The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crumb Quest '08

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Crumb Quest '08

Hi,

I've newly discovered the concept of "crumb". I hope to be able to reliably create open crumb artisan breads (I think that's the right terminology). I'm at the beginning of this process. My current goal is to decide on a flour. I have two contenders, I prefer organically grown. I live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Seeing as Canada is a big wheat producer I want to find a Canadian flour. (I'm a US ex-pat, so I'm ridiculously attached to this country)

I wanted to get this blog started and introduce my quest. I'm really happy to have stumbled across this site.

My name is Paul, by the way, but there's already a Paul here. Being something of a Mexican groupie from California I chose the Spanish version of Paul, which is "Pablo", for my username. FYI.

Paul

Comments

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hello, Paul. You've come to the right place!

I'm originally from Vancouver BC, born and raised by American parents. You live in a very lovely place.

I know absolutely nothing about Canadian flours, or even American ones for that matter. 

Jane 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I'm working on it now.  After all the reading and poking around the site I took a stab at it.  I mixed a little yeast, water and flour last night, today I mixed the dough.  All unbleached white flour.  I kept it wet, about 1 pound of flour to 1 1/2 cups of water, roughly.  I'm using a Kitchen Aid mixer with a spiral dough hook.  That's new to me too.  Can't say I really trust it yet, it doesn't seem to really incorporate things too well.  I did lots of scraping while it was mixing.  The dough was still pretty wet, I turned it out into a greased bowl to rise but chickened out and put it back on the mixer and worked in a little more flour, another 1/4 cup or so.  It's still pretty wet.  I mixed it for about 7 minutes.  I tried folding it a few times in the bowl and that was interesting.  It came together nicely and surprisingly.  As it continued to rest, though, it pretty much flattened out again.  I'm going to let it rise an hour or so and do some folding and see what I think.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

OK, I'm sure I'm screwing this up, but it's certainly interesting.  The dough was doing an initial rise in a largish container.  It just slopped all over the bottom of the oiled container after an hour.  I pulled it up and folded it over a time or two and it began to form a loaf - it felt springy, sort of loaded with energy.  I had read someone's blog about a technique of folding 20 times, so I did that, around and around the four sides.  Pulling it up and laying it over itself.  Then i put it in an oiled bowl instead of the larger container.  Seems better to keep it in some sort of shape.  I'm going to fold it a time or two more during this rising process.  I have no idea what I'm doing, really, but it's fun so far.  I'm often optimistic in the middle of the process.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I split the dough in two, baked one and put the other in the 'fridge for overnight.  I hope to notice the difference between baking today and tomorrow.  Today's was a success in that the crumb is more open than anything I've baked before.  I wanted a crisp crust though, and it's not at all crisp.  Also I tried to slash it with a single edged razor blade and it just drug in the dough, so that wasn't too great.  I can't figure out how to post a photo here so I can't add one at this moment.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

my best crumb to date

Not the best crumb in the world, but a big success for me.

Mumsie Leonie's picture
Mumsie Leonie

Paul, you will find a great many Canadian flour producers,Daybreak Scheresky Mills for one is out your way.  I try to use local producers here in Ontario, mainly Arva for wonderful ryes and mixed grains and Oak Manor for organic.  All are on the net and worth looking into.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks. I think I've pretty well decided to stick with the local natural foods store brand of organic, unbleached white, at least for now. It's easy to get and I can always experiment with other flours later once I get the basic concepts down. I'm so taken with this site and baking artisan style breads. There are so many technique variables that I never gave any consideration to before. Using a preferment, kneading &/or folding, hydration ratios, delayed fermentation, baking stones and steam. I now see there is a fifth ingredient to even the simplest breads: flour, water, salt, yeast and technique.

I've just used my postage scale to weight out 1 lb. of flour. I want to begin with a 70% hydration, so some math revealed that to be 11.2oz of water. 1 liquid oz of water seems to be 1 weighed oz. as well, so that was easy to measure. I used some of that to start a preferment and I'll mix it all up tomorrow and see what I've got. I'm still not at all clear on how many times to let the dough rise, there seem to be different opinions. I'm going to just jump in and try to keep track of what I'm doing and then start changing one thing at a time to see the difference it makes.

Thanks again for the reply and the pointers to Canadian sites. I checked them out.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I've really come a long way since this blog started.  Time is so meaningless.  More and more as the years march on.  The big 60 coming up in June.  That seems like a landmark.

Anyway, back to bread.  Tonight I baked the first successful (maybe and pretty much) of my bread quest loaves.  Sourdough bagette.  I love using flour, water and salt.  (Although I was so involved in getting the proper hydration ratio I may have forgotten the salt.)  Keeping a written bread journal is incredibly helpful.  I'm writing down everything that I'm doing.  I currenlty have four sourdough starters in various states.  The original from sourdough lady's instructions, a rye, a weird apple thing from my gorgeous loaf of yesterday, and now a whole wheat that I created with just flour and water.  I've read that the yeast comes both from the flour and airborne.  I wanted to get a local strain involved if possible.  I left it outside for three days and nights just covered with cheese cloth and fed it daily.  I hate throwing away any starter and just use extra instead.  I just read today in the BBA that Peter Reinhart used 80% starter in one of his breads, if I read that right then I don't think I have any problems with as much as I use.

I'm really enjoying this.  

Me 'n' my bagettesMe 'n' my bagettes

I want them to be a little darker, and I don't know how to get a crispy crackly crust yet.  Although tonight I did spend some time just smelling them and feeling the heat as they cooled and listening to the wonderful sound of the crust crackling as they cooled.  But they feel too soft.

Tomorrow is a 15% rye.  Next day will be 100% whole wheat using a "rapid rise" miling of whole wheat from Amy's via Natural Foods.

My basic  recipe is 80% hydration.  I've got a little hydration calculator program that Greg wrote for me that I'm going to put up on the web and see if it's useful to anyone else.  A Beta test.  I retard the dough first in the 'fridge for 16 hours (or so) then a couple of stretch and folds and ferment for some more hours, depending on time constraints and just how things are.  It could be 12 hours in a coolish environment or 8 hours in a warmer one.  The eventual dough is all spread out on the bottom of the covered tub I use for fermentation.  I'm a little concerned that it's not "food grade" plastic, but I've stored food in it for years.  If it was going to poison me it seems like I'm already poisoned.  The dough is very wet to deal with and I need to sort of compromise with it.  Flour is involved.  It's a gentle, respectful process of getting it into a bagette shape and onto the parchment paper.  Tonight was the best I did with that.  I wasn't panicked or freaked out.

This whole project is really moving along swell.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

You are funny, Paul. It's nice to see your enthusiam and your "love affair" with your creations.

Jane 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I think, maybe, like the bread cycle, I need a rest.  It's been swell, it's been a whirlwind, and I think I need to not bake at least one day, maybe two.  Catch my breath, review my notes, whatever.  Plus it's the end of summer and I haven't been in the lake much at all.  At least I got in today.  laying by the shore and listening to the waves might be nice.  Today the sailboats reminded me of ears on a baguette.  I considered using lake water for my bread, to more "ground" the bread to this place.  I fantasized wandering the beach in the summer with a bag of baguettes for sale.  The new stove is fab.  I think a rest would be nice - a personal ferment - who knows what will pop forth?  I hope the baguettes sing tonight and that Greg hears them, I hope they bake up nice, they have salt anyway, I'm DAMN sure of that!  Shaping is a mystery.  A little flour goes a long way.  I'm not sure about just prodding them into shape or trying to actually fold into a shape.  It's hard to fold and incorporate if the whole thing has flour on it, and it's hard to move it around if it doesn't have flour on it.  Some sort of conundrum.  The answer's probably somewhere in the middle.  Last night was the first time I heard them sing and it made me cry.  It was like a tiny crackly choir calling out in their tiny voices.  

But tonight I still have that dough to face.  It went well last night.  We'll see. 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Today I baked the peach fermented dough and it went great.  Then I did Mark's Rustic White and I believe I over-proofed and also put it in the oven before the oven had preheated enough because I ran out of time, I didn't want them to proof any more and I hadn't turned the oven on with enough time to preheat.  The basic problem was that when I put them in to proof I didn't set the timer.  Dinner was happening and I just figured, oh well, when we're done eatiing that will be the "magic time".  Wrong!  Set timer.

Tomorrow morning I'm doing baguettes and I'm going to see what I can copy of Jane's gentle method vs. all that patting that the Danielle F. video demonstrated.  How odd that her offical French baguette had no preferment.  I so prefer a bread with some sort of preferment.

I'm going bread simple and I love it.

:-∆aul

Pablo's picture
Pablo

When I proof in a warm, moist environment, that environment gets carried over to the oven.  It's a continuum.  The steamy hot first part of the bake is really finishing off the proof.

 Not all baking is baguettes. Not every bread wants a steamy inferno.  Just the bad boys.  I want to learn to adjust the baking environment to the result I'm after.  That could be temperature, rack height, steam/no steam, time.

:-Paul

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Jane, if you read this I want to tell you that I now understand about flavour and recipes, I think.  I was just flyin' wild there for a bit.  I understood the concept of hydration and I had access to an easy program that would calculate things for me.  I had no concept about how long to ferment or why.  I've gone back to the BBA and i'm doing the "basic sourdoug recipe" to baguette hydration levels (75% for me) and I'll see how that turns out.  I hope I can duplicate the wonderful baking results again, but with more flavour this time.  I want a sour that ruptures your salivary glands.  In the book Peter Reinhart says you can make the dough right from the barm, that's what I'm planning.  I'm creating a large enough barm to account for all the flour in the predough mixes.  I'll be sure to dissolve the barm before I try to incorporate it into the dough mix.

I feel a little ridiculous.  The bake was spectacular, but the dough was kind of silly.  Next step, get a good dough and combine it with the baking principles I've picked up for baking baguettes in my oven.

I still get to go wild on Sundays.  Sunday is my starter feeding day.  I take the left over starters and the left over counter scrapings for the week and make one of my "whatever" doughs.  As I do these recipes I'm sure I'll get a bit more understanding of even that process.

Anyway, I hope I have not alienated anyone with my maniacle enthusiasm there.  I had to get to the baguette bake as a step on the way, and just like the wild expolsion that is captured by the ruptured baguette skin, so I was in a frenzy baking every day and sometimes twice a day.  I realize now that not all baking is the same.  Not every bread needs 550F preheat and the steam inferno technique.  But baguettes do, at least in my house.

Today I baked a nice Rustic White from Back Home Bakery.  A calmer experience.  Except when I remembered 15 minutes into the initial ferment time that I had forgotten the 50 grams of whole wheat flour.  Luckily itwas early and I just kneaded it in by hand.  The technique of measuring out all your ingredients into bowls is a good one for me.  I need to follow it.  If something's still in its bowl, you didn't put it in the bread.  Also my new Super Peel bound up and wouldn't slide to get the dough into the oven.  But I think they came out fine.  I tried scoring pictographs of one sort and another from the Iching page on wikipedia.  that was fun.  some are recognizable.  I won't be able to bake baguettes until Saturday I think, following the BBA ferment schedule, but Iim not sure I'll have to check in the morning. 

Next baking goal with the baguettes is to get them brown all over with the same fantastic oven spring.  The last ones were white on the sides, all except one side of each of two.

I love the Fresh Loaf.  I hope people continue to accept me here.

:-Paul

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Calmer now.  Current baguette recipe:

15g rye starter, 30 g white starter, then flour and water to hydration level.  Baked a 62% hydration batch today by mistake, but it came out really good.  Hurumpf!  I thought high hydration was the key to open crumb.  Maybe 62% is high enough.  The pear loaf is nearly ready to go.  I journaled the experience this time.  Discovered "Just Pies and Serious Bread" bakery Thursday.  Also I've started including 100g or so of dough from the last batch into the next batch.  Tomorrow is slated to be a 71% hydration.  The lower hydration doughs are certainly easier to work with.  Greg and I decided today to go for ~300g baguettes with blunt rather than pointed ends.  Good to have goals.  I need to bake a ciabatta for James, I like the look of the double hydration ciabatta recipe at Bread cetera.  It would be good to have more neighbors.  Greg is very supportive about distributing bread.  Picking up Old Mill in CA the 13th.  Woo hoo!

:-Paul