The Fresh Loaf

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Better country bread flavor - what to try next

tarheel_loafer's picture
tarheel_loafer

Better country bread flavor - what to try next

I am a pretty new baker, with 6 bakes of Tartine Country Bread so far. I'm not consistent yet but it's improving, and my better bakes taste ok, with a glossy crumb and decent structure, and really really good by my previous standards. But, I'd like more flavor. I don't want it more sour, or with more whole wheat tang. I'm looking for a more complex flavor without more sourness. Do I try extending the bulk rise? Or try different flour blends? Or something else?  

I usually make a young leaven following Chad's instructions (1 tbsp starter, 200g 50/50 flour mix, 200g water) and use 200g after about 7-8 hours. It passes the float test after about 3-4 hours, but 8 hrs matches my schedule. I'm using King Arthur AP and King Arthur White Whole Wheat. I've tried 10%, 15%, and 20% whole wheat. More whole wheat helped, but still not the flavor I'm looking for. My kitchen and ingredients are all in the mid-70s, and my dough usually ends up around 77-78F after the final mixing. 

My last 3 attempts:

I tried letting the bulk rise and final proof go as long as possible at room temp, about 10 hrs total. The loaves completely filled their proofing baskets, and climbed the sides of my 3.2qt dutch oven. Great crust, good flavor, but they didn't really taste that much different.

Next, I tried a regular bulk rise, and then overnight proof in the fridge. Yuck. Those loaves ended up too sour for my taste, definitely not what I wanted. 

Next, I tried an overnight bulk rise in the fridge for 12 hrs, then proofing for 3 hours - a little under-proofed compared to the last one, but I wanted them to fit in the dutch oven. I loved the dough I got from this method, final shaping was a dream of pillowy softness. The flavor was good, but still a little white-bready for me.   

From what I've read I think the flavors I want happen in the bulk fermentation, so I'm thinking I may try colder water and an overnight bulk ferment at room temp, vs in the fridge. But I'd really like some advice and suggestions from more experienced bakers out there. 

That was a wall of text, so I'll stop there. Thanks for reading all the way to the end. 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I did read to the end, and can't offer much help, since there is such a wide variety of what tastes good, and what do we mean from "sour".  I have tried for quite some time to make something very sour, and have not had much help.

My suggestion, and I admit it will take you in a different direction, is to try home milled flour.  You can find winter white wheat, which does not have the grassy taste of red whole wheat  ( red whole wheat is the one we normally associate with whole wheat bread ).  Everyone I know that has tried  home milled flour loves the tastes.  The downsides are that it is much less forgiving than AP or BF, it won't rise as high, and there is quite a cost to dip your foot into this end of the pool .  You can usually find a used mill for under $200,  but that is a significant investment . 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

This might be worth a try. Start feeding your stater 100% whole rye. This type of starter will impart a unique flavor in your breads.

The problem with identifying perceived flavors is the fact that people’s taste and their description of those flavors are difficult to communicate. You mentioned that you don’t like a sour flavor. You could be thinking of pickles when you write that or you could be thinking of yogurt or many other descriptors that could be used to describe a sour flavor.

What I am about to state is very difficult to believe, until to experience it for yourself. Sourdough bread in its simplest form consist of only flour, water, and salt. BUT it is amazing how those 3 simple ingredients can be manipulated to make breads that taste so dissimilar. For example, I recently discovered Kristen’s (FullProofBaking) formula and method for her “Basic Sourdough Open Crumb” bread. The formula appears as normal and ordinary as any. But after having baked a dozen or so of her loaves, it has become a favorite of mine. I know it is different. The crumb texture, complex flavors, and huge oven spring is my best attempt to describe the bread. Now another baker, might bake this identical bread and the results be quite different. Experimentation is probably your best option, but post like this one is a great place to start.

Keep posting. Let us know the good, the bad, and the ugly. All information is helpful.

OH! I’m not specifically recommending Kristen’s bread but if you choose to try it, her YouTube video is extremely well done. She is detail oriented and shares them with the viewer. Even though she is a self proclaimed “home baker”, IMO this gal has the skills of a master.

https://youtu.be/HlJEjW-QSnQ

Good Luck, and Happy Baking...

Danny

tarheel_loafer's picture
tarheel_loafer

Thanks for the suggestions. I watched the video, that is a beautiful loaf for sure, and some great techniques and information. A lot to think about. I definitely need to develop more strength in my dough after watching that. I am pretty intrigued by the lack of rise in final proof, and then that insane oven spring. 

So, I think I am going to try some freshly ground high extraction flour from the local farmers market, and see what that does. Too expensive for regular baking, but it’s worth a try. I will also try a short, warm bulk ferment against a long, cold one, and see how the flavors compare. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

You notice one of the most important points of her bake. Over fermenting, even slightly will harm the oven spring. I know because I did exactly that this morning. You don’t want to allow the dough to get poofy. Err on the side of under fermenting. The miracle takes place in the oven. I just posted about this very thing. See this link for link. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/61181/tip-have-faith-oven-spring

Keep in mind that high extraction flour will ferment much mire quickly than white flour.

Good Luck. Let us know how you progress.

Danny

tarheel_loafer's picture
tarheel_loafer

More great info! Thanks Danny.