The Fresh Loaf

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Hamelmans VT SD with additional Whole Grains

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ehanner

Hamelmans VT SD with additional Whole Grains

VT-SD Xtra grains
VT-SD Xtra grains

vt-sd xtra-2
vt-sd xtra-2
VT-SD Crumb
VT-SD Crumb

I’ve been making Vermont Sourdough from Hamelmans “Bread” for a while and enjoy the mild sour and full flavor. It’s a great tasting and reliable recipe. Every now and then I get the urge for some Wharf Bread to satisfy my "so sour" memory and thus have retarded the shaped dough overnight. David Snyder and I have gone back and forth trying to find the best way to develop a more sour, sourdough.

A couple days ago while I was waiting for some Golden Raisin with Whole Wheat to proof, I was paging through Bread, and stopped to read the side bar on the title bread above. It’s on Page 156 for those with the book. I almost didn’t bother reading the text because, after all I already know about the VSD formula. I happened to notice that Hamelman was claiming that 2 small changes to the formula would have a large impact on the tang and flavor of the original bread. The changes are only 5% more preferment and 5% more whole grain rye. I must admit I usually use a 100% hydration starter while the author suggests a 125% liquid starter but I decided to follow the suggested advice word for word and try this out.

I found the mix easy to combine in my DLX and I did do the autolyse for 60 minutes before adding the salt. After a short mixing and a 2.5 hour ferment (having folded one time in the middle) I was surprised to find a very sour and tangy aroma coming off the dough. I knew this was going to be interesting and more sour than usual. I shaped and formed into 2 plastic bannetons and let them proof 2.5 hours at room temperature.

The 4 Lbs of dough was larger than I can cover unless it’s a single round so I passed on the cover and steam this time and used a conventional, hot water in the pan method for 10 minutes. The oven spring was impressive for a Levain loaf and Hamelman had suggested that it wouldn’t produce as large a loaf due to the acid strengthening the gluten. I was careful to not over mix and only folded one time. The results speak for them selves. Nice spring, good color, singing crust, life is good.

The bread is cooling now. I’ll come back with a crumb shot and a report on the sour.

Edit: The crumb is delicious and my teenage daughter and I are loving the flavor. It isn't as sour as I thought it was going to be but then It's only been 40 minutes out of the oven. 

Eric

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


David

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I'll give this a go.  I've made the VSD most weekends, sometime with 10% organic rye, other times replacing the rye with whole wheat freshly milled.  Both excellent.

I haven't as yet tried this formula, but I'll give it a go now.  Thanks for the inspiration.

 Gavin.

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Eric,

My experience suggests that a high percentage of whole wheat flour also gooses the intensity of the sour taste in a finished bread.  For instance, the whole wheat levain (assuming I'm remembering the title correctly) from the KAF Whole Grain cookbook is substantially more sour than, say, a pain de campagne which has has a tiny fraction of whole wheat and/or rye.  I've made a couple of different breads with 50% or more whole wheat flour that were just about sour enough to induce a pucker.  That's too strong for my personal tastes, and stronger than I've had with any high-percentage ryes so far.  Keep in mind that my starter, which I maintain in a firm state, usually produces mildly flavored breads. 

I don't know if you have had similar experiences. 

Just recently I made a straight, yeasted, honey whole wheat bread that has been a favorite in my household for years.  It tastes positively bland to me now, having gotten used to the more robust flavors from longer ferments and/or sourdoughs.

PMcCool

ehanner's picture
ehanner

PMcCool,
I don't have the KA cook book and haven't tried many of their breads. I haven't done much with combining more than as you say a small fraction for additional taste. I would be interested in trying a higher percentage rye and WW combination that you found overly sour. If you would post the formula I'd appreciate it and will put it at the front of the to do list.

Honestly I've never been able to make a SD loaf with too much acid flavor. I did buy a loaf from Boudin last year that was way over the top and tasted chemically flavored, inedible IMO. Somewhere in the middle ground lies the perfect sour.

Eric 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

The key to the sour is the combination of acetic and lactic acids, courtesy of the aceto- and lactobacilli who work uncomplainingly 24/7, turning sugar into vinegar and yogurt. The trick is to (a) give them enough time to create their acids, and (b) provide optimal conditions. Acetobacillus likes wet and warm; lactobacillus like cool and relatively dry. Here's how I get both and in the process make a sourdough bread that rivals anything out of SanFran:

1. Culture the sour. I generally use a very high hydration dough -- almost a batter -- that I seed with a really small amount of starter, and then allow to ferment for at least 12 hours on top of my hot water heater. This is gonna load that puppy with acetic.

2. Turn it into a stiff starter. I build a preferment of approximately 50% of my final dough weight. The preferment has around 65% hydration, let it ferment for a couple of hours, and then retard it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, so that the lactobacilli can play.

3. Make the dough. Let the preferment lose its chill and chop it up into little pieces to add to the dough, then use warm water in the mix to bring up the dough temp. I let it ferment at room temp until it doubles, then shape loaves -- usually batards or round loaves.

4. HERE'S THE SECRET. Instead of letting the loaves proof at room temp, I retard them for another 12-24 hours, so that the by-now large population of lactobacilli can go crazy for a few more hours.

5. Take the loaves out of the fridge, let them proof normally (it will take several hours b/c of the low starting temp) and bake as usual.

This method has never failed me: my sourdoughs invariably end up covered with all those tiny blisters that are the hallmark of a proper SD -- and while this bread takes 3 days from start to finish, it's really worth it. Good luck.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

This looks a little like Davids Wharf bread except I don't remember him using the warm phase. I'll play with the numbers and see if I can turn this into a formula with numbers or percents. I presume you use a mix of ap/rye/ww in the starter?

Eric 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

depending on my mood. my usual pain de campagne is 85% bread flour, 10%WW, 5% rye, but it's a matter of taste. That little rye really doesn't exert a major influence on either the ferment or the sour, except maybe help it along a bit.

Stan

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Slice me a piece would you?...,

That's in agreement with my observations.  The rye will produce a larger souring effect on either starter or preferment.  I've found that the addition of whole wheat produces a sweeting effect on the starter (KA whole wheat flour).  Interested in finding out how the bread tastes a full day after the bake...,

Wild-Yeast

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm enjoying a slice of this positively wonderful Vermont style SD with peanut butter on it. I tested it for flavor first by munching on a small piece and sipping water, finding the sour flavors react better with the sides and back of the tongue that way.

I don't detect any more sour today but it is really full of flavor and a very nice after taste. I just love the combination of SD bread with the most basic peanut butter. To me it feels decadent and almost wasteful of the bread. Thinking that surely this perfect loaf must have a higher mission than lowly PB&J. The reverse  of caviar on a Ritz cracker I suppose.

Eric 

holds99's picture
holds99

Thanks for the reference to pages in Hamelman's book, I'll read it tonight.  You really got great results...nice job. 

Howard

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Eric,

Gorgeous loaves! Crust color magnificent, and the brotform marks are lovely as well. Crumb looks nice too.

The one suggestion I would make, keeping Hamelman's recipe otherwise exactly as is, in order to increase the sour, would be to bulk ferment for longer than 2.5 hours. Say, 4 hours at the least. I have found this helps develop the acetic acid, and that Hamelman's bulk fermentation times are almost uniformly short if one wants to get a more sour flavor.

I repeat: Beautiful loaves!

Soundman (David)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks David,
I was pretty happy with the color. I have baking these at 460F after preheating to 500. The crust is about right all around and it only takes 25 minutes instead of 40.

The bulk ferment does seem a little short. I'll have to try a little longer as you suggest. The last batch I baked one and retarded the second overnight. The second loaf didn't spring much at all and I let it warm at rt for 2 hours. It wasn't any more sour than the first loaf either.

Eric 

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Eric,

You can't beat that color. I'd say your oven technique is spang on!

I love Hamelman's book; I learned more from Bread than any other book about baking. The increased whole grain idea you cite really gives a wonderful flavor. (I've been substituting more and more whole grain for bread flour, up to 40% lately, and I think the flavor really improves.)

But the sourdough bulk fermentation times just seem too short. I'm sure they work for some people however. I guess my starter just isn't that punchy. (But it always raises the bread.) Any excuse to ferment longer, without killing the gluten of course, is a good thing in my book.

Keep up the great work, and keep us posted on your next efforts!

Soundman (David)

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Soundman, I agree 100% on Hammelman's book. The best reference I've got on bread baking ... but he must be using one hell of a starter up there. With a 15% innoculation of starter, I can't go any shorter than 4 hours for the bulk fermentation, and usually 2-3 hours longer, depending on how cold my house is.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hello, JMonkey,

I've read lots of interesting posts of yours and am glad to make more direct contact!

I agree, my starter just can't get the job done in 2.5 hours. At normal winter house temperature, 68 degrees, my dough can easily sustain up to 7 or 8 hours of fermentation without any downside. And with plenty of upside! (Sometimes the baking schedule gets a little awkward as a result.)

On top of everything, Hamelman's liquid starter is 125% hydration, and the percentage of levain to flour in the final levain is 20%, so his inoculation, if my arithmetic is right, is down around 8%. Maybe the yeast of sourdough in a bakery live life in the fast lane!

Soundman (David) 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

jmonkey and David,
I have been entertaining myself with the idea that it was interesting that with such a short ferment time and small inoculation I was getting the oven spring I get. Discounting the fact that the dough doesn't double in 2.5 hours, the bacteria is definitely growing quickly. I just have to remind myself not to take a shortcut and use my starter if it isn't revved up.

Eric 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Interesting, Eric. I don't futz much with dough temperature any more. I work from home, so basically, I just make the dough and check in when I think it might be ready. If it's not, I check in again periodically until it is.

Maybe I'll try that next time. I keep my sourdough starter on the counter and usually feed it twice a day, so it's pretty much always rev'd up.

And good to meet you, David!

I wonder if it might be possible to get Jeff H. to do a Q&A here at TFL? Floyd, you mind if I look into it?

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Eric,


I've been stuggling to achieve much rise during the final fermentation, usually only about 25%. I make the VSD most weekends, but keep to Hamelman's schedule, dough temperatures etc.  The end result is fantastic oven spring that achieves very satisfactory results (flavour and volume).  I'm a bit reluctant to prolong the fermentation times as I'm afraid of overproofing and flops. I noted your comment that you don't get much dough rise during the fermentation; have you tried to extend the fermentation time?  If so, what affect did this have on the final result, volume and flavour?


All comments on this welcome.


Gavin.