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Sourdough boules

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Soundman's picture
Soundman

Sourdough boules

Sourdough boules pic 1

Sourdough boules pic 1 

Sourdough boules pic 2

Sourdough boules pic 2

OK, I'm new to uploading images, so if I didn't do this right, somebody please let me know the right way to get one's images into a post.

I had been contributing to the responses to Somegeek's 'My First Loaves (pics)' forum thread and watching Hans bake amazing loaves and I figured it was time to stop writing and do some baking.

These are sourdough boules made using Jeffrey Hamelman's 'Vermont Sourdough' recipe in his wonderful book 'Bread' as a guide. My sourdough starter is around 7 weeks old by now. I bulk fermented the dough for around 3 1/2 hours, folding 2 times during this phase. Then I shaped the loaves and let them proof in bannetons for an hour before retarding in the fridge for 12 hours. After taking them out I let the loaves warm up for 2 hours while I preheated the oven to 465 degrees. Then I removed them from the bannetons, slashed (not so well), and baked, using a steam pan on the bottom rack and a spritzer bottle a couple of times in the first 3 or 4 minutes. After 10 minutes I turned the loaves and removed the steam-pan, turning the oven down to 440 and baking another 22 minutes.

The loaves have a lovely airy crumb, which I will take a picture of, and a nice crunchy crust. The crust is a deep dark brown, maybe a little darker than I expected, especially toward the bottom, and the internal temperature was 205 degrees (or more). There are some light and tantalizing sour notes, but I thought with the 12 hour retarding it would have gained a more full sour taste. I was reading Maggie Glezer's 'Artisan Baking' book, where she says that the temperature for developing the acetic lactobacillus is around 68 degrees, which got me thinking. My kitchen was around 75 degrees last night. Has anyone tried bulk fermentation of sourdough where the dough is retarded for just, say, a half hour at a time, alternating with longer stretches at room temperature? I ask because doing so would get several periods during which the dough would be at Glezer's optimal temp for developing the sour in the sourdough.

I'm not new to baking bread, but I am to baking sourdough. As all you experienced sourdough bakers already know, there is something magical about making great-tasting bread without commercial yeast. I felt that thrill this time!

Soundman (David)

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Beautiful loaves David. I'm surprised to see the oven spring you got from such a long proofing. If I read your post correctly they proofed for a total of 15 hours without being folded and then went directly into the oven. I'd love to hear a discussion on that and then afterwards maybe try it myself.

Thanks, Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rudy.

David will presumably have his own comments, but I wonder if you missed his mentioning that the 15 hours was dividing into 1 hour on the bench, 12 hours in the refrigerator, then the rest again at room temperature.

This cold retardation is commonly used to increase sourness and flavor complexity. Hamelman recommends it for the "Vermont Sourdough," as does Reinhart for his "Basic Sourdough" in BBA and his "San Francisco Sourdough" in Crust & Crumb.

I've made all three of these breads, and none actually rises very much at all while in the refrigerator. In my experience, they need another 3-4 hours at room temperature to warm up and finish proofing before baking. Then, if not over-proofed as measured by degree of rise, they have good oven spring.

BTW, David, I agree that those are very good looking boules.


David

Soundman's picture
Soundman

David, thanks for your comments and the benefit of your experience.

As I mentioned in my reply to Rudy, I was surprised that the dough rose in the fridge. I had turned the fridge-temp down to the lowest setting (as I suggested to somegeek) which may have affected the dough's continuing rise. Also I put the bannetons in the front on the bottom shelf of the fridge which is the warmest spot in it.

The 2 hours it spent warming up didn't show any more rise, so I would say it was totally proofed, out of the fridge. Fortunately it didn't fall. But perhaps the flavor kept developing, so it's probably a good thing my oven was cold when I took them out. Otherwise I probably would have followed Hamelman and cut to the bake. Anyway, that's something to try in the future..

From your experience, since your dough continues to rise after removing from the fridge, I suppose you would never have tried Hamelman's idea of out-of-the-fridge and into-the-fire, correct?

Soundman (David)

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

David, your boules look most excellent!

I bake this bread often and I have found that if the dough comes off the mixer at around 76F (as recommended by Hamelman), I can proof it for about 1 hour and 45 minutes at room temp, then put it into the fridge at 40F. It will continue proofing until it cools to the point where the yeast activity effectively stops, resulting in a "full proof" so I can bake it the next morning directly out of the refrigerator. Not having to let the loaves continue proofing after the retard is very convenient for getting loaves baked before work!

My rule of thumb for loaves of this size, when the dough temp is mid-70s, is to proof at room temp until about 45 minutes before the loaves should be fully proofed, then retard.  This results in loaves being fully proofed right out of the fridge. I discovered this by trial and error and it seems to work for most loaves, with my fridge. Smaller loaves will cool down faster and therefore get a longer proof at room temp before retarding. Larger loaves, shorter time.

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks, Susanfnp!

Your comments are so helpful, and make the waiting game a little less guesswork. I think your idea that the proofing continues, slowing down (but up to what point?) makes a lot of sense, and helps explain why the dough was nicely risen right out of the fridge, and didn't rise further thereafter.

I'm glad to know you have taken Hamelman at his word and gone from fridge to oven directly. (BTW, in response to something on your wild-yeast blog,  I too have a Norwich Vermont connection, as I used to spend my summers on a dairy farm just north of there, and on one occasion bicycled through Norwich on my way to Massachusetts.)

Thinking of the process as proofing to full, less 45 minutes or thereabouts makes sense to me as well. The rise in the refrigerator seemed perhaps like another hour's room-temp proofing, but I'm just guessing. The bigger loaf was, as I mentioned earlier, above the banneton rim when it came out of the fridge. Which was a significant rise, perhaps more than I would have even waited for had I done the whole proof at room temperature. That really makes me rethink sourdough proofing!

I do wonder if the yeast ever completely stop their work in the fridge. Perhaps I think they keep working, however slowly, because my refrigerator is a little warmer than the canonical 40 dF? I say this because I often put a completely degassed and punched-down preferment into the fridge for 24 hours and by the time I take it out it has completely risen, again, to a fully lifted level. Yet, if I took it out after 12 hours it would be only 3/4 risen (I have peeked).

So many variables, so little baking time!

Thanks again,

Soundman (David)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, David.

Reinhart's recipe for SF SD in Crust&Crumb has you proof the bread before cold retardation, then let it warm for 1-2 hours before baking. He changed this in BBA to retarding right after shaping and proofing right before baking. He didn't explain why the change. I have preferred proofing after retardation, but not with any good justification. I find that the bread rises, but only after it has warmed up for 1-2 hours.

I have seen a rationale for baking right out of the fridge; the temperature difference between 40F and 70F being so small relative to the difference between 70F and 450F.

I've baked one boule I can recall before the bread had a real chance to warm up. I got good bloom but relatively little oven spring. I wouldn't generalize from a single experience, though.


David

Soundman's picture
Soundman

David,

I wish Reinhart had explained his thinking in a lot of the changes he made between Crust and Crumb and BBA. Since I am so new to sourdough baking I have a lot to experiment with and a lot more to learn.

I expect the proofing out or in or out of the refrigerator again has a lot to do, as Susanfnp suggests, with dough temperature. I suspect also had I done the same process a few months ago, when my kitchen was 68 and not 75 dF, things might have gone differently.

What I do know is professional bakers have more control over their retarders than we home bakers do over our refrigerators. And thereby may hang a tale or two for the future!

Soundman (David)

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks for the kind words, Rudy!

(At the bottom of this post is a picture of the crumb.)

I was also surprised by the oven spring the dough gave me. The first hour on the bench I saw only about a 25% rise, so I was wondering, are these guys gonna make lift off? As a novice of sourdough, and having never tried proof-retarding before, I felt refrigerating the slightly proofed loaves might be a gamble. And I wasn't sure if 12 hours in the fridge would be enough, or then again maybe 15 hours would be too much! Thankfully, in spite of my impatience and confusion, out of the fridge the bigger one was above the rim of the banneton, and the other one was substantially higher than when it went in. Whew!

At this point I remembered reading in Hamelman that he doesn't necessarily let his fridge-proofed sourdough sit out until it gets to room temperature. He says, somewhat surprisingly, that the difference between 40 degrees and 70 degrees in a 450 degree oven isn't that much.

But my oven was cold, so I didn't have a choice, and that was fortunate. So then it was a question of whether they would fall before they got in the oven. While they were coming up to temperature I peeked at them in the bannetons once or twice, and they were holding up. So I figured if I could get them out of the bannetons and onto the peel without totally deflating them, everything would work out.

The crust color, as I said, surprised me, because my previous 2 attempts at sourdough were marked by poorly colored crust. So I think those attempts show that I, like other sourdough beginners, was impatient, and needed to let my starter develop and ripen further for it to both leaven and flavor properly. 

Somehat contrary to my original post, later tasting showed significant, but not overwhelming, sour taste. So a discussion of the growth of tangy flavor might also be in order!

Here's the aforementioned crumb pic. I am also a novice at the digital camera, and the light in the kitchen was apparently insufficient, so the flash went off. That's too bad because the way I had things poised, light from the window was coming in through the holey crumb structure. I'm sure there's a setting on the camera to turn off the flash, but I didn't have the camera manual, so this is it.

Soundman (David)

Sourdough crumbSourdough crumb

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

No I didn't miss the refrigerator part. However, I noticed that when I put my dough in the refrigerator it continues to rise. Probably because it takes time for the dough to chill.

But in addition to the rise factor, I wonder what happens to the gluten, when it is left alone for 15 hours, even if 12 of those are in the refrigerator. Doesn't the gluten continue to relax?

Rudy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, if I put shaped dough into the refrigerator, it does not rise very much. The gluten does relax, I suppose, but I don't have any idea how temperature affects this.

With recipes that call for cold fermentation of unshaped dough, it seems to me it has relaxed in the refrigerator overnight about as much as it would resting at room temperature for 30 minutes. Please understand these are no more than impressions. I have not kept track of this in any systematic way.


David

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Nice loaves David.  Yes, the thrill of finally baking sourdough successfuly for the first time is one of life's more memorable experiences.  The long retard in the refrigerator allows alpha and beta amylase enzymes to breakdown flour carbohydrates into fermentable sugars and will sweeten the dough.  Shortening the time in the fridge and lenghtening the 77 dF time will help in balancing this sweet with the higher temperature sour.  As you are beginning to see this is an art!

Wild-Yeast 

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Wild-Yeast,

First, thanks for your generous comments! What with not knowing how or what I was actually doing, this was quite a suspenseful experience, as I detailed in my reply to Rudy. (See the crumb-pic there as well.) When it all worked out fine, I was relieved as well as thrilled. :-)

Your remark about the enzymatic action reminds me to connect this experience to Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne, though there isn't any room-temp on-ramp as there was here.

There is a lot of interesting discussion about the temperatures that favor either the wild yeast or the sour-making bacteria. Does your experience corroborate Glezer's 68 dF for the acetic acid bacteria?

Soundman (David)

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

The whole discussion on temperature is now making me wonder, at what rate does the temperature in the middle of the dough change, once the dough is in the oven. My thought process being. In order to get rise/oven spring, the water in the dough has to be turned into steam. To get that to happen the inside of the dough has to be brought up to 212F. Does this sound remotely correct, so far? Now the difference between 40F and 78F is certainly less than the difference between 78F and 450F, however, it still delays the time at which the water in the bread will turn into steam. Although now I wonder by how much.

David, I think the crumb looks just about perfect. And this thread was a great idea. Very revealing on quite a few, new things, at least for me. :)

Rudy

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks for the crumb compliment, Rudy. Since my regular baking schedule is centered around making a 40% Whole Wheat bread every week (breakfast!), I don't often get to see the beautiful airy crumb you get with (more or less) straight sourdough. (This bread was about 10% rye, which doesn't interfere much with an open crumb.)

Now about oven spring, I offer the usual disclaimers about not even playing a food scientist on TV. My understanding is that you almost can't get the internal temperature to 212 dF without burning the outside, or at least that it will be very dry bread. In the case of these loaves I should have let the instant read thermometer finish its calculation, but its first number was 205 and the crust was done, so I pulled the thermometer and got the loaves out of the oven to cool. I imagine I got the internal temp to 210 dF this time around.

The airy crumb we desire builds up over the course of long hours of fermentation, courtesy of the CO2 given off by the yeast, and the resulting bubbles continue slowly to expand. The yeast, upon arriving in the uncomfortably hot oven get going on a feeding frenzy, producing even more CO2, which in turn raises the bread much faster than fermentation at room temperature, i.e. causing oven spring, until the yeast reach 140 dF and they are then effectively heated to death. Your oven spring is over by then or soon thereafter and the outer skin will have set. Of course the temperature of the crust is far greater than the center of the dough, and both continue to heat from there, causing more chemical reactions, including the caramelization of the crust and the setting of the starch structure inside, making for yummy (the technical term) bread.

Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking with it till some real food scientist tells me what really happens!

Soundman (David)

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

 Also, gas expands when it warms so the gas that's already in the dough when it hits the oven contributes to oven spring as well.

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thumbs up to that. Absolutely right.

Soundman (David)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

One thing that has been mentioned in the forum but not in this thread is the fact that most home fridges are to cold for retarding dough. For health reasons  you should stay below 41F which is cooler than we need for flavor enhancement retarding I believe. The health says that at 40F bacterial activity is sufficiently slowed to allow saving food for consumption a few days later. That also means that the activity in the dough is slowed or stopped in it's tracks.

I have heard that one can purchase a brewers thermostat to install on a second refrigerator and maintain say 50F which is better for our needs. Another possibility is a small counter top wine cooler. Most of them will maintain a temp in the 50F range.

The variables in home refrigerators and the settings of the users plus how often the kids open the door etc. make retarding comparisons between bakers hard if not impossible. IMHO

I have tried the reverse of JMonkey's warm proofing method (2 cups of boiling water in the bottom of a cooler) and used ice packs (supported above a bowl of dough with a roasting rack) to retard SF Sourdough. That seems to work but it's not reliable due to the weather variations.

So that's what I do for now.

Eric

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks for your pointers, Eric. I'm going to take my secondary refrigerator's temperature later on to see what it really is. The virtue of having this other fridge is there isn't any important food in it, most of the time. Still, it may be too cold for flavor-production purposes.

Back a few comments ago I was musing on the possibility that a simple expedient, of alternating refrigerator time with kitchen time, at least with respect to bulk fermentation, might help in inducing the flavor-producing bacteria. Of course such a technique becomes hazardous to sleep if you're trying to manage it overnight.

But now I'm thinking of a different process: bulk fermentation of 3 or 4 hours at room temp, followed by bulk retarding overnight, then early-morning warm-up, shaping, and then using the alternation technique for a longer, cooler proofing prior to baking, with the goal of keeping the dough temperature hovering between, say 60 and 70 dF. I would think it could take 8 hours at these temperatures to get enough rise to be ready for baking.

Is there any reason you can see that this is clearly flawed?

For the record, after leaving my instant read thermometer in the fridge where I retard dough for 20 minutes, it registered 43.6 dF. Maybe those 3.6 degrees keep the microflora a little more active?

Soundman (David)

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

A quick search found one of the other threads.

 

You might look at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6796/retarding-less-flavor for a fairly comprehensive discussion of retarding.

 

I prefer to avoid bulk retarding, and to retard after the dough has been loafed.  However, that can be an issue if your retarder doesn't have enough storage space.

 

Mike

 

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks for the very helpful information, Mike.

I saved the link for future reference, BTW. Several aspects of your post, or yours and Abe Faber's, stood out to me. Among them is the different temperature ranges for the 3 different methods. Especially since my 'retarding fridge' is a little below the first technique and a little above the third! I have no way to approach the second except by alternating in and out of fridge and have no idea if the lack of a steady temperature would be harmful. I can always try, and make bread crumbs if it's a bust!

Another is the point about yeast, and varying the amount of yeast for the different techniques. Since I was making sourdough, and am new to it, I am not sure how I would vary the amount of starter in the levain or the levain in the dough to effect the same kind of variations as posed for yeast percentages. Food for thought in any case on that.

Another point was that retarding the proof doesn't affect flavor. I would like to understand this one better. Perhaps it is a function of the temperature of the retarder or fridge? Down around 38 dF or lower I can see that most if not all of the microflora would be drowsy if not nodding off. Also, I can see how this technique would be helpful in managing a bakery's schedule, of course. But Reinhart suggests that retarding almost any aspect of a bread build is good for flavor. And Hamelman too suggests that retarding the proof isn't just about scheduling.

And while of course there are always many variables to almost every bake, even of the same recipe, I noticed a pleasant roundness to the sour I got this past bake compared to my 2 previous tries, as well as more complexity. Of course the rise was different as was the crust look and texture as well, so I'm sure I'm not comparing apples to apples. I guess the only thing to do is try different techniques and taking lots of notes, and recording the taste changes as well.

Again, thanks for the link and the careful exposition of the subject!

Soundman (David)