The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Essential's Columbia

JIP's picture

Essential's Columbia

I believe that's what it is called.  I have made this bread a couple of times now but the second time I had issues.  In case you don't know the bread it is from ABAA and it has AP, bread, ww and, rye flours it also has wheat germ and barley malt and of course a firm levain type starter.  This is not a particularly wet loaf but somewhat.  The prolem I am having I think is a surface tension issue when I bake my brea seems to just kind of bllop out instead of getting too much oven spring.  I feel like if I can just get a little more surface tension it might not happen.  I tried overshaping a loaf yesterday just to try and get more tensin but to no avail.  So what am I doing wrong is this a lost cause or is there something I am doing wrong earlier that makes shaping difficult. 

Soundman's picture

Hi JIP, I have been there and it is frustrating.

I have never baked Essential's Columbia, though I read Glezer with glee and thought the pictures of this bread were mouth-watering. I saw your post a couple of days ago and hoped other bakers of this bread would jump in. I'm a little disappointed too that they haven't as yet.

What occurs to me is the relatively low protein content of the dough. If your flours are a little weak, the mix of AP, WW, Rye, and Bread flour may leave your dough wishing it had a stronger gluten structure. (I don't remember the proportions for EC, but I do remember that Glezer says generally that sourdough shouldn't be made with too strong of a mix of flours.)

I know you want to make this recipe as is, but you might see if substituting Bread flour for the AP flour doesn't give you a better rise, and help the loaves keep their shape.

Are your loaves free-form or are you using forms of some sort? The use of a form can help a loose bread hold its shape as well.

Good luck!

Soundman (David)

suave's picture

I've baked this bread a few times and my experience is that the recipe has too much water in it, it is 67% hydration as written, and indeed the resulting dough is very wet and does not hold shape well.  Cutting hydration to 64-65% (about 15-20 ml less water) helps a whole lot.

In general, although Artisan Baking is one of my favorite books I find that one needs to watch Ms. Glezer's recipes like a hawk - sometimes things just don't add up.  For example, I think if you add up all the ingredients in her recipe for the absolutely wonderful Pearl's walnut levain you will get ~1430 g of dough, yet she suggests splitting it into two 630 g. pieces for shaping. 


JIP's picture

Well I have made it twice now and the flavor can't be beat I love it.  I think I might try the substituting bread flour idea once just to see what happens mabye replace 1/4 AP with bread just to see what happens.  As far as shaping goes I am just using a proofing cloth I just got from SFBI as I cannot afford one banneton let alone the 2 this recipe would take.  I am also a big fan of this book, as my collection has expanded to include most of the big ones I keep going back to this one.