevor.. much appreciate your comments!

I'll make another attempt this weekend and get 'uncomfortable'!