An American in Deutschland
I expect there may be some threads that discuss the differences between German flour and artisan baking here and American flour and artisan baking there. I did search some, but didn't find much that seemed to relate to my problem.
I have a reasonable understanding of sourdough baking in America using the hard wheat varieties that are predominate in our market. I have found most of the flour in Germany is from soft wheat...with which I have little experience with respect to bread making. I have tried numerous flour varieties here from 550 (AP) to 812 (Bread) to 1050 (Hi Gluten) to 00 (for Neapolitan style pizza) and can't seem to produce a very nice loaf. The pizza has been okay...but not as nice as what I made in the states.
It seems that I get good gluten development (I can easily do a windowpane) and fermentation(double in volume in a reasonable time), but shaping lacks the kind of structure that I could create in my doughs from American flour. After preshaping into a round, the dough has a nice taut surface and a good spring back when touched... 30 minutes later it is very, very loose. After the final shaping, the dough looks okay--a similar taut surface and the appearance of a dough that will have nice oven spring. But when I turn it out onto the stone to bake it spreads dramatically and has very little spring. It does rise some, but nothing close to my loaves from home. I've purchased some bread from bakeries here and notice that the standard loaf is different from American bread, but they also have an obvious better ear or structure with what appears like a better rise.
I feel certain that this isn't the best that I can do here...but I don't really know what else to try. I've lowered hydration a bit--I suppose I could keep trying that to see if I can get a dough that holds its shape better. I've tried a combination of different flours thinking that perhaps there is more whole grain in what I'm using...But I'm running out of ideas.
Has anyone moved abroad from the states to a European country with different flour and made some really nice loaves? I'd love some details of what, if anything, you tried.
Or, if you are from Germany/ Europe and have some experience with artisan baking, I'd love to hear what works for you.
Thanks for your time.