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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Converting starter hydrations: A Tutorial. Or through thick and thin and vice versa

 

Questions regarding how to convert one kind of starter into another are frequently asked on The Fresh Loaf. The easy answer is to just take "a little bit" of seed starter and add enough flour and water to make a mixture of the desired thickness. This is fine and it generally works very well. However, sometimes a recipe calls for a precise hydration level levain and changing this, even a few percentage points, will make the dough consistency quite different from that intended by the formula's author. For those times, one needs to be more precise in making up the levain. 

To convert a starter of one hydration to a starter of another hydration - For example, if you have a 50% hydration starter and want to build a 100% hydration starter from it. 

 

Here's a general method for a precise conversion:

First, you need to know four things:

1. What is the hydration of your seed starter?

2. What is the hydration of your final starter?

3. How much of the total flour in your final starter comes from your seed starter?

4. How much (weight) final starter will you be making?

Second, you need to calculate the total amount of flour and the total amount of water in your final starter.

Third, you need to calculate the amount of flour and the amount of water in the seed starter.

Fourth, you can now calculate the ingredients of your final starter. They will be:

1. Seed starter

2. Flour (from seed starter plus additional)

3. Water (from seed starter plus additional)

 

So, let's see how this method works with some specific assumptions. 

The four things you need to know:

Assume you have a 50% hydration seed starter that you want to use. Assume you want to make 100 g of a 100% hydration starter. And assume you want the seed starter to provide 25% of the total flour in the final starter.

Note: Using "Baker's Math," Flour is always 100%, and all other ingredients are proportionate to the flour. So, in a 50% hydration mix, the water is 50% (of the flour, by weight). If hydration is 125%, the water is 125% (or 1.25 times) the flour.

To calculate the total amount of flour and water in your final starter:

Flour (100 parts) + Water (100 parts) = 100 g

So, the 100 g of starter is made up of 200 "parts." The weight of each part is calculated by dividing the total weight by the number of parts. So, 100 g /200 parts = 0.50 g.  This number is sometimes called "the conversion factor."

Then, since there are 100 parts of flour, its weight is 100 parts x 0.5 g = 50 g.

The total water in the final dough is 100 parts x 0.5 g = 50 g.

To calculate how much flour will come from the seed starter and how much will be added to make the final starter:

We now know that the total flour in the final starter will be 50 g. But we decided that 25% of this flour is going to come from the seed starter. This means that the seed starter must contain 50 g x 0.25 = 12.5 g of flour, and the flour added to this to make the final starter will be 50 g - 12.5 g = 37.5 g.

To calculate the total weight of the seed starter and the weight of water in the seed starter:

We now need to calculate how much seed starter it takes to provide 12.5 g of flour, and how much water is in this amount of seed starter.

If the seed starter is 50% hydration, it contains 100 parts of flour and 50 parts of water. We know then that the amount of water is 50 parts water/100 parts flour = 0.5  parts of the flour.  Since we already know that the flour has to weigh 12.5 g, then the water must weigh 12.5 x 0.5 = 6.25 g and the total weight of the seed starter is the sum of the water and flour or 12.5 g of flour + 6.25 g of water = 18.75 g.

To calculate the weight of water that must be added to the seed starter to make the final starter:

Now we can calculate how much water must be added to the seed starter to make the final starter. It is the total water in the final starter minus the water in the seed starter or 50 g - 6.25 g = 43.75 g.

 

Now we know "everything!" To make 100 g of 100% hydration starter, beginning with a 50% hydration seed starter, we would mix:

1. 18.75 g Seed Starter.

2. 37.5 g Flour

3. 43. 75 g water

 

This method can be used to build any amount of starter of any hydration using a seed starter of any (known) hydration. 

 

David

 

 

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Chocolate Sourdough - Chad Robertson's way

Chad Roberson's Tartine Bakery doesn't do chocolate sourdough (if they do, I haven't had the fortune of tasting it).  We did Pane Cioccolata (chocolate bread) at Artisan III, SFBI, and it was very good.  Everybody loved it but at the time I was thinking to myself if I were to make it at home I would make some changes for the following reasons: 

First of all, I feel really uneasy about "double hydration" method, which is supposed to be good whenever you have any "add-ins" for your dough, be it dried fruits, nuts, seeds or soakers, or in this case, chocolate chips.  The procedure is: you mix your dough with only 80 - 85%% of the recipe water in the first and 2nd speed as usual until a slightly stronger than normal gluten development has achieved, then turn the mixer back to first speed, slowly incorporate the reserved water and finish off on 2nd speed, then, add the seeds and nuts (or whatever add-ins you have) in the first speed initially for incorporation, and finish off, again, in 2nd speed.  The reasoning for this method is it is easier to develop dough strength with a stiffer dough than a wet dough and so the purpose is to build up the strength before you incorporate any add-ins.  Because of the longer mixing time, the temperature of water you use with this method is lower than for other doughs. 

I remember we mixed the dough for nearly 20 minutes in the spiral mixer.  I am not confident that I could do such a long mixing time with the mixer I have at home.  I always feel "traumatized," looking at the dried fruits or nuts being beaten up and chopped up while they try to be mixed in to the dough after the latter's gluten structure has already been formed; it really takes time to break the gluten bond.

Secondly, after the dough was bulk fermented, it was scored then proofed. One other type of bread where we scored first then proofed was rye bread.  It was said that because of the delicate gluten structure in both of these cases, if you were to score after the dough is proofed, you may destroy the gases that were produced.  While this makes sense to me, I don't care for the look when it's baked.

Thirdly, the Pane Cioccolata formula we used at Artisan III has only 20% levain (in baker's percentages) and therefore it also has a small percentage of dry instant yeast (DIY).  If I increase levain to 100% I wouldn't have to have DIY!  Also, chocolate chips used were only 12% of total flour, I know my son would just LOVE more chocolate chips. 

So here is my Chocolate Sourdough inspired by Chad Robertson's method all by hand (timeline as described in Daniel Wing and Alan Scott's The Bread Builder) in my previous post.

                

 

                              

 

                   

 

Formula for My Chocolate Sourdough 

Two nights before bake day - first stage of levain build-up

  • 61 g starter @ 75% hydration
  • 121 g bread flour (i.e. two times starter amount for me; I do not know what ratio Chad Robertson uses.)
  • 91 g water

Mix and ferment for 6 - 8 hours at 18C / 65 F (depending on your room temperature, you may need shorter or longer fermentation time for your starter to mature)

The morning before bake day - second (and final) stage of levain expansion

  • 273 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)
  • 273 g bread flour (I use one time starter amount in flour but I do not know what amount Chad Robertson uses)
  • 204 g water

Mix and ferment for two hours only

Formula for final dough

  • 750 g starter (all from above)
  • 650 g bread flour
  • 100 g cocoa powder (8.5% of total flours*verses 5% in SFBI recipe)
  • 86 g honey (7% of total flours verses 15% in SFBI recipe)
  • 250 g chocolate chips (21% of total flour verses 12.6% in SBFI recipe)
  • 433 g water (note: with every 12 g extra water, your total dough hydration will increase by 1%. If you wish, you can increase up to 5% more hydration. See step 10 below.)
  • 1 to 2 vanilla pods (optional but really worth it)
  • 20 g salt

Total dough weight 2.3 kg and total dough hydration 73%

*Total flour calculation takes into account the flour in starter. 

  1. In a big bowl, first put in water then put in the starter.  Break up the starter thoroughly in the water with your hands.
  2. Then put in honey; scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods and put it in, and stir to combine
  3. Put in all the remaining ingredients except choc. chips
  4. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine for 1 - 2 minutes. (Take down the time when this is done, this will be your start time.  Starting from this time, your dough is fermenting.  From this start time to the time when the dough is divided and shaped, it will be 4 hours; i.e., bulk fermentation is 4 hours.  The preferred room temperature is 18 - 21C / 65 - 70F.  You may need to adjust your dough temperature by using cooler or warmer water.)
  5. Autolyse 20 - 30 minutes
  6. Sprinkle half of the choc. chips on a work surface (spreading about 30 cm by 30 cm) and stretch or pad the sticky dough thinly to cover the choc. chips.  Then sprinkle the other half of choc. chips over it; press the choc. chips into the dough so they stick.
  7. Gather the dough from the edges to the centre and place the choc. chip dough back into the mixing bowl.
  8. Start the first set of stretch and folds in the bowl by pinching the edges of the dough and fold onto itself to the centre (10 - 20 times).  Rotate the bowl as you go.  As the dough is quite stiff, you may need both hands for the folding.  The hand folding serves as mixing.  I used my left hand to press down the centre, so my right hand can pinch an edge of the dough and fold it to the centre.  As you stretch and fold, try not to tear the dough; only stretch as far as it can go.
  9. After 45 minutes, do a second set of stretch and folds.  At the end of this stage, the dough will already feel silky and smooth.  As the dough is quite stiff, its strength develops very fast.  Be mindful that the bottom of the dough is the right side of the dough; and the right side of the dough always remain at the bottom in the bowl.
  10. After another 45 minutes, do a final set of stretch and folds.  As the dough feels quite strong, no more folding is necessary (unless you choose to increase total dough hydration, in which case, you may need one more set of stretch and folds).
  11. At the end of the 4 hour bulk fermentation, divide the dough to 3 - 4 pieces as you wish.  Be mindful that the bottom of the dough is the right side; sprinkle some flour on your work bench, and place the pieces right side down.
  12. Shape the pieces - gather the edges to the centre, flip it over (so the right side is now up) and shape it to a tight ball with both hands.  (As I find the dough is quite strong, I did not think pre-shaping is necessary.)
  13. Place the shaped boules in dusted baskets or couche, right side down and seam side up to encourage volume expansion.  Cover.
  14. Proof for 2 hours in room temperature of 18 - 21C / 65 - 70F.
  15. Into the refrigerator for retardation at the end of the 2 hour proofing (minimum 8 hours; I did 18 hours).

                                                                    

Bake Day

  1. Bake the boules cold for best result (ie, straight out of refrigerator).  Just before baking, sift flour on the dough and score it.  Bake at 190C / 380F (not higher due to honey) for 40 minutes.  Once the dough is loaded onto the baking stone, steam the oven with no more than 1 cup of boiling hot water.
  2. Note: I find better result when baked cold.  One boule was left at room temp while others were being baked, and it became quite puffy so when I scored, it deflated quite a lot and there was no noticeable oven spring with this bake.          

                

 

I sliced one of the boules and went down to the back yard to water the plants.  When I came back up, my son said to me, Mum, the chocolate sourdough was epic.  How I love his choice of words.  Well, you know how to please a growing boy - make a chocolate sourdough!

This is the first time that I made a chocolate sourdough - it is not sour at all because of the chocolate and honey, but it is very chewy.  And the crust!  Very crispy.  The crumb?  Very more-ish.

I don't imagine you find chocolate sourdough made this way in the shops - they would go bankrupt if they do - too much work (but absolutely worth the trouble for home bakers)!

Shiao-Ping

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Lesson: Squeeze more sour from your sourdough

I am far from a sourdough expert. I’ve only been baking sourdough since February, and I still have a lot to learn about shaping, scoring and proofing to perfection.

However, there is one thing I have learned well: how to squeeze more flavor out of my naturally sweet starter. Here's the basic tips.

1) Keep the starter stiff
2) Spike your white starter with whole rye
3) Use starter that is well-fed
4) Keep the dough cool
5) Extend the rise by degassing
6) Proof the shaped loaves overnight in the fridge

Photos and elaboration follow.

It’s a common lament that I see on bread baking forums – Why isn’t my sourdough sour?

Personally, I blame Watertown. My evidence? I gave some of my starter to a friend who lives six miles away in Lexington. Within 6 weeks, she was making sour tasting sourdough. Her local yeastie beasties are clearly more sour than mine.

I don’t know what it is about the microflora that live in the little hollow between the hills that I occupy in Watertown, Mass., but treated traditionally, my white starter and my whole wheat starter pack as much sour taste as a loaf of Wonder Bread. That’s not to say that the loaves don’t taste nice. They do. They’re wheaty with a touch of a buttery aftertaste.

But they don’t taste sour, which is how I think sourdough ought to taste.

Anyway, I’ve finally figured out how to get the tangy loaves I love. If you’re facing the same sweet trouble as me, perhaps some (or all) of these tips will help.

1) Keep your starter stiff:

Traditionally, sourdough starter is kept as a batter. The most common consistency is to have equal weights of water and flour, also known as 100% hydration because the water weight is equal to 100% of the flour weight. That’s roughly 1 scant cup of flour to about ½ cup of water. Jeffrey Hammelman keeps his at 125%, and quite a few folks keep theirs at 200% (1 cup water to 1 cup flour).

I keep my sourdough starter at 50% hydration, meaning that for every 2 units of flour weight, I add 1 unit of water.

Barney Barm, my white starter is on the left; Arthur the whole wheat starter on the right. The bran and germ in whole wheat absorb a lot of water, so that starter is even stiffer than the white.

There are two basic types of bacteria that flourish in a sourdough starter. One produces lactic acid, which gives the bread a smooth taste, sort of like yogurt. It does best in wet, warm environment. The other makes acetic acid, the acid that gives bread its sharp tang. These bacteria prefer a drier, cooler environment.

(Or so I've read, anyway. I ain't no biochemist; I just know what they print in them books.)

A hydration of 50% is pretty stiff, especially for a whole-wheat starter. You really have to knead strongly to convince the starter to incorporate all the flour.

For example, here's my white starter after I've done my best to mix it up in the bucket. Time to knead a bit.

Here's what it looks like after kneading.

And here's what it looks like 5 hours later once it's ripe.

Conversion from 100% to 50% isn't hard to do if you've got a kitchen scale.

Take 2 ounces of your 100% starter. Then add 5 ounces of flour and 2 ounces of water. This should give you 9 ounces of starter. Leave it overnight, and it should be ripened in the morning.

From there on out when you feed it, add 1 unit of water for every 2 units of flour. I'd recommend feeding it 2 or 3 more times before using it, though, so that the yeast and bacteria can acclimate to the new environment.

There are additional advantages to a stiff starter beyond producing a more sour bread.

First, a stiff starter is easier to transport. Just throw a hunk into a bag, and you’re done.

Supposedly, the stiff stuff keeps longer than the batters. You can leave stiff starter in the fridge for months, or so I hear, and it can still be revived. Never tried it myself, though, so don't take my word for it.

Finally, the math for feeding is easy at 50% hydration, much easier than 60% or 65%. Just feed your starter in multiples of threes. For exmaple, if I’ve got 3 ounces of starter and I need to feed it, I'll probably triple it in size. To get six additional ounces for food, I just add 4 ounces flour and 2 ounces water. Piece of cake.

Converting recipes isn’t hard either. First, figure out the total water weight and total flour weight in the original recipe, including what's in the starter. If the recipe calls for a 100% hydration starter, then half of the starter is flour and the other half is water. Divide it accordingly to get the total flour and total water weights in the final dough.

Now, add the total water and total flour together. Take that figure and multiply by 0.30. This will tell you how much stiff starter you’ll need.

Last, subtract the amount of water in the stiff starter from the total water in the final dough, and the amount of flour in the stiff starter from the total flour in the final dough. The results tell you how much flour and water to add to the starter to get the final dough. Everything else remains the same.

2) Spike your white starter with whole rye flour:

It doesn’t take much. Currently, my white starter is about 10-15% whole rye. Basically, for every 3 ounces of white flour that I feed the starter, I replace ½ ounce with whole rye. That small portion of rye makes a big difference in flavor. Rye is to sourdough microflora as spinach is to Popeye. It’s super-food that’s easily digestible and nutrient rich. That’s why so many recipes for getting a starter going from scratch suggest you start with whole rye.

Here I am, about to add rye to "Barney Barm," my white starter. I haven’t added rye to my whole-wheat starter, though. It hasn’t needed it – there’s more than enough nutrients in the whole wheat to keep the starter party going strong.

3) Use starter that is well fed: Early in my search to sour my sourdough, I’d read that, if you leave a starter unfed and on the counter for a few days before baking, it will make your bread more sour.

I’ve found that’s not the case. The starter gets more sour, but the bread doesn’t taste very sour at all.

The better course is to take your starter out of the fridge at least a couple of days before you use it, and then feed it two or three times before you make the final dough. Healthy microflora make a more flavorful bread.

4) Keep the dough cool:

When I first started out, I was following recipes that called for the dough to be at 79 degrees, and I’d often put it in a fairly warm place to rise. Warmth kills sour taste. Nowadays, I add water that’s room temperature, not warmed, and aim for a much cooler rise, no higher than 75 degrees and often as low as 64.

The cellar is your friend.

5) Extend the rise by degassing:

When I make whole wheat sourdough, I usually let the dough rise until it has doubled and then degass it by folding until it rises a second time. Along with cool dough, this means the bulk fermentation usually lasts 5-6 hours.

When I’m making pain au levain or some other white flour sourdough, I usually have the dough very wet, so it needs more than one fold to give it the strength it needs. In this case, I fold once at 90 minutes and then again after another 90 minutes. Usually, the full bulk rise lasts about 5 hours.

Here's a sequence showing how I fold my whole-wheat sourdough.

First, turn the risen dough out on a lightly floured surface (heavily floured if your dough is very wet).

Stretch it to about twice its length.

Gently degass one-third of the dough, fold it over the middle, and degass the middle section to seal.

Do the same for the remaining side. Take the folded dough, turn it one-quarter, and fold once more before returning to the bowl or bucket to rise again.

6) Proof the shaped loaves overnight in the fridge:

This final touch really brings out the flavor. So much so that, if you’ve incorporated all the other suggestions, proofing overnight might make your bread a bit too sour for your taste. My wife and I like it assertively sour, however, so this step is a must.

Normally, I’d suggest proofing your loaves on the top shelf where it’s warmest, so as not to kill off any yeast, but I find that if I put my loaves in the top, they’re ready in about 4-6 hours, at which time I’m usually sound asleep. So I started putting them in the bottom, and had better luck.

I hope this helps those of you who dread pulling another beautiful loaf from the oven, only to find it looks better than it tastes. Best of luck!

flax seed wheat bread

I finally got my copy of Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf, a book that the Brits on this site have been recommending to me for a while. Occasionally imported copies will show up on Amazon for a reasonable price, but I found it cheaper to order a copy from a bookseller in Ipswich via Abebooks. It is a splendid book, with great photos, easy to follow instructions, and excellent recipes; well worth the cost of admission for a baking fanatic. His website is also worth checking out.

Of the recipes I've baked so far, the Linseed and Wheat Bread has been my favorite. The first loaf I baked we ate in under an hour. I was forced to bake it again the next day. The horror.

The recipe I'm posting below is based on his Linseed and Wheat Bread. I modified it some to match the ingredients I had on hand and my personal taste.

Flax Seed Wheat Bread
makes 1 one pound loaf

200g bread flour
50g whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
100g flax seeds
2 teaspoons malt powder
150 grams water
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the flours, salt, seeds, malt, and yeast in a bowl. Stir in the water and mix until thoroughly combined. This dough is not a terribly moist one: it should be slightly tacky but not sticky. When shaped into a ball it should easily hold its shape.

The seed and bran from the whole wheat prevent a high level of gluten development in this dough, so extensive kneading is not necessary.

Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined, place the ball of dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for an hour to an hour and a half.

Shape the dough into 1 large or two small loaves, cover the loaves with plastic, and give them another hour to rise. In the meantime, preheat the oven and baking stone to 425 degrees.

Brush the top of the loaves with water, score the loaves, and place them in the oven. Bake them at 425 for 20 minutes, rotate them 180 degrees, then bake them another 20 to 25 minutes. When done, they will be nicely browned on the outside, make a hollow sound when tapped upon, and register approximately 205 degrees in the center when measured with an instant read thermometer.

flax seed wheat bread

These loaves remind me of yams.

flax seed wheat bread

Related Recipe: Five Seed French Bread

Flax Seed Wheat Bread

Flour.ish.en's picture
Flour.ish.en

Tartine Olive Walnut Bread

Breaking this bread is tantamount to opening a holiday present. At least, it feels that way when I cut the bread. The abundant good eats: olives, walnuts, sunflower seeds, herbs de Provence, lemon zest, filled the interior to the rim, are what make this bread sing. 

This Tartine olive walnut bread uses a young leaven (20% of flour weight) and 10% whole wheat flour. Nothing out of the ordinary. However, the big winner is with all the add-ins, especially the olives. Since the dough is quite wet, series of stretch-and-fold help to strengthen it. I sprinkled more sunflower seeds around the proofing basket to prevent the dough from sticking. The dough was retarded in the fridge overnight. I made a full recipe (see the cheat sheet below for details) and baked two large loaves in Dutch ovens (one round, one oval) in a preheated 500°F oven. Lower the oven temperature to 475°F as the loaves are loaded. Finally, bake for 15 minutes with the cover on and 20-25 minutes uncovered.

All the olives, nuts, seeds and herbs make for quite a substantial bread. The bread stands on its own with its fairly loud flavors. Like all good breads, serve up with some fine cheese and wine, nothing can be better!

Adapted from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

https://www.everopensauce.com/tartine-olive-walnut-bread/

Smo's picture
Smo

The Easiest German-style Spelt Recipe, Ever

Well, that's the idea anyway.  I've been working on this one for years and didn't want to post it until I felt that I'd mastered it.  That came sooner than expected this year, when I switched to using pullman loaf pans and things got immediately easier.

The goal of this recipe is to be something that I can bake every week for the rest of my life, no matter how crazy things get.  So far, so good.  The recipe features:

  • No kneading
  • No shaping
  • No sourdough starter maintenance
  • Flexible rise time
  • Short ingredient list
  • Authentic German crust, crumb and taste

I studied abroad years ago in southwestern Germany, where Spelt bread (aka Dinkelbrot) is very popular. I was given a recipe for a no-knead, 100% whole grain sourdough spelt bread while I was there.  Over the last few years I've been trying to perfect the recipe by making it simpler, more full-proof, and easier to fit into a busy lifestyle.  The last batches I've made are the closest I've come to reproducing the Dinkelvollkornbrot from my favorite bakery in Stuttgart [1].

Begin by adding (per loaf) 600g of whole grain spelt flour, 15g salt and 3g guar gum [2] (optional, see notes) to a mixing bowl. EDIT: I now use 20g of ground flax seed per loaf in lieu of the guar gum). Take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and mix it in too. I don't measure the starter but it's usually about half a cup [3]. Add 600g of hot water (I run my tap until it's hot) to the bowl and mix until combined. If needed, add extra water to hydrate all the flour without resorting to kneading - I usually end up adding 50-100g extra. But I would start around 100% hydration and go from there.

Once the dough is mixed, take a cup or so of it and put it back in your sourdough starter jar. Put it straight back into the fridge. It'll ferment and be ready for your next bake. As long as you bake at least once a month, this is all the sourdough maintenance you'll need to do with this recipe, no need to feed your starter.

Now, cover with a towel and go to work. Or go to bed. Or, whatever. Just give the dough 8-15 hours to rise. The dough will be waiting for you any time within that time period. How long you wait will effect on the level of sourdough flavor in the final product, but the effect is minor and I worry more about my schedule than the flavor. Whenever it's convenient, move on to the next step.

After the long rise, the dough should have risen quite a bit (maybe close to double in volume).  Optionally add 35g of sunflower seeds and 35g of pumpkin seeds per loaf to the bowl [4]. Stir well and remove large air bubbles. This should only take 1-2 minutes, don't get too enthusiastic and start kneading.

Now grease your loaf pans (I use an oil mister, because it's easy and fast) and divide the dough between the pans. It should be far too wet to shape, so don't even try. Let it rise about an hour before putting it in the oven (with the lid on, if you're using a pullman pan).

This step is where the pullman loaf pans really come in handy, because they have a lid.  The tight-fitting lid results in more predictable oven spring, which gives you a much bigger margin for error when proofing the dough. I have yet to underproof or overproof a loaf when using these pans.  Even when I was sure I'd screwed up, the loaves turned out fine. With regular loaf pans I found that the optimal window of time to put them in the oven was very, very short. See notes for more on this, plus tips on using a regular pan with this recipe [5].

Once the bread has proofed, put it in a 420 degree oven. I then bake it for an hour, in my oven at home[6].  Take the bread out of the oven, place onto cooling racks, and wait for it to cool.  For best results, wait overnight before starting on the loaf.  Then slice thin and enjoy! The bread will last a long time - at least 10 days. It's great for open face sandwiches with cheese, cold cuts, or other spreads.  Or for PB&J (I may love German bread but I'm still American...). Or, you know . . . butter. Open face butter sandwiches. Is there anything better?

I've also made a version with white spelt flour, for making grilled cheese and BLTs. That one's a work in progress.  I'm going to try adding potato water to soften up the crust next time.  And I have yet to master the rye version as well.  But this whole wheat spelt version is good and consistent for me now.

Here are links to the pullman loaf pans that I'm using, on Amazon:

Affiliate link (for those who aren't familiar, gives the link poster, AKA me, a little kickback at no extra cost to the purchaser)

Non-affiliate link

They also make a 13" long version, which would be more economical if you're trying to maximize the amount of bread made per dollar spent on loaf pans.  But I like the shape of the 9" loaves better.

Notes:

[1] Hafendoerfer, for those who are curious. If you *ever* get the chance to go there, do it! It might be the best bakery in the entire country of Germany. Definitely the best in Stuttgart.

[2] The guar gum improves the texture when used in small quantities. Using much more than this will result in an unpleasant gummy, bouncy texture. The loaf will be fine without it, but won't hold together quite as well.  EDIT: I now use 20g of ground flax seed per loaf instead.  It works just as well as the guar gum, plus it's good for you!

[3] By having a long initial fermentation, there's no need to have an active starter. It'll have several hours to wake up and get going. I've used starter straight from the fridge that hadn't been fed in a month, and the bread rose just fine. Using hot water also helps kick-start the fermentation.

[4] I *highly* recommend adding the seeds, they do a lot for the texture and flavor. They also tone down the fluffiness of the bread and make the crumb more authentically German - I found that my bread was rising a bit too much without them. If you omit them, you may find that 600g flour makes a bit too much dough for a 4x4x9 pullman pan.

[5] With a regular pan, I found it really hard to figure out the ideal time to put the dough in the oven to get a good rise. Overproofing results in a lot of oven spring, but then the loaf collapses in the oven. Underproofing results in the crust rising above the crumb, and a cavity between the two. Or weird shapes bursting out of the top of the loaf.  I found the sweet spot between the two to be short and hard to catch.

There may be other solutions to this problem - adding steam to the oven might help. Or you could put a sheet pan on top of regular loaf pans and put a skillet on top for weight. But the pullman pans work for me and I like the size of the loaves they make.  I spent years trying to figure out the proofing stage of this recipe and I finally feel like I've figured it out, thanks to the new pans.

[6] If I'm using a new oven, I'll bake for 45 minutes, then remove the covers off of the pullman pans and stick a probe thermometer into the center of one loaf. I then continue baking until the center reaches 205-ish degrees Fahrenheit (I live at 7000 feet elevation, so I actually go to 195, but at sea level you'd want 205). Once I've figured out the oven I don't use the thermometer anymore and I just set a timer.

 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

SD 100% WW Hokkaido Milk Loaf - an oxymoron?

Recently, I have posted about my SD version of the classic Hokkaido Milk Loaf (see here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23662/sourdough-hokkaido-milk-loaf-classic-shreddable-soft-bread), this time I adapted it to use all ww flour. Yes, the original Hokkaido Milk Loaf is quite enriched, and this ww version is not any "leaner", however, I do think ww flour adds more dimension to the flavor, and all the enriching ingredients bring incredible softness to this 100% ww loaf. To me, "healthy eating" is not about restricting, on the contrary, it's about bringing in different kinds of natural food groups into my diet and thriving for a balance.

 

SD 100%ww Hokkaido Milk Loaf

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain

Note: total flour is 420g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 450g of total flour.

 

- levain

starter (100%), 22g

milk, 37g

ww flour (I used KAF ww), 69g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- final dough

ww flour, 340g

sugar, 55g

butter, 17g, softened

milk powder, 25g

egg whites, 63g

salt, 6g

milk, 150g

heavy cream, 118g

 

1. Mix together everything but butter, autolyse for 40-60min. Add butter, Knead until the dough is very developed. This intensive kneading is the key to a soft crumb, and proper volume. The windowpane will be thin and speckled with grains, but NOT as strong as one would get form a white flour dough. For more info on intensive kneading, see here.

2. rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.

3. Take out dough, punch down, divide and rest for one hour.

4. Shape into sandwich loaves, the goal here is to get rid of all air bubles in the dough, and shape them very tightly and uniformly, this way the crumb of final breads would be even and velvety, with no unsightly holes. For different ways to shape (rolling once or twice, i.e. 3 piecing etc) see here.

5. Proof until the dough reaches one inch higher than the tin (for 8X4 inch tin), or 80% full (for pullman pan). About 5 hours at 74F.

6. Bake at 375F for 40-45min. Brush with butter when it's warm.

 

A crumb and flavor even whole grain haters would love.

 

Tear/shread away...

 

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough

Some time ago, Pat (proth5) posted her formula for baguettes. This was in the context of our "great baguette quest" of some months back. We were playing with higher hydration doughs and cold fermentation à la Gosselin and Bouabsa.

Pat's formula is levain-based and employs a 65% hydration dough. She has insisted repeatedly that, while higher hydration is one route to a more open, holey crumb, fermentation and technique in shaping the baguettes are at least as important and that good technique can achieve the desired open crumb even with a dryer dough.

Okay. It was past time I tested my own technique against Pat's claim.

Pat's formula is as follows:

This is for two loaves at a finished weight of 10.5 oz each

.75 oz starter

1.12 oz flour

1.12 oz water 

Mix and let ripen (8-10 hours) 

Bread

All of the levain build

10.95 oz all purpose flour

.25 oz salt

6.6 oz water 

Dough temperature 76F 

Mix to shaggy mass (Yes! Put the preferment in the autolyse!) – let rest 30 mins

Fold with plastic scraper  (30 strokes) – repeat 3 more times at 30 min intervals 

Bulk ferment at 76F for 1.5 hours – fold

Bulk ferment at 76F 2 hours

Preshape lightly but firmly, rest 15 mins

Shape.  Proof 1 hour or so

Slash

Bake with steam at 500F for about 20 mins

 

I followed this except I baked at 480F. I used Whole Foods 365 Organic AP flour. The result was an excellent, classic baguette with a crunchy crust and cool, creamy crumb. It was slightly sweet with imperceptible sourness when eaten just ... well, almost ... cooled.

Here's  the crumb:

I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Thanks, Pat!

David

emkay's picture
emkay

Mexican buns aka coffee cookie buns aka rotiboy buns

The Chinese like soft and fluffy white breads. The whiter, the better. It might explain why something called Hong Kong flour exists. The HK flour is bleached and low in protein so that the resulting bread is super white and super soft. I don't really mind if my Chinese breads turn out white or not. So I just use what I have on hand which is Central Milling's Artisan Bakers Craft, a 10.5% protein, organic, malted, unbleached flour. The results are definitely more off-white than white. Soft and fluffy is easy. Enrichments such as butter, egg and milk will do the trick. Using a tangzhong aka water roux helps with the softness and keeping quality.

mexican_bun_crumb_1

This bun is a purely Asian creation. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with Mexico although buns with a cookie-like topping are reminiscent of conchas. I don't know who invented it first and I have no idea why the Chinese like topping breads with a cookie batter, but it's pure genius. The cookie melds with the bread dough and creates a thin, crispy, cookie-ish layer. Depending on the ingredient ratios in the cookie batter, the layer can be fused with the bread and cannot be peeled off. Or if the cookie batter is stiffer, the baked layer can be peeled or flaked off the bread and eaten separately which is the way I did it as a child when eating boh loh bao aka pineapple buns (which have no pineapple in it at all).

I used instant espresso powder in my cookie topping, but instant coffee powder can be used instead. You can leave out the coffee and have a plain vanilla topping. I used a tangzhong milk loaf for my buns. They turned out super soft, fluffy and shreddable. The topping was crisp on day one, but softened considerably by day two.

mexican_bun_proof

mexican_bun_swirl

mexican_bun_baked

I left a few without topping. The topping weighs down the bun a bit so the topped ones spread out instead of up.

mexican_bun_crust

The bottom of the bun.

mexican_bun_bottom

The crumb.

mexican_bun_crumb_2

mexican_bun_crumb_3

Bakers' percentages for the bun dough

100% flour*, 75% whole milk*, 10% sugar, 12.5% egg, 1% instant dry yeast, 1.5% salt, 10% butter

[* 5% of the total flour was used in the tangzhong. TZ ratio was 1:5 flour to milk.]

Bun dough recipe

To make the tangzhong: In a saucepan whisk 20 g AP flour into 100 g whole milk until it's pretty smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 149F/65C. It should be pudding like. Allow the tangzhong to cool before using it in the dough.

380 g AP flour

200 g whole milk, 85-90F

40 sugar

50 g egg

4 g instant dry yeast (SAF red)

6 g salt

40 g unsalted butter, softened

all of the tangzhong

  1. In a KA stand mixer, mix everything except the butter on speed 1 for 3 minutes.

  2. Add the butter and mix on speed 2 until all the butter is incorporated, about 2 -3 minutes.

  3. Bulk ferment at room temp until doubled, about 1 hour.

  4. Scale each bun at 55 grams. (I got 15 buns.)

  5. Proof on sheet pans at room temp for 30-45 minutes.

  6. Pipe cookie topping onto each proofed bun.

  7. Bake buns at 375F for about 15 mins or until golden brown. Best served warm.   

Coffee cookie topping

50g unsalted butter, softened

50g granulated sugar

50g egg, lightly beaten

70g AP flour

1 tsp instant espresso powder

1 tsp water

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Dissolve the espresso powder in the warm water and mix in vanilla extract. Set aside.

  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  3. Beat in the egg until well combined.

  4. Beat in the espresso mixture.

  5. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated.

  6. Transfer topping to a pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tip.

  7. Store in the refrigerator until needed. (Can be made 2 day in advance.)

  8. Allow the topping to soften a bit at room temp for about 5 or 10 minutes before piping it onto the proofed buns.

 :) Mary

MarkS's picture
MarkS

Help me understand "builds".

Peter Reinhart touched on this briefly in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but did not elaborate.

I am working on a sourdough recipe. I want a 350 gram leaven in the final dough, so I am starting with 50 grams of 100% starter.

If I understand the meaning, my leaven has three builds with a fourth when added to the final dough, as follows:

First build: 50 grams of starter, plus 15 grams of flour to bring it to 60% hydration. Ferment overnight at room temp.

Second build: 100 grams flour plus 59 grams water, and ferment again at room temp.

Third build: 70 grams of flour plus 56 grams of water and ferment.

The final build will be adding it to the final dough. This, to me, seems what is meant by "build". Is this correct, and if so, what purpose is there in doing this as opposed to just adding the correct amount of flour and water to bring it to 350 grams and letting it ferment?

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