BA posted this yesterday -- a nice little video of Chad Robertson demonstrating 3 breads from one starter:
I hate that word, "Handcrafted" when it comes to food. Furniture is crafted. Certain types of artwork are crafted. Food is not crafted. It is baked, boiled, fried, roasted, braised, stewed, seared, grilled, smoked, poached, etc. but it is not crafted. Besides, who's to say a food that is "handcrafted" is any better than the same food made by a machine? It might be but then it might not. Well, I think I'll go make me a handcrafted peanut butter sandwich now.
You could legitimately craft a peanut-butter sculpture while you're in the kitchen. 😁
So yeah, it's not a craft. It's a lifestyle. It's a way of seeing the world. It's the deepest expression of man.
Except the definition of craft is exactly what is used: : an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill
Neither one of those terms apply to making food unless you're making a bread sculpture or something similar. Handcrafted just sounds silly and pretentious. It ranks up there with artisan, deconstructed, and sustainable.
Glad to hear your opinion though.
I think it's okay to use the word if it's used the way it's supposed to be used. What I don't like is when it's used as an advertising gimmick. It's rather misleading and in some cases just plain dishonest. Do you really think that "Artisan" bread you see in the grocery store was made by an artisan? No, all they do is extend the process to allow the dough to develop more flavor, but I would hardly call that artisanal. I think the people here who have had starters going for years and make all different kinds of breads from scratch have more of a right to call what they make artisinal than a commercial bread company does.
the weak minded too pay way to much for bread that isn't artisan at all. The traditional definition of artisan bread is a real thing. Bread made in small batches, using the finest ingredients, crafted by peer recognized craftsmen, made without the use of machines and baked in a wood fired oven. There are thousands of such artisans crafting real artisan bread all over the world today but they single handedly are killing us all with their wood fired pollution! Really.... we will all be dead in 12 years anyway - right?
I must respectfully disagree. When a loaf of bread is painstakingly nurtured then carefully pre-shaped and shaped then skillfully slashed, that bread is indeed hand crafted! Just my humble opinion. Smile......
Totally agree. If it was just follow the directions and you get an awesome loaf. This site would not exist. Search for "shaping" and see how much manual dexterity, skill are required to do it well.
It was nice to see the video of his process. Much better than looking at pictures in a book! 🙂
I think so too. I like watching him shape the loaves best :)
It was interesting to see that he was doubling up the preshaped balls to make the final loaf. Do you think this adds to the dough's loft?
Perhaps this is the way you can get loft, or height, and the open crumb that comes with light gluten development. What do you think?
He explained while he was dividing and preshaping, that he only needed two of each. The extra dough pieces were to have more to demonstrate the preshape process. I didn't get the sense it is his usual practice.
But that final folding in half of the shaped loaves as he scooped them up off the counter and turned them over to put in the baskets further stretched and tightened the skin -- which probably does help with loft. That's what I think :)
I notice that when the pros pull their bowl out from bulk fermentation, its a lot more bubbly than mine. But if I wait until my dough gets that bubbly, the bread doesn't have any big holes, no 'artisan style' as it were. Instead, it comes out like wonderbread; lacy and soft, but with no holes and without that creamy texture.
I think its that my starter isn't fast or active enough. Its the only explanation that makes sense.
I've been feeding it twice a day, doing the Maurizio Leo schedule you recommended. I'm thinking of moving it to 3x a day to get some extra power or something. Or maybe fermenting at a different temp? I don't know. I'm just convinced the starter is the key to the kind of crumb I'm after.
Have you come across this in your fermentation studies? And by this I mean the difference between a good starter that gets okay results and that next level starter that gives you world class bread?
I think Trevor has talked about it before.
While a healthy vigorous starter obviously doesn't guarantee world class bread, it certainly helps make for a more lively dough. And feeding more frequently makes for a more responsive starter. In the video, it sounded like he was using the starter a couple hours after feeding, and he was calling it 'young.' I really couldn't gauge how much starter to flour he was using, and he didn't say anything about the temperature that I recall.
Give it a try -- 3x a day for a couple weeks and see if it kicks into a higher gear. And try fermenting your doughs a little warmer. You should know soon enough if it's moving you in the right direction.
This is a picture from Maurizio's blog:
See how, in relation to the size of the whole bread, there aren't many holes?
Now here's what I normally get:
The bread is still open and airy, but the holes are smaller in relation to the bread than Maurizio's. His bread, with its low hole/size ratio is what I'd call 'artisan' style crumb, rather than the lacy crumb you normally see in nicely homebaked sourdough loaves.
Do you think the 'artisan' crumb is related to having a super active starter?
I remember reading in Trevor's book that as fermentation goes on, big bubbles turn to small bubbles. I think the key is to get it shaped and proofing before too many big bubbles break up, and the way to do that is with powerful starter that can beat the clock.
I do think temp and innoculation % has a lot to do with this. I'm going to experiment with both factors and see what i come up with.
Holes don't have flavor. A bread with lots of holes may taste good but it's not because of the holes. If that were true, you could take a slice of Wonder bread and make it taste better by poking a bunch of holes in it. Besides, a bread with too many holes isn't practical because things like oil, butter, or any other liquid or semi-liquid just soak right through it.
Nah. The holes aren't the point, its the bread around them. Its very different than a bread with few, small holes, which is different still than a tight crumb, which has holes that are barely perceptible.
In the video, Robertson says that maintaining the fermentation gas in these big holes change the flavor of the resultant loaf. Also, the texture of bread that pushes itself together to make way for big holes is creamy rather than lacy, which is a pleasant difference, if you've only enjoyed the latter before.
The fine art of developing crumb pattern is beyond my depth I'm afraid. While a vigorous starter is surely important, it isn't the only thing of importance. I would encourage you to put this question to Trevor and/or Maurizio and see what they have to say. And if either are following this, I welcome their comments here.
My best :)dw
Debra.. I'm a big fan of Tartine bread and have learned much making it. I really enjoyed the link and learned from it too. Thank you so much for posting !! FRANK!
You're very welcome Frank, and thank you!
really loved that video thanks
Glad you enjoyed it :)
Thank you so much for sharing. Even though I don't use the method, it's really educational to just see how people do stuff.
Kudos to BA for putting that up.
As to the whole "bread is art/craft/whatever" debate, I have this to say:
Bread is bread.
BA does several series --- I especially enjoy seeing Claire go to lengths reproducing popular snack foods like Cheetos, Oreos, R's pb cups, etc. Brad's 'It's Alive' series is entertaining too. And many others in the BA test kitchen.
As to the whole "bread is art/craft/whatever" debate, clearly I chose the wrong title :)
I found Claire's Teaches you Cake Baking videos to be educational about gluten properties as well, as it shows how the whole gluten process works almost from the opposite direction. Fascinating stuff!
Thanks for posting the link Debra!
Glad you enjoyed it :)
Mmm, I hope to hit Tartine Bakery one day. I had a number of techie friends go to SF for internships, but none were interested enough in bread. :(
Here's hoping you get there one day :)
Thanks for posting this Debra. Chad is big on gentle handling of dough. Nicely done video.
If I had even half his skill ...
I have been watching sourdough bread videos incessantly for more than a year and this one is my favorite. I have been struggling to master the skill of confident dough handling and the video exemplifies what I hope to achieve some day. Thank you for posting.
Dave, you should join Dan and others in the community bake. The bread he chose is Maurizio's take on Chad Robertson's Porridge Bread which was demo'ed in this video. How's that for timing?
Happy baking :)