The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Panettone Trouble

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Panettone Trouble

I'm using Andrea Tortora's recipe, which I've used successfully for a handful of bakes over the years. Until recently, I wasn't familiar with lievito madre and so I typically just used a 100% sourdough starter when the recipe calls for fresh yeast. I've also only used King Arthur bread flour for this recipe.

When I learned about LM, I decided to make one and use it in the recipe. I've also started using King Arthur Lancelot flour since it is stronger than the bread flour I typically use. For the LM, I've been consuming everything I can find on this site related to panettone, LM, and mwilson. I also picked up a copy of Sourdough Panettone and Viennoiserie. I am all in, and my interest / obsession with panettone goes back way before I started baking maybe a decade ago. 

Since making these 2 changes, I've had a very specific issue with my dough.

3 refreshes of the LM go well and triple in less than 4 hours. It tastes like apples without a hint of sourness, but I've never checked the ph or anything. First dough comes together nicely, though admittedly takes me well over an hour in my KA Professional. Windowpane on this dough is beautiful. 

Dough bulk ferments at about 80 - 85 F for 10-12 hours. I start mixing the second dough after the first triples. 

The second dough is where the issue is. Everything goes well up until I add the butter. Even the adding the butter goes well until I add the last bit of it, at which point the dough completely falls apart. No gluten to speak of. It's like cookie dough.  

I realize it's probably over mixed. I've tried this recipe with LM and King Arthur Lancelot flour twice and both times had the same exact problem. I will say that the first time, I was very aggressive with my mixing speed and did not control the temp of the dough well. This time was different - I never went above 2 on my kitchen aid and I kept an ice pack against the bowl to keep the temp down,yet neither of these adjustments fixed my problem. 

Failing at this is exhausting. I keep my LM in the fridge and begin strengthening it 3 days before making the first dough, with 3x refreshments per day and bound overnight storage at about 60 F. It's a long process to then fail right at the end!

Any ideas what the problem might be? The 3 changes are LM and a new flour. I'm guessing one of the two is the culprit. 

happycat's picture
happycat

Hi Joe

I hope an expert will be able to help you. In the meantime, I can relate something that might be similar.

I made kugelhopf 2 weeks in a row. It's a 2-stage (levain + enriched dough) brioche-style bread with fruit inclusions.

The first time, the enriched dough had quite a bit of sugar in it. I mixed that dough until gluten developed, then slowly added butter in a second phase. It worked fine. I combined with the commercial yeast levain and it baked up nicely.

The second time, I left the sugar out of the enriched dough. I again mixed it until guten developed it into a stiff dough. Then I slowly added a creamed sugar/butter mix to the dough and it competely dissolved into a paste. I was very sad as you probably were with yours. I put it in the fridge overnight and the next morning it was still pasty.

However, I plunged onward, mixing the commercial yeast levain with the paste and in 10 mins of HIGH SPEED VIGOROUS mixing with my KA pro, I had a lovely dough ball and it rose and baked up very nicely-- perhaps higher than the first one.

My hypothesis was that my change in the enriched dough (removing sugar from it) reduced its capacity to hold its form while absorbing butter fat. As you know, butter fat coats gluten, which is probably why it's added after the dough is formed. 

So I think you are probably right in thinking that your shift in flour and LM has changed the capacity of your dough to take on the butter fat without breaking down. However, I was able to pull mine back together and have a great bake anyway.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I've actually been thinking about the ability of the dough to absorb butter, if such a concept exists, so interesting you mentioned it. The first time this happened, I cranked up the KA and ran it until my family was about ready to throw it out the window, and it didn't help, unfortunately.

As I said, I've been making my way through my "mwilson panettone" search results on this site and came across this post https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/61599/need-help-my-panettone

If you look at the image of the first dough after adding butter, that's exactly what mine looked like. Furthermore, the picture of the crumb is likely what I would've gotten had I baked off my broken dough. Seems the feedback was that the first dough might have been overworked. I guess I could be working it so much that by the time I add the last bit of butter, the dough has had too much. I will say though, I'm a bit tripped up by the fact that the dough doesn't break down until the very last bit of butter is added (I add in about 1-2 tbsp increments depending on batch size), so I'm still wondering if it's related to the dough's ability to absorb butter.

I'm going to try working the first dough a bit less and see what happens. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I remember my early days of making panettone, the last stage of mixing was always fraught with trepidation. Thankfully I haven't felt that in a long time. Mixing is so much easier these days. I must be doing something right!

It could be overmixing... Usually this is obvious though. Sudden loss of elasticity, stickiness, very glossy appearance.
It could be degraded gluten. Check pH.
It could be the gluten is too tenacious and fails to envelope the butter and subsequently the dough breaks.

Nearly all problems with making panettone are to do with the influence of the LM. Too much acidity, particularly acetic will toughen gluten and cause it to not want to bind other ingredients.

Strong flour is good, but ideally the flour should have a balanced tenacity vs. extensibility i.e., P/L = approx. 0.55. Most North American bread wheat flours are considerably tenacious. How much of a problem this could be I'm not sure... But it's worth noting.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Thanks mwilson - I appreciate your feedback.

Regarding overmixing, I feel like when the dough breaks down, it has the quality of overmixed dough (if I understand correctly), but I'm still not convinced this is the issue.  The dough will still cling to the dough hook a bit, but any attempt to stretch it results in the dough tearing with very little resistance.  The butter also seems to pool on the dough and not fully incorporate.  I'm just not sold on overmixing because the last time this happened, I kept the KA mixer on speed 2 and mixed each addition of butter just until the dough was smooth.  Not more than a few minutes each time.  After adding the last bit of butter, the dough never became smooth.  I really tried to be a lot more gentle with it during my last attempt.

Regarding the degraded gluten, are there any other signs to look for in the absence of a pH meter?  My LM was in the fridge for about 4 days.  I took it out 2 days before making the first dough and refreshed it 3x per day with bound overnight storage.  Before the first refreshment each day, I performed a bagnetto. This resulted in a total of 9 refreshments before making the first dough.  The flavor of it did not seem sour or acidic - it mostly tasted like apples to me - granted I've never tasted a "healthy" LM so I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for.

I had a really rough time getting my LM strong enough to start baking with it.  I converted my 100% sourdough starter to a stiff starter over a month ago, following a popular gumroad article I see mentioned in these forums sometimes (and which also has your name associated with it).  This involved 4 hour submerged refreshment with a 16-20hr bound overnight storage.  The thing would not triple, even in 6 hours, and tasted sort of metallic.  After trying a bunch of different things, what finally worked was feeding a ratio of 1:0.8 starter:flour for a few refreshments. I noticed an immediate difference - the bound LM was tighter after the overnight storage and tasted like apples, with no hint of that metallic taste I had noticed until then.  The LM started floating within 45 minutes into the submerged refreshment and was finally tripling.

So, the two times I used the LM to try and make panettone, I gave my LM a little boost.  When refreshing to build strength for a bake, I no longer followed the gumroad article and adhered closer to the method found in the panettone book I mentioned.  The freshments were done by balling up the dough and cutting a cross on top. I noticed that the cross was opening but not pushing up from the center, so over the course of the 9 refreshments leading up to the first dough, I performed one at 1:0.8 and two at 1:0.9 before returning to what seems like the standard 1:1.

All that is to say that I feel I am doing everything possible to control the pH, but without a pH meter it's hard to know for sure and I wanted to explain my process in case you see any obvious flaws that could lead to the degraded gluten.

Regarding flour that is too tenacious - what's the solution?  Obviously a different flour, but would that mean the flour I'm using is unsuitable or could I just proceed with perhaps just adding slightly less butter to prevent the dough from breaking down?

I'm going to try this again in a few days and will take some pictures to hopefully shed a little more light on the problem.  I appreciate the help in the absence of photos and videos, which I know would make the issue easier to diagnose.

happycat's picture
happycat

Data point: My enriched dough pre butter was not only less material (sugar removed) but also most likely overmixed. Very tight. I left my mixer going while I worked on the butter/sugar/spice part that I later added.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I'm back with pictures this time around.  The underlying theme of this bake was "there's no way this is going to work, but let's see what happens".  So, there are a few errors here that I could've avoided had I not thought the bake was doomed from the start.

These two pictures show the last LM refresh before mixing the first dough.  At this point, the LM had been out of the fridge for 2 days, had been washed twice, and refreshed a total of 6 times at various ratios (mostly 1:1, but I performed 2 refreshes at about 1:0.8 or 1:0.9 when the LM didn't rise as much as expected after a prior refreshment).  Before and after to show growth:

Here's the first dough after mixing.  As you can see, the gluten is very developed at this stage.

The dough came together nicely when folded onto itself.  If you look closely, you'll notice bubbles underneath the surface of the dough (which I understand to be a good sign), but there are slight tears near the edges.  This is when I began thinking "oh no, here we go again...".

The second dough was, once again, a problem.  It frustrates me so much that I seem to forget to take pictures of it haha.

When mixing the first dough with the flour for the second dough, it was already starting to break down.  I was able to pull off chunks of dough without much resistance.  I thought perhaps if the gluten was already damaged, I could add more flour and develop that gluten, hopefully giving the dough enough strength to get a passable final result.  I wound up adding about twice the amount of flour the recipe called for.

Having had trouble with the second dough on my last two attempts, I didn't prepare any inclusions so as to not waste the ingredients if the dough didn't come together (didn't want to soak the fruit and end up not using it).

I also did not add all of the butter to the second dough.  It didn't seem like the dough would accept that much butter, so left about 1/3 of it out.  All said and done, I added twice the amount of flour, reduced the butter to 2/3 what the recipe called for, and added no inclusions. I left the dough to rest for an hour and lo and behold, I was able to get a windowpane.  I had to manipulate the dough carefully so as not to tear it, but it was in significantly better shape than I had left it an hour earlier.

I shaped the dough and placed it in the panettone mold, confident that there was not enough gluten development for it to rise.  Six hours later I was surprised to find this:

I thought it looked good and decided to bake it, knowing full well it would fall when hung upside down.  No way there was enough strength in the dough to sustain hanging inverted for ~12 hours.

I was surprised, once again, to end up with this

There was a little blowout.  My guess is that the dough was under-proofed and during baking, the glaze hardened and the dough had nowhere to go, so followed the path of least resistance and bulged out from under the glaze.  If it is under-proofed, that could've definitely been avoided, but at some point I was just going through the motions expecting utter failure, not monitoring times and temps as closely as I should've.

The crumb, of course, left a lot to be desired.  It was soft and had that melt-in-the-mouth quality, but definitely cakier and tighter than I would've wanted

 

I feel like this is an improvement, but I don't feel great about it haha.  I had to modify the recipe and even so, I'm surprised it baked as well as it did.  I somehow feel like I understand even less at this point!

 

Edit: Sorry about the small images.  First time posting pictures to the forum.  I guess when I selected "preview" I expected that you'd be able to click on them to enlarge, but I guess not.  If anyone is interested, I can upload larger images.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I'd be interested to see these pictures full-size. I might see something telling...

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Some sort of success.  A successful brioche maybe.  At least this dough made it to the oven.  The most frustrating part is that I've made this Andrea Tortora panettone a handful of times with my 100% sourdough starter with no issues (and far less of an understanding of how panettone is made than I have today). Makes you wonder why I'm doing this to myself, but I guess anyone who has gone down this road already knows the answer.

SueVT's picture
SueVT

Hi, 

I just made the Giorilli panettone last night with pretty good results, well much better than some of the previous times. I used Caputo Sacorosso flour, which I bought just for this purpose. I do use Lancelot and All Trumps frequently for sourdough baking, but I've been learning a bit about the Italian/European way of measuring flour strength, and I haven't been confident in just using American flour, based on my previous experiences.... 

This time, I observed all timings on mixing, even though to me they are counterintuitive. The mix times are so long, that we would normally think that the gluten would be destroyed; however, it just got stronger and stronger. I think you should try another test with a flour that you know will work. If not, there's another issue.

Your Lievito Madre looks better than mine, that is where I need to put in more work. I coincidentally just ordered the book you mentioned, can't wait to read it. I also was looking at Bake Street blog, which has a great section on LM. My second rise took way too long, though my first rise was only over time limit by an hour. 

More to learn here, but it's a great challenge.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Thanks for the info. That's a nice-looking panettone!

I would love to use Italian flour, but I can't find a good source/distributor.  I found a few (can't recall the websites), but the cost of shipping was more than the flour itself.  We're talking $100+ for a 50lb bag of flour, after shipping.  I settled on Lancelot because it's the highest protein flour I could find in a 50lb bag, which after ordering wound up being about the same price per lb as the 5lb bags of KA flour I get in the grocery store.  Shipping was still kind of insane...  If you have a good site for ordering flour, please let me know!

I tried making this recipe again last night and I broke my mixer lol.  I saw a few videos of bakers mixing the first dough with the paddle and thought I'd give a shot - maybe it would mix the dough in a noticeably different way.  I had added the water, sugar, and flour to the mixer and eventually, it got too tough, the paddle met too much resistance, and a few teeth broke off one of the gears.

I decided to proceed with mixing the dough by hand.  I didn't have high hopes, but in the end, the dough came out great.  Great windowpane, smooth, wasn't breaking.  I didn't see any of the issues I had seen when mixing with my kitchen aid.  I thought I had finally figured it out - it must have been overmixing.

It has been 15hrs since I finished mixing the first dough and it has not budged AT ALL.  I've never in my life had a dough that just didn't rise at all.  You'd think I forgot the starter (which I had refreshed for 3 days and was quite powerful by the time I used it).  I'm chalking this one up to a bad mix but who knows...  I will say, I left the mix to sit while I opened up the mixer to see what was going on, but I don't think that shoul've had this effect.  I was monitoring the temp of the dough as I mixed by hand too.  It did go up to about 29 C at one point, but again, I don't think that should've killed off all the yeast, for example.  No idea...

Maybe I'll go back to KA bread flour and give it a shot since it has worked for me in the past.  I had been making panettone fine with a 100% starter and KA bread flour.  The more I learn the worse my panettone gets haha.

SueVT's picture
SueVT

I know, I saw the $100 shipping for Pasini Panettone flour from one place in California and said No.... I would really love to use the Pasini flour, but can't get it unless wholesale.

I use General Mills All Trumps flour quite a bit, it is high gluten like Lancelot, and there is an organic version if you like... available from several places. Sometimes foodservicedirect.com has a free shipping weekend, good to watch for.

So sorry about your mixer, yes I can imagine the paddle breaking the gears under the strain. I have a couple of  mixers so I have a backup, but they all struggle with the duration of mixing required for this dough. My experience has made me believe that my starter is most of the problem with rising, as it was probably not "sweet" enough, allowing too much acidity to build up in the dough. I have started over with a new LM, going to maintain it in water this time as I saw done on Bake Street blog.

For temperature, I have been seeing recommendations to stay under 25C for the first dough, then go up to 28C for the proofing in pans. Again, to reduce acidity in the dough.

However for me the thing that has made the biggest improvement is lots and lots of mixing. So much more mixing than I would have imagined. But every time I watch a video in a Panettone bakery, they are constantly mixing.

 

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I'm intrigued by the All Trumps flour. Thanks for that!

joegranz's picture
joegranz

 I think you should try another test with a flour that you know will work. If not, there's another issue.

 I've made a few more attempts since my last update, the latest one with KA Bread Flour, which has worked for me in the past when using a 100% sourdough starter as opposed to lievito madre.  All attempts failed the same way - which to me means it's either my LM or my mixing.  Like I mentioned, I've made this successfully a bunch of times, but not often enough to be able to mix it consistently.  I typically only made it around Christmas and there's no way I can remember what I did the year before.  Perhaps I was doing something different in the past, but my guess is that it has something to do with my LM.

On that note, I'm not really sure how to diagnose my LM. It doesn't taste sour or acidic, rises well, and is maintained according to SPV (Sourdough Panettone and Viennoiserie).  I'm more confident that my LM is healthy than I am that I'm mixing properly, but I guess without a pH meter and never having tasted a healthy LM, I can only say that based on my belief that my LM maintenance routine is on point.

SPV lists some mixing times, but all times are for twin arm mixers using "speed one" or "speed two".  Not sure how those speeds translate to my Kitchen Aid, but I can tell you that it takes me at least double the mixing times listed in the book.  For example, most recipes say that the first dough takes about 45 minutes to mix.  For me, it was about 90 minutes of active mixing.  It takes about 45 minutes alone to initially mix the flour, water, and sugar for the 1st dough before adding the eggs and butter.  Maybe this is an indication that I'm doing something incorrectly, but the Kitchen Aid dough hook has a tendency to just hover above the dough and do nothing for large amounts of time.  This isn't helped by the fact that I've only been attempting to mix enough dough for a single panettone.  I'm sure the mixer would work better with a higher volume of dough, but I'm trying to minimize the waste here.

Not really sure how to proceed.  Going to take a step back.  I'll update here if I have any revelations, that way maybe someone can benefit from this information in the future.  If anyone comes across this and has any ideas, I'm all ears.

SueVT's picture
SueVT

I've been studying nonstop this past week, reading in Teffi-Chambelland, Massari's Cresci, mwilson's blog, Jimmy Griffin's Panettone book, and several blogs/youtubes..

A consistent theme is coming out - it should take around 15 days to establish a fully active LM if following a very consistent feeding and care regimen. I did not spend that long last time - I only spent around 5 days. I was rolling and submerging in water twice daily, and it was going pretty well. But I never had an LM that would triple in 3 hours. In fact, many of the aspects of its appearance were listed by mwilson as typical of underdeveloped LM.

I have ordered the Hanna bread and dough pH meter, which should be easier to use than the one I have for cheesemaking. I hope to measure pH at the start and finish of each feeding cycle. When I first saw spreadsheets with this kind of data, I thought it was overkill. However, with a few Panettone failures under my belt, the idea seems much more attractive.

I may use the vacuum sealer/binding technique for the overnight cycles. Probably I will continue to use water submerging for the other ones, because it is easier. I'll let the data dictate what I should do, and I won't attempt another Panettone before I am Sure the LM is right!

 

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Another good recommendation - that pH meter is attractive given the price point vs others I've seen.  Maybe I'll pick it up so that I can get a little more confident about the quality of my LM and 1st dough.

My guess right now is it's my mixing.  Mixing for at least double the indicated time sounds like a great way to overmix the dough.

Just for fun, when my last batch started to break down after adding the butter, I just kept mixing since I knew it was going in the trash anyway.  The dough just got worse until it was about the consistency of choux dough.  I vaguely remember reading that an overly-acidic LM could lead to problems with butter absorption, but my LM really doesn't seem acidic.  The pH meter should help nail that down, though.

SueVT's picture
SueVT

I agree that it is difficult to mix a single panettone, as the dough often doesn't get caught by the dough hook. I have been mixing batches with 400g flour in the first, and 100g in the second, impastos. That will make 3 panettone of around 720g, depending on the recipe. Even then, I have to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl several times with a Norpro 99 spatula, particularly when adding butter, which tends to stick high up on the bowl sides.

I've seen a couple of videos in which the egg yolks and butter are pre-combined, to make it easier to add them. I haven't done this however.

I've been able to stay pretty close to the mixing timings, so I am just guessing about the overmixing issue though.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

What kind of mixer do you typically use?  It's actually really helpful to know that you are more or less hitting the times prescribed by the recipe - I've been taking them with a grain of salt, assuming they were more for commercial twin-arm mixers rather than my Kitchen Aid 600.

I've noticed in particular videos of Alfonso Pepe making panettone with an emulsion of eggs and butter. I suppose doing that might lead to less mixing.  I have been meaning to try it...

SueVT's picture
SueVT

 Depending on the batch size, I use either my Kitchenaid K45 (4.5 qt) or my Cuisinart SM-70 (7 qt).  Lately, with the batch size I am making, I mix the 1st impasto in the Kitchenaid, then move over to the Cuisinart for the 2nd impasto. It's not ideal, and I wish I had a different mixer for Panettone. The real spiral mixers seem to pick up the ingredients much better, at least that is how it looks on the videos.

The ultimate would be the Miss Baker - from Bernardi.. but its current won't work in America I believe. The Cuisinart is a strong machine, but the hinge lock is broken from an incident where it walked off the counter... I have to hold it down with a strap clamp.

 

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Thanks for the info - I wanted to make sure you weren't using a twin-arm or spiral mixer when you said that you were close to the typical mixing times.  I'm a little more hopeful now that my Kitchen Aid can get close to the times as well - something to work on.

The twin-arm and spiral mixers do look nice, but I can't justify the cost and the space they take up just for panettone.  Maybe if I killed my Kitchen Aid but, while the KA's have their flaws, they're very repairable.  As long as I can get parts this thing will live forever!

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

After reading this thread I am wondering if the super low hydration (not counting add-ins) just the four to water ratio is the only issue. I was just about to a weak windowpane and called the mixing. In my haste, I started to remove the dough without anding in the peal and raisins. I put the dough back and thought you know what a few more spins first. Well, the dough went from tight to a sloppy mess!  

I was very proud of my 30+ hours from 100% hydration sourdough starter to stiff lievito Madra. This is eight hours before the first dough mixing. You guys have me thinking to quit on this a second time! Testing PH is beyond my skill set. 

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Just an FYI Will, but your LM pictured above is much too degraded. LM should be remain dough-like throughout.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

That photo is just before the fourth feeding. Four hours after the third feeding. This is the dough sliced in half horizontally what you see is in the middle. I was sure this looked like good strong activity. Maybe I need to feed a higher ratio of flour to LM? Is Ms. Valintena Bria, really burning through her 1:1 feedings in four hours? I am going to give this another try in a few weeks. I need to be able to dedicate 48 hrs to the project. That reminds me both my liquid and stiff starters are due for a weekly refresh. Thanks for your observation. Does this information change your view at all? 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I posted some pictures here of what a good LM looks like...

Usually when establishing a LM, with successive refreshments you should notice the consistency become more dough like.

I think the commonplace malting of US flours is probably one factor that might be working against you and others in NA.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Thanks, for lending your expertise. I found this statement interesting. mwilson: "Usually when establishing a L.M, with successive refreshments you should notice the consistency become more dough-like." My next refresh was dough build #1. When I was dividing the L.M. I noticed the dough was much less lacey (degraded) Which had me concerned. We will see, I have to throw out the results of that second bake because of the mistake I made in the procedure. Not to disregard your observations, I get the gut feeling my L.M. is close to being on target. (Which reminds me I still have not done a weekly refresh!) 

This is how Valentina looked after her bath just before her fourth refresh. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Will, as you know, most Caputo flours are unmalted (except for the Pizza Americana, and Pizza a Metro flours.)

That place you go to that sells re-packs might have smaller (than 55 lb) bags of Caputo flour for your LM.

Then I remembered that General Mills (Gold Medal) also makes some unmalted pizza flour, 12% protein. One comes in a 50 pound bag, and one comes in a 27.55 pound (12.5 kg) bag. https://www.generalmillscf.com/products/category/flour/premium-pizzeria-flour-27-5-lb

That 27 pounder, being American made, will likely be cheaper per pound than the imported Caputo. And you might be able to use the whole bag if you make a few pizzas with it, along with using it for the LM. (Thereby not having to pay a higher per-pound price of a re-pack.)

Though you might have to add some diastatic malt back in for pizzas, so they brown in your home oven.

Just some thoughts.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I can definitely get unmalted flour from Sansone. I'll see what options they have for me on my next run. Right now I am leaning to a small bag of Caputo. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Watching this, for me is reminiscing on how felt about panettone back then, ah the wonder!

Between then and now I have actually visited the Rullli Emporium, didn't get a chance to try his panettone, after all it was the height of summer..! Yet I did try my favourite ice-cream, pistachio!

 

I hope this little vid can inspire those on the panettone journey!

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Another attempt in the books.  Another failure, but moving along the right path I think.

I got my first dough mixing time down from about 2 hours (not actively mixing for that long, but almost...) to about 45 minutes.  I noticed a significant improvement here.  Typically when I fold the dough over and shape it before placing it in a container to ferment, I notice small tears on the surface.  I didn't see that at all this time.  The dough was generally in a lot better shape than it usually is.

The second dough still had some issues.  After I had mixed everything for the second dough, it actually looked great - like all of those pictures and YouTube videos you see of lumps of panettone dough before it gets shaped.  Then, I went to pick it up, and what I had was basically the consistency of choux dough, yet again.

I followed the mixing routine outlined in SPV for the panettone recipe by L'Ecole internationale de boulangerie.  My times were almost spot on, except for when adding the butter to both doughs.  The recipe says to add all of the butter and mix for 3 minutes which in reality takes me about 10-15 (I can't imagine getting all that butter absorbed in 3 minutes...).

Another possibly interesting anecdote - I notice that during the 12-14 hour bulk ferment (usually takes me about 13), the dough really doesn't seem to rise at all for about the first 8-10 hours, and then shoots up after that, tripling in the remaining time.  I'm not sure if this pattern is indicative of an issue or if it's normal.

So, here's where I am at the moment in my panettone troubleshooting:

- It might be the flour, but probably not.  I've had success in the past with KA Bread Flour, but I'm not currently having success with it.  Neither KA Bread Flour nor KA Sir Lancelot is working for me, so it's probably me.

- It might be the LM.  I ordered a pH meter but it won't arrive for a few more weeks.  I'm still winging it in the LM department.  I'm maintaining it according to the literature I've read, but I'm still not sure how "healthy" it is.

- My hypothesis was that I was overmixing which was primarily driven by mixing the first dough for entirely too long.  I still might be overmixing, but I no longer think the first dough is the culprit.

 

I've had success with Andrea Tortora's recipe in the past, so I'm stubbornly sticking with it so as to not introduce another variable, but I'm starting to wonder if another recipe might work better (now that I have a whole book of them).  I might give another recipe a try.

This thread is becoming a journal of my failures.  I'll continue to update here. Hopefully, I'll have some success in the near future and it might help someone.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

It always is...

The fermentation involved can bring a lot of strength, so much so that it can make the gluten harder to work which can cause problems incorporating butter. As a result, the long mixing times may be heating up the dough too much.

And I think your observation of the primo impasto spending most of its time not moving is definitely not right. If memory serves, I would expect to see movement at around the 4 hour mark.

When you get your pH meter, the most telling points will be that of the starting pH at LM refresh and the end pH of the primo.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Yeah, everything you're saying makes sense.

I have gotten the mixing times a lot lower and I do check the temp of the dough with an infrared thermometer while it's mixing.  I generally keep it below 26 C.  I've been so worried about heating the dough too much during the mixing process that I use cold everything - dough hook, bowl, flour, eggs all go in the fridge before I begin mixing the first dough.  The only thing I don't chill is the butter.  In fact, I've been wondering if the dough is too cold when I'm done mixing and that's why it takes a while to rise.  If I remember correctly, my dough is usually at about 24 C when I'm done mixing it and I don't dare mix it any further to raise the temp because I'm afraid of overmixing.

In the interest of not wasting time and ingredients, I might wait until the pH meter gets here before making another attempt.  This thread might go quiet for a while but this is far from over!

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I haven't had time to make panettone lately, but I did get a pH meter and was able to take some readings of my LM during my weekly refreshment.

If I'm not baking with it, I take it out of the fridge once a week and do the following:

  • bagnetto 15-20 mins
  • refresh, rest 3-4 hrs @ 28C
  • refresh, rest 3-4 hrs @ 28C
  • refresh, bind, rest a few hours @ 16 C, then back in the fridge

The pH readings were as follows:

  • straight out of the fridge after 1 week - 4.3
  • 1st refresh
    • before resting - 5.2
    • after resting - 4.5
  • 2nd refresh
    • before resting - 5.2
    • after resting - 4.35
  • 3rd refresh, before resting - 5.07

According to SPV, the ideal range is 4.8 <= pH <= 5.1 at the start of the refreshment and 4.1-4.2 at the end of the refreshment.

The pH of my LM seems a bit high, but also seems to be trending downward with successive refreshments.  Before mixing the first dough, I typically follow this same refreshment schedule for 2-3 days (sometimes without the bagnetto). So, I assume that by the time I use the LM, it is closer to the ideal range outlined by SPV, but of course, I don't know that for sure.

I'll have to wait until I have some time to (try to) make panettone to see where the pH of the LM actually is at the time of mixing, as well as the pH of the first dough.

On a related note, I just tried my first panettone from Roy Shvartzapel.  I know that making a good panettone is quite the mountain to climb, but after trying Roy's it's as if I finally saw the peak of the mountain through the clouds and I might as well just pack up and go home haha.

meb21's picture
meb21

Hi Joe, I'm wondering how you keep the PM at 16C - do you have a wine fridge? 

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I started my PM in the winter and under the sink in a poorly insulated room was perfect.

It'll be my first summer with the PM soon and I'm sure what I'll do. I'm hoping an uninsulated room in the basement will work. 

meb21's picture
meb21

I hadn't thought of the basement - good idea. I was thinking of ordering a reptile incubator but I'm not sure the cost would be justified...

mwilson's picture
mwilson

but here's my contribution for this easter.

Dare I say it was a breeze to make!

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Very nice!

I'm not jealous at all!

I typically make panettone for Easter mostly because I've only recently learned about colomba.  Short of a miracle, I don't think I'll be able to turn one out this year.  If anyone were to ask "why didn't you make panettone this year?", I won't even have a good answer.  No one who eats my panettone would appreciate or understand anything going on in this thread haha.  I could also probably serve them yellow cake and they wouldn't know the difference but let's be honest, I'm not making it for them...

SueVT's picture
SueVT

My Panettone is more like cornbread lately. I made a Colomba and it failed the same way. This has to be the LM, though I have been getting 4.1 pH after the refreshes. The failure is coming later in the process, so maybe that is a sign that it's improving.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Dare I say it was the flour?

Well, it couldn't have just been the flour because flour I had used in the past with my 100% sourdough starter did not work with my LM.  It seems to have had something to do with the LM and the flour.

pH

I was also armed with a pH meter this time. My pH readings were mostly acceptable, but there is room for improvement.  Again, according to SPV, my target is:

  • 4.8 - 5.1 at the start of refreshment
  • 4.1 - 4.2 at the end of the refreshment

I'm getting (roughly):

  • 4.8 - 5.1 at the start (readings from 4.88 up to 5.07)
  • 4.2 - 4.3 at the end of refreshment

Prior to mixing the first dough, my LM had rested for 4 hours after its final refreshment and the pH was a bit high - slightly over 4.3, so I actually waited a little longer (not sure how long - an hour max) so the pH would come down.  I began mixing the first dough when the LM had a pH of about 4.2.

The first dough, after mixing, had a pH of about 5.4 - 5.5, but after rise it had a pH of 4.8.  I understand that the pH after rise should be above 5, so I'll have to work on that (not the faintest idea how, but I'm sure I'll figure it out).

Flour

I changed the flour up this time because in the back of my mind I felt like I had read something about suitable panettone flour (probably on this site) and the description of how unsuitable flour would behave sounded a lot like what I was experiencing.

Rather than King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour, I used Giusto's Ultimate Performer.  The LM still used the KA flour, but perhaps I should switch that over as well.

Bake

Everything went surprisingly well.  Again, I followed the mixing method from L'Ecole internationale de boulangerie as outlined in SPV.  Times were fairly accurate and the dough temp stayed in line.

I had a feeling this panettone would be successful when I saw the first dough triple in about 9-10 hrs.  A little too fast maybe?  Could've been too high a temp for the bulk rise, not sure (I failed to monitor this closely as I chose to sleep instead lol).

2nd dough mixed without issue - it accepted all of the butter without having to add any prayers, incantations, or additional flour.

I didn't track the final proof too closely, but it was well within the expected timeframe if a little fast (like the bulk rise of the primo).

In the end, my mold was overfilled, and my dough was overglazed, but hey, it was delicious.  Best panettone I ever had? Not by a long shot.  Best one I ever made? Maybe!  This was my first successful panettone after switching from 100% starter to LM and was an old recipe I had made a bunch of times (Andrea Tortora).  I was using this sort of as a test to see if I could still make a decent panettone with a LM before exploring some of the other recipes I've been wanting to try - so I'm glad this is behind me and the exploration can begin.

Apologies for the crumb shot looking like the loaf was torn apart by a group of savages.

Chocolate and orange because I didn't expect to get this far and that's what was in the pantry.

Edit: I also suspect it was a bit over-proofed.  I'm not sure if anyone can confirm that by the photo.  I typically let the panettone rise just to the top of the mold, but this time it was well beyond that - maybe an inch or so.

SueVT's picture
SueVT

I'm really happy that you had panettone success! There's nothing like it. Your crumb looks very good, and I don't think it is overproofed. Probably just too much dough in the mould. 

I just had the same experience with the pH after the 1st impasto rise; I think mine was 4.8... so I wasn't sure that the 2nd impasto was going to work. But like yours, it did! I put up a blog post today on this site about it.

so there is more work to be done on the lievito madre, but pause to enjoy success!

Benito's picture
Benito

Joe your panettone looks amazing, you really should be proud.

Benny 

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Thank you both for the kind words, Sue & Benito.

itsjreal's picture
itsjreal

This has been a fascinating read, primarily because Joe's experience is almost identical to mine. I've made some successful and less successful batches, but every one of the 5+ times I've used KA Sir Lancelot, the second dough has fallen apart in the final phases of mixing. Interestingly, the flour seems to be quite strong in normal use and its stats suggest it should work well for panettone.

I'm working on a batch now where I've added vital wheat gluten to push the protein to 15%, so we'll see if that makes a difference. But perhaps it's the specific quality of Sir Lancelot's protein and gluten-forming potential that's to blame... 

To add to this treasure trove of questions and insightful answers, I have another head-scratcher that I hope someone can help me with. The first dough always comes together beautifully, on temp (79F / 26C), right pH (~5.5), temp-controlled proofing box for the overnight rise... then the volume increases 5x (sometimes more) in 10 hours, and the pH has dropped to 4.43. (Tangential question: could that be what's making the gluten fall apart in the second mix?)

I'm following the EIDB Panettone recipe from "Sourdough Panettone and Viennoiserie," which I had excellent results with last week using the only Italian 'Manitoba' flour I could find in Montreal — but no formula in the book calls for a first dough that is less than 9.75% LM.

Is my starter just over-active? Should I reduce the seed amount for the first dough to achieve 3x rise in 12 hours? Or should I just start the second mix as soon as the dough has tripled in volume, regardless of how much time has passed? I see potential trade offs either way, but I'm also curious why my rising times are so wildly different from what's expected under "ideal" conditions.

SueVT's picture
SueVT

I have recently experienced all the things you describe but, the advice here that "just about always the problem is your lievito madre" is 1000% correct in my opinion. I have had many promising first doughs that turned into cornbread or cake batter at various points in the second dough process. Always the problem can be traced back to my LM.

Since the LM has a balance of organisms which produce yeasts, lactic acid and acetic acid, that balance is of great importance. There are a number of important tactics to deploy to produce the kind of LM we are looking for. 

pH is important, but doesn't tell the whole story, due to the volatile nature of some acids.... so titration can help to understand the situation. Immature, unbalanced LMs can produce excessive rise and acidic dough, which breaks down gluten.... bagnettos, water storage, cool overnight temps all help.

itsjreal's picture
itsjreal

It may very well be the LM is the issue, though all the signs point to it being healthy. It looks right, tastes right (just slightly alcoholic with an apple-y sweetness), and generally has all the right readings. And, I've had incredible success with it using a different, Manitoba flour. Maybe I was just lucky that time.

As I said, temp, pH, timings are all in the right range (for both long and short refreshments), but I admit have struggled to maintain 68F / 20C overnight temp in water.

Have you successfully used Sir Lancelot to make panettone?

Also, as (I'm assuming) a fellow Vermonter, what flour have you settled on for daily LM feedings and panettone?

SueVT's picture
SueVT

@itsjreal, are you a member of the FB group on lievito madre? It's pretty interesting, and they largely rely on taste to determine the quality of their LM.  This may be a good way, or even the best way, to determine LM quality, but I personally have never had any success with it. A couple of months ago, I started a second LM using a ripe pear, thinking that maybe it would be more authentic and have different characteristics. But I destroyed a couple of batches of panettone with it before discarding it..... but it tasted exactly like my "good" LM, at least to me...

I have not used Lancelot for panettone, but I have used Galahad for LM maintenance. I have used All Trumps for maintenance also, as it is relatively inexpensive and high protein. For the bake, I have been using Italian flours, but Imay transition to American flours when I run out.  But my opinion is that King Arthur produces a very high quality product line, and they are very meticulous in their testing and labeling.  I also know that some people can produce good panettone without the highest gluten flour, and also that some people recommend using a somewhat lower protein flour for the second impasto. 

I started out thinking that the flour was paramount, and spent a lot of time searching for "Manitoba" flour, which I never found in the USA..... but I now have a different idea. 

I am sure that this issue will work itself out for you, and I know how frustrating it can be! 

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I started out thinking that the flour was paramount, and spent a lot of time searching for "Manitoba" flour, which I never found in the USA..... but I now have a different idea. 

This is very interesting.  My main takeaway from this whole experience is that the issue was in fact not my LM, but primarily the flour itself.  Since my last post, I have been searching the web for Italian flours, if only to give me some more confidence in the flour as most of them advertise the W value so I don't have to cross my fingers and hope it's high enough.

I also feel like the amount of butter in the recipe has a significant impact on the flour.  All of my failed attempts with the Sir Lancelot flour might have succeeded had the recipe called for less butter (I understand that there is almost certainly a minimum percentage of butter required to call the bread panettone, and I don't know if the butter would have had to be reduced below that minimum for a successful bake).  My 2nd dough always fell apart at the same point - when adding the last bit of butter (roughly after adding a little more than half of the butter called for in the 2nd dough using Andrea Tortora's recipe).  It's as if the flour just couldn't take any more.

For my most recent bake, I followed Roy's recipe from SPV, which I understand to have very high butter percentage compared to other recipes.  The result was leagues away from Roy's product, and the dough seemed to be on the verge of breaking down, but it held up well enough to turn out a few passable loaves.  This was the most souffle-like panettone I've ever baked and the loaves were collapsing from the moment I opened the oven door.  I had to suspend them as quickly as possible.  This is possibly just a tangential point, but could also be a clue to bakers more experienced than I in what went wrong and so it might invalidate some of my assumptions/theories regarding LM and flour, which is why I'm mentioning it.

I use Sir Lancelot for LM maintenance and for Neapolitan pizza, but I can't seem to get it to work for panettone.  I now have two "successful" panettone bakes using Giusto's Ultimate Performer - successful in quotes because they aren't nearly where I want them to be, but something vaguely resembling a panettone came out of my oven, and it tastes great.

I am still trying different flours.  As I've said, I really do feel like my LM maintenance is on point, so if something is wrong, I'm not even sure how to correct it.

This is part of the journey though.  I'm sure I will come back here in a few weeks/months and say it's not the flour, it was always the LM LOL.

itsjreal's picture
itsjreal

Thanks to both of you for your responses.

Sue, I am not part of that FB group, though there seem to be several. I assume you're talking about this one? I'm getting in the habit of tasting my LM, so maybe with time I'll pick up on the subtle indications of LM vitality. I agree that KA flours have always treated me well, up to this point. And I turned out a great batch of bagels with Sir Lancelot this morning. But when I can reliably mix a solid panettone dough with other flours and Sir Lancelot always fails, it's hard to not think that's part of the issue. I'll look into the All Trumps flour! 

Joe, despite the constant challenges, I'm glad we both have very similar experiences working with Sir Lancelot. I too have felt like the butter addition is where things usually fall apart. Interestingly though, on my most recent batch that I talk about above, the dough fell apart at the addition of the orange paste and salt, before I even got to the butter. I really made a point to mix until the dough was smooth and strong again, but it never got there. Odd, considering it wasn't THAT much being added (only 37g orange paste for 1700g batch). I added the butter eventually anyway, and gave it an extra-long mixing time to no avail. Results were not ideal, though certainly tasty: more like cakettone, but still extraordinarily soft and shreddable.

The process/formula (EIDB) I followed was identical to the previous week when I used Italian Manitoba flour and achieved excellent results. The only difference is I didn't have the pH meter until this most recent batch, and my LM maintenance has been much tighter since then. So I do hesitate to assign blame to the LM...

I'm also glad to hear your experience with Roy's recipe -- I've been really looking forward to trying it, but I'd like to dial in the EIDB one first because the amount of butter in Roy's scares me haha!

- Jesse

itsjreal's picture
itsjreal

Joe, I was just re-reading some of your earlier posts, now that I've been diligently taking pH readings for the past week or so. Again, same experience!

LM 4 hours after short refreshment reads a bit high (~4.3). I've been letting it sit an extra hour to get it down to 4.2. Obviously we want ideal time and ideal pH to align, but when that isn't happening, I'm inclined to think the pH is the more reliable indicator. 

By the way, how much LM do maintain at a time? I've been keeping 375 (refreshments of 150s / 150f / 75w), which seems excessive for home use -- mainly because I'm storing it in water overnight and I don't have a container that can properly contain a smaller quantity. I've used the binding method for longer-term fridge storage, but it's really not that much more work to roll it up and tie it, so maybe I'll give that a try with, for example, 125g total (refreshments of 50s / 50f / 25w).

joegranz's picture
joegranz

LM 4 hours after short refreshment reads a bit high (~4.3). I've been letting it sit an extra hour to get it down to 4.2. Obviously we want ideal time and ideal pH to align, but when that isn't happening, I'm inclined to think the pH is the more reliable indicator. 

I did the same.  I feel like my pH is a bit off and while I do think it's a good indicator of LM health, I also realize that my pH meter is likely less accurate than those used in bakeries and I am not very good about calibrating it.  So, I make sure my pH is in the ballpark, my LM is rising as expected, and the flavor of it is not acidic or sour.  Those more experienced than I always point to the LM as the issue, and I trust that they are likely correct and I am just finding my way to the same conclusion.  I remember reading some posts from Michael about some pH issues he was experiencing and I would've killed to be able to turn out his panettone from the very same post (if I remember correctly), so I can't imagine with the pH readings I'm getting, the behavior, and the flavor, that my LM is so far off that it would cause a complete failure of the dough as opposed to just a less-than-ideal bake, but I am obviously no expert.

By the way, how much LM do maintain at a time? 

I keep somewhere around 250g.  I keep the hydration around 42% - 46% with 100g of flour and water.  I keep mine bound in the fridge and if I'm not baking with it, once a week I'll take it out, soak it, refresh it 3x, bind it, let it sit at around 16 C for a few hours, and then put it back in the fridge until the following week.

If I am baking with it, I will usually keep it out of the fridge for 2 days and go through a similar process for maintaining it - bagnetto, 3x refreshments, store at 16 C until the next morning when I repeat the process.  On the 2nd night, I mix the first dough.

I remember reading somewhere that performing the bagnetto too frequently is actually bad for the LM.  This is one thing I do want to experiment with.  Every recipe I've seen includes a bagnetto before the 3 refreshments and if this is the formula that the professional bakers are following, it stands to reason that I should do the same.  I will say that I noticed that the pH of my LM during the 3 refreshments was closer to the target on day 1 out of the fridge as opposed to day 2 and perhaps that has to do with an unnecessary bagnetto on day 2.  I've been wondering if maybe I wouldn't have had to wait for the pH to fall a bit more before mixing my 1st dough if I hadn't performed a bagnetto that morning.  I'm not sure - I feel like I should follow the master Italian bakers as opposed to what I find on the web, but I've been curious so might try omitting the bagnetto on day 2 for my next bake.

 

Edit: typos

itsjreal's picture
itsjreal

It sounds like we both have had reasonable success with panettone *not* made with a proper LM in the past. I converted a liquid starter to stiff one last November for the holiday season and only loosely followed the process. No bagnetto, imprecise storage conditions, etc. I still was able to produce (and sell!) 25x 500g panettones (using La Milanaise Sutton flour, supplemented with some vital wheat gluten). These were not what I would consider top-tier breads, but the dough came together (and stayed together) nicely.

All that to say, I'm certain my LM is not yet perfect, but it's at least as capable of a leaven as my mock LM was at Christmas. And, again, great results with the "proper" LM and Manitoba flour a week or two ago:

Another thought... we take the ability to scale up/down a recipe as a given, maintaining the same percentages and stats. But dough in a commercial environment, at those quantities, does not behave in exactly the same way as it does in a home kitchen, all else being equal. Perhaps (hot take here) to best replicate the results we see in SPV, we need to adapt a bit to our own environment.

But then I see Michael's breads and the continuous refrain of, "It's the LM, dummy!" and I realize how little I actually know!

joegranz's picture
joegranz

But dough in a commercial environment, at those quantities, does not behave in exactly the same way as it does in a home kitchen, all else being equal. Perhaps (hot take here) to best replicate the results we see in SPV, we need to adapt a bit to our own environment.

Yes, I believe this is exactly right.

To support your theory, here's a quote from a page about Iginio Massari's recipe:

NB The doughs when the doses are too small have a tendency to rise with more difficulty, lengthening the times. Furthermore, temperatures one or two degrees higher are needed, that is 28-30 ° C because in these conditions the yeasts delay a bit.

itsjreal's picture
itsjreal

Okay cool! And thanks for the link. Though that still doesn't explain why my first dough rises so fast...

I just baked a single 1050g panettone, using Sir Lancelot with added wheat gluten to bring protein to ~15%.

First dough climbed to 3-4x volume (final pH 4.47) in about 8 hours, at which point I started the second dough.

Second dough seemed destined to completely unravel like every other attempt with that flour, but it actually managed to pull itself back together. It took literally 2 hours of mixing, using a combination of the Kitchenaid  and my hands. I think the small overall yield was what extended the mixing time -- the dough hook was next to useless at multiple points in the process.

Final proof was a lazy 9 hours, and could have gone a bit longer I think. Will post pics in the next couple days, but looks promising (if a bit over-baked) from the outside.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Looks great to me!

Soft, silky crumb! (Not too lactic, as some would say...!)

joegranz's picture
joegranz

So, I think it might be the LM 🤣😅

For this attempt I calibrated my pH meter and decided to follow the EIDB recipe from SPV. 

This week I decided rather spontaneously that I wanted to make panettone. With my schedule, I was only able to find a short window of opportunity to make it - I didn't have as many days as I would have liked.

Before deciding to make panettone, I had done my weekly LM refresh on Tuesday. Had I intended on baking at the time, I would not have bothered to refresh it until it was time to use it. I know the fridge sort of retards the fermentation process in a way, so I feel like using the LM shortly after putting it the fridge yields an under-fermented LM at the start of the panettone baking process. This is totally unscientific, but I do notice some differences in a LM that was in the fridge for a week vs just a few days. I took it out of the fridge on Friday to make the first dough. 

I went through my usual LM bagnetto and 3 refreshments, but for this bake I only had 1 day to "condition" the LM vs my usual 2.

After the 2nd refresh, I wasn't happy with the pH, so for my final refreshment I used a ratio of 1/0.8 LM/flour with a 47% hydration. I hadn't done this 1/0.8 refreshment since my last failure. Foreshadowing.... 

This refreshment did bring the pH closer to where it needed to be. When I mixed the first dough, the LM pH was a little higher than 4.3 when ideally it would've been below 4.2, but it was 10pm, so didn't want to wait much longer.

First dough came together as expected and I let it ferment overnight at 26-27 C. As usual, it had tripled in about 8 hours. My dough has never taken the prescribed 12-14 hours to rise - probably another indication that something is wrong. Unfortunately, I forgot to read the pH before and after the first dough's rise.

Second dough turned into cakettone and is currently in the trash haha. 

I used the same flour I have had success with for my last two bakes - Giusto's Ultimate Performer. Of course the recipe is a big variable here - I've made a different recipe for my last 3 bakes and EIDB's recipe is closer to Roy's than Andrea Tortora's in terms of butter quantity.  I barely succeeded with Roy's, so not surprised that I failed using a similar recipe when starting out with a less then ideal LM. 

I think for my next attempt I'm going to really get this LM pH where it needs to be before mixing the dough. When I do a 1/0.8 refreshment like I did with this bake, I prefer to do it earlier on in the LM maintenance rather than as the final refresh before making the dough. I took a risk trying to fit this into my schedule and it didn't turn out well. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A note regarding flour and why NA (North American) flour might be problematic.

3 points:

  • Rheology - Alveograph - P/L / tenacity
  • amylase / falling number
  • ash / mineral content

Strictly speaking flour for panettone should be balanced, i.e., that is flour which has a balanced tenacity / extensibility ratio. Alveograph = .55 - .65. Unfortunately, we can expect NA flours to be overly tenacious, i.e., >1. Flours too tenacious may contribute other issues.

US and Canadian flours are commonly subject to amylase addition, usually in the form of barley malt flour. This common corrective measure is often rather excessive and brings things into the rye territory of amylase activity i.e., falling number ~250. This means degradation occurs far too quickly (see Will's LM)!

Such is nature, that growing conditions in NA means less enzyme (particularly, amylase) activity and more ash (influence of growing conditions) that we can expect higher ash for an equivalent extraction to European flours. This may be problematic, since ash determines acid load relative to pH in respect to fermentation.


Edited for clarity.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

I actually remember seeing a similar comment from you on another thread.  This is actually the reason I've been seeking out Italian flour.  Having effectively read this comment for the second time now (probably a lot more, honestly) I think I understand it, but at first I remember thinking "NA flour has a bunch of junk in it.  Let me get flour without junk to rule out problems related to the junk".  Very scientific lol, but it is actually this comment that lead me to Guisto's which lead me to some success, so it wasn't all lost on me.

Giusto's Ultimate Performer is organic and the ingredients list only Organic Wheat Flour, so I thought to give it a shot.  What I've started to realize is that I don't think anything you've listed out in your comment is listed out on the flour packaging, so I've become wary of NA flours.  I don't actually know what I'm buying, which is unfortunate because with the missing information I could eliminate what feels like an enormous variable in my bakes.

joegranz's picture
joegranz

Back again with more anecdotal information and some questions. 

I made a mistake. During my weekly LM refresh, I forgot to put my bound LM in the fridge and it was left at about 16-19C for an entire week. I was able to get it back to normal after a few days of feeding, at which point it was in good enough shape to use for a bake, so I tried EIDB's recipe again.

My LM pH was consistently at about 4.8-4.9 before fermentation and 4.1-4.2 after. I believe pre-fermentation it should be just over 5, but I can't seem to achieve that. If I want the pH to be higher prior to fermentation, a bagnetto seems to help, but then the LM doesn't reach the 4.1-4.2 target after fermentation. Similarly, skipping the bagnetto (not always, just performing it less frequently) leaves the pH below 5 prior to fermentation, but hits the post-fermentation pH target. Another similar pH issue is that my primo is never over 5 after it triples. 

Long story short, I successfully baked EIDB's recipe, which I had failed at on my previous attempt. The dough this time was amazing. Whereas it usually breaks down when I add all the butter, this time I felt like this dough could take on even more butter than the recipe called for. It was really interesting considering all of my ingredients were the same as last time (still using Guisto Ultimate Performer).

One thing I paid more attention to this time around were my temps. My high-tech proofing drawer is an oven, a light, and various kitchen instruments. For 32C+, keep the light on with the oven closed. 30C, Crack the door with a wooden spoon. 28C, place the wooden spoon in a different spot or use a bigger object. 26C, open the dor to the first stop. I had all this worked out, or so I thought. 

I realize now that I was probably fermenting my 1st dough at around 30C, which is probably why it never took even 10hrs to triple. I always thought higher temp just meant that the dough rises faster and lower temp meant it rises slower, but I'm now wondering if temp had anything to do with my broken doughs.  Perhaps there's more to fermenting at a higher temp than I thought. This time, I left the dough at 26C and made sure of it - the dough tripled in about 10-11 hrs and mixing the second dough the following day was actually quite easy.

The loaf itself is also a little different. The crumb has more "pull" or maybe chew to, if that makes sense. A little more bready and less cakey.

One problem I'm having now is oven spring, or lack thereof. My guess is that my glaze is hardening before the dough is finished springing. The tops of my loaves are flatter than I'd like and the crumb is a bit tight as well.

Do you guys bake panettone with steam? Seems like it would make sense, but if no one is doing that and still getting great results, my oven spring problem might be something else. Is there anything else that can be done to prevent the glaze from hardening so much so quickly (maybe some ingredient or ratio of ingredients I'm missing, less glaze, etc)? I know - try it without glaze and see what happens, but thought I'd try and get your thoughts on it as well. 

Edit: I guess it could be that my LM is not strong enough to "push through" the hardening glaze during the bake, but aside from the oven spring issue, my LM seems to be quite strong and is rising well, so I assume it's not this but who knows.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I just wanted to say that I have fixed the issues I was having with my LM!

Honestly, I was getting close to throwing the towel in, but I turned it around!

I'm back on top of the panettone mountain and I feel like I've got it all figured out! Truely!

 

To recap, my LM was too keen to acidify, and it still is a bit, but while the acidification was at the expense of leavening power, I have now got the yeast rocketing! And everything is moving so very quickly now! I still have to be careful of the acidification, but if you look after the yeast, it will naturally keep the acidification in check.

What got me there?! I totally underestimated and forgot just how important lavaggio is!

 

Michael

joegranz's picture
joegranz

That's good news!

Can you elaborate a bit more? It sounds like a change to your LM maintenance, but there are a lot of variables - how often you perform the bagnetto, how long you soak the LM, temp of the water, how much sugar is used, etc.

I realize you might have been experiencing different issues than I was but I am eager to learn from your experience nonetheless. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Joe.

I'm routinely doing a very warm bath daily as per the Rolando Morandin method.

I prepare water for the bagnetto at 40C and leave the pieces to soak for at least 30 minutes. Sugar, I don't measure but is likely around 2-3g/L.

I'm planning to write a piece regarding this at some point...