The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Smart Sourdough - book testers needed

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Smart Sourdough - book testers needed

Hi. I'm new to this forum as an active participant, but some of you may know me as the author of "Simple Sourdough," a booklet I wrote decades ago that's been popular on Amazon for about fifteen years.

For the past few years, I've been working on a new book, "Smart Sourdough," that presents a new and radically different approach to making sourdough. By working with high temperatures and short feeding cycles, I'm able to make 100% naturally fermented sourdough within 24 hours WITHOUT STARTER. That means doing away with maintenance feedings, discards, and everything related. In other words, my sourdough is almost as quick and simple to make as yogurt.

My approach is similar to what's known as "Type II sourdough," but adapted for the home. As with Type II, I focus solely on nurturing lactic acid bacteria in the dough, then just add a bit of baker's yeast at the end for the rise. My reasoning is that the special benefits of sourdough come almost entirely from the bacteria -- they are, after all, what put the "sour" in "sourdough"-- so the source of yeast is really not a concern. (And as researchers have shown, most bakers today wind up with baker's yeast in their starters anyway!)

Keeping sourdough at just the right temperature can be tricky, but I've found that, with some finagling, it can be done with a variety of kitchen devices. My book includes recommended setups and settings for the Brød & Taylor proofer, an Instant Pot used as a slow cooker, and a sous vide cooker. It also gives tips on adapting other devices you might have.

Can I really get much souring in 24 hours? Yes. Before being made into a loaf, my sponge of wheat, water, and salt reaches a pH of about 4.5. The taste can range anywhere from a "sweet" sourdough to mildly sour -- but it's always delicious! Since I add minimal yeast to the loaf -- normally just 1/8 teaspoon -- there is no alcohol taste to overwhelm the subtle sourdough flavors.

I've finished a working draft of the book (minus the photos), and I'm looking for bakers of all experience levels to read it, try the method, and provide comments. My idea is to use this thread for feedback and discussion. (So, please make sure you can find it again!)

This is open to all Fresh Loaf members. All I ask is that you do NOT share the draft with anyone else, and that you do NOT share my methods or your results outside this forum until the book is ready to order -- hopefully in January.

If you agree, please download the draft here:

http://www.markshep.com/private/SmartSourdough.pdf

Mark

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I'm willing to be a guinea pig. I have a sous vid and a pressure cooker (though a different brand) and a Brod and Taylor proofer and I mill my own grains (using Mockmill 200). I have saved the pdf.

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Thanks! I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with.

I mostly grind my own grains too (Nutrimill), though I mostly used King Arthur flours for testing this book.

Mark

albacore's picture
albacore

Mark, I don't want to put a damper on your project, but isn't this the same as the CLAS (concentrated lactic acid sourdough) process as generously provided by Rus Brot and championed by Yippee on this forum?

Lance

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Hi Lance. Thanks for pointing out Rus's method to me. I was not familiar with it, and it's very interesting.

I'll certainly have to look at his method more closely. A quick look tells me that we're both working in the same temperature range, and both adapting principles of Type II sourdough. But we differ in a lot of details. 

For one thing, he's basically making a starter in a short time and then adding that to his dough. This might make sense if you can only get temperature control in a tiny yogurt maker -- assuming you can even find one that allows the temperature he recommends, since most are higher. But I don't make a starter at all. Instead, I start with a sponge, and then I use or adapt kitchen devices that can warm the whole thing. 

Another example: I would say he's running into problems by letting his culture go too long without feeding. Even twelve hours at that temperature is much too long! That's the reason he needs to add vinegar and cover it with a plastic film, which I don't need to. It's also why the video shows a complete lack of gluten in his culture when he stirs it. Also, twelve hours at that temperature would kill off most of the bacteria he had cultivated, because the population would outrun the food supply -- so it's kind of wasteful.

By contrast, I use periodic feedings to keep the bacteria more active, shift the bacteria toward more acid-tolerant and acid-producing species, prevent bad growth, and preserve gluten. (And by the way, I manage that without discarding any sourdough.)

I'm sure Rus's method can produce great bread, and I'm glad to see other systems experimenting along lines similar to mine. Beyond that, I'll have to leave to others to judge which of ours works best for them. So, I invite you to download my manuscript and compare for yourself.

Mark

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Mark, thanks,  I have skimmed it and already have a few comments, feel free to disregard, and a question or two.

First question,  on page 35,  you say you need a heating device that will keep a certain temp without large swings. What would you consider a large swing?  I use a heating pad in a wine cooler with a STC-1000 controller  , which is pretty cheap and popular - my guess is the swing is plus or minus 10 - I assume that is okay.   I have a sous vide, though I think the setup would be more cumbersome than my wine cooler. 

 

Comments,

First recipe  p 58,  you list the ingredients in ounces for the flour and cups for the water.  I think it would be easier for readers to follow if you used a table and had 3 columns,  you may start with cups, since there are some that don't use scales, but the second column should be weight in ounces, and the 3rd column should be weight in grams.  Many bakers prefer to use grams since we don't have to convert from pounds to ounces or use tenths of an ounce. Yeast is often listed by the teaspoon even when all other ingredients are by weight, since many don't have a second set of scales for yeast, though some do and it wouldn't hurt to include that in the gram column. 

Timing  on page 76.  I think it helps most readers to lay out a sample time - that is start day 1 at 6 pm - for example.  Without that as as starting point, I would have to write out all the timings to determine my availability.  If I started at Noon, I would do my first feed at 9 pm, which is fine, but would have to wake up at midnight and 3 am to do my second  feed and proof.    For those of us that work during the week, it would really be appreciated if you can lay out a schedule for us -  to me that would be  Friday evening start, so  the first 9 hours happen while sleeping with a bake 24 hours later, meaning I would have bread to eat on Sunday. 

in the index, it is a small thing, but when you list the first recipe, I would put 50% somewhere in the title.  I normally bake with only 100% home milled wheat  ( like you I like winter white ) and I hate it when I see a recipe that says Whole Wheat something or other, and then when you get to the recipe, it is not 100% whole wheat.  It may be just my pet peeve.

Otherwise, it looks nice and I will try to test the 100% home milled this weekend.  I read what you said about sifting, but that is something I just don't do, so we will see what happens.

BTW,  I don't think I have ever seen a description of the difference between chlorine in the tap water and chloramine.   I just checked and our water does have chloramine.  Do you have a suggested ratio of ascorbic acid to water?  I had been adding it to flour for a little while but then read that at concentrations that were still incredibly low  ( parts per million ) it could lead to a gummy crumb, so I stopped using it.  

 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Hi Barry. That was quick! I'll consider all of this carefully, but here are some quick replies.

Temperature swings: The question is whether the device is keeping the temperature steady in the sourdough, not the device. Plus or minus ten in the sourdough would be way too much! Remember, you also have the temperature variation from the bacteria activity. With ten degrees on top of that, you could get into bacteria-cooking range. You should do the water temp test, as described in the chapter on setup. Once the temperature reaches its peak, I wouldn't want to see swings of more than a degree or two.

Grams: I originally had all the grams, but it got too crazy when I got to the many variations, which are based on percentages of the original recipe. But then I discovered a little secret: All the digital scales being sold today in all countries can change between grams and ounces at the flick of a switch. There's no longer any need to convert on your own, you just throw the switch.

Timing: I don't think there's any way around your having to write down the times for yourself, but I do talk generally about scheduling on page 57. Is that what you were looking for?

50% whole wheat: You must be an old-timer like me, because I felt exactly the same. But checking around the Web, I saw that whole wheat bread recipes just weren't 100% whole wheat unless they said so. So, I think we have to live with that. (And my table of contents does have a specified 100% whole wheat recipe later on.) 

Sifting: I do NOT generally recommend sifting. It's a myth that you can sift much bran from today's whole wheat flour, because it's usually pulverized to pieces no bigger than the rest of the flour. I never sift my own flour. 

Chloramines: I don't have a ratio for ascorbic acid. When I tested it with straight chlorine, even a pinch removed all of it. But since most instant yeast includes ascorbic acid, I'm surprised to hear it would affect the crumb. All I know is that it strengthens gluten, just like any acid, including lactic and acetic. It makes me wonder if the same people would complain about those acids too.

Mark

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Barry, on your suggestion, I've added a few sample schedules to the book. Here's the "medium" one. You can shift it earlier or later according to when you like to go to bed and get up.

Preparing the Ingredients—8:00 PM
Making the Sponge—10:00 PM
Feeding the Sponge #1—7:00 AM
Feeding the Sponge #2—10:00 AM
Making the Loaf—1:00 PM
Baking the Loaf—4:00 PM

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

P13, p3.  ...which would taste and smell more sour.      Should it be:  less sour?  Or leave out more altogether --confusing paragraph

P24.  Three points of cycles.  The second one applies to traditional starters too! 

By calling your precision method "Smart" it implies all others are not.  And feels like every oportunity is made to put down traditional sourdough starters.  Why not let your method stand on its own?  I can also see a more practical application in hot tropical locations where passively maintaining the high temperatures is easier.  I do not own any of the suggested heating devices.  That is my first obsticle.  

Meanwhile, my traditional dough is rising at room temperature.

Mini

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Thanks for your comments, Mini! 

The paragraph on page 13: It's meant to say that acetic acid would smell more sour than the lactic, but I see I need to reword it.

The point about cycles: I'm confused. Since traditional starters have ongoing feedings, I don't see how you could keep feeding them without removing some sourdough. Am I missing something? I admit I NEVER did regular feedings, even during the years when I made sourdough with starter, so it's not my area of expertise.

Calling it "smart": My wife has a whole series of books on "smart soapmaking," and that moniker has done very well for us. It refers to the fact that a lot of what goes on in soapmaking is based on obsolete and incorrect ideas -- and I feel that goes for sourdough making too. It's not that it doesn't work, it's just that it's a lot more complex and time-consuming than it needs to be, setting many people up for failure. My method is simple and works every time, once you work out the proper equipment setup.

Also, I admit to purposely being a bit provocative to generate discussion and help my book stand out in a very crowded field. I realize that some people may find that grating, but I hope it does not detract from their experience with the method itself and the bread it produces.

Thanks again!

Mark

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Mark,  a few responses, 

Grams - yes, I have several scales, and they convert from ounces to grams, but some people just think in ounces, or grams.  When I am milling, I know what  approximately 500 grams looks like in a container that I use to fill my mill.  I would have no idea what 5, 10 or 20 ounces would be .  In the same vein,  I know that 100 F is fairly hot, and while my finger is not calibrated, I have a feeling if something was way off I would know it.  If you said 50 C - I would have no idea whether that is hot or cold , and would have to use a computer to convert.  Again, your book, your rules, but I think many bakers expect the author to spell out all three in listing a formula.

On ascorbic acid,  here are some links.  https://bakerpedia.com/ingredients/ascorbic-acid/    https://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/ascorbic_acid/  they both cite to an article in a book i have not read -  Cauvain S.P. What are the functions of ascorbic acid in breadmaking? Baking Problems Solved, 1st ed., Woodhead, 2001, pp. 136–137.   This is the quote  "Levels used in bulk fermentation should be low and limited to not more than 15-20 ppm flour weight  "    So for 454 grams of flour, that would call for a max .009 grams of ascorbic acid,  if I did my math right.  I can't find the post, but I have read somewhere that above that limit, it degrades the end product.  

Benito's picture
Benito

I think most outside of the USA would prefer to see weight/mass in grams rather than ounces.  Although my scale can change from ounces to grams and vice versa, I tend to not bake recipes written in ounces and also cup measurements.

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Barry, I do understand your reasoning, and I originally had all those gram conversions, plus liters for water -- and I still have conversions for temperature and many linear measurements. But when I got to the variation recipe sketches, the flour weights just became untenable. I had to work with approximations, odd and hard-to-remember numbers, percentages that didn't even work out to whole grams... It just got so cluttered and ugly, I gave up. The recipes were developed with ounces, and it's much, much cleaner to just keep them that way.

Anyway, my feeling is that, with the internationalization of cooking, people are learning to become more flexible. So, even if some people may not like it right now, it won't likely be an issue for long.

As for cups -- no way! Did you miss my sidebar explaining that? When homeground flour weighs only 75% of commercial flour, you simply can't provide a single cup measurement for both. And I expect a lot of sourdough bakers will be grinding their own. 

I'll take a look at the ascorbic acid material, but since I don't use that myself, I think you'll have to do your own experiments. It's possible they're talking about its effect on commercial air bread, so it might not relate to sourdough at all. I'm skeptical that adding a pinch to a pitcher of water would have any effect on your bread -- especially since you're not even using all of that water for your loaf!

Mark

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Barry, I partly changed my mind about the grams. I think I'm going to restore grams and liters to my main recipe, though I still plan to keep them out of the later "recipe sketches."

As to acetic acid, I'm mostly seeing references to how it improves dough. But truthfully, there are so many things that strengthen and weaken gluten, I doubt that any one factor will be noticeable in itself. Even if you got a slight degradation from the acetic acid, you probably wouldn't notice it, with so many other factors in play. For instance, all the gluten in your initial sponge can be wiped out just by letting it sit an hour too long. 

Mark

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Mark,  just to Benito's point,  I am in the US, and yet, since I started getting serious about baking, I only "think" in terms of grams.  It may also be that I never quite understood the convention in the US of using ounces for weight and ounces for fluid measurements -  sometimes it says fluid ounces and sometimes it doesn't .  Just has me baffled.

 

My point on the asorbic acid,  if in fact the beneficial effect goes away at .009 grams per 454  grams  ( 1 pound ) , that is such a tiny amount,  I doubt any us could possibly measure it - you would need a scale that measures to .001 grams -  I am sure they are available to labs, but most scales are see are either .1 grams, or .01, not .001. 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Actually, Barry, .009 is close enough to .01 that your scale could measure it closely enough. Even if it started to degrade above .009, the extra .01 certainly wouldn't be noticeable.

Anyway, I see I was pretty general about measurements in my draft. What I actually tried and found successful was 1/16 teaspoon (1 pinch) in about a one-quart pitcher of water. But I was only testing for chlorine, not for the effect on my bread.

albacore's picture
albacore

A rate of 20ppm seems very low to me. I think the recommended maximum is 200ppm and rates of 100-150ppm are normally used. 100ppm is 0.1g per 1kg of flour.

Amateur bakers often overdose it by orders of magnitude, because you need a suitable scale to measure the small weights we are talking about.

Lance

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Mark ,  thanks,  I have finished the tests of my wine cooler with a heating pad and temp controller, will start the first step tonight.  I like the sample time line, it makes it much easier for the reader to adjust to fit their schedule, rather than working it each step manually. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Since using grams, I rarely use liters and weigh even the water along with other ingredients.  If including grams, please stick to weights.  Many gram scale recipes round off to 5 or 10 grams  example: 250g water, not 247g.  There are many spring scales around for baking, not all are digital and can only weigh to 10g increments. That should help with conversions.  

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Well, never mind. While starting to restore the metrics, I only reminded myself why it made more sense to stick to the units I used to develop the recipes. It's actually more accurate and guarantees that everyone is using exactly the same amounts. The recipes were developed with ounces of flour, cups of water, and teaspoons of everything else, and maybe those weren't the best choices, but I'm just going to leave it that way.

I did, though, add a note to explain why.

Mark

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

So  I did a 12 hour test of my wine cooler with temperature controller for the first temp, and more like 6 hours for the proofing temp for the loaf and worked out the offset so that when I set the temp on the controller, the water hit the desired temp , as pointed out in the book, the activity of the microbes will change the temp, so the target is lower than the desired temp.  I did the first 10 pm to 7 am using 100% home milled white winter wheat.  By the morning, it had a pretty bad smell, and I did the next feeding as described hoping the smell would go away, it only got worse, with each feeding.  Tons of gas bubbles, but worse and worse smells.   I followed all the way through to baking, and while the smell diminished a bit, it still had a foul smell -    It was hard to describe, and I am no expert, but i think it was what Debra Wink described as a mix between sour milk and rotten cheese.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1

  

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Hi Barry. Doesn't sound good! Let's see if we can figure it out.

If I remember right, you're using a heating pad with a thermostat controller in that wine cooler. So, let me guess: You put your mixing bowl directly on the heating pad. Yes? If so, you'd be using direct heating instead of radiant, and that would create hot spots in the sponge that would over-stimulate the bacteria and make the sponge go bad. And unfortunately that's not something you could catch when testing on water because it disperses heat more efficiently.

I mention briefly about hot spots in the chapter on setup when I discuss heating methods, but I obviously need to make a bigger point of it. You need to have the sponge raised above the heating source to change to radiant heating. But I doubt your heating pad is hot enough to bring the sponge to the desired temperature that way.

I probably should have thought of all this when you mentioned your setup, so I'm sorry for that. If you want to try again, I would ditch the wine cooler and try your sous vide. That will heat the sponge more evenly.

Personally, if an all-wheat sponge smells bad after nine hours, I would just ditch it. If it's working properly, it will NEVER smell bad. (Rye sourdough can be a different story.)

Mark

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

It is possible there was too much bottom heat, though no, I did not put the container directly on the heating pad,  there is a foam board that sits between the two to avoid the problem you mention, and with a digital controller the total swing is a few degrees.  Since I work during the week, the earliest I can try is next weekend. 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

I've uploaded a new draft of "Smart Sourdough," which you can download with the same link as before.

http://www.markshep.com/private/SmartSourdough.pdf

It has a number of changes based on your comments, plus many more. There's also a good amount of new material, including a chapter on scaling the recipe and a FAQ at the end -- again drawing on your comments.

Among other changes, I've stopped saying you can use a homemade proofer. I've realized now that few of these are likely to work, since they use direct heating instead of radiant, as the Brød & Taylor does.

Still to come: a chapter on "sourdough specialties," applying my method to sourdough pancakes and pizza dough. 

Mark

P.S. Barry, I just discovered your private messages from July 3, and I'll email you about them soon.

 

albacore's picture
albacore

Mark, it's interesting to compare your ebook with Daniel Leader's recent book Bread Alone, which I have just been given as a present. He has eschewed cups and ounces completely, giving only grams (for solids AND liquids) and bakers' percent.

I know that you have a different target market, but if I were you, I would reconsider your plan to have cups and ounces only. Please don't be offended, but I cannot help but think that Leader is looking to the future and you are somewhat in the past with your measurement system.

Many of the bakers on TFL use grams for all their ingredients. They know that the quantity of water is just as critical as the quantity of flour and you just cannot measure it accurately with a measuring jug, never mind a cup.

I do have two sets of cup measures; OK, they are kind of cheap Chinese/American, with both cups stamped as 250ml, but when checked, one cup holds 240ml and the other 260ml! It would not bode well for consistency if I actually used them for breadmaking!

Also, bear in mind that many people in the UK prefer to use metric weights in the kitchen, so you might be losing potential sales in another market by using oz/cups only.

You could have the best of both worlds by keeping your ounces and cups, but simply adding in those metric weights too.

 

Lance

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Thanks, Lance. It will be interesting to see if you feel the same way after reading the book and trying the method.

Personally, I think the future is that everyone can now handle any unit of measurement, so it's not really an issue and will become less so. What's more important to me is a clear, uncluttered presentation that doesn't intimidate people or make them think that their sourdough won't turn out if they deviate by a few grams in either direction. 

In fact, one of my chief ingredients is "Extra flour for kneading," which is an intentional wildcard that should completely befuddle anyone trying for exactness.

albacore's picture
albacore

I have come across several scales where the switch to change from grams to ounces is on the underside, making it rather inconvenient to change over.

Also given your wish to have a clear and uncluttered layout, which I understand, you could use the ebook format to your advantage and simply have completely separate sections for ounce/cup and gram measurements. No extra physical pages to worry about. This layout could be explained at the beginning of the book, giving the user the option to use whichever measurement system he/she prefers.

Lance

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

I’m a US based baker.  Cups, ounces, tablespoons, etc. in a recipe are a deal breaker for me.

 

Measuring everything in grams is exceedingly more accurate than ounces (28.3 times more precise, to be exact).  And measuring by cups is so wildly inaccurate that it’s not even funny.  Ask 10 different bakers to scoop out a cup of flour, throw it on their digital scale and hit the button to change it to grams, and I guarantee that you will get 10 different answers, most of them nowhere near the others.


If the target audience for your book are the people who are still scooping their ingredients with Measuring cups, I hate to break this to you but they already learned all they want to know when they watched the free YouTube video that promised them that by mixing a half cup of flour and water every day they’d have a healthy and active starter in exactly 5 days.

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

My book uses cups only to measure water. Flour is measured in ounces, for the reason you mentioned. And no, grams are NOT more accurate if the recipe was DEVELOPED in ounces. (Actually, tenths of ounces -- not that a tenth of an ounce makes a gram of difference in sourdough.)

It might help you to look at my book before commenting further on it.

Mark

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

My apologies if any of what I’ve written (or will be writing in this reply) comes off as sounding gruff or crass or confrontational, and I really do wish you the very best of luck with your book.  But you made this post asking for advice, and one of the pieces of advice that you’ve received now from several bakers (including some of us from the U.S.) is that we expect to see metric measurements in a recipe book that wasn’t written in the 1950s.  Plus, you do realize that you are severely reducing the marketing potential of your book by limiting its reach to only one of the three countries in the world that have yet to make the move to metric (Myanmar has its very own set of measurement standards, and Liberia is in the process of switching to metric, if it hasn’t already done so).

 

But, since you’ve made it clear that you plan to ignore this advice, I’ll go ahead and skip the book, and will refrain from commenting any further.

dbazuin's picture
dbazuin

Why would I buy a or even test a book where I need to translate all the measurements to the ones I use. 

 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

No problem. You probably wouldn't have liked it anyway.  ;)

Mark

dbazuin's picture
dbazuin

I do find it intresting and wil give this process a try someday.

But as I using my starter for more then just plain lunch bread, it is worth to keep it. 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Then I'll look forward to your comments!

Mark

pmccool's picture
pmccool

If I understand correctly, the book is aimed at bakers who would like to make sourdough bread but don’t want to maintain a starter.  I’ve no idea how large or small that market might be.  Given how many aspiring bakers struggle with the concept of temperature and its role in fermentation, I’m curious to see how many will actually adopt a process that relies on precise temperature management.  

I will admit to being surprised by the mishmash of mass and volumetric units for ingredient quantities.  It seems out of character when contrasted with precision that is required for temperature measurements.  Count this as another vote for metric mass measurements for every ingredient, except in those cases (1/8 teaspoon of yeast) where the quantity is less than most scales' sensitivity.  

You might also remove the potshot at the pineapple juice solution.  The fact that you got an unfavorable result when you didn’t follow the process doesn’t mean that the original process is flawed.  You are, after all, trying to promote a different process entirely, so nothing is gained by disparaging Ms. Wink's process.  And, as author, you had better brace yourself for all the complaints that will come your way from people who don’t follow the process you outline but blame you for their failures.  (“I followed the recipe exactly except for...”)

Like I said, it’s an interesting concept.  My off-the-cuff reaction is that it doesn’t sound like nearly as much fun as I have with my starter.  Still, it may be just the ticket for some.  

Paul

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Thanks for your comments, Paul! I hope people will understand they DON'T have to manage temperature once they get their setup and settings worked out -- which I try to help with, as best I can. I never have to deviate from my own settings, and nowadays, I check the temperature of my sourdough only to make sure any recipe or ingredient changes haven't thrown something off. If I'm making my basic recipe with accustomed ingredients, I don't check temperature at all.

I hope I didn't come across as saying the pinapple juice solution will not work. But there's been so much hype about it, I felt I needed to explain why it has no place in my method. And I'd rather say it in the book than have people ask about it individually! But I'll look at that section again to make sure I haven't been unfair or overstated my case. Like I say, I have a great deal of respect for Debra Wink, and I've learned tremendously from her. She's even mentioned in my Acknowledgments!

Mark

pmccool's picture
pmccool

There are a number of mentions of “steam” in the text about fermentation stages.  However, the recommended temperatures cannot possibly generate steam.  Conversely, steam-generating temperatures would be lethal to the bacteria.  

So, a different term would be a better fit.  Humidity, perhaps?   Moisture?  I'm not sure about the best term but wanted point out that blip. 

Paul

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Paul, this is explained in the chapter on setup, but perhaps not clearly enough. In the setups for the loaf, you're working with three types of heating. There's radiant heating for the loaf, which is low heat. Then there's direct heating to create light steam from the water, which is much higher heat. Then there's steam heating, which also affects the loaf. All these are happening at the same time from the same device, depending on the positioning of the loaf and the water container. So, yes, there is enough heat to generate light steam, but no, there is not enough heat to kill the bacteria -- because of different positioning of the loaf and the water container.

Mark

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Step 6 at the top of page 63 is a good example.  Each recipe has a similar statement.

Water can/does evaporate at that temperature but it isn’t steam, which is generated when water boils.  It may sound as though I’m being too picky about semantics but that isn’t the case.  You want your readers to employ accurate temperatures.  As a writer, you need to be every bit as accurate with the words you employ.  

There is a joke among preachers which says that if there is a mist in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pews.  That concept could apply equally to authors, especially those who choose to write a cookbook.  Every word works for, or against, your goal: to equip the reader with the understanding and capability they need to carry out your instructions.  Choose your words carefully. 

Paul

 

 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Paul, in response to your earlier comment about this, I double-checked myself. If you look up the definition of steam, you will see you're completely wrong. Steam is simply the gas or vapor form of water, and it can be generated by either boiling or simple evaporation at any temperature. I've added a note to the book to make this clear.

Also, I measured the temperature of water in the tray of my home proofer when the proofer setting is at 95°F. That setting is calibrated for radiant heat, while the water in the tray is heated by direct heat. In other words, anything sitting on the rack is supposed to reach 95°, while anything on the floor under the rack is supposed to be higher. So, the temperature of the water in the tray was 20°F higher -- 115°F -- which generates enough steam to keep the loaf moist. I've added this info too in my proofer example in the section on "Making Steam."

To repeat, the settings I give in the recipes are for providing radiant heat to the loaf to raise it to a certain temperature. But at those same settings, the water for steam is getting higher, direct heat from the same device. In all my sample setups, you get enough steam to keep the loaf moist without raising the target temperature.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Mark, I haven't read your draft, but I'd like to share some of the "newbie challenges" that many isolation bakers have brought to TFL when they seek help.  

These topics might help you make your book and method more bullet-proof against some of the most common misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions.

- gas versus electric ovens.

- convection oven, fan on versus fan off.

- using the top (broiler) element with or without convection. (Some convection ovens have _only_ a top element and they must always use the fan.) 

- water issues, too hard, too soft, chlorine, chloramines.  "Water is not water is not water".  There are real differences.

- malted versus unmalted flour. Lots of differences around the world.  The need for diastatic malt or "dough improvers" in some countries/situations.

(US retail white flour is almost always malted, but someone might get their hands on specialty flour or imported pizza flour.)

- Protein levels of flour. such as Canada having higher "normal" protein for AP and bread flours.

- Flour types, especiallly whole grain versus white/refined are not interchangeable.  Even small/medium substitutions require adjustments elsewhere in the formula. 

-  Even _Brands_ of the same type of flour can vary enough to require adjustments in hydration and ferment time.

- New bakers generally should not adopt "tips and tricks" they learn elsewhere (outside the formula/book they are working from) until they have successfully made a formula _as written_, or with only necessary common adjustments (usually hydration and ferment time.)  Once they master a published formula, and  get it  tweaked for their local conditions, then they have a basis on which to experiment and modify.

I've been on TFL about 10 months, and those are the challenges/misunderstandings or tripping-up points that I recall seeing most often here.  I hope they help you somewhat.

Good luck on your new book venture!

 

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Thanks for your comments, Dave -- though, ironically, your concerns are almost opposite to mine. I've purposely built in a lot of latitude about flour types, but I discourage changes to my ferment times! I assume everyone's sourdough will be a bit different -- as mine is, whenever I switch flours. As long as it's nicely fermented and tastes great, I'm happy -- and that's what my 24-hour method guarantees.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Good to hear that your system allows for those things -- that those variations won't matter.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

using a quick method CLAS and reminded me of your post.  Concentrated Lactic Acid Sourdough

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/65285/20200810-golden-durum-bread-clas

http://brotgost.blogspot.com/p/clas.html

Mark Shepard's picture
Mark Shepard

Thanks, Mini. You might want to see my reply to Albacore's comment about CLAS.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/64850/smart-sourdough-book-testers-needed#comment-462351

Mark