The Fresh Loaf

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Franconia Crusty Boule - Why 3 of the Same Stages?

louiscohen's picture

Franconia Crusty Boule - Why 3 of the Same Stages?

This recipe in "The Rye Baker" (this one at the author's website is very similar uses 3 stages plus a soaker.

I've read about multistage ryes, the Detmolder 3 stages in particular.  Each of the 3 stages is designed to develop a different flavor/texture: the hydration and temp/time of each stage favors yeast, then acetic acid, and finally lactic acid.  This makes sense.

What I hope someone can explain is why the Franconia Crusty Rye recipes use 3 stages, all at 100% hydration and room temp.  What's the difference between doing 3 nearly identical stages vs one with the same hydration and temp but 3 times the flour and water?  Is it just a way of getting a longer fermenting time (for the first two stages) but keeping the hydration and temp constant?


mariana's picture

The Rye Baker does three refreshes at 21C which makes a completely different bread . True Frankenlaib has three refreshes at three different temperatures

Google translated: 

The basis for a hearty Franconian country bread with a juicy, sliceable crumb and a distinctive crust is natural sourdough that has been carefully processed over three stages. From an existing full sourdough, the so-called Anstellgut, which is made according to our own recipe from rye flour, water and possibly some caraway and honey, a refreshed sourdough is created by adding water and flour. The yeast bacteria first form in this at precisely maintained temperatures (24 – 26° C). By adding flour and water, the refreshed sour is continued for 5 - 6 hours to the basic sourdough. In this phase, at temperatures between 22 and 26 °C, acids and flavorings develop, which are responsible for the development of the individual taste as well as for the digestibility and shelf life of the bread.

The further addition of flour and water finally creates the full sourdough, which matures at 28 - 32 °C after 3 - 6 hours to the finished bread dough. It should be large-pored, warm and soft. In this phase, flour and water as well as the spices are added to the dough again. The loaves of bread are formed from this, allowed to rise again and then fired into an oven preheated to around 280°C (falling to 200°-180°C). The loaves of bread are baked at a higher initial temperature with decreasing heat. Depending on the size, the baking time is about 1-2 hours.


When the starter is fed three times at the same temperature it is done for two different reasons

1) to accumulate a large amount of starter without endangering its microflora. Smaller feeds do that. Also, it has to do with limitations of the sizes of the batches in bakeries and bread factories, their fermentation tanks, buckets, mixer bowls are not designed for infinite amounts of starter. If they need 100lbs of starter, starting from 1 lb, they might as well  do it in buckets and mixer bowls in three steps. Microflora preservation is very important in large scale production environment.

2) to restore the starter's microflora after longer time storage, to regrow it after most of it died in the fridge or in dried and reconstituted form. It is better done in stages by doing a series of small feeds. Again, this way the starter's weakened microflora is not overwhelmed by the flour microflora and it takes time and at least three refreshments for the microbial community to reconstruct itself.

louiscohen's picture

Thanks very much for laying out the possible rationales.  Your alternatives make complete sense:

  • Protecting the culture microflora from being overwhelmed by the flour microflora in one big expansion
  • The recipe erroneously doesn't use 3 different stages for yeast, acetic acid, and lactic acid.

I'll see if I can get a question in on his blog.

alcophile's picture

I would guess that the 3-stage sponge was used for the first alternate reason that @mariana stated. The recipe uses only 12 g ,of rye sour for a total of 250 g of medium rye. That would be too large amount of food in one sitting.

Be aware that there is a discrepancy between the final dough table and the bakers' percentage table. The final dough table says to use 400 g of medium rye, but the BP% table states that 400 g of dark rye flour (Type 2500) is used.

I made the version on his website and the crumb was very dense. But that was early on in my rye baking experience many loaves ago, so I might get a better result now.

I haven't seen too much activity from Ginsberg on his blog since he announced he was closing NYBakers. I hope you have some luck with your question; I'd be curious to know his answer.

louiscohen's picture

I noticed the medium in one place and dark in the other discrepancy.  I presume that it's dark rye in the final dough.  I think we can expect a nice dark and dense loaf.  I think I'll feed my culture tomorrow night and start the 1st stage Thurs AM.  I plan to retard the final proof after 40 or so minutes at room temp, and bake on Saturday AM.

I wonder if the 3 identical stages are aimed at a home baker with a small culture.  Or maybe the flavor from the first 2 stages improves during later stages.