The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some problems solved

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MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Some problems solved

With the loaf shown below I have managed to solve a couple of recent problems.

I mentioned earlier that I was having a spreading problem with my sourdough and other artisanal breads -- actually, anything not baked in a loaf pan. I speculated that this was because our water was softened. We had the water tested, and it came out as 1 grain (the equiv. of 17 ppm.) while Hamelman recommends between 100 and 150 ppm as ideal. We purchased some spring water just to test it; this was rated at 8 grains, or 134 ppm. It worked. Same recipe I have had trouble with, now no longer spreading all over.

A second problem with this particular recipe was a pale pale crust. Paler than Wonder Bread. I added 6 grams of diastic malt this time. Wow! Boule trial with harder water and maltBoule trial with harder water and malt

Because we have a very well-vented gas oven, I baked it under a stainless steel bowl. This was my second trial with the bowl and I am convinced. Real oven spring this time.

The crumb is the next area that needs work. I had some scheduling problems, and the dough was manipulated a little more than I had planned. The crumb is acceptable, but could be better. The taste is fine, though perhaps not quite sour enough, but I can work on both of those.

Thanks to Susan for the bowl idea and the Mike Avery for introducing the idea that overly soft water sould cause problems. Who would have guessed!

Mary

 

 

 

 

Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Mary. 

Problems are wonderful! It feels so good when you have solved them! 

It sounds like you are on your way with sourdough now. Good for you!

David

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Actually, David, you should have gotten a thank-you also, because the idea of using the diastic malt came from your 3-day sour sourdough recipe. I have had success with that, but have been trying to get the time down to 2 days; hence the different recipe these past times. Now I am going back to the 3-day one you posted, because it is more sour.

So once again, thanks. I solved 3 diferent problems with input from 3 different folks, and that's what makes this list so great.

Mary

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, gee whiz! I'm happy that I was able to make a contribution to your success! I sure agree with what you said about the community on TFL.

The SF SD recipe to which you refer, including the addition of diastatic malt, is not one for which I can take credit, except as a transcriber. It is Peter Reinhart's formula, published in "Crust & Crumb."

I truly love San Francisco-type sourdough. This recipe makes my favorite so far by a wide margin. Not that I've stopped trying other approaches. I am going to be baking Essential's "Columbia" levain from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking" tomorrow. It does not have the overnight cold retardation Reinhart calls for, but it does have a long primary fermentation and proofing. I imagine this will result in a more complex flavor but less acidic acid sourness. The recipe for "Columbia" also has malt, but in the form of malt syrup.

I'll post pictures and a review, I expect.

David

BrianEvans1212's picture
BrianEvans1212

As much as I hate to say it, whenever I try to make bread, it always comes out wrong, however this article has improved my bread making skills, although I still usually buy my bread.

When I buy challah bread, I've been going to a company called Holy Food Imports which provides excellent products at reasonable prices. They also donate 10% of their total profits to charity.

If anyone is interseted, you can find their website at www.holyfoodimports.com 

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Have hope, Brian.  You CAN bake good bread.  Even challah.  A little time on this site, a little practice....  We've all been there.

Rosalie

rainbowbrown's picture
rainbowbrown

Very cool Mary.  The color on that thing is so nice.  I like the idea of putting diastic malt in there.  I think I'll try that as well.

holds99's picture
holds99

Mary,

Did you detect any difference in the crumb after adding the malt?  Just curious, because I have made Rose Levy's ciabatta and in her recipe she makes the addition of malt optional.  I have tried her recipe both ways, with and without the malt, and with the addition of malt the crumb seems a bit more tacky.  But maybe that's my imagination or something else at play there.

Anyway, your loaf is truly beautiful and it's good to hear that you have solved your water problem.

 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Hi, Howard:

Sorry, other circumstances made the crumb quite different, so it would be impossible to tell whether the malt made a difference there or not!

What happened was that this last time (my third repeat of this recipe) was interrupted for about 18 hours in the fridge, when something came up. The earlier two times I had been able to stick to a regular routine and not handle the dough very much, so the crumb was quite open. This time I had to toss it in the fridge and hold it, then re-shape it. so the crumb was quite tight by comparison. However -- it is very very tender and light bread. Definitely not tacky, tho.

I will keep my eyes open for tackiness if I use the recipe again, and let you know.

It is sure as much art as it is science, isn't it?

And thanks for the kind words.

Mary

holds99's picture
holds99

Thanks for your response. It must have been something else I did that caused my crumb problem. I'll give the malt another try. Hang in there and keep up the great baking.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

chickadee3's picture
chickadee3 (not verified)

Interesting tips for a newbie--thanks!  Would a Pur filter on the water faucet be considered softened water?  I too am having trouble with spread-itis.  Our regular tap water is (alas!) city water, and has lots of iron in it (hard water) and a lot of calcium.

I just read about folding and am curious about why it would help the bread keep its shape during second (and final pre-oven) rise.

Good post Mary,

Thanks!

chickadee3's picture
chickadee3 (not verified)

I found out that it wasn't the water, it was folding and stretching.  This was a step I wasn't even aware of.  Now I'm getting even better bread!  yay!