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Ilya Flyamer's blog

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Ilya Flyamer

I finally got close to where I want to be with ciabattas!

I was going to a friend's flat for an Italian dinner yesterday, so decided to bring a ciabatta, although previously I only had partial success with this style of bread. However Rus Brot has a video recipe for ciabatta, and so far each and every recipe of his have been a great success, so I decided to risk it. The video is unfortunately only in Russian: https://youtu.be/beEhMiwIaHw

Here is the formula, except I increased the amount of CLAS to 5% by flour weight, since my bread flour is a little higher ash, probably: https://fgbc.dk/1so4

In addition, I replaced 20% of the flour with semola rimacinata, since I need to use it up soon, and seemed like a fitting bread to add it to.

The process is very simple. The dough is mixed using cold CLAS and cold water (I used, like him, a hand-held mixer with spiral attachments), and oil and some water are withheld. Then after partial development oil is incorporated, and then the remaining water, until very soft consistency - around 80% hydration in my case, all the while developing the gluten. DDT of about 25°C. Then the dough is transferred into a rectangular contained. Folded after 1 hr, and then it goes into the fridge for ~24 hrs. About half-way through cold bulk it's folded again. Before baking it's warmed up at RT for 1.5 hrs. Then in the recipe he does a few folds before dividing the dough and coaxing it into rectangle. I decided to skip the folds at this stage as I felt they would impede open crumb formation, and simply divided the dough in half. It's then proofed at RT for 20-30 min, and baked. I proofed on a couche, and flipped upside down when transferring onto a peel - like you'd do with baguettes. The very tip of one of them got a little stuck on the peel unfortunately, and I think it deflated that half of the bread a little. So I brought the other one to the dinner party. Baked for about 15 min with steam on steel, and then until I liked the colour without steam.

They looked stunning, even is I say so myself, with the beautiful pattern of flour on the crust. Crust was super hard and crispy out of the oven, and stayed so for a little while, but it's always lost here with the humidity we are having. I think addition of a little durum also helped with that.

My friend took a couple of pictures of the food, which included the sliced ciabatta. Shows quite clearly that in some spots it had huge bubbles under the crust, despite being flipped before loading into the oven. Perhaps they could benefit from some light docking, but they were already huge and would barely fit on my steel, if they ended up being any longer it would be a problem.


Here is the crumb of the one I kept at home. It's a bit different in different parts of the bread, some parts more open than others. But I'm not complaining.


And it's delicious! It's awesome how easy it is to bake with just yeast for leavening, and CLAS provides such pleasant flavour. No overt acidity, but a nice lingering pleasant aftertaste, a bit similar flavour to when I tried making ciabatta with a SD biga back during the CB. Nicely caramelized crust. Light and fluffy crumb. I'm very pleased with this.

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Ilya Flyamer

Tried to make a French-style rye bread following this recipe from Stanley Ginsberg: http://theryebaker.com/sourdough-tourte-de-seigle/ The recipe is very simple, but also very different from what I am used to (i.e. very short fermentation times, very high hydration for hearth bread, basically no shaping).

I halved the amount to make just one bread. Due to that on top of using warm water to mix the different stages, I also kept the dough in a warm place at about 28°C - I thought a smaller mass would lose the heat faster, and the fermentation times were scary short. The first stage more than doubled overnight (not tripled though, like said in the recipe, but I've never had my rye do that). I gave full 2 hours for the second stage, despite warm temperature, since I didn't observe any clear cracks or broken bubbles at 1.5 hrs. The dough however looked ready at 1.5 hrs with some broken bubbles on the surface.

The final proof is ridiculously short. Checking out the original video Stanley Ginsberg used as a basis for his recipe, the dough is not shaped at all, just scooped into generously floured bannetons and left for 15 min. I lined the banneton using my linen couche and generously dusted it with rice flour, and dusted the surface of the dough in the bowl with white rye flour. Since I just had dough for one bread, I simply inverted the bowl over the banneton and made the dough fall down, and scooped what stuck tot he bowl on top, and gently smoothed the surface. Left for 15 min again at 28°C.

Baked on a preheated steel without steam, generally following the instructions. But figuring out when to stop baking was tricky, and I might have stopped too soon: with the bread covered in flour, it's hard to see the colour of the crust. I tapped the bottom of the loaf and thought I heard good hollow sound, although time-wise it was quite a bit sooner than in the recipe. I gave it extra 5 min just in case, and pulled out.

Left to cool and only cut this morning for breakfast, it was baked around 1pm yesterday.

As you might be able to see above, the center is just a little gummy and a touch sticky. It's not terrible and still completely edible, but could be better. So I wonder if it's a little underbaked, or there is an issue with fermentation. I found it difficult to judge the fermentation here, since the times are so short, and in particular the final proof. But still I'd guess it's slight underbaking, since I baked for a significantly shorter time than in the recipe: only about 40 min vs at least an hour.

The flavour is very good anyway, very clear rye taste and a nice aroma! I might repeat it at some point and bake more thoroughly to evaluate it more fairly. The recipe is incredibly simple and very quick on the baking day (as I said, starting the second stage in the morning, the bread was baked at around 1 pm!).

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Ilya Flyamer

As I planned and discussed with Paul last week, finally made Riga rye bread (aka Rizhsky bread). It's a famous Russian bread (I guess historically based on Latvian recipes). It's a white rye bread with 10% wheat flour.

I followed the advice of Rus Bread to adjust the process to using CLAS. First a portion of flour is scalded with diastatic malt (I used barley malt instead of traditional white rye malt, due to availability), which produces a very sweet liquid, which is then fermented for a long time with a small amount of yeast and CLAS. Then final dough is made by adding most of the flour, salt, malt extract and more yeast for a quick rise. Here is the formula, with time and temperature: https://fgbc.dk/1qeb (note that barley malt is stronger than rye malt so scald was very liquidy, and I omitted a little water that would be added to pre-dough otherwise).

Two small defects in the final bread. Liquid dough applied before bake was probably a little too liquid, and I got small bubbles on the surface after the bake. Rus Brot confirmed that with white rye the ratio of dough to water should be 30:21 g instead of 30:25 g due to lower water binding capacity of white flour, and this is probably the reason. Lesson learned. Also one of the two breads "exploded" a little (crust got torn) on one of the sides, and that I am not sure why.

I particularly like the flavour and aroma of the crust here, very full and nice. Very caramelized, as you can see, yet very soft (at least in part from the corn starch glaze I applied after the bake).

The crumb is amazingly soft for rye bread, feels almost like wheat bread! And kind of open even. The flavour of the crumb is very subtle and delicate, except when you get a caraway seed, which explodes with aroma. I expected something stronger from the crumb itself to be honest, but perhaps it is as it should be? I've only had commercial Riga rye in Moscow, and didn't like it that much due to a rather dry mouthfeel it gave (which is not at all the case here), but I thought it did have stronger flavour. It's been many years since I've had it though.

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Ilya Flyamer

Followed this Rus Brot recipe for Palyanitsa, a traditional Ukrainian white bread, with CLAS: https://youtu.be/tpNqhC5s_Ck

Scaled it down a little to 500 g bread flour, otherwise followed quite faithfully. Here is my formula: https://fgbc.dk/1pfj (I also didn't record it there, but I took 3g IDY instead of 3.5 g, and extended bulk by 10 min). Incredibly soft crumb, yet nicely chewy. It was still just a little warm in the center, so couldn't even cut it cleanly how soft it was. And it's so-so tasty, despite being simply white flour with nothing fancy at all. Very easy recipe with outstanding results.

Edit: nicer crumb shot

Thinking why there is so much flavour, I'm thinking it has a lot of lactic taste, while I don't detect any sharp acidity. I guess very warm fermentation (30°C in bulk, and above that in final proof) must really shift the balance to lactic acid over acetic acid!

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Ilya Flyamer

Followed a very similar procedure to the recent seeded whole spelt bread I posted, again following Rus Brot's process: I took his recipe for whole wheat bread and added seeds. The dough was super slack after the final mix, so I added a little extra flour, but still it was weaker than I would have liked. But baking in a pan solves this sort of issues! Here is the formula: https://fgbc.dk/1p57

I used 1:2 ratio of linseeds and sunflower seeds. Again, I think the mucous produced by soaking linseeds caused overhydration a little, and made the dough more slack... I should have learned my lesson from the previous bake with spelt. I also sprinkled pumpkin seeds on the bottom on the pans before adding the dough, and sesame seeds on top of the dough. Made for a very tasty bread full of nutty seeds.


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Ilya Flyamer

I wanted to repeat the same bake, but adjust after seeing the results. I reduced the yeast to slow down the fermentation, and reduced the hydration. Unfortunately, I accidentally overshot the temperature A LOT (I wanted around 25, but got over 30), so the fermentation was very fast even with just 1g IDY, and I only extended bulk by about 30 min. Despite lower hydration, the dough was still surprisingly slack. I wonder if it's just because it started out very warm, or CLAS doesn't strengthen the gluten like regular sourdough does, for some reason. Here is the formula: https://fgbc.dk/1oou

I avoided problems with loading in the oven this time (I actually inverted the loaf directly onto the preheated lid of the Pyrex dish that I use instead of a DO), and it baked up very nicely, with an excellent crumb. Not much difference in flavour I'd say, except I baked it a bit darker, so the crust was more robust.


I wonder why getting such nice even and moderately open crumb is so much easier with CY + CLAS vs SD. I have so little experience using CY, and yet the crumb is basically perfect. While with SD it was always more wild, uneven, and not so reproducible.

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Ilya Flyamer

Decided to try to make "traditional sourdough" style bread using CLAS and CY. Mostly standard formula, 25% whole wheat, 75% hydration: https://fgbc.dk/1oiv

I used a week-old CLAS from the fridge, and I pre-warmed it before mixing, like recommended for wheat doughs. It contained 5% of all flour for the bread, like recommended for 1st grade or high gluten flour. I reduced the yeast from recommended just a touch, since I didn't want to open a new packet, so 2.4g instead of 3 g IDY.

The dough felt just a little overhydrated, which surprised me, normally the bread flour I have can take up to 80% hydration, although the whole wheat flour I used is much more sensitive to water content. I wonder if the recent rainy weather here increased the humidity... Anyway, fermented it at 25°C, and after three sets of folds within the first 2 hours it had good strength, and was already quite active. I left it for 1 more hour where it increased in size a lot and had a lot gas trapped inside. I shaped it very gently, and probably too gently - I should have made the structure a little more robust, since after proofing the dough flattened out a bit more than I would have liked when turned out on the peel. Oven spring would have saved that though - if a little spot on the loaf didn't get stuck to the peel and got folded under the rest of the loaf! As we say in Russian, "never happened before, but here we go again". Anyway, it still rose nicely in the oven and the bread looks not too shabby. Would have been great if not for this stupid mistake.

The crumb is fantastic, relatively open, yet mostly even. Getting close to the "lacy" territory, not quite there yet. However, there are clear differences from what I would expect from a similar bread using regular sourdough (which might be explained by too much hydration?..). The crust is thinner, and almost completely lost the crispness more quickly. And I don't really detect any sourness in the taste. The crumb is also softer than I am used to. So I wonder if I would prefer higher % of CLAS in this style of bread, perhaps 8% PFF like recommended for whole grain wheat? Or maybe my young CLAS needed a refreshment (which I did this night after baking). Or should I just reduce the yeast and give LABs more time? What I think too though is that the smell is nicely more "bready"!

And now I wish I had a pH meter to compare acidity objectively from the two different methods...

PS

Just checked on my refreshed CLAS and it exploded during the night spilling out of the container! The temperature was right as far as I can tell (I didn't get up and check during the night, but it started right, and was right now - and smells right too), so must be bacterial CO2 production. Need to find a bigger container... I wonder what this change in behavior means, if anything.

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Ilya Flyamer

Wanted to try something enriched with CLAS, and followed Rus Brot's interpretation of a 1940 Russian recipe for schneiken, meaning "snails" aka rolls - originally German in origin, as you might have guessed. Here is the formula with minimal instructions, since the video is only in Russian: https://fgbc.dk/1ofj

It's a very fast dough since it's based on CY, and yet CLAS adds the touch of acidity and complexity. Can't really say how it compares to traditional SD or just CY, but they are good like this, despite my rolling them out too thinly which caused a slightly towering look instead of more flat and thick rolls.

Here they are just out of the oven:


And this is one of them after covering with some sugar glaze:

The bottoms burnt a little bit, probably because I have a steel instead of a stone, even though I used 10°C lower baking temp than in the recipe. And they bake super quickly, in around 10 min!

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Ilya Flyamer

Continuing my CLAS experiments, made a whole spelt bread with seeds, following Rus Brot's recipe again, with a large/long pre-ferment, and very quick and warm bulk and final proof. Only uses a tiny amount of yeast (0.15% IDY of total flour). Recipe here. Here is my formula https://fgbc.dk/1ode (I used linseeds in place of sunflower seeds, that's what I had; also wanted to finish the last few grams from the bag of spelt flour, so added just a little more in the final dough).

I think I could have final proofed for just a few more minutes, the loaf got a little tear on top. Very tasty bread though! No hint of apple flavour from a little pureed apple. Almost moist crumb, and very soft. Nutty flavour, both from the seeds and the whole spelt. And I don't know if it's because I'm expecting this from CLAS, but again I feel like the aroma is also just a little more "bready" than normally! But I am not really used to whole spelt bread, so not the best bread to judge probably...

And I probably should have baked a little longer for a more caramelized crust, not sure why I didn't just leave it in longer.

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Ilya Flyamer

As I mentioned in comments over the last few days a couple of times, I was making a CLAS starter. In case some people missed Yippee's posts about it, CLAS stands for "concentrated lactic acid sourdough", and it's just like a regular starter - except it doesn't have yeast, only LABs. I made it using whole rye flour, diastatic malt powder, a little vinegar, water by inubating at ~40°C, where LABs are happy, but yeast are suppressed. Vinegar creates a low pH to prevent growth of unwanted bacteria. Access to oxygen is also restricted with the same purpose. While CLAS has been around for a while, the easy application of this type of sourdough has been extensively covered and popularized by Rus Brot, and he even has a web page about it in English: http://brotgost.blogspot.com/p/clas.html

The advantage is separation of souring and lifting powers (lift is provided by commercial yeast, and  souring, critical in particular to rye bread, is provided by CLAS). In addition, while I didn't use it this time, overnight refreshment of CLAS and simultaneous scalding really simplifies scheduling for scalded dough, which otherwise takes basically the whole day.

My CLAS didn't smell quite right after building (I only had diastatic barley malt, not diastatic rye malt, could be because of that): it had very prominent fruity notes which it shouldn't have. So I refreshed it once, and then the fruity aromas were gone and it was ready to use. I followed this recipe for all whole grain rye bread with a scald and including raisins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpAfPmKkn_Q&list=PLrSg5cYpPtU96v2LWR9rETxWDEHe3iIcj&index=36

Since I was testing my new CLAS, I decided to halve the recipe just in case something goes wrong. I also forgot to add caraway seeds :( Here is the formula: https://fgbc.dk/1o2h Normally it would include 2g caraway seeds in the scald (this is for my half-sized recipe). I also used mostly new flour that I haven't used before (Polish whole rye), and I think it was much more thirsty than what I am used to, and what Rus used, and I slightly underhydrated it in the end: when shaping the dough was stiffer than I expected and what I see in the video, and the final bread seems a little less soft than Rus shows. Half of the recipe made a little neat loaf, I shaped it quite long and thin.

The flavour is really-really nice. I don't know if it's the new flour or the CLAS, but I think the flavour of the bread itself is a little fuller and more complex than I previously experienced (different recipe too, of course), and addition of raisins makes it an almost dessert bread. Delicious. The bottom crust is deeply caramelized from baking on the steel (but not burnt), which actually adds nice flavour and texture contrast.


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