Poilane short fermentations, Yogurt?
Hello everyone, been away a long time. Medical stuff has kept me still-bound for a long time.
Just trying to pick up a knife, and a banetton from time to time. Knowing the reputation of Poilane (very sad to say, never been there yet), I picked up the book. Couple questions.
The basic recipe - this is their flagship? I am very humble in saying this but I've gotten much better results in terms of flavor and complexity using Hamelman from starter through to finished miche. Can anyone comment?
Secondly, I don't understand the use of yogurt as a starter "seed." I understand runnier yogurts contain mesophilics, but most yogurts I know contain entirely thermophilic bacteria, not kicking in until 115-122F or so. There would be a very tiny amount of mesophilics, but I'm puzzled by this notion since s. thermophilus et al would be in the firmer commercial examples I consume. Is she perhaps talking about a runnier, mesophilic-based yogurt? Any good commercial examples to use?
I've used Chez Panisse's unsulfured grapes, as well as their potato starter, to great results from years in Chicago. Unfortunately in our move to Madison, my 12-year old or so starter froze and died. I've not been too pleased with results since.
I'm the last person to question anything baking. You guys are astounding, and obviously pretty laughable I'd be querying on Apollonia Poilane's method here. Just wondering what your experiences are. Many thanks.
I don't have the book, but.... the reviews seem to indicate that the book does not have the commercial Poilâne bread formula.
As far as starter cultures, a really good performing one is Carl's 1847 Oregon Trail sourdough starter, available for a $1 donation at www.carlsfriends.net It refreshes well, stays alive in the fridge, and performs well leavening/raising the dough.
But, I am not personally satisfied with the taste of it, so I am going back to a Cultures for Health starter, available on Amazon.
I may pick up the Poilane book, out of curiosity, when the used price dips below $10, including shipping.
I am fortunate to have been to Poilane in Paris a few times. I think that their bread is really good! I preordered the book back in April and was very excited when it shipped. It is a beautiful book, well made with nice photo's. What it lacks is that their formulas have no relationship to Poilane bread. I returned mine the day I received it. Very disappointing. :(
I can almost guarantee that there is no relation between what's in the book and what actually happens in the bakery. We've seen it already with Kayser.
PS. re: Mmle Poilane - my understanding is that she never worked on the manufacturing side of the business, definitely not at the same time as her father.
Thank you all. Afraid it confirmed my gut check. I couldn't believe I was looking at basically one miche, not very good, with a variation then on to any number of items generically found in any number of other sources. I was really hoping for a definitive text on their approach and techniques. The loaf I made using the poilane book, it lasted about a day, the same as any cultured-yeast baguette. My levain boules, batards, etc., go for many days, one of the things I love about authentic sourdough.
My Hamelman is broken in two - binding gave way some time ago. Probably a good sign. I have several of Peter Reinhart's books coming from the library and will likely be trying one or several of his books as I know his reputation here. Also as I mentioned, all those years ago, had such tremendous results seeding per the Chez Panisse cookbook.
Appreciate it very much.
Maybe a bit of topic but this article got me interested in bread baking a few years ago. As the author writes he tried to copy Polaine bread and came up with this recipe. It works quite well in my opinion:
I'm not sure if one really has to copy a bread style 'exactly'. In the end it comes down to what tastes best ?
I looked at the Poilane book today at Barnes and Noble and was disappointed in what I read. Yes, the addition of yogurt and commercial dry yeast. I have been to Poilane in Paris and as others have noted I doubt this recipe has much to do with the original. Although from various sources I understand that in France a bakery can advertise "Pain au Levain" while at the same time being allowed to add small amounts of commercial yeast.
I have several strong starters going and live in Madison WI. If that is where you now live I would be happy to meet up and give you a portion of my starter. One of the ones I am currently maintaining is one from Madison Sourdough. I took two of their Sourdough Bread classes. PM me if you would like.
The new Poilane book is indeed a big disapointment, luckily I only bucked up for the e-book.
The free intro read is rather enticing, but that's where it ends, in my opinion this book is a dud, it's of little interest to experienced bakers searching for serious information and also of little value to the complete beginner, it's dumbed down to the point of absurdity, leave this one on the shelf folks.
that was my rave, thanks
For some more insight you might listen to this podcast. She explains because you will never have their ovens, salt, wheat, etc.- she had tried to create recipes as starting point in the general direction that you then build on to your conditions and supplies. While she didn't formal "work" in the bakery with her father (her parents died when she was 18) it was assumed she would take over the family business someday and she was involved in operations.
That sounds like a justification, and a lame one too. If you feel that your recipes are not reproducible based solely on the ingredients and equipment you should not be afraid to publish them and let the readers figure it out. With authentic recipe you can plan, and think, and do your best adaptation, and discuss it with people who had a different take on it. If its not authentic - why even bother? There are already quite a few of those.
Hi All -
Apologies for being so late in reply. I've been a bit out of commission.
I'm extremely grateful for your input. It makes sense, now. I'm disappointed in the book as I think I was looking for something of an equivalent for Poilane as Keller's The French Laundry, a fairly true-to-practice text that really gave great insights into the chef's worldview and battery of techniques. I found this book fell short. But man, do I want to go there!
Thanks, too, on the leads everyone. I'll check out the podcast Edo and Bröterich I'll check out the links so thanks there as well. WVDthree thanks for the kind offer of some starter. We're going strong for now, but regardless it would be great to meet up - I'm indeed out of Madison. I'll PM you.
Thanks again. I'm hopelessly in love with cookbooks and have 3 walls lined with them. They make me feel secure, lol. I'll add the book but know it won't get used much, if at all. Tons of pastry, bread, chocolate, confection, etc. books. Still, it says "Poilane," so it looks good up there, lol.
BTW - I'm reading through Reinhart's BBA, and have to say I'm loving it. I've picked up various techniques over the years but I had no idea about the provenance of many of them, so it was nice to know where these came from. I've used Hamelman very heavily, almost exclusively up to now for my breads. But I'm going to work this book and looking forward to it.
Probably should be in another thread, but flours: I know the Hamelman "bread flour" was a publisher's mistake and it should have read something like KA AP flour, or flour coming in at 11.5-11.7%, whatever it's name.
Reinhart uses the term "bread flour" and does distinguish it from AP - e.g., suggesting 50:50 AP and bread for baguettes. I'm just not seeing his reasoning on why the heavy use of bread flour, or if here, he, too, means something like the KA AP. For rustic French bread, as an example. Is that "bread flour" at 11.7%ish, or true bread flour as KA calls it, 12.7%?
(I haven't used KA bread flour in years. I can't remember why I stopped. I almost exclusively use KA's AP or TJ's AP, which I like quite a bit. TJ's is 11.8%, so both are very close in gluten potential).
Merci. - Paul
"I know the Hamelman "bread flour" was a publisher's mistake and it should have read something like KA AP flour, or flour coming in at 11.5-11.7%, whatever it's name."
The book explicitly recommends 11.5-12% flours, however, I've always felt that I get better results if I go with stronger flour like KABF (although it's not what I buy) for yeasted breads, and weaker, like plain ~10.5 AP for sourdoughs.
Thanks Suave. Most of my sourdoughs are basically rustic style boules, etc., with 10-15% of WW, Rye, or a combination. Would you still go with the 10.5%, or something stronger, e.g., KA AP?
Your 10.5% - do you blend to get this, or do you have a dedicated miller you like. And do you go with the lower protein out of a desire for a more open crumb?
FWIW, all these were made with KA AP as the main flour. Apologies for the size - I wasn't intending for these to be gargantuan, just haven't figured out how to manipulate photos yet. Anyway, KA AP, WW would be KA as well, and rye comes from a local grower and miller, Lonesome Stone. It's a dark rye.
christmas bread 2015.JPG
boule for burns 1.JPG
I often do real similar loaves to yours I tend to have about half of my "regular" flour - that is not rye, ww, etc. as KA Bread. I don't use any exact proportions of it to AP, but I do find it gives more structure and I get better oven spring and overall quality than just using AP.
These days I usually build levain using strong bread flour and use unbleached AP like Gold Medal for the balance of white flour.
Great, thanks guys. Interestingly, I'm re-reading The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens, and they will do the same thing. It's been so long and my memory isn't the best, but I may have done something like this many years ago. I just recall not liking the bread when I was going with KA BF, though I can't actually recall why.
At any rate thanks very much. Looking forward to it.
Belated response to this thread.. I agree that the APoilane book has limitations. However, I have enjoyed having it and have attempted the pain Poilane bread from it a couple of times. Many books offer versions of this bread for home bakers. They differ among themselves and all boil down to a sort of country French bread. Home bakers probably seldom produce an identical loaf to professional volume production, though equivalent quality often enough. Also, the book's rye bread with currants is killer, just about justifying the price.
I recently recognized a parallel between Apollonia's yoghurt starter and the spoonful of milk in Joe Ortiz's pain de campagne recipe, which calls for a spoonful of milk at the beginning of the starter instructions. My thought is that the dairy element is to promote lactobacilli in the culture. To do a sort of a test of this I put a spoonful of yoghurt in the first build of a country bread dough. I probably used too much. The bread was sweet and tasty, and had a rich dairy component to its taste. Later generations of that culture taste similar to the pre-yoghurt ones. I don't know what that says about my lactobacilli theory.
I have read a large number of instructions for making a starter, and made at least six or eight ones myself using various procedures. However a culture starts, it will live as it is nurtured, apparently.
Great post Tony, thanks. If interested, I was an alpine cheesemaker and yearly began a "mother" much the same way, for thermophilic LABs. Ortiz, in The Village Baker?
I'm drowning in so many books - let alone just 3 blog writers (Brotdoc, Hanseata/Karin, Lutz Geißler) who are taking up a "speed rail" of next bakes:
-but thanks for the notes. That currant rye bread sounds killer even before I see the recipe.
It was Ortiz in the Village Baker who called for a spoonful of milk at the outset of a cumin-ized leaven culture. I have four of Lutz Geißler's books. The other two blogs you name I've only seen in passing. Thanks for prompting a closer look. With books, I'm to the point where impulse purchases are a mistake. It takes not more than 6 or 8 minutes to realize that a new book which looked wonderful on its shiny surface is just a shallow rehash of things I learned 10 years ago. I've paid $18 or so for something else that won't fit on the shelf.
My wife learned to make cheese in Province long years ago, but she's gone on to other projects and hasn't pursued it in the 30+ years of our association. I had the good luck to spend 5 days in St. Gallen, Switzerland, once. I don't remember the cheese, but our hotel served the best bread. As close to Alps as I've gotten.
Tony, do I ever hear you on impulse buying books. The bane of my wife's existence (well, that, plus the various fermentation activities over the years taking up house space - casks, cheese "caves", etc.), so I get it. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover. Are you putting your experience of the Geißler books in that class, did you not enjoy them?
Nice you got to spend some time in St. Gallen. Had never heard of it until you mentioned it, seems like a beautiful spot.
Lutz's books get shelf space for sure, though I use them less than I probably should. My Deutschsprache limitations being what they are, and limitations of my German-English dictionary when it comes to baking terms, coupled with the books' somewhat quirkiness keep me from using them so much. He's marvelous, though, and his science background makes his presentation of info easy to follow and really helpful.
One thing that stands out in my memory about St Galen is the harmonious architecture of the homes and other buildings. Various eras of 19th, 20th, and 21st century structures got along beautifully. Seeing what I was looking at, I realized that "modern" was not such a clean break with the past back 80-100 years ago, didn't have to be such. Here in USA your face gets rubbed in "Different!" but there it was, "Beauty comes in many forms."
Fantastic, thanks Tony. And your second paragraph is quite an insight, eloquently written. Thanks for that as well.