The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

my next 100% whole wheat attempt, with bran levain, question

franbaker's picture
franbaker

my next 100% whole wheat attempt, with bran levain, question

This time I sifted out the bran from the flour and added most of it to the starter to make the levain. As I mixed it, I noticed that it was much thicker and more stiff than even my rye starter. I'm not sure to judge when it will be ready to mix into the dough, because it looks so different from my usual, liquid starters/levains at 100% hydration. The ambient temp in my kitchen today is averaging about 80F rather than the 81F on 7/12, last Thursday, which could slow the fermentation a little, but I don't think by too much. On Thursday my starter was very active at 2 hours and 20 minutes and passed the float test, so I decided to go ahead with mixing at that point even though that seemed fast/early to me. Fermentation did seem to proceed well with that loaf. It's been more than 2 hours and 20 minutes today, and the bran starter smells active, and is generating its own heat, but does not look any different than when it started. 

So, unless someone has other advice, I figure I can keep watching it until my flour has autolyzed for 3 hours, and at that point I should just go ahead, as long as it's smelling and feeling active; I don't know what it should look like. That would give the levain 4 hours at room temp, an hour and 40 minutes more than last time.

My rye starter at 100% hydration is almost as thick as this bran levain, and it rises like crazy and gets lots of huge and lovely holes, so I'd like to see this levain at least begin to do that.

The photo at the top of the post is from when I mixed the levain; the photo below is from 2 hours 15 minutes later. Sorry the lighting is a bit dim in second photo; they basically look the same.

Any thoughts?

 

 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

That starter would make me worried too. I'd really want some visual feedback of vigorous activity prior to using a leaven. I'm interested to read what experienced SD folk say. thanks for the post!

franbaker's picture
franbaker

and I mixed it according to how things moved along last time, so I figure at that point I'll mix everything, and, if the dough doesn't rise at all, I can add a bit of instant yeast to save the loaf...

thoughts on that thought appreciated also.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Throw the AL in the fridge (edit) to buy time, so you don't have to use yeast. Yeast cheating will work, but you will loose a lot of flavor. I think you can safely buy yourself a few hours by putting the AL in the fridge. 

Hopefully someone knowledgable will chime in, but my novice advice would be to add enough water to make the starter look like biscuit batter consistancy. I would add the water slowly because I assume bran takes a bit of time to absorb the water fully.

I think you want enough water in the solution to allow the bacteria organisms to easily move around from nutrient to nutrient.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

but it could be that the levain is fine. Eating a commercially yeasted loaf (if that even ends up happening) won’t be the end of the world. 

Of course I say this being able to smell that it’s active and feel that it’s generating some heat.

Decision time approaching...

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

whoops. i meant to write fridge. Not freezer. 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

the levain still looked the same, but it smelled right, and was giving off heat, so I thought I should probably go ahead, based on performance of last week's levain from this starter. When I took some out to weigh it, I could tell it had become much spongier, so then I was really glad that I decided to forge ahead.

About 10 minutes of mixing, kneadingg, adding water, as tolerated then 10 g more flour when it got too sticky for me to work with, then 20 more minutes of as much slapping and folding as I could do. The dough was still plenty sticky; it kept trying to pull the pastry board right off the table; it just wasn't so sticky that I couldn't handle it. It turned out that I added 38 g more water, then 10 g more flour, hydration coming in at 85%.

At the first set of stretch & folds at 30 minutes I thought I saw some bubbles already, so I'm really glad I didn't wait any longer, and think I'll have to keep a close eye on this one.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

The photo of the leaven in the canning jar is helpful, if you get a good rise out of it, then, you have taught me not to worry so much about the look of the leaven as long as it is 100% hydrated. Looking forward to the updates to the post.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

At the third set of stretch and folds, I could tell that there's a lot of rising going on. (I think I'm going to have to be careful not to overproof this one -- it's moving faster than last week's loaf.)

This is how I made this levain: 

Yesterday evening, I took my rye starter, which I maintain at 120%, out of the fridge, let it warm up for an hour, measured out 50g, and added 50g water and 50g Red Fife to it. Let it sit on the counter for about three hours and put it in the fridge nice and active.

This morning, I took it out and let it warm up for a little over an hour. To 40g of it I added 40 g of water and 40g of bran that I had sifted out of my freshly milled Red Fife. 

So the resulting levain is actually at 105% hydration. The solid components are 50% bran from Red Fife, 25% whole Red Fife flour, and 25% whole rye flour (which has probably been pretty well digested, since I think it was added five days ago).

My 100% hydration starters and levains made with flour, rather than bran, all resemble the photos of starters that you see with lots of bubbles. I think the look not changing would only apply if you've added all bran to go from starter to levain. But I think it is good to get used to using all our senses when cooking, smell and feel as well as sight. In fact, my ex-husband, who was an amateur but serious musician, knew when a dish was done by the way it sounded. That really surprised me, because I relied mostly on how it smelled, and also on how it looked. But now I can tell if a casserole is done by the way it sounds, too. You just have to notice it. I haven't worked with stiff starters and levains yet, but I imagine that their looks don't change as dramatically as the ones at 100% hydration do.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

At the fourth set of stretch & folds, the dough had risen less than it had at the third set, and it felt less cohesive, too. These seem like they might be signs of overproofing, so I went ahead and shaped the loaf. It's already risen 1/4 inch in its basket in the first half hour, and I don't usually see any rise in the first half hour after shaping, so I think moving ahead was the right thing to do, although I'm very surprised that sourdough (even 100% WW) could start to overproof in 2 hours at 80-81F. Sometimes yeast seems to grow very fast in my kitchen! I think I'll have to put in the oven at 45-60 minutes of proofing (I did start the oven preheating early).

Or am I nuts?

franbaker's picture
franbaker

After 45 minutes of proofing, there were bubbles near the surface, so into the oven it went... the loaf did not hold its shape, despite not sticking to the banneton liner, and went in looking like an oblong pancake again. I did remember to spritz it, hopefully will get some oven spring to compensate.

I think I should have added the levain to the AL at 2 hours 20 minutes, like last week, even though it looked just like it had when I mixed it, because it did smell good, and was generating its own heat. Live and learn! Hopefully the bread will be edible and not so sour that my other eater doesn't like it.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

want to add enough water to at least be able to brely stir it as a thicker kind of paste like a 100% rye bread.  Are you making the levain at 100% hydration like you should be doing? The NMNF starter is stored at 66% hydration but the Bran levain you make from it is at 100% hydration but your looks way too dry for one at 100% hydration.  I've a hundred of 100% hydration Bran levains they never look like that.

I think your bread sounded a bit dry too but not as bad as the levain:-)   Getting the dough wet enough but not too wet is what opens the crumb and give you a non spreader Hopefully all will turn out OK!

Happy Baking

franbaker's picture
franbaker

because I keep the rye starter I started from at 120%, because otherwise it gets too thick to stir.

I ground about 580g of Red Fife berries in my Mockmill 100 at its finest setting and sifted out 47g of bran (from all of it) with this sifter: https://breadtopia.com/store/flour-sifter-40-mesh/  It seemed like I should have got more bran than that, but maybe I got less because I ground the flour so finely.

Made the levain using 40g each of starter (at 110%, half rye and half red fife), water, and the sifted-out bran. Actually I could tell it was fermenting by the smell and the fact that it was generating heat. But I could add more water next time.

Oven spring did happen, loaf cooling. I do have some hopes for it :-)

Notice the huge amount of rice flour on the surface ;-)

franbaker's picture
franbaker

Was I correct in moving things along when the dough rose less and got less cohesive between the third and fourth set of stretch & folds? And in popping it into the oven when I saw bubbles near the surface in the proofing basket? Until recently, I would have thought, "No, there's no way sourdough could ferment so fast at 80-81F" and stuck to the recipe, so was I right to move things along?

Also, what makes you think that the bread also sounded dry? It still stuck like crazy to its plastic tub, and relaxed so much in the few seconds it took me to sprinkle rice flour on top that it lost its shape before I could pop it in the basket. Is this because the dough was underdeveloped, not because it was so wet? I did slap & folds for most of twenty minutes, after 10 minutes of mixing/kneading/adjusting the amount of water. Although it never did develop a complete skin, it had at least part of one while I was working with it...  as soon as I'd leave it alone for a couple of seconds, though, it would relax and get all sticky again.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I wish I could help, those are the exact same problems I am dealing with. "To proof (more), or not to proof (more), that is the question"

 

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I do love a challenge. Lots and lots to learn here. Enjoying Trevor's book.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

out of that flour with my sieve. I would taken it all and mix the same weight of water and 10 g of NMNF starter to make the levain over a 12 hour period or until it doubled. with 75 g of bran that would mean 750 g total flour in the mix for a 10% pre-fermented levain. The 675 G of high extraction dough flour) would have have 675 g of water in the 3 hour autolyse with the 15 g of salt sprinkled on top.

100% - 105% overall hydration would have been fine  If the the dough felt dry I would out in another 5% water to make it slap and fold better if necessary.

I wasn't there to see it during bulk or final proof, and didn't see it come out of the fridge so don't know it I could be much help.  But if the dough rose 40-60% during bulk and 85% during final proof then it should have been fine.  There wasn't much bloom in the scores, so I'm guessing that it was over 90% proofed instead of 85%.

High hydration, long autolyse, whole grain wheat breads with a fully ripe barn levain are very fast at 81 F  with an emphasis on very but even if it bulked to 85% is should have been fine.  We will see the crumb and know more.  It is going to taste killer for sure and that is the only test worth taking!

franbaker's picture
franbaker

the dough was at 85% (I started at 80% and worked up to 87%, then it was just too sticky for me to handle and I added 10g of the high-extraction flour and ended up at 85%).

Since I'm trying to minimize sour, I think I would like to use the levain at an earlier stage that you do. I ended up using it at after 4 hours at 80-81F, because I was sure it was active, even though I couldn't see a change. Anxious to see what you think of crumb shots in the next post. I like the flavor; still not sour (good in this household), but a little more complex than last time.

I do have tons of photos from various points in the process; can post (some) of them if they would help... neither the levain nor the dough ever went into the fridge, but let me know at what points having a look at the dough might be useful.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

delete repeat

franbaker's picture
franbaker

delete repeat