The Fresh Loaf

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100% Whole Grain Hard Red

mdw's picture
mdw

100% Whole Grain Hard Red

My starter has been temperamental lately as I've been adjusting its diet so I returned to my roots with this one in effort to regain some focus. I still maintain a cool stiff starter but after switching from 100% rye I had some issues and began adding about 25% back. This is all because my latest attempts with desem included 20% PFF and I found that 20% rye was too overpowering to the flavor of the hard red I was using. So this loaf returns to my longish ferment with lowish inoculation and minimal handling. Despite excellent oven spring the crumb isn't as open as it used to be, but I knew my sluggish starter hadn't completed the job when I had to call it a night. I invoked the power of Tartine's short bulk and hoped for the best.

The original formula was for 75% hydration but I decided to raise it to 78% when I added 15g H2O to the stiff starter, making it easier to incorporate. The total PFF was 7% and it bulked for about 7:45min at about 68-69℉. The cooler weather outside didn't help the fermentation. All in all I'm pretty satisfied with the results and glad to see my starter responding positively to the rye again. 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Benito's picture
Benito

Beautiful bloom and double ear, such a gorgeous crust.  The crumb is nice and perfect for slathering on anything you like without making a mess of your clothes.  

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

Thanks Benny, this was very satisfying after my last "failure". The texture in particular is very pleasant.

mdw's picture
mdw

I raised the hydration to a total of 81% for this loaf, once again adding 15g of H2O to the stiff starter during inoculation. There was still some issues with sluggishness and time management so at the end of the night I put the bulking container in the fridge until the morning and resumed in the morning with another 1:45min before retarding again. It was baked later that afternoon.

468g Hard Red

389g H2O (total)

50g cool stiff starter

10g Salt

 

8.5 hour first bulk plus the additional 1:45min the next morning. 30min room temp rest before baking. For shaping I simply rolled it this time rather than stitching or cinching and was pleased with the results.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

I found a stoneground whole wheat that I’m about to add the levain to.  I’m hoping to have better luck with this at 100% than the red fife.  At least it seems thirsty which to me is more what I would expect from a whole grain.  Love the shape of your loaf and the crumb, really very nice.

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

I'm looking forward to your results! It's very curious to me how the hydration levels have been affected in my experiments. When I was following a more traditional desem style with 20% PFF it lost all strength above 75%. But the above loaf with 7% PFF could have taken a couple more percentage points, at least, and is already above 80%. The other variable here is that with the desem I was also doing a long cool saltolyse. My last two loaves were more spontaneous so the saltolyse was only about an hour each, both at room temp. So was it the amount of PFF or protease from extended autolyse that was hindering me. I don't know! But I am satisfied not knowing if my methods work with the least amount of effort possible. I enjoy the constant tinkering but like to think of it as extracurricular. If I continue following the above process I'll need to adjust the schedule to start earlier in the day, but it does feel better to do it like this. 

Benito's picture
Benito

I am pretty tenacious when trying to achieve something, but after a while if things aren’t working I will give up.  It’s so hard to know sometimes what causes what.  I will say that my current bag of red fife doesn’t at all behave like my earlier batches from the same mill.

This dough that is nearing the end of bulk really feels good.  90% hydration and it feels nicely extensible and pretty strong.  I have high hopes for it, but who knows how it will turn out, I’m oh for two for 100% whole grains so far.  Having a crutch of some bread flour is so helpful.

mdw's picture
mdw

You didn't show us the first one but I thought number two looked very nice (despite the slight collapse). Of course we all define success differently! Your trash is my treasure etc. 

Benito's picture
Benito

The first one was exactly they same as the second one so I didn’t bother to post it.  True we may have different goals in mind with our bakes so we may view our bakes differently.  I my opinion all of what I’ve seen of yours have been wonderful, even more so now that I have baked some 100% whole grain breads myself.  I have an even greater appreciation for the challenges of the craft.  And what I have experienced doesn’t even involve the added challenges of baking with home milled flours!

jl's picture
jl

That's a tall one. You make beautiful bread!

mdw's picture
mdw

Thank you! I constantly try with mixed results. Fortunately the flavor is there, even when the height isn't.

mdw's picture
mdw

I made some changes with this one, some intentional and some not. My starter routine has lately been a 1:4:6 feed every 24 hours and stored in the cool cellar. But because the 24 hour mark fell in the afternoon I had some issues getting the bulk done before bedtime. So for this one I made a levain of 1:2:3 at the usual time and placed it back down in the cellar with the starter and used that first thing in the morning instead, 18 hours in instead of 24. The total amount of levain made was 60g so this raised my PFF slightly to 8% over the 7% I last used. I also raised the hydration again, premixing at 81% but adding 15g to the starter during inoculation for a total of 84%. Very little rubaud or active gluten development of any kind, but I did laminate the dough twice within the first hour of bulk, and performed one set of S&F about three hours in. Total time on the counter was 8:50min for about 90% rise, but I had planned to shape after only 75% rise and final proof until 100%. I just happened to be occupied and let it go about an hour longer than I meant to. It was very puffy and tacky during the final shape and I expected it to be a pancake when I removed the lid during the bake, but I was pleasantly surprised instead (baked after 11 hour retard). 

One thing I find interesting is that this exact same flour needed to be dropped to 75% hydration on previous bakes when using 20% PFF. However at the time I was also doing an overnight soaker in the cellar as well. For the last two loaves I've only done the saltolyse for about 90min at room temperature instead, so I don't know which of these variables have had the biggest effect. I suspect it's the length of saltolyse but can't be sure without trying again. 

jl's picture
jl

This is basically perfect!

mdw's picture
mdw

Thank you, I'm very pleased with the texture in particular. It's very soft and squishy.

Benito's picture
Benito

Hard to argue with these results mdw.  This bake has it all, wonderful crust, oven spring, ear, bloom and fabulous crumb.  I’ll be interested in finding out what you decide if it was the lower PFF or shorter saltolyse that was beneficial.

mdw's picture
mdw

My suspicion is that the long overnight soaker had more of an impact but headupinclouds just inspired me to test that fairly easily with my next bake. Another component to this that I forgot about is that my starter at the time was 100% whole grain rye. So 20% of the loaf was actually rye. That surely didn't make it any easier. My starter is now about 25% rye but I could reduce it even more with a proper levain build.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

It's interesting to see these comparisons.  It does seem you get more spring using your process with the lower PFF.  I'm curious if a higher PFF is better suited to the shorter warm final proof.  I'm also curious about the 1:4:6 24 hour feed.  Is this doubling by the time you use it?  I believe the larger feeds will accumulate more acid, which will have a larger impact at higher PFF's.  Like you, I've also had some suspicions about the impact of the extended overnight soaker.  I have kept mine overnight at low (56-60F) temperature in the wine fridge, but have been thinking that a shorter 1 hour room temperature soak or a much colder (40 F) overnight soak might be sufficient, and could support more proofy bakes.  All of the recipes in Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads use a soaker.  My sense is he has largely optimized for flavor and less for structure.  He states the following (I believe this has already been discussed in these threads).

The soaker serves to precondition some of the grain to begin its enzyme activity, thus releasing sugars but without the risk of over fermentation, since there is no yeast in the soaker.  The addition of salt to the soaker controls the enzyme activity to an extent, so the soaker can be left at room temperature instead of being placed in the refrigerator, thus reducing fermentation time on Day 2.

The challenge for a baker is to maximize the flavor development without compromising the structural integrity of the loaf.  Both starch and protein are necessary for structure, yet they are both affected, positively and negatively by enzymes.  The positive side of enzymes is that they release flavor and help develop dough extensibility.  The negative side is that, if left uncontrolled, they can cause the dough to break down and lose its internal structure.

In his formulas, he makes the overnight soaker and biga and combines them the following day in addition to a small amount of fresh flour.  He's very loose in his prescribed times for the soaker, but I think this detail may be more important when aiming for a more open crumb.  I don't recall any discussion about the fresh flour part.  Anecdotally, in my last successful bake, I clearly had a measuring issue and mixed in a fair amount of new flour and water by feel to achieve something closer to my usual dough mass in the morning mix.  I'm curious if this may have played a role in supporting a longer final proof.  I'm going to try using a shorter soak.

It seems you have returned to minimal active kneading again.  That's another interesting change.  Are you replacing this exercise with something else? :)

mdw's picture
mdw

I still don't have an objective way to measure the growth of the starter, but based on the aroma alone I would guess that it peaks in less than the 24 hours I've been giving it. I could test this line of thinking very easily by building a levain for 20% PFF the same way I built this last one, and once again use it at around 18hours. That would certainly fit into my schedule. I could also delay the feeding time pretty significantly to shorten the fermentation time even more. I'd like to maintain a 24 hour schedule ultimately, for ease of use, but the ratios will probably need to change and that would cause some headache with regards to total volume and discard etc. I could maybe just reduce the hydration to 50% from the 66% and slow it down that way, but then mixing becomes more of a hassle. I'll have to think about this some more and figure out whether there are advantages to a (properly fermented) 20% levain that would outweigh using a more easily managed routine that compensates for excess acidity by using less PFF. Such a moving target! 

 

With regards to Reinhart, I don't have the whole grain book but my sense of his style in general is that it's a different than what we're generally looking for in our crumb/rise. Dare I say "dated", almost? Full disclosure Artisan Bread Every Day was my first book and source of starter recipe many years ago, and I do enjoy the pizza book as well. So no disrespect to his skills and knowledge. I have a strong suspicion that the long cellar soaker had a bigger impact than acidity. 

mdw's picture
mdw

Same methodology with this bake, but using 20% PFF once again. As you can see I did not have the same issues with structure and that I was experiencing previously. This reinforces my theory that the long cool overnight soaker was having detrimental effects, however there are still a few other variables: There’s only about 4g total of rye in the final formula, down from about 100g. And the levain was fed 1:2:3 for 17 hours instead of 1:4:6 for 24.  

150g levain stored at 58℉

403g Hard Red, 346g H2O, and 10g salt mixed to shaggy mass and left for 90min at room temperature. 

I added 15g of H2O to the starter at inoculation, raising the final hydration to 82%. Once again  very little active gluten development, I just tucked and rolled around the side of the bowl lightly to incorporate the starter, followed by two sets of lamination, one 30min into bulk and another three hours later. There was one coil fold about 4 hours in and the total time from inoculation to final shape was just under 6 hours (90% rise), followed by 20min on the counter before placing it in the fridge overnight. I believe the crumb is slightly tighter from the last because the second lamination happened so much later into bulk (I was away from the house when I would have done it otherwise).

 

Benito's picture
Benito

You’re getting very good results and looking back very consistently good.

If you consider all the factors and variants, what do you think you now need to do for your ideal 100% whole grain?

Benny

mdw's picture
mdw

I think this is pretty close to ideal. I'm really liking the cool stiff starter I've been maintaining, but despite the success with 20% PFF I think my preference is to use much lower and slow the process down. 6% or 7% range, 9-10 hours of bulk. I enjoy the process more when it's slower, although I don't know if the end results taste much different. Ultimately I'd like to increase the sour as well but I wouldn't consider that to be necessary. So the ideal loaf for me would take from morning to night, and the key factors would be short saltolyse (60 min), little to no active gluten development, lamination stages ending very early into bulk, a coil fold later if the dough has lost visible layers from the lamination, a gentle preshape (some don't bother with a single loaf but I find it to help anyway), and a gentle but firm final shape. It seems like the less I do and the longer it goes, the better my results. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Hard to argue with this success!

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

It is so interesting to see 20% PFF delivering again at that hydration in combination with the more passive kneading.  Shaping at 90% rise is also an interesting and statistically unusual choice, which seems counter to the 30-50% range that is so common (TFL, OCM, etc).  How did you gravitate towards such late-stage shaping?  I've been cutting BF at 50% to allow some time for a hot final proof but would be curious to try this at some point.

mdw's picture
mdw

I've always believed that there's nutritional value in long fermentation, whether bread or other foods. Over time my methods evolved so use super low inoculations and extended times in bulk. But it wasn't until Kristen's Full Proof Baking video on 100% whole wheat (not grain, necessarily) that the 90-100% rise really became an active choice. I recently revisited the Tartine method because I realized there was a drastic difference in technique in this regard. I found it so interesting that the results would be so different (and idealized by many) when they're basically doing the opposite; young levain, short bulk. It was from there that I started thinking about the desem idea more seriously, in part because of the concept of short fermentation I once again found intriguing.