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]