The Fresh Loaf

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Pain de Campagne experiment

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AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

Pain de Campagne experiment

MaryinHammondsport and I agreed the other day that each of us would bake BBA's recipe for pain de campagne and then compare our results, since BBA lacks photos of cut slices or a description of the crumb. Well, Mary, once again, I produced a really delicious bread, but the crumb was still tight and the oven spring was minimal. I used rye flour instead of whole wheat. During the risings, my kitchen was about 80 degrees and the fermentations were a little on the quick side, but I followed the instructions to degas lightly if the dough was rising too quickly. As for shaping the bread (two batards), I really can't imagine how I could have degassed less and still have managed to shape loaves. The two loaves were about a foot long, 3 1/2 inches wide, and 2 inches tall. Sorry, no pictures. The battery in my camera seems to have died.

What I produced might just be the bread this recipe produces, because I swear I followed the recipe exactly. I didn't load the dough down with lots of extra flour, I handled the fermented dough with reverent gentleness, and I don't think I let it over-rise. I used an oven stone, the heat was as high as my oven will get, and I threw hot water into a heated cast-iron skillet at the bottom of my oven and sprayed the sides of the oven three times, as directed. I made three diagonal slashes per loaf. It may not have been the world's best scoring, but it was hardly butchery. 

Mary, I'm looking forward to your report.

Abby 

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Re pain de campagne:

I have the preferment out on the counter at the moment; plan to get at the dough first thing tomorrow.

I'll hope that the pictures are good; then we can at least compare one way. My temps should be close to yours.

What other flours did you use? I will be using KA all purpose, Harvest Gold bread flour and I'll use Hodgson Mills rye instead of WW also.

Has anyone else baked this bread from BBA, and if so, what did your crumb look like?

Mary 

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

Hi Mary! I used KA all-purpose, KA bread flour, and Hodgson Mills rye. My rye flour is kind of old, but it tastes fine to me, and I wouldn't think that its age would affect the crumb. Rye makes a dense bread, so I wonder if the rye flour is responsible for my tight crumb. Since our ingredients and working conditions seem pretty similar, your results should provide some insight as to whether the tight crumb is due to the recipe or to the deficiencies in my technique.

AbbyL

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

For this trial I used Golden Harvest bread flour and KA all purpose flour in the pate fermente, and Golden Harvest and Hodgson rye in the dough. I am writing in some detail so that Abby can pick out any points of difference, if there are any.

In the pate fermente, I was to use 170 to 198 grams of water; I needed only 170. It sat out on the counter until it doubled, which took about 1½ hours, then it went into the refrigerator overnight (10 hours). It was quite moist; Reinhart instructs one to cut it into 10 or so pieces in order to warm it up quickly; this would not have been possible so I left it as one piece and placed in a barely warmed and then turned off oven at 6 am, and left it for an hour to get the chill off.

To make the dough I placed the pate fermente and all the other ingredients except water in the mixer, then added the water. It was too moist, so I gradually added a small amount of flour -- about 1½ tablespoons of bread flour, added a teaspoon at a time. Reinhart calls for a dough temperature of 78 to 81 degrees; mixing in the extra flour took it to 82 degrees. I did achieve a windowpane with this added flour and mixing.

When set out to rise in my 78 degree kitchen, the dough took off. It needs 2 hours of bulk fermentation for flavor. It had grown to about 1½ times in 45 minutes. I folded it and set it on the back porch where it was 62 degrees, but again, it rose to 1½ times in just 45 minutes. This left me with 30 minutes still to go, so I folded again and this time left it in the kitchen. It took 45 minutes to rise.

I did very little to it after that -- eased it out of the container onto my hands and then formed a boule in mid-air, in an effort to avoid degassing it. I think I got a reasonable cloak, and the bottom tight enough. Upended it into my lined basket, and final proofed it for 45 minutes, then about 10 minutes more. Gently Inverted it onto parchment on my peel, scored it with my bread knife, transferred it to the baking stone (oven was preheated to 500, the maximum) covered it with a stainless steel bowl which had been rinsed out in water, closed the oven, and re-set the temperature to 450. It had already dropped to 400, but quickly came back up.

I removed the bowl at the 17 minute mark and tested for doneness at 42 minutes. It reached 203 degrees, so I took it out. Note that there is a bulge at the left of the photo. A big air bubble. Pain de champagne from BBA - LoafPain de champagne from BBA - Loaf

The shape and crust are fine, but the crumb is not as open as I would like. Lots of small holes; not very many larger ones, except for the huge bubble that doesn’t show in the crumb picture.A fine grained crumb - not what I wanted at all!A fine grained crumb - not what I wanted at all!

Does anyone else on the list have experience with Pain de Campagne from Reinhart’s BBA? Surely someone does. Abby and I would like to know if this somewhat fine crumb is typical or if we need to work on our dough handling skills. I have to say, I was as easy on this dough as I think I can be, except for the cloaking efforts at the very end. Should I have skipped that?

Mary

 

Sorry -- I can't seem to eliminate the coding at the brginning of this write up. 

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

Mary, you were far more methodical in your execution of this recipe than I was, and you got a more open crumb than I did, even if you aren't fully satisfied with your results.

My pate fermentee and dough used exactly the amounts of water and flour specified in the instructions. I used the minimum amount of water and no added flour. My kitchen was warmer than yours, so my risings were faster. I made my pate around 7:30 Monday evening, it doubled by 8:30, and it stayed in the refrigerator from 8:30 pm until about 2 pm the next day. When I combined the pate with the rest of the ingredients, it was definitely on the wet side, but I didn't add any more flour. It doubled within 45 minutes, so I pressed some air out of it. It doubled again in another 30 minutes, so I pressed it down again. In another half hour or so, it had doubled again, so even though it was less than the prescribed 2-hour rising, I decided to shape it and leave it for its final rise.

Mary, you were even more careful than I was at the shaping phase. I carefully removed the dough from the rising bowl, but I put it onto the counter and divided it in half, which inevitably degassed it somewhat, then I gingerly shaped it into batards. How on earth could this dough be as elaborately shaped as Reinhart makes it without it being completely degassed? I let it rise on parchment on the pizza pan that I use as a peel for about 45 minutes, and just before I put it into the oven, I sprinkled a bit of rye flour on top and scored the loaves with a serrated knife. I didn't squash the dough when I slashed it.

I'm not sure about the accuracy of my oven's thermostat, but I set the oven as hot as it would go, and it clicked at 500. I also threw boiling water into the cast iron skillet at the bottom of the oven, and sprayed the sides. No idea how much heat loss that entailed. The crust was golden brown with a nice texture. Not a whole lot of oven spring.

I don't think Mary or I did anything terribly wrong. I'm prepared to accept that this is a very tasty bread with a nice crust and a tight crumb. 

Abby

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"It doubled within 45 minutes, so I pressed some air out of it. It doubled again in another 30 minutes, so I pressed it down again. In another half hour or so, it had doubled again, so even though it was less than the prescribed 2-hour rising, I decided to shape it and leave it for its final rise."

I hope you don't mind me jumping in here, but... is it possible the dough simply overproofed?  That'd certainly explain the lack of spring, and consequently the more closed crumb.  It also might explain why the dough degassed easily (my own limited experience suggests that while you do need to be careful not to degass dough, it shouldn't dramatically collapse, assuming you've achieved good gluten development).

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

Mine may have overproofed, but Mary made hers in a cooler room than my kitchen and she was very careful keep hers from overproofing. Also, I've made this bread before in cooler conditions, in fact, under optimal conditions, and the crumb has always been pretty tight. Other breads I've attempted have had more open crumbs, but for some reason I've never managed it with this particular recipe.

If other people are interested in joining this experiment, I'd love to know their results. 

AbbyL

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Well, Abby, I'm not 100% convinced. I want to try some different flours, look at some different recipes for a similar dough (there is no magic about this one, after all) and continue to work on my dough handling skills.

That said, I's not that big a thing for me. Hole size isn't the be-all and end all. I think I will like the taste of the bread tomorrow, and it should toast well.

Thanks for working with me on this; I appreciate it.

Mary 

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Absolutely we don't mind your "jumping in" -- this is not a private conversation. Your viewpoint is very welcome.

I am wondering if maybe I want to try the same dough with less yeast, during this warm weather. Actually, mine did not double -- it was supposed to rise to 1 1/2, which it did every 45 minutes. It was supposed to be fermented for 2 hours, minimum, to develop flavor, and Reinhart said that if it rose too fast to "push it down." This is why Abby and I were so busy, she pressing down and me folding and trying to be gentle. I had reasonable oven spring under the ss bowl (probably because I shorted the final proof in the banneton a little) but I am still not excited about the crumb.

So I think that next time I will just try a little less yeast, and maybe also not heat the water for the dough to 100 degrees, as the instructions said. That might make it a little less eager to climb out of the bowl and more interested in sitting there developing. What do you think, FP?

Mary 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

It's certainly an idea... heck, I wonder if someone should just email Reinhart, himself, and see if he has any tips.  Everything I've heard suggests he's quite happy answering questions, so maybe he'll have some thoughts on the topic?

edh's picture
edh

It's been quite a while since I last made this bread (though I don't know why, as I loved it), but my recall is that it looked a lot like yours. I wouldn't call it a tight crumb, exactly, but definitely not an open one either.

I really liked the taste though, and just figured it made it a good sandwich or toast bread (nothing dripping into my lap). I didn't heat the water, but it does rise pretty quickly anyway.

I suspect you could mess around with the hydration a bit if you wanted bigger holes. It's a fairly strong dough if you fold it, so a bit more water shouldn't mess things up too badly.

Now I'll have to go make it again just to see, what fun...

edh

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Having found an address for Peter Reinhart, I am working on an e-mail to him. I'm taking my time, because I want to include several of the issues that have come up.

Fancy, thanks for the suggestion.

Mary 

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

I feel a lot better about my skills knowing that other people have had similar results to mine. Mary, I'd love to know what Peter Reinhart has to say about this bread. He seems like quite a nice, helpful man.

Thanks, everyone. This was fun. 

AbbyL

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Well, I figured I'd take a crack at this one, having just recently gotten the BBA.  Results seem to mesh pretty well with what you guys are seeing:

 BBA pain de champagne batardsBBA pain de champagne batards

BBA pain de champagne crumbBBA pain de champagne crumb

The loaves are about the same dimensions as abby's... only 11 inches, but otherwise the same cross section (3.5x2 inches).  Although, as you can see from the pictures, they sprung up pretty well.  I'd describe the holes as small to medium sized... certainly not as open as some loaves I've baked.

Incidentally, my dough also rose lightning quick, doubling in just an hour, at which point I folded, kneeded to degass, and then proofed it for another 45 minutes in my basement, where it's a good 5 degrees cooler.

As for the dough, I followed the recipe, using whole wheat (although my white flour was bleached), and I had to add additional water to get the hydration I wanted (which is pretty typical for the flour I use).

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

I really appreciate your testing this recipe out for us, and I'm sure Abby does also. As she said above -- vindication!

I am planning to bake it again, with cooler water to mix the dough. I won't worry about the liquid-ish poolish. I'll see if cooler water slows the dough down a little on the rising.

Wrote to Peter, e-mailed it yesterday. If he is off teaching somewhere, it will take a while to hear back from him, I'm sure. I will report back on that.

In the meantime, I'm busy eating up my boule and getting ready to bake a loaf of "ale in the poolish" bread for my husband. 

Thanks again, 

Mary 

 

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

Your loaves look great! This has been a really useful exercise for me. Now that I know that this recipe really doesn't produce a wide-open crumb, I can enjoy the bread for what it is and not rack my brain (and everyone else's) for what I might have done wrong. I also feel much more confident about my technique and ready for further experiments. Thanks!

AbbyL

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Any time you want to parallel bake, let me know. Keeps us out of trouble.

Mary 

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

I'm thinking of trying BBA's Pane Siciliano next. Interested?

AbbyL

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

All the breads in this post look Delicious!. Somehow I missed them till now. Great job.                  weavershouse

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Thanks Weavershouse. It's a good recipe, with a lot of possibilities. I especially enjoyed seeing Fancypantaloons' batards, because its the next use I am going to put this dough.

Mary 

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

As mentioned earlier, I wrote to Peter Reinhart with a few of the questions some of us had in this thread. I heard back from him yesterday.

One of my problems the first time I made this bread was that the pate fermentee was way too wet, I thought, even though I used the minimum amount of water. I have since decided that I must have mismeasured somewhere along the line, because I have used the same preferment recipe twice since, and not had the problem. Peter says not to worry about it anyway. If the preferment can't be divided because its too wet, just put it into the final dough with the other ingredients.

Much more important advice comes from him with regard to the rapid bulk fermentation we all experienced with both this bread and the Pane Siciliano we baked later. Here I will paste Peter's e-mail and let him speak for himself:

 

"I've been on the road, sorry for the delay.

"I don't a have a copy of the book in front of me but if your dough is rising too fast, feel free to cut back on the yeast by 25% in the final dough. The final dough should be soft and supple, tacky but not sticky. With the good first rise you've been getting you should be able to get big holes during the bake by dividing and handling the individual pieces gently, trying to retain the gas from the first rise as you shape your pieces. Rather than punch down the bulk dough after it rises (and rising more slowly, if you cut back on the yeast), move on to dividing and be as gentle as possible. The more gas you retain, the better the final holes. Sounds like you're already trying to do this, but maybe the letter fold (or punchdowns by the others) is diminishing the gas.

"As for the too wet poolish, just disregard the instruction about dividing it--sounds like it's not necessary, so do what you've been doing and just add it to the mixer with the other ingredients."

So there we have it -- advice from the expert.

Mary

 

AbbyL's picture
AbbyL

Mary, did Peter say or at least imply that the crumb for pain de campagne should be open rather than the tighter texture we all have been getting? If that's the case, I can't figure out what I could be doing wrong.

Abby

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

This is the Pain de Campagne recipe I used and sent Elizabeth, as adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Pate Fermente - make the night before or up to 3 days before

all purpose flour - 5 oz. (143 gr.)

bread flour - 5 oz. (143 gr.)

salt - .19 oz. (5 gr.)

instant yeast - .055 oz. (2 gr.)**

water, room temp. - 6 to 7 oz. (170 to 198 gr.)

To make fermentee, stir all ingredients together, using smaller amount of water and adding more if necessary. It will be stiff. Knead 4 minutes, ferment to 1 1/2 times original size, knead briefly to degas, then refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.

Final Dough

All the pate fermentee

bread flour - 8 oz. (227 gr.)

rye or whole wheat flour - 1.5 oz. (43gr.)

salt - .19 oz. (5 gr.)

instant yeast - .11 oz. (3 gr.)**

lukewarm water @ 100 degrees F - 6 oz. (170 gr.)

To make: remove fermentee and cut into 10 or so pieces, cover, and let warm for 1 hour. Put flours, salt, yeast, fermentee in mixer bowl, add water, stir. Knead 6 minutes by machine or hand-knead as usual. Bulk ferment until double. He wants 2 hours for flavor enhancement, but we had to degas it every 30 to 45 minutes in hot weather to keeep it from overproofing. Per his suggestion, you might try reducing the yeast by 25% in the final dough and fermenting it in a cooler than usual place. Not the fridge, though it is tempting! Shape into 2 loaves or as desired, proof until 1 1/2 original size.

Bake, either covered or with steam, at 450 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, or depending on shape, until interior reaches 200 to 205 degrees F.

**I fudged a little on the grams of yeast, putting less in one and more in the other, because my scale doesn't weigh fractions of a gram. It should total 5 grams of yeast, and be roughly 1 to 2 in proportion. See also comment about using less in the final dough if it is hot. I assume you can either get instant yeast, or know how to convert to fresh or active. If not, give me a shout.

Mary

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK! Ignore my comment over on the other topic. I'm printing the recipe and will compare with what I'm doing. I'm not following a recipe per se... more like I looked everywhere and decided what it SHOULD be, based on a pâte fermentée.

So, I'm not supposed to retard? Just bake today?

OK, more news later,

 

Jane 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK, here's the pain de campagne "my way".

Pâte fermentée:

150 g T65 flour

96g water

3 pinches yeast (very, very little)

1 pinch salt

Made a dough and put it outside all night (around 15°C)

Dough:

360g water

80g rye

420g T65 flour

1/2 tsp yeast (very little) 

9g salt

Mixed water and flours, autolyse 20 min, kneed until windowpaned. Dough very soft, a little sticky.

2 folds after about 20-30 min each then left to rise. It took about 3 hrs to double. Formed two oblong loaves. (a bit haphazardly because the rise was so long and then the kids all came in and I had to get lunch ready)

Good oven steam. Baked at 230°C for around 30 min (didn't really look because it was lunch time and I had eight people at the table!) 

The taste is very nice. Just enough rye to give a good taste. More and it wouldn't be a pain de campagne.

The crumb is airy but very soft. The crust is almost soft as well. But then today is a very humid day so that must alter things. But I never make yeast breads like this, just sourdough.

Pain campagnePain campagne

Campagne crumbCampagne crumb

This recipe is an invention after having looked at a variety of recipes, some professional bakers in France. I sort of took a standard way of doing it. I didn't let the pâte fermentée rise and then iin the fridge, I just let it do a slow rise. I don't know what difference it makes. 

I used T65 which is higher in gluten than T55, but less than your bread flour. The rye was a semi-whole rye . 

So, I noticed that Reinharts's recipe has a much higher proportion of pâte fermentée than the classic pain de campagne recipes. I think I'll try his recipe to compare.

I wonder what a night in the fridge would do. Would it be better? I followed his advice given here and tried to handle to dough as little as possible. The holes were not big. But I really don't look for big holes in this type of bread. If it was sourdough, maybe more.

I used a LOT less yeast (4-5g in total) in order to slow down the fermentation. But I think I am very influenced as a sourdough baker. I even try and slow down my sourdough doughs. So, when recipes call for a whole package of yeast I usually put a lot less. The dough rises slower but it gets there eventually and if one believes all the literature, a slow rise develops taste?

I tried to do deep incisions, but the dough was quite humid. Since I was a bit rushed with lunch I didn't put them in banneton, I just let them rise free form.  I got nice oven spring though.

Anyway, it is very good bread! If you have any thoughts or questions, I'm all ears!

Jane 

 

 

Richelle's picture
Richelle

This is a very interesting thread. I somehow always visualized a pain de campagne to have a more off-white crumb, but yours looks lovely! I can´t seem to get a crumb quite as white as that, ever.... unless I use milk instead of water. Must be the kind of AP that´s available here. I´ll definitely have a go with this receipe of yours, as soon as my latest attempt at ´your´ Nury´s Rye has been gobbled up. I tried Mike Avery´s mixing method this time, just for fun and to have up my sleeve when there´s a power cut or my KA breaks down :-) and it worked great! Lovely big wholes! We´re gonna eat that tonight with homemade paté.

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Thanks also for the recipe. Looks great.  Next time I order from King Arthur I will get some of their "comparable" flour and give it a whirl.

I'm going to stop worrying about holes because you say, "But I really don't look for big holes in this type of bread." And you sure did get good oven spring. Gives us something to shoot for.

Yes, a slow rise is supposed to add flavor. That's the usual reason given.  

So how did the kids like it, since it's different from what you have been doing?

Our other "French" baker -- American/French, that is -- isn't having the luck you have had. she says it tastes fine but isn't rising the way she would like. She is following the Reinhart recipe using French ingredients.

Mary 

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Richelle, the bread really isn't white, that's just the lighting. It is like you imagine, it's beige in colour, dark off-white. Do give it a try. It isn't as tasty as the rye sourdough but it is a very nice every day bread.

Mary, the kids liked it a lot. I sometimes make a softer type bread for their breakfast even though they really like the sourdough as well. They pretty much like every bread I make... this said my daughter didn't like one I made the other day... it was a straight dough rye, but different frop this one. I guess she's getting picky!

I'll try the Reinhart to see if I manage. I haven't been able to do any of his recipes as of yet. I think it's an ingredient problem.

Jane 

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

I'm not sure if what I make would strictly be classified as 'pain de campagne' but rather than mix flours in the final dough, the rye constituent in my recipe comes from a rye starter. I've made this several times now and got results which I enjoy immensely.  I will vary it a bit sometimes by using a mixture of white or WW starter and rye starter...all depends on my mood (and the mood of the starters!) on the day.

Here's what I do:

Prepare 100% hydration Rye Starter

----------------------------------------

1 tsp rye starter (or other v. active starter) 

75g rye flour 

75g water

(I use whole rye flour because it's the cheapest but please substitute with medium according to preference.  I also usually make up 200g water/flour with 1 tbsp rye but I'm scaling it down here for the purposes of economy!) 

Mix and leave for a 12 to 24 hour ferment (depending on the strength of your starter)...or until it peaks in volume.  It should smell wonderfully fruity.

Next day, final mix (makes 1 large boule or 2 smaller batards) 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

500g AP flour (or T55, T65  bread flour would also work fine)

150g rye starter

300g Water

9g salt (more or less according to taste)

Mix and autolyse for 30 minutes.  Knead/fold to achieve medium to full gluten development. Iif you are kneading less then you may want to apply some stretch and folds during the bulk ferment.

Bulk ferment until the dough doubles (about 3 hours) Be vigilant as this dough has a tendency to rise quicker than most sourdoughs.  Stretch and fold at 40 minute intervals as required (no more than 2 are necessary)

Turn out the dough and shape as desired.  Proof for another 45 - 60 minutes (again careful not to overproof)

Bake at 450 with steam for 15 minutes reducing to 375 for the remainder (another 20 to 30 minutes) until the internal temperature reaches 200F.

Allow to cool.  

The bread is very mild (sourwise) and to my tastes, is almost sweet on the first day giving way to an earthier taste on the second (if there's any remaining!) Crumb is quite fluffy and tight although not at all dense (thanks to the rye activity)

Enjoy!

FP 

 

 

 

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I think a pain de campagne with a sourdough starter (the way it USED to be made) would actually be more flavourful. I'll give your recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.

Jane 

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

it's in my blog and hopefully easier to read.

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Thanks for both the recipe and the "French Fold Technique - Thoughts." Both worth some consideration, as are the videos you recommend. I had already saved the "thoughts" and wll print this out also, for future reference. 

Mary 

hobbes557's picture
hobbes557

I recently bought a copy of BBA as well, and made the pain de campagne. I made the pate fermentee exactly as the recipe calls for it, using the minimum amount of water, and all the rising times were fairly within their limits, give or take 10 minutes or so.

My pre-ferment was made with king arthur unbleached all purpose and gold label bread flour, and the final dough made with gold label and a 50/50 mix of king arthur whole wheat and hodgsons mill dark rye.

The crust is good, though a little more chewy than crackly, but the crumb is definitely soft, springy, and tight. I got fairly decent oven spring, but probably would have gotten more had I divided the dough into more than one piece, as I just did a single large boule in a brotform.

I actually made this same recipe yesterday, but divided the dough into the three pieces the recipe calls for, two batards and a small boule. The crumb was quite a bit more open, and all three loaves had more oven spring. This might have had to do with the placement of my stone, as I just moved into a new apartment and didn't realize the oven was of the drawer broiler variety.  I figured I wanted my stone out of the way, so I put it directly on the floor of the oven.  My loaves may have had more spring, but the bottoms burned so badly they stained my stone. I suppose I'll just move the stone down from the middle to lower middle, and try again tomorrow.

davidjm's picture
davidjm

Hey, A tight crumb is almost because there is too little water.  I noticed that you said you used the minimum amount of water possible.  I might reverse that.  Use the maximum amount possible, but still where you can form your loaf.  I made a baguette recently and trusted the recipe (from another site!) too much.  The dough was too dry, but I baked it anyway.  The result wasn't so great.  Tasted nice, but something was lacking.


Try to make as wet a dough as possible.  You'll find it tastier, better holes in the crumb, and suprisingly lighter tasting.


Hope that helps,


David

ericjs's picture
ericjs

I too have been struggling with this recipe, and (until my last batch) getting crumb at best like the picture Mary posted, and initally even denser. I'm still in the process of getting a feel for the dough so I've been trying to determine if it's my kneading, my flour, or what. The other problem, besides the dissapointing crumb, is I haven't been able to achieve a really good windowpane (though I'm questioning if what I've achieved is good enough, after reading some other topics where people expressed the opinion that it wasn't very important). The bread tastes great though, so I'm not unhappy with it, but I'm trying to improve my skills so and see how I can open up the crumb more.


I hope I'm not going into mind-numbing detail here, but I want to describe what I've adjusted in the process of learning my way with this bread (or with bread in general) and where I ended up, and I welcome comments and advice.


The first few batches were using King Arthur Bread Flour, and (for half the flour in the Pate Fermentee) Eagle Mills AP Unbleached (which is a blend of white flour and "Ultragrain" which is a whole wheat processed in some special high tech way as to bake like white flour). My 1.5 oz of whole wheat was Anson Mills Red Fife Bread Flour.


First I suspected the Eagles Mills was the problem, perhaps not acting as much like AP white flour as it was supposed to. So I switched to using KA European-Style Artisan Bread Flour in place of both the Bread Flour and the AP flour. I didn't get any better results with this.


So then I tried adding a little more water. Other than increasing my struggles with stickiness it seemd to have little effect on the crumb. However it's possible I nullified the extra water by using too much flour during the kneading.


I tried adding an autolyze step. That didn't really help either.


All along I've been working on my kneading technique / fear of dough stick. In the first batch I'm sure I ended up adding a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of flour to the dough during the kneading process. At some point I tried skipping the flour and instead putting a little oil on the board (marble) and my hands. That worked well but I had to keep re-adding oil and I began to fear I'd be adding as much oil to the dough as I previously had flour. I also tried the lay-down-oil-and-smear-flour-onto-that trick, but that didn't work particularly better than the oil alone, or last any longer before needing more. I've finally arrived at an ignore-the-stickiness-don't-use-ANYTHING approach and have adopted what I think people call the French slap and fold technique. Basically this video http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough and a few others were my inpsiration.


At this point I took a break from this recipe and baked a batch with KA Levain du Jour starter (LA-2), using the recipe for Pain de Champagne that came with the instructions. Slightly different process and proportions, and most notably no whole wheat in this one. Again I used the KA EA flour. This came out with an opener crumb than the other recipe (probably similar to that in fancypantalons' picture), but still not as good as I hoped.


Finally after reading some topics discussing water here, I wondered if my water hasn't been my problem all along. Checking my city's water info, I find it has a ph of around 9.5 which I understand to be undesirably high for baking bread. So I went out and got a jug of Poland Spring.


Now, I'm back to the combination of flours I started with, having run out of the KA EA. The bottled water seemed to improve my pate fermentee, as it came out smoother than anything I've yet produced. Though it's possible its the result of my kneading having improved, or having switched to the french slap and fold method, I think the water was a significant factor. I'm still not sure about the window pane though, but maybe I shouldn't be expecting a pizza-dough-like, intensive method window pane in a improved methid bread.


Yesterday I went onto making another batch with my (2 day old) pate. My thought was to be able to report the crumb improvement from using the bottled water, but wouldn't you know it, on auto-pilot I took the first 1/2 of water from the tap. I corrected myself after that, so the water in this batch (including the pate) is only 1/3 tap water or less.


I wasn't real impressed with the texture of the dough. I've did the slap and fold off and on for about half and hour now total, with 20-30 minute rests between goes, but the dough continued to be pretty sticky and rough looking, though a window pane from it is as good as any I've made in except perhaps this batches pate fermentee (which DID get smooth). Maybe it's the amount of water, as I added 2 or 3 more tablespoons than the recipe's base 3/4 cup.


However this batch has produced the best crumb yet. I baked two of the loaves yesterday, and the third, whose dough I put in the fridge after dividing, I just baked this morning. I'm including a picture of this last loaf. (I'm not real proud of the slash-work...this loaf stuck to the floured tea towel I proofed it on (in a bowl) when I turned it onto the stone, and between detaching it and my crude attempts to slash it came out a bit rough. It didn't seem to hurt it any, though, and I think I can detect signs of decent oven spring.)


BBA Pain de Champagne Crumb


I'm willing to accept that this is about as open a crumb as this recipe will make. I'll see if a batch with 100% bottled water takes it any further. I'm also willing to accept that the window pane is good enough. But still have qualms about the fact that my dough doesn't get really smooth by the end of the kneading process. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? Maybe I'll try to get a picture during my next batch to show what I'm talking about.


A note on the crust: I've been baking a kind of a cloche, jury-rigged by putting an iron le cruset dutch over a pizza stone. I've been getting good crusts and starting with the levain du jour starter batch, have been getting a great crust. The bread knife threatens to skid off the surface before managing to bite and this is a SHARP breads knife as the thin slice of skin of my thumb the other day demonstrated). Starting with the KA recipe I've been leaving my oven at 500 through the entire baking. Though I'm not sure this is so much departing from the recipe as adjusting for my oven's weakness. This last loaf (in the picture is a recent exception to the great crust--I believe because I had the over door open for so long trying to detach the tea towel and score it.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That is a beautiful looking loaf!  Could use a darker crust for me (that's just me) but it and the following loaf looks great!   Way to go!!!


Mini

ericjs's picture
ericjs

Thanks, Mini! No I wasn't kidding. I am enjoying my bread and pretty happy with it, but I started out imagining bigger holes (maybe unrealistically...and maybe focussing too much on that has exaggerated my idea of what it should look like). And previous to the last two batches that I took pictures of, the crumb was denser.


And I'm still trying to understand if the stickiness / roughness of my dough even after 20 plus minutes of kneading is "normal"...I've been watching videos where the dough gets MUCH smoother.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And stickiness is something to live with.  I really like my silicone spatula for mixing up doughs just because most stuff doesn't stick to it.


I don't think I've kneaded a dough 20 minutes in my entire life!  Try making it again and leaving out 100g of the flour to use for kneading.  Mix everything together with a spatula and then cover and give the dough a 30 minute rest.  Sprinkle some flour on the dough and marble, turn out and then do some kneading (I won't stop you if you like to knead) and see if there's a difference.  If you work in "too much flour" it will be part of the recipe.  What do you think?  Whew! 12 minutes is long enough!


Mini

ericjs's picture
ericjs

I've been using a silicone spatula for mixing, too. Great tool!


Yeah 20 minutes (or more sometimes!) seems like a lot. I wouldn't even realize it if I didn't set a timer going to keep track. I'm trying to take into account that I may be kind of a slow, and perhaps inefficient, kneader.


I've gotten over my fear of stickiness, and have learned to be good friends with my bench knife, so I don't know if I want to go back to kneading with flour (well maybe just a tiny bit now and then...such as to get the dough off my hands). But maybe I'll try your method and see.


If the stickiness is the cost of having boosted the hydration level I may just live with it. But if better kneading can make it go away, then I'm all for learning! I'm going to post a topic about it with some pictures of sticky dough and see what people think.


Thanks for the suggestions!


Eric

ericjs's picture
ericjs

Ok, here's my latest loaf, this time made with 100% bottled water (I came this close to spacing out again and using water from the tap). This crumb is a bit opener than the last (or any of my previous). It did have a less eventful trip into the oven than the previous loaf (no tea towel / bowl this time, I simply proofed it on a semolina covered peel like I usually do), but the other two loaves from the previous batch had a similar crumb so I won't blame that for the difference.


Latest Boule, 100% bottled water


 


Latest Boule, crumb


I also tried autolyzing again this time (before adding yeast or salt or mixing in the preferment) for 30 minutes. I really can't say I could tell any difference I still felt like the dough looked rough.