The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mélange de Abe et Anis

Portus's picture
Portus

Mélange de Abe et Anis

Having returned from holiday with a spare pre-mixed Ziploc bag of Abe’s VSSD loaf ingredients, I decided to use them with Anis Bouabsa’s baguette method to see what they produced.  Main changes were upping VSSD’s hydration to +78% and, as the baguette’s 24-hour retard method yielded no dough expansion, I added a further 12-hour, overnight ferment at room temperature (the norm for VSSD), which only offered a meagre ~10% increase in volume.  The VSSD stiff starter was about 3 weeks old.

This combination produced a pleasing baguette and loaf.  Both presented surprising oven spring, as is particularly evident in the loaf’s bloom.  For my palate, however, I am not sure about the hint of sour for the baguette that presumably came with the long retard and ferment cycles; for the loaf, the sour was more pronounced and better suited.  As the one picture shows, the loaf’s crumb was more baguette- than loaf-like, though some may prefer the irregular, larger holes.

 

 

Whatever, I was happy that 60% whole wheat delivered a delightfully crisp crust and an open and chewy crumb ahead of expectations. I am also rather amazed about what a mere 2% of a very mature, stiff starter can do without any intermediate levain-build.  I surmise that part of the answer may lie with the high % whole wheat, a touch of DMP (substituted 5g white flour), and gentle folding - aside from being fortunate with times and temperatures.

Joe

Comments

Abe's picture
Abe

I've always questioned many given beliefs when it comes to starter. For instance why do we need to activate it to make a bread if when we feed it the starter bubbles up just fine? Sure if it's been sitting in the fridge for months and looks lack lustre then best give it some TLC before using to be on the safe side. However a healthy starter bubbles up when fed so it should also leaven a bread. Using too much over fermented starter in a final loaf is not a good idea as the taste will be off and there will be too much gluten breakdown resulting in a poor loaf. So the more mature it is the less should be used in the final dough and given enough time it'll be fine. A levain is simply building an off shoot starter, at a greater ratio, with a balanced flavour and a stronger gluten network. That's why it's not as fermented as much. But certainly using a little starter in a dough that hasn't been recently refreshed (e.g. as in feeding the night before making the dough) will work. The low hydration starter is low maintenance, is not as acidic and won't build up hooch as quickly. I would however make sure it doesn't dry out too much making sure the outside is moistened but if you're discarding the dried out parts everytime it should be fine. Just be wary of mould in which case find the healthier inside part of the starter and feed back to health.

Those big bubbles may be due to shaping or it might have needed more time or could be an indicator of a refreshment needed as it's been neglected for a little while. Difficult to tell but still looks great either way. It certainly had great oven spring and you like the taste.

Portus's picture
Portus

Thanks, Abe.  Big bubbles probably result from under-proofing, as I baked quite soon after shaping owing to the extended 36 hour retard and ferment. I also recall reading that the Bouabsa baguette is best baked slightly under-proofed, which I did here. 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

That you were able to produce that kind of crumb with 60% WW is an impressive feat. I have been maintaining a stiff starter and am anxious to try this low% inoculation method. What dough temps are you working with? 

Portus's picture
Portus

Thanks, MTloaf.  The initial water temp when mixing was on the warm side at ~30dC.  Retard was at 4dC fridge temp, though the dough temp on exit was ~7dC.  Dough temps for bench rest and ferment were ~24dC.

Benito's picture
Benito

Your baguette crumb is to die for, well done.

Benny

Portus's picture
Portus

Thanks, Benny.  Truth be told I am likewise taken with the baguette crumb, particularly with the starter/whole wheat combination versus the more usual IDY/bread flour. 

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

Those are beautiful breads! The shiny crumb is nice!

Portus's picture
Portus

Thank you; I appreciate your interest!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Finding our own ways to make the good even better.  Great crumb on the baguette.

Portus's picture
Portus

Thanks, Alan.  I wonder how many home baking experiments have made their way into recipe books.  Perhaps not ranking along with Fleming's accidental discovery of penicillin, but would Flo Macanai's innovative "123" formula count - http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9346/123-easy-formula-sourdough-bread?

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

That's a picturesque crumb for 60% whole wheat.  It's also very white.  Was the 60% all hard white? 

And could you please translate "VSSD".  Thank you.  Obviously "VS Sourdough" but ... VS?  Vermont Stiff?

Beautiful breads.

Tom

Portus's picture
Portus

Hi Tom. Thanks for your comments.  I do not know the variety of flour I used, suffice to say that both white and whole wheat are unbleached, GMO-free stoneground flour with no additives or preservatives.  Although the baguette crumb appears whiter than the loaf, both came from the same dough mix, so I assume any difference in color is owing to the lighting. 

For an explanation about VSSD, see Abe's posting http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66384/very-simple-sourdough-recipe.  A wonderful, flexible formula!

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Thanks Joe.  Maybe it's time to swing back to a stiff starter for a round or two.  At 80% hyd, mine's halfway there already.  And Abe's VSSD process looks worth exploring.  I missed that post last Nov for some reason.

Tom