The Fresh Loaf

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100% Whole Grain Hard Red (Desem Inspired)

mdw's picture
mdw

100% Whole Grain Hard Red (Desem Inspired)

100% whole grain (100% extraction), this loaf was baked with 75% hydration. I knew immediately the hydration here was too low but decided to continue anyway to see what happened. I recently began converting my starter to something stiffer and cooler based on the Desem threads that continue to intrigue me. This was the first bake following my standard formula for whole grain that I've enjoyed for the last year or so. In part because of the hydration, in part because of life, the bulk ferment lasted a full 24 hours at room temp of approximately 70℉ (6% PFF). The dough was so stiff there was no manipulation at all during this time. The resulting flavor is delightful, a light delicate (and very even) crumb. Not as open as my previous bakes, but a joy to eat and a happy surprise from something I had written off as a loss before baking. 

Comments

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow, what a lovely result I can’t believe it had 24 hours of bulk at 70ºF.  I guess the lower 6% PFF) had a lot to do with that.  The crumb looks wonderful, a nice low intervention whole grain loaf.

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

Thanks Benny! I was pleasantly surprised. I typically use about 5% PFF and bulk about 9 hours or so. I don't know if it was my shift towards cooler/stiffer starter maintenence or the low hydration (or both), but something slowed it down dramatically and it still turned out nicely, and far better than expected. 

jl's picture
jl

24 hours seems like a very long time. What is the dough like after that? 

The end result looks great!

mdw's picture
mdw

24 hours IS a very long time. The dough felt very fragile when I shaped it. It was very puffy and tacky, and well beyond the point I would have taken it intentionally.

jl's picture
jl

How do you maintain your starter, by the way?

mdw's picture
mdw

I'm currently several days in to converting my room temperature 100% hydration starter from twice daily 1:5:5 to a desem inspired starter; 1:4:6 at 59°F

mdw's picture
mdw

This is the second loaf baked using my new desem inspired maintenance routine, this time with 80% hydration. The bulk fermentation lasted about 7.5 hours at 70℉ and 8% inoculation, followed by an additional hour of final proof before a 14 hour cold retard. Two coil folds were performed during the first half of bulk but the dough was still stiff at the higher hydration and did not require additional handling. 

jl's picture
jl

That's basically perfect. What did the loaf look like on the outside? 

mdw's picture
mdw

Pretty normal. There was a decent ear, though it tore a bit on one side.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

That looks really nice.  I think I'm going to try a couple bakes similar to your process this weekend, starting with a cold or room temperature final proof.  Lately, I've been having to lower hydration significantly (72% or so) to get decent oven spring with the hot and humid final proof at 95F.  I remembered that my early desem attempts were at a much higher hydration that is more typical of whole wheat (85% or so including the Yecora Rojo).  Once I started experimenting with the prescribed hot and humid final proof I faced more challenges, and through experimentation have ended up lowering hydration to compensate, as the dough becomes very slack at that temperature.  I think the cold final proof tends to tighten things up for you.  I'm curious if there is anything that a hot final proof can achieve that can't be achieved with a longer cold final proof.

mdw's picture
mdw

I suspect that the hot final proof DOES achieve different things, but also that I would try both. Hot final proof for some of the allotted time, then placing in the fridge overnight. It's rare that there's noticeable yeast activity after the retard, but it does seem to rise slightly if I proof at room temperature for an hour or so first. 

mdw's picture
mdw

Thinking about this more, if we assume that the entire methodology is a result of geographical limitations, why (and how) would this final proof be performed at the higher temperatures? 

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

The only reference to the hot final proof I've come across that addresses *why* is this:

Desem dough is fermented slowly at a low temperature, and then proofed at an elevated temperature for 90 minutes (Wing et al., 1999). The rapid proof produces bread much more acidic (4.7 pH) than commercially yeasted dough but also prevents the loaves from going flat, even though the gluten in fresh flour is weak. The flavour of the finished bread is nutty and sweet without a pronounced acid taste.

Where "slowly" above is 4 hours according to LKBB.  I'll review the 3 books I have again for clues.

From the text, it is hard to tell if this is specific to freshly milled flour or not.

It seems "flat" is used in a structural sense here.  This seems counterintuitive to me, as I frequently read about the benefits of a cold final proof and scoring/baking directly out of the fridge.

From THIS COMMENT my understanding is that acid will protect starches but will weaken protein/gluten. Perhaps that is related?

There seems to be some intention behind cramming it all in at the end like that, but I can't quite piece it together.   I have a pH meter now, so I can try to compare pH between different approaches to see if that points to anything.

I feel like I'm missing a good "sourdough textbook".

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

It may be a good compromise.  Stick with a short hot + humid final proof but use a quick chill to firm up the dough, improve scoring, etc.

mdw's picture
mdw

This is the third loaf from my new desem inspired starter. Also made with 80% hydration, but this time using Rouge de Bordeaux. It is my first time using this landrace wheat, which I picked up as part of a "grain-share" program from the farmer (a grain CSA). The specs are similar to the last one, a 7 hour bulk (70℉), 8% inoculation, about an hour final proof, then cold retard for 13 hours. Some very gentle coil fold type shaping early in the process but largely left untouched. 

As a side note, the starter seems to be growing faster with the same feeding ratios (1:4:6) in the same amount of time, it's been about a week since I've started keeping it at 59℉.

mdw's picture
mdw

 

I’ve now taken my curiosity regarding desem a step further. I built up some of my celler stored starter at a ratio of 1:2:3, which would provide the levain for a loaf of 23% PFF. It was then stored at 59°F as well for 18 hours until inoculation. I held back some water from the autolyse and used that when I added the levain. The resulting dough was...unpleasant. It was a sloppy goopy mess and I used slap and folds in an attempt to bring it all together. Eventually I got something I was okay with, if not particularly excited about. My 1.5 year old son had something to do with me not spending more time with it. The bulk went quickly, 3:45min, much faster than the 7, 8, 9 hours I'm used to. It was warmer on bake day than it has been, and I generally inoculate around 5-8%. But it looked fully aerated through the clear container so I called it when I did. Shaping was a little stickier than I’m used to with the same flour at the same hydration, but I felt pretty good about it in the end. I left it to rise to an approximation of 100% before retarding for the night.

This was the hard red I used previously, with the same 80% hydration.

I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the flavor results. There's no visible improvement, but the taste seems to be softened and more mellow. Unfortunately I don't know if using my more conventionally stored starter at a similar inoculation percentage would have also achieved this, but I'm not mad at the results. There is no sour to speak of, a flavor my wife and I generally enjoy. But the loaf is nevertheless very nice. 

jl's picture
jl

That's beautiful. A tall and airy whole wheat loaf is really something to be proud of.

Benito's picture
Benito

That’s a real triumph, beautifully fermented with wonderful ovenspring and bloom.  Outstanding crumb you’ve achieved there MDW, very impressive loaf of 100% whole hard red wheat.

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

Thanks Benny! I have no doubt you could achieve similar results (or better) if you tried. But the resulting flavor leaves me motivated to continue pursuing this desem concept. 

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

This one does look a little more uniform than the last one, and is more aerated at the bottom.  I think it does show some visual improvement.  It is interesting tracking your progress on this.  Since you now have a mature, cool, low hydration starter and are using a relatively high inoculation with a short (< 4 hour) bulk fermentation, the only thing "missing" is the hot and humid final proof.  I'd still like to do a taste test comparing a hot and cold final proof, but am still troubleshooting the hot version.  I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the same if you ever try it. 

[UPDATE: deleted previously posted reference]

mdw's picture
mdw

Rouge de Bordeaux, 80% hydration. Made a couple of mistakes with this one, the most obvious relating to the "flying crust" type issues. I believe this was the result of poor shaping rather than issues with fermentation (can't win them all). The other mistake was building up the levain with rye. The total PFF was 26% here, which effectively meant that it was rye:rouge de Bordeaux at about 1:3. To put it another way, the total levain was 54% of the flour added. The resulting flavor was not exactly what I was hoping for. 

Total bulk fermentation was 3 hours at 70℉, followed by 1.5 hours final proof at the same temperature. Then retarded overnight (9 hours). This achieved approximately 60% rise during bulk and close to 100% with final proofing. Theoretically. 

I'm withholding the rye for now, unless there are signs that the starter is lacking. Especially if I plan to continue inoculating at such high percentages.

mdw's picture
mdw

Back to my standby Hard Red (WB9229) at 80%. Although I've always used 80% water for this grain the consistency has begun to change using the desem process. I now believe the hydration needs to drop slightly to recover the spring that this one is missing. That said, this loaf has once again impressed me with the flavor. "It's not as sour as usual" my wife said disappointingly. Despite that being a profile we both enjoy, this loaf was particularly nice. Light, fluffy, and creamy. Very mild with nice aroma. I suspect the desem origin story includes eliminating sour notes from the bread, if so I'm succeeding (for better or for worse). I still have not tried final proofing at the higher temperatures though. 

The specs:

  • 100% WB9229
  • 80% H2O
  • 20% PFF
  • 2% Salt
  • 15 minutes or so of rubaud to incorporate levain
  • 4.5 hour bulk at 70℉ to 75% estimated rise
  • 1.5 hour final proof at ℉ to 100% estimated

I plan to drop both hydration and level of bulk rise for the next one, which will be Rouge de Bordeaux again since I'm now out of the WB9229. 

 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Stunning crumb, beautifully open.  Are you using flour when you’re final shaping?  I think I’m seeing some lines of flour in the crumb.

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

Thanks Benny! No flour, what I think you're seeing is a double cut when slicing. This loaf was only out of the oven for about 2.5 hours by the time my toddler was ready for breakfast, and was still warm. But when toddlers are ready, they are READY. It was a bit softer then when I typically slice and thus I slipped. Screaming READY toddler didn't help. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Gotcha, 2.5 hours yes is a bit early for slicing but a crying toddler rules the day on when to slice!!

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

That is another nice one.  Based on your BF & FP times the starter seems to be very happy now.  I think the hot final proof may provide some of the acidity you are missing.  I've read some rave reviews of Rouge de Bourdeaux, but have not tried it myself.  I found a supplier for berries and just ordered some.  Which is your favorite bake so far?

mdw's picture
mdw

That's a good question, I'd have to say this one. Said toddler likely agrees. I am happy to have gone down this path (thank you for the support!), though at some point soon I'll need to arrest the development by migrating to refrigerator storage and cellar levains. I just figured out a workable schedule that allows me to build the levain with precisely enough leftover to repeat (20% PFF), but a 24hour cycle of bread is too much for us. How have you dealt with this?

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

I've done something similar.  I'm working with a 500g flour recipe (all-inclusive).  I mill 500g of flour in the evening and feed the starter with 100g at 50:60:100=210g (typically 9 PM or so), and make a soaker with the remaining 400g of flour.  I mix 160g of the 60% hydration starter with the 400g soaker for (20% PFF) the following morning (w/ bassinage) and put 50g of the starter back in the fridge, and repeat the 50:60:100 feed that evening.  The pH of the starter a the time of morning mix under normal maintenance is about 4.46.  It is just two of us, and we can't keep up with one loaf per day, so I've been skipping days.  On the skip days, I typically discard (I keep discard for projects) and refresh back to 50g (12:14:23), so I waste 25g at most.  I actually keep this discard in the fridge as a short-term backup and eventually use it for baking projects (flatbreads, etc).  Yesterday was a skip day and I didn't get around to feeding it.  The pH of the starter fed with the neglected starter was 4.35 just prior to the morning mix.  I actually fed it last night around 6 pm using sifted flour and I noticed it had already doubled by 11 pm or so at the 56F wine fridge temperature.  It may be maturing earlier than I would like, so I may lower the temperature or reduce the inoculation to better align the starter peak with the morning mix, although at this temperature I think we have much wider operating windows.  Since I always bake at least 2x per week, I find keeping an active (potentially mini) starter going is easier than dealing with the fridge.  The Bread Book provides instructions for storing unused starter for longer off-periods in the fridge, which involves coating in flour, and wrapping twice tightly in cloth to maintain pressure, but the motivation for this is not provided.  Actually, most sources suggest maintaining it in flour in such a way that a dry outer rind is formed and discarded in the next feed, but I've never seen an explanation for why this would be beneficial and haven't tried it myself.

[edit: updated to correct pH levels after checking logs]

mdw's picture
mdw

Very similar. I'm also doing 500g total flour but have been feeding 30g starter with 60g water and 90g flour (1:2:3). I'm now using 150g starter for 20% PFF and am left with 30g to restart the cycle. If I don't want to do another bake I'll discard 25g or so (into the freezer) and just feed the last 5g with 20g water and 30g flour (1:4:6). I don't know if switching back and forth between 1:2:3 levain building and 1:4:6 as maintenance is a great idea but I feel more comfortable slowing it down when I'm not planning to bake. Either way it's done on the same 24hour cycle. I've been keeping the overnight soaker down in the cellar with the starter as well. 

mdw's picture
mdw

Back to the Rouge De Bordeaux again here. But still at the 80% hydration that I'm beginning to think this method does not support (the next loaf will be 75%, it's bulking now). 20% PFF shaped after 3.5 hours of bulk (60% estimate), followed by just over 2 hours final rise to an estimated 100%. Both at 70℉. 

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

Still looks good, if a little flatter.

How do you estimate bulk fermentation and final proof levels?

Is your final proof rise estimate relative to the start of bulk fermentation, or the end of it?

I ask because you seem to target a 100% rise before retarding, whereas I tend to lose most of my oven spring if I aim that high. 

Perhaps the cold retards helps with this.

It does seem like 75% hydration is a good rule of thumb for this general formula.

I've been curious about attempting to further reduce % PFF to see if that supports working at higher hydration levels, especially with a well-maintained starter.  Perhaps 80% hydration could work at 10% PFF without requiring much more time.  I'm curious to see and taste differences between 75% hydration at 20% PFF and 80% hydration at 10% PFF (or slightly higher) and will add this to my list of things to try.

mdw's picture
mdw

My estimates are based on bwraith's spreadsheet, which I've previously dialed in with success over the last two years or so. Final proof is an estimate based on the start of bulk fermentation. I've mostly continued using the same metric to provide a control within the experimentation. That said, I'm open to the suggestion that desem has different effects. 60% bulk based on the models I use is already an adjustment based on recent experience. 

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

>>> 20% PFF shaped after 3.5 hours of bulk (60% estimate), followed by just over 2 hours final rise to an estimated 100%. Both at 70℉

>> Is your final proof rise estimate relative to the start of bulk fermentation, or the end of it?

> Final proof is an estimate based on the start of bulk fermentation.

To clarify, I was assuming your BF and FP estimates were both relative to the post-mix starting point (X):

BF = X * (1.0 + 0.6) = 1.6X

FP = X * (1.0 + 1.0) =  2X

FP - BF = 2X - 1.6X = 0.4X

and not

BF = X * (1.0 + 0.6) = 1.6 X

FP = 1.6 X * (1.0 + 1.0) = 3.2 X

mdw's picture
mdw

Relative to the start, I'm sure we're on the same page here though it is a bit confusing. In other words, an aliquot separated from the beginning of the inoculation rises to 100% (just under, actually to allow time to chill) when it goes into the fridge.

Benito's picture
Benito

That is the same reference I use when stating aliquot rise, it is all relative to the starting point when the dough is placed in the jar.  I am planning to proof to 100% rise as well on my next bake before cold retard.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

Thanks for clarifying.  Actually, your initial response was clear about this too now that I read it again.

mdw's picture
mdw

I'm now wondering if my 1:2:3 build over 24 hours for a bake is resulting in overly acidic levains when the maintenance routine has been 1:4:6. This might be why I've had strength issues at 80% hydration. This just occurred to me but seems to make sense. It may be time to order ph strips.

jl's picture
jl

What's wrong with just tasting it?

mdw's picture
mdw

It doesn't provide an objective measurement. There's nothing wrong with tasting it, but that feedback would be much more useful with more information. I use my eyes, hands, and nose when judging bulk fermentation, but I also use a thermometer and spreadsheet to reconcile that information. My baking saw a lot of improvement when I deciphered bwraith's models. 

jl's picture
jl

What are bwraith's models?

mdw's picture
mdw

bwraith's models are based on research of the effects of temperature, pH, hydration, etc., of sourdough cultures. You can see his original post here and go from there. It takes some dialing in but I've found great success when doing so.

jl's picture
jl

Thanks. His whole blog is amazing.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

If I read that right, I think a 24-hour build using 1:2:3 at 59F is too long for your starter.  Have you checked the time to peak?  What volume does it reach?  I've been using a small wide mouth mason jar and I pack it into the bottom of the jar using a chopstick to vent air up and out the side.  At 60% hydration or above I'm able to estimate the domed volume increase with reasonable accuracy.  For better or worse, this deviates from the flour-crusted dough ball I see in most references.  I spent some time trying to dial in a 24-hour build to align the starter peak and baking cycles using temperature and inoculation rate (also guided by bwraith's spreadsheet) but found it challenging to tune such a long process and eventually settled on what I felt was a more practical night before strategy, which is easier to work with.  Ideally I would feed the unused starter portion in the morning to prepare it for the evening feed, but I've just been leaving it.  I would like to test that to observe change in pH.   A 10% timing error is no big deal for short room temperature builds, but is very significant for full-day builds, and if the starter doesn't respond well to the harsher environment being tested it can take a long time to nurse it back to health.  I also had concerns about potentially weakening the starter by continuously propagating at something like 75% maturity in the case I underestimated the time to peak.  (I'm sure it isn't nearly this simple, but essentially 0.75^N).   I noticed my 5:6:10 build at a 56F setting (usually slightly warmer) is approximately doubling in 5 hours or so when fed with sifted flour (the bran levains don't achieve the same volume), so even a 12-hour build is probably too long.  I think I will try to cut the inoculation in half and see how it behaves.  I previously set up a time-lapse camera to try to estimate the peak, since it happens while I'm sleeping, and may revisit this.

mdw's picture
mdw

Have you checked the time to peak?  What volume does it reach?

I have not. Like you my attempts to create a build schedule that aligned with my best practices maintenance routines was too challenging to pursue. So peak is likely happening overnight. I also had a hard time judging initially anyway because of the obvious visual differences going from 100% hydration. It's now been a couple of weeks and I've gotten to know it better so judging peak should get easier. That said, I just took the lid off a current bake of rouge de Bordeaux at 75% and the oven spring is back.

edited to include photo

Benito's picture
Benito

This is a beautiful crumb, very very nice.  The profile is flatter but the crumb looks awesome.

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

Thanks Benny! I'm very happy with the texture but I don't enjoy the flavor of the Rouge de Bordeaux as much as I had hoped. It's not bad, but definitely a little more aggressive than my usual hard red. I have maybe 500 or 600g left to go through and then I'll switch back. This grain was apparently prized by French bakers for their baguettes, maybe I should have a go at that!

Benito's picture
Benito

Now you’re talking, use some in a baguette.  Have you baked baguettes before?

mdw's picture
mdw

I have not. The desire hasn't been there but the curiosity has. Someday soon I suspect. 

mdw's picture
mdw

Rouge de Bordeaux again. There were three deviations on this one from the last (that I made intentionally, at least). The hydration was dropped to 75% (hello again oven spring!), it was bulked for 20 additional minutes, and the final proof was 23 minutes shorter.

Benito's picture
Benito

Much better profile on this loaf with greater oven spring.  The crumb looks fine as well.  Nice bake.

Benny

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