Never Give Up Sourdough
I post this for 2 reasons:
1) I thought this sourdough was going to bomb, but it didn't. Never give up on your sourdough.
2) I made several changes to the recipe I have been using for 4 months, and I learned a lot. Maybe you will too.
Most important thing I learned: Never give up on your sourdough. (I mean the loaves, not the starter.)
This is a somewhat long story, with a few unusual twists to tell, so I apologize for the wind and will understand if you skip ahead.
As I was planning for this bake I was thinking about my previous sourdough experience. (I make a version of Jeffrey Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough, recipe already on TFL.) For the previous bake I made the final build of the levain at night, and mixed the dough early the next morning. An overnight retarding of the loaves would have been overlong, so I opted for same-day baking. When I took my shaped loaves out of their bannetons, they reeelaaaaaxxxxed. Into the oven they went, but their oven spring was underwhelming. The taste was tangy, wonderful, but the crumb was not open and airy as usual.
This time I was planning a few changes. I was concerned that the main issue had been gluten development. For starters I figured I'd go back to early-morning final levain build and mixing the dough in the afternoon, which would allow for overnight retarding.
On top of this I was considering something Mike Avery recently posted in a response, where he explained that autolyse does NOT involve yeast, commercial or wild. I thought that mixing the dough in advance, without leaven, might help build gluten, which I speculated had been at fault for my flattish loaves. I knew also that there would be some enzymatic action as a result of this autolyse process, so I hedged my bets and decided to let the dough sit for just 3 hours.
When I added my levain to the autolyse in my mixer, it was very, very wet. OK, I should have broken up the dough first, that became clear. But I figured I could still mix and distribute all the ingredients sufficiently. After 3 minutes the dough was still sticking both to the bottom and the sides of my mixer's bowl. (Fortunately, this no longer daunts me, thanks to the video of M. Bertinet that holds99 recently provided this link for: http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough
Also, I wasn't tempted to add flour, having seen M. Bertinet say about such glop: "This is what dough should look like.")
I took the sticky mass and started throwing it down and folding it over. I "cheated" only a little bit with one dusting of flour. Within a few minutes, remarkably, the dough was coming together. There were a few pea-sized lumps but I flattened them when I found them. Then I let the dough ferment for almost 3 hours, with 2 folds to build strength. It still seemed loose and weak and I admit I was concerned.
I shaped 2 boules and put them in bannetons, which I had dusted (mistakenly) with AP flour instead of semolina as usual. I let the loaves proof for exactly 1 hour and put them in my refrigerator, which can hold between 43 and 44 dF, to retard overnight.
In the morning my heart sank. The loaves had barely risen. Never give up on your sourdough. Next came another change I had decided to try: I wasn't going to let the loaves wake up for several hours before baking. I pre-heated my oven to 480 dF for an hour, putting a steam pan in at the 45-minute mark. Hamelman, in Bread, makes a point that sometimes waiting for his loaves to warm up has rendered flat loaves, and thus unlike others he is not against more or less immediate baking. So that was what I was going for.
And that turned out to be a good choice. First, I had trouble getting one loaf out of its banneton (curse that AP flour). Still, for all the manhandling, it came out and held its shape! The second loaf came out more easily, but it looked puny. Still it held its puny shape.
Using my (Pure Komachi) tomato knife I slashed the first loaf with ease and confidence. The dough held: it was still cool! Into the oven und spritzen. Slash the second loaf, into the oven und spritzen again. The first loaf kept its poise, so I thought it would be OK. The puny second one sagged a little on the baking stone, and my confidence sagged with it.
At this point, if you're still here, it occurred to me that because the loaves were cool, they could handle more spritzing than usual. This turned out to be true. I turned the oven down to 460 dF and sprayed the oven 4 times over the space of 8 minutes. The crust hadn't yet turned color so I figured keeping the oven moist until I saw color would help, and it did. Still, the second loaf looked saggy. I sprayed it one more time and closed the oven, expecting the worst for that one.
Five minutes later, when I opened the oven door to turn the loaves and take out the steam pan, loaf 2 was puffed up almost like a volcano! I thought it had blown up inside, full of the air holes "where the baker sleeps at night." I turned the oven down to 440 dF and waited. Something else I learned: if you put your dough in without letting it warm up for hours, it needs to bake longer. OK, duh. So, as with being able to spritz for longer, I kept the loaves in the oven for longer, which gave me more control over temperature. At the 30-minute mark I took instant temperatures: the first loaf was only around 165 dF and the second was a little soft where the lava comes out, so I didn't bother poking it.
Ten minutes later I took temps. Loaf 1 was ready, at 208 dF. Loaf 2 was 198 so back in it went. I turned the oven down to 410 dF and gave it 3 minutes. Then I took it out and they both got 3 hours cooling time.
At this point I thought loaf 2 was a mess inside and I didn't figure it was worth showing it. Loaf 1 was beautiful inside and was half-gone in short order. When I started cutting into loaf 2 I realized I had totally missed the boat. Though it hadn't risen much at all in the fridge, and had sort of sagged in the oven, it made an amazing comeback. And I am thinking that comeback was because it was cool when it hit the oven, and I kept it moist long enough for the yeast to stage their heroic last stand.
Here's a picture of the crumb of Loaf 2:
Sourdough crumb: Never Give Up Sourdough
Next time: I will repeat my sourdough with the autolyse, but I will use only half the flour for that, and I will break up the dough into pieces when I mix everything together. Otherwise, I'm sticking with my story.
Now I wish I had more room in my fridge. I would pull all my sourdoughs in there to set overnight. Thanks for the details. I will try some of the ideas.
Thanks for the detailed account David. I read it with great interest as I too am planning on making Vermont Sourdough again.
The crumb looks beautiful, with a lovely sheen to it. Great job.
I did, I REALLY read the whole thing! Your bread looks wonderfu. Lovely crumb.
It was actually very interesting. First of all, why do three hours of autolyse? Have you tried 30 min with all the flour and water, then add the levain and the salt? That should be enough.
Sourdough dough doesn't act like yeasted dough, nor does it handle the same. So, I think it can be scary when you first start getting in to it. The dough remains sticky (if it isn't, it's not hydrated enough). A fairly highly hydrated dough is always a bit scary when it comes out of the banneton. It seems to flatten... then in the oven, it bursts up! Since, I got in to sourdough from the start and actually haven't done a ton of yeasted breads, these details are things I have always taken for granted. Like, I never poke my bread before putting it in the oven. I just watch it and I know it isn't going to double, because I want the oven to do it. So, the dough, even if it is still cold and underfermented, will finish off in the oven. So, when you do the incisions on this kind of bread, do them deep, very deep. The loaf will be able to stretch and burst even more.
I also have always found that sourdough bread benefits from less kneading and more folding. The autolyse starts it all off perfectly, then a few minutes of the slap and fold kneading, then two folds during the first rise. It's always been perfect. In my experience, gluten developement is often over-stated. The flour I use for this sort of bread is 11,5% protein. I don't think it really benefits from a long kneading session.
But, all that I say is based on French flours and I've never worked with American ones!
Thanks you guys for your kind words! Jane, thanks for your insights and questions. BTW I love your blog and read it (as best I can) and I appreciate your efforts and the beautiful bread they give rise to! Like SteveB I say, send me a taste!
Now to your post, Jane. "The dough remains sticky (if it isn't, it's not hydrated enough)."
I agree. I am finally not afraid of sticky sourdough. I don't let the mixer frustrate me any more either. Slap and fold!
"A fairly highly hydrated dough is always a bit scary when it comes out of the banneton. It seems to flatten... then in the oven, it bursts up!"
The thing is, when I retard my sourdough overnight, it holds its shape much better than when I don't. You remarked on your blog that most of the baguettes recipes don't include an overnight retarding. Have you used this technique a lot and what do you find the differences are? On TFL most of the talk on retarding is about building sour flavor. But I found that oven rise was also dramatically influenced. And yes, it was the oven that did the heavy lifting. The loaves really took off!
"In my experience, gluten developement is often over-stated."
This may be true. Still, the dough I just made felt like good dough feels, elastic and stretchable. And the glop in the mixer bowl showed good gluten development: it was very ssttttrrrreeeettttcccchhhhyyy. (My flour is about 12% protein. I find the bread gets too chewy with stronger flour.)
"First of all, why do three hours of autolyse? Have you tried 30 min with all the flour and water, then add the levain and the salt? That should be enough."
Excellent point and question. Short answer, yes I have done a 30 minute autolyse, but it wasn't really an autolyse!
OK, that's too cryptic. But please bear with me, again. Mike Avery responded on the thread "when to add salt",
that a true autolyse has no yeast, and that times for autolyse are between .5 and 10 hours. The 10 hour autolyse idea reawakened an interest in some experiments I did a couple of years ago, pre-sourdough. They were long, refrigerated autolyses, but I didn't call them that at the time. And my previous sourdough autolyses were around 30 minutes, but the levain was mixed in. Not a true autolyse.
My experiments were based on P. Reinhart's so-called "Pain a l'Ancienne", which was actually based on the award-winning baguettes of a French baker, Phillipe Gosselin. But Gosselin's bread used a true autolyse, and Reinhart's did not. Reinhart mentions that the flavor of the bread comes from the enzymatic action. (I made Reinhart's bread and it was delicious, wheaty, and sweet.)
What also got my attention was the gluten development in my long autolyse experiments. So that is why I was trying a longer autolyse with my sourdough: gluten development and enzymatic action.
So I ask you, and others, what kind of effect does a 10 hour autolyse produce that is different from a 30-minute autolyse? Differences of flavor? Of gluten development?
Jane, I will try, as you suggest, a simple, true, 30 minute autolyse. Maybe the results will be the same as or similar to the ones I just got. That will keep me happy! :-)
Thanks for sharing your adventure, including the running account of your thought process. It's very interesting.
Regarding autolyse: As I understand it, autolyse is to give the flour a chance to get fully hydrated and for gluten to start forming. This happens within 15-20 minutes. The benefits are a shorter kneading time and less temptation to add more flour. So, you get good gluten development with less kneading and a wetter dough. This yields a more open crumb, which is what most of us sourdough types strive for.
Regarding when to add the levain: My synthesis from reading many authors is that, if you are using a liquid levain, add it before autolyse, since it contributes a significant portion of the total water in the dough. If you use a firm levain, add it, along with the salt, after autolyse.
A 10 hour autolyse is not an autolyse. It is bulk fermentation. While the gluten may develop further as acid is produced, the chief purpose is to develop flavor and dough volume through fermentation. This requires that all the dough ingredients be present, obviously including the levain and salt.
I don't know what to call a mix of flour and water that sits for 10 hours. It isn't a pate fermente, which is a complete dough or a biga, which has yeast. I've never done this, so I can't comment on the results.
BTW, your bread looks great!
Thanks, David, for your helpful comments, and your kind words.
I'm sure I should have explained more clearly a few things, though they would have added even more bulk to an overlong post: 1) that I have followed the traditional autolyse process often (almost always) in my baking, so I knew I was going off-road; 2) that my previous bake, when my loaves flattened out some, I had used that same traditional autolyse; 3) that I like to experiment ;-), and that Mike Avery's post became an excuse for more of the same.
"As I understand it, autolyse is to give the flour a chance to get fully hydrated and for gluten to start forming. This happens within 15-20 minutes."
Or starts to happen within 15-20 minutes, but do we know what happens if the mixture is left longer?
"A 10 hour autolyse is not an autolyse. It is bulk fermentation."
Perhaps, but I doubt it ferments much if there isn't any yeast or levain in it.
In the bake just finished I was taking Mike Avery's explanation (here are 2 excerpts) as a jumping off point:
"In an autolyse, water and flour are mixed and allowed to stand for at least 30 minutes, and as long as 8 to 10 hours. (If you are going to let it stand longer, adding salt becomes a good idea.) The point of the autolyse is to let the flour get wet and to start the enzymatic action on the flour. The enzymes are already there."
"When you add active components, such as a sourdough starter or yeast, the dough is active and things are happening that don't happen in an autolyse."
(Whether Mike is "right" or "wrong" I can't say. He didn't elaborate on when a 10-hour autolyse would be appropriate, and of course that would have been very illustrative. Also, I was taking the middle-way, a mere 3-hour "autolyse".)
My guess is that Janedo is right to be looking to Calvel for guidance on the term, as I think "autolyse" comes from him. But Mike's assertions, whatever their source, dovetailed for me with the completely untraditional method that Reinhart bases his latest book on: a long period in which flour and water, mixed together without any other agent, are left to build flavor.
Full disclosure: I'm not a big Reinhart fan, but I have made "Pain a l'Ancienne". I don't know if other TFL bakers have made this bread. But any who have successfully made it, and it's really easy, would have to say the flavor is surprisingly delicious, and the method is decidedly untraditional. The model for the latter, Gosselin's baguette, consisting of part of the total flour, mixed with cold water, retarded overnight, and later mixed with more flour, water, yeast and salt, I would be willing to call an extended autolyse. But the term doesn't matter. The process does.
Finally, I'm not sure if the 3-hour pre-mix (how's that for a new term) changed the outcome at all. I think the more important wrinkle was scoring and baking the cooler dough, also untraditional as I understand it. (Oh BTW, I love tradition.)
Wow! We get to quibble about semantics and bread baking, all in the same place. What fun!
I really don't know what to call it when you refrigerate a mixture of water and flour for 10 hours. And I certainly don't know what it does for the final bread produced that's different from a 20 minute autolyse and/or a 10 hour cold fermentation of the final dough (with yeast and/or levain), not to mention cold fermentation of the formed loaves.
I would love Mike Avery to chime in with his thoughts.
I haven't made Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne for a long, long time. Is the method you described his, or is it Gosselin's original method? (I'm not at home, and my copy of BBA is.)
I appreciate your witty reply!
Reinhart waxed eloquent over Gosselin's baguette in the early pages, and made it clear that no yeast was used. Come later to his recipe/formula and he's asking you to refrigerate cold-water mixed dough including the yeast, immediately after mixing.
This to yeast or not to yeast difference always bothered me, but I made the bread and it shocked both my wife and me! So sweet, and so easy to do. Reinhart, truly annoyingly, did not provide the details of Gosselin's prize winning baguette formula. And neglected to explain the yeast change in the Pain a l'Ancienne as well, I might add.
That said, Gosselin, I would semantically claim, based on Mike Avey's post (where is that Mike Avery when we need him?), was doing either a (slow) autolyse or as you suggest, slowed-dough!
Thanks for your reply and your offer of a nice new term!
I've been following this thread with great interest as I regularly bake the Pain a l'Ancienne for my family since it's their favorite bread.
It could be that Reinhart didn't provide the details of Gosselin's formula because he promised not to. Or Gosselin didn't share all the details. PR does, however, make it clear in the BBA that he did tinker with the process, changing it from two mixings into one but still calling it a delayed fermentation/cold-mixing method.
I'm now curious enough to try it with two mixes, holding off adding the salt and yeast until the second mix. But that will have to wait till the weekend since cold slowed-dough will take twice the time.
David (dmsnyder) got the scoop on Gosselin on Google. See his post below!
Hydrating the flour is a big part of an autolyse. However, it also activates the enzymes on the flour and starts the digestion of the carbs. In the end, all digestion is based on enzymes.
This action helps unlock the flavor of the flour.
I don't see any real difference in a shorter or longer autolyse. However, if you go too far, the mix will self-digest and start turning gray. Many artisanal bakeries mix up a bunch of autolyse at the start of the shift and use it for the whole shift. If they have to hold it longer, they add salt at the start to slow the enzymatic action.
While decreased mixing time is a benefit, it's not a big one to a home baker. Flavor. That's what we're after.\
Also, sorry I'm not around as much as I used to be. I got a "real job" and leave home at 8:00 AM and get back around 8:00 PM. I have a lot less free time.
Janedo - nice loaves. Also, your copy of the book is far more attractive than mine. You must have a newer edidtion. I took Mssr Choquet's loaf as a starting point. My own bread inspired by it was very popular locally.
About 1/3 of the flour is in an autolyse (30 minutes to an hour usually), 1/3 the flour is in an autolyse. A very small amount of water is added at mix time - most of the water is in the autolyse and poolish.
I use instant dry yeast. About .2% in the poolish and another .06% in the final dough. I run the poolish for 12 hours, or until the poolish just starts to fall on itself.
The final dough is at about 63% hydration with bread flour. I use about a 12% bread flour and no addition of bran. Oh, salt is about 2% of total flour. When I lived in the mountains, I used a 14% high protein flour, GM's All-Trumps which is delivers the best tasting breads I've ever made. I like it better than King Harvest. (Sorry, I doubt you can get either flour where you are.)
I let the dough rise, fold a few more times, scale and shape. After an hour of floor time, I retard it at about 45 to 48F overnight. I bake it in the morning directly from the retarder at 375F for about 40 minutes for a 1 1/2 pound loaf.
It has a lovely depth of flavor. I tend to bake it to a nice golden color, but not too far. And I usually like a deep crust color.
Let me know if you unravel these notes and how it turns out,
So glad you showed up! I see life is very busy for you.
My idea was to take exactly what M. Choquet said in the book for that bread, and make it. Now, I am definitely interested in redoing it using your technique. What is fun with this bread is that I have pretty much his ingredients, the excellent quality T65 flour, the Guérande sea salt which I've always used and the yeast. The water, I don't think is a big deal.
When I have unraveled your notes and come up with a recipe, I'll let you know. I agree with the not too dark. It gets a bitter flavour as Calvel said, so unlike sourdough bread. Interesting.
Thanks very much for your recipe,
Your bread came out beautifully, as usual! Lovely crust and crumb. Your blog is now so easy to read, oh yes, thanks for the English translations! But wow you must get tired, it's enough to write in your mother tongue, and then translating, vachement bien!
Bread of Three Rivers: I love these picaresque baking stories, you get to travel about and visit the bakers and their sources, all while sitting comfortably at home.
Now, I wouldn't ever want to imply that your kids are spoiled (pampered) on sourdough, but -- Maman, how could you, it's another fresh-baked baguette?!!! I say, let 'em eat cake!
About autolyse... I think most home bakers use the term autolyse to mean a period of rest while the flour and water sit together and the flour absorbs the water and the gluten networks start forming. I'm in the middle of Le Goût du Pain by Calvel and he is pretty clear about that. This rest period allows a shorter kneading time, especially when the kneading is followed by some folds during the initial rise. Now, maybe longer periods of "autolyse" can help in some other ways, but I haven't encountered that yet and I really wonder how much better bread can get?
Yes, I am all for the all night resting of the dough right after the initial rise and BEFORE forming. I like the feel of the cool dough. I take it out of the fridge and immediately preshape. These smaller parts of dough then come closer to room temp and then I do the final shaping. The all night rise pretty much guarantees a nice, open crumb. It gives incredible flavour, not sourness. I did it for most of my sourdoughs before meeting Anis and had found it strange that baguette recipes didn't call for it. So, I wasn't in the least suprised when he said he did it. I am now doing the Three Rivers Bread (from a book Mike Zvery recommended to me) and though the bread is pretty good doing a poolish and then one day bread, I'm convinced that the baker didn't reveal the fact that it is retarded some. Or if he doesn't, I'm sure the bread will be better if it is! Which is my next experiment.
The only time I've put dough in the fridge preformed was for Reinhart's San Fran which is a bread I actually hated. I made it a few times to see if I could like it. But the goal was for the bread to be sour and I admit to seeing absolutely no interest in sour bread. I do realize it is a very cultural thing, so I'll be quiet on that now.
Let us know what you think of the basic 30 min autolyse. I admit I never set a stop watch. I mix dough adn then go off and do something,like have breakfast, then I come back and continue. So, that could mean a 30-60 min autolyse.
Speaking of terms, I wish we could retire "retarding". I would switch to your lovely "all night resting" but it doesn't let us know it's in the fridge.
(On the autolyse front, see my reply to dmsnyder.)
I haven't tried refrigerating the bulk fermentation. I followed J. Hamelman (I am a fan) on cool, refrigerated proofing, and will surely try the technique you describe. As I say, I like to experiment.
"The all night rise pretty much guarantees a nice, open crumb."
That's where I was trying to go with my post! Even if the dough doesn't rise much in the fridge, it will in the oven! Thank you.
"I'm convinced that the baker didn't reveal the fact that it is retarded some. Or if he doesn't, I'm sure the bread will be better if it is! Which is my next experiment."
I like it! I'll check your blog for the results.
"I admit to seeing absolutely no interest in sour bread. I do realize it is a very cultural thing, so I'll be quiet on that now."
No, it's fine to let us know we are Phillistines. Haha, just kidding! Chacun a son gout. (I can't make accents yet.) I like, and my wife does as well, fortunately, a slight sour shading in the bread. Some like the big sour, but not me.
Since I don't think the 3-hour premix changed the outcome much, if at all, and rather that the hot oven and cooler dough did, I will report back on my next sourdough efforts with a traditional 30-minute, unleavened autolyse.
I forgot to mention, I am working (slogging is more like it) my way through Calvel as well, en Francais! Tres lentement, bien sur.
I read that the English translation is not good, and the recipes are completely messed up, so I found a rare copy (in the U.S.) in French, online. Wow, he knew a lot about bread!
I just spent HOURS writing the post on the Three River's bread, so if you want to go see, it's here
I'm ready for bed now, it tired me out.
Have fun with Calvel in French "peu ou prou" means "more or less". He loves that expression. It sounds pretty funny.
I like Hamelman too but I don't agree with him when he says that some of his breads wouldn't benefit from the all night fridge camp (how's that term?) because when I look at his formulas, they are very similar to stuff I do and I like the taste it gives. Otherwise they are a bit neutral in taste, for me. It isn't a sour taste that develops, it a sourdough taste, know what I mean? I'm just not a fan of yeast bread.
OK, you all figure out the autolyse definitions and what sounds good. Ha ha! Do try a regular 30 min, then the all night fridge camp because it makes great bread.
Pardon, but I am converting your measurements of the yeast correctly? The poolish calls for 1/8th cc. or about 1/40th tsp. of yeast and the dough 1/4th cc. or about 1/20th tsp. of yeast?
Those are tiny amounts, and I want to make sure I am not misreading.
Probably correct - the poolish in RLB's baguette recipe calls for dissolving 1/16th tsp yeast in 2 oz water, then scooping out 1 tbs of the water and using that as the yeast. Which probably results in around 1/256th tsp of yeast going in.
I had to finish that off in the evening when my brain doesn't function properly. I totally forgot to put the teaspoons! That is 1/8th and then 1/4 teaspoons!
That sounds a little easier to measure.
First , thank you for translating your blog. I can now enjoy your descriptions and not just the fabulous pictures!
I just wanted to share the enjoyment I got from your children's response by letting you know I get similar responses here. I bake challah ( along with other breads) every week. On the rare occasion that I must buy it, my children complain loudly. I'm not saying that I make the greatest challah in town, but that homemade bread (sorry, it's made with commercial yeast) is almost always tastier than store bought. At least that's my family's opinion.
It's so great to see them enjoy it so thoroughly too!
If I didn't have all these oooh and aaahs when I made bread, I certainly wouldn't make it. Before I started making bread, and sourdough in particular, I didn't even like it! Only as toast. So, for me the whole process developed from the desire to give me children healthy and great tasting food. Bread is so incredible because the shape changes each time, the crust and the crumb are big issues and everyone comments and then the taste.... each person gives their opinion. When they all dig in and say, THIS one is incredible, it is always a pleasure.
I've never made challah... I don't know why! It is such a beautiful bread. I'll put it on my list. I also like the cultural aspect of certain breads, like challah.
Oh, your welcome for the blog. It is very time consuming but it's my hobby. My outside of the house/kids/routine thing.
David (Soundman) ,
You did a great job, produced a beautiful loaf (crust and crumb) and your explanation (I read it all) was very well written and helpful.
Thanks for sharing,
Howard - St. Augustine, FL
I would have been lost without M. Bertinet! How many times, baking sourdough, have I previously cursed my KA mixer? (Shame, guilt, regret.) Thanks again for getting me to kick the KA habit! Vive la glop!
Nicely written piece and the baugettes look great. You are to be congratulated on having raised children who know the difference. Please do not mistreat them with such cruelty again!
I remember reading about one of the Parisian artisan bakers who claimed that he never consumed his bread till the second day as it wasn't at its best till then. I now confirm this to be true. Retarding in the fridge overnight is required to develop this unparalleled taste revelation. Another point is I don't think my starter had fully developed till about a month ago. Caring for it is now a religous exercise...,
And, oh yeah, almost forgot, the autolyze question. I just let the dough do its thing after initial combining (I guess you could call this the autolyze period). I usually regenerate the starter during this time. The feel of the dough indicates when it's time to continue the hand kneading....,Wild-Yeast
Thank you! My children are my testers. Their palettes are still young and not changed with age and so they have these extra sensitive mouths. They love strong tastes like blue cheese, pickles and of course sourdough. But when something is not quite right, they sense it right away.
We can't wait until the next day to eat bread because it goes out the door too fast. Except when I bake in the evening and we eat it the next day. The baguettes David and I have been going on about definitely are wonderful just cooled, while their crust is crunchy. But I agree that some sourdough and yeast breads needs time to develop flavor, before baking and after. I just made David's Pain de campagne, baked last night, and this morning it smells like heaven.
When you say you let the dough (flour + water?) do its thing, how long do you mean?
I have been following this thread with lots of interest. When I read BBA I came away with the conclusion that a longer autolyse would free up more simple sugars in the dough. The bread made from a dough from a longer autolyse would have a sweetness to it from the sugars that weren't used by the yeast in fermentation. This last weekend I decided to alter one of my formulas to see what would happen if I extended the autolyse. I use fresh ground red winter wheat flour and mix it up at 70% hydration and mixed in the sourdough starter and salt 6.5 hours later. I also reduced my preferment from 40% to 30%. I let the dough ferment for four hours then put it into the fridge overnight. Next day I took it out shape it let it raise then baked it.
The bread does have a sweetness to it that I don't normally get. There is also the subtle sour background in the taste too. The flavors went in the direction that I thought that they would go and I was very happy with the results. I normally don't have time to autolyse that long so it was a good experiment for me to do. There are a few more variations I want to do to see how the flavor changes and for learning more about how to make bread.
Thank you, LeadDog! (Below you will see I have some questions.)
You are a baker after my own heart. I wish you had jumped in sooner!
"When I read BBA I came away with the conclusion that a longer autolyse would free up more simple sugars in the dough. The bread made from a dough from a longer autolyse would have a sweetness to it from the sugars that weren't used by the yeast in fermentation."
So also went my thinking. Your 6.5 hour mixture was at room temperature? What was the texture like after 6.5 hours? Did you have any trouble mixing in the sourdough? Is the final mix as wet as I imagine, and do you use a mixer or just knead it?
Please do report on your next variations!
Yes the 6.5 was at room temperature. I have a bosch mixer and I just leave the dough in there with the lid on. The flour was fresh ground so there would be a heat increase with that. The wheat is stored in a freezer so I figure it evens out. The water was straight out of the tap. Nothing was done to change the temperature. I really didn't pay any attention to the texture after the 6.5 hours. The sourdough is 80% hydration and mixes right in. The flour I grind likes water so 70% didn't mix really well in the mixer so I turned it out on the counter and did it by hand until the dough stuck to my hands. I have been doing 80% hydration with this flour and I think that is just about right for it.
Variations: I think for this flour the 6.5 hours autolyse did just what I wanted to do. I have read here on TFL that whole wheat or fresh ground needs to autolyse longer so pay attention to what your dough tells you. I'm going to go back to higher hydrations next and cut back some more on my preferment.
I took the bread to work and only brought 4 slices home. When I got home I finally got to try a slice. Then I understood why the bread disappeared.
Whole Wheat Sourdough
Thanks for the pic and the post! Your colleagues at work are truly lucky. How many people get free fresh home-baked bread at work?
I was asking about the temperature of the (ahem) autolyse, because the enzyme breakout can, presumably, get overdone. You clearly haven't reached that point. I was wondering about both PR and PG and their immediately refrigerating the mixed dough. Of course refrigeration slows things down, and they do let the dough sit overnight, so maybe it's a sort of 'insurance policy' against over-action of enzymes. Gosselin's is a commercial bakery, after all.
I was also wondering about the difference in enzyme action between WW and bread flour, and your post answers that one: WW takes longer.
I'm really glad you posted, and this issue has gotten such a good workout.
There are about ten in my area that can eat the bread. I have friends in other areas that drop by for some bread. Most of the time I get to take about half of the bread home.
There is still lots more to learn on this issue but it seems to work the way I read it would work. I should check the temprature of my dough. It is summer time but it wasn't very hot that day. When the weather gets cooler and I want to do the same thing I might have to let it autolyse longer.
Waiting for the next bake was trying but worth it. Here are some more observation and results.
Preferment was started 12 hours before I was to add it to the dough. The preferment used 50g of liquid levain, whole wheat flour 115g, and water 92g.
I ground up 1,000g of Red Winter Wheat and sift the large particles and reground them. The wheat come right out of the freezer so it is cold, after grinding it is cooler than the work counter. I mixed 1,000g of the flour with 850g of our water and let it sit for 6 hours. When I mixed I felt it to see what it was like. The first time I could feel some dry particles in it still so I mixed it a few seconds longer. I could see the gluten just starting to form. Water temp was 75F the dough was 81F to 82F depending on where I put the probe in. The house temp started at 75F and went to 85F that afternoon. The dough at this point seems dry but little bits want to stick to you.
Six hours later I put in 200g of the sourdough starter and 19g of Sea Salt. I mixed it for a few minutes until the gluten is developed fairly well. Turned the dough out into an oiled bowl. During the next five hours I did a few stretches. Then I put the dough into the fridge over night to retard. Next morning I take it out and let it warm up for a few hours. Then placed it in a proofing basket. When it had risen up I baked at 460F for 50 minutes.
Changes that I made.
Increased hydration to 85%
Decreased preferment to 20%
Decreased Salt to 1.9%
The higher Hydration was to get bigger holes in the crumb. The decreased preferment was to get a longer ferment. The decreased salt was to help make bigger holes.
I also made a change to my charcoal cooker and I thought that I had ruined my bread because of it. I changed where I put the probe in the cooker from the top of the lid to the side by the bread. When I opened the cooker I thought well that is really close to being burnt. There was a saying that I have heard that goes something like this "You can't over cook bread". Anyway here are the pictures.
Whole Wheat Sourdough
Whole Wheat Sourdough Crumb
The flavor of this bread is wonderful. There is a definite sweetness to the bread. The sourness this time didn't remind me of vinegar but of sourdough bread. I'm going to see if I can make the bread a little bit more sour next time and then I'll be really happy with it. The crust is crunchy, crisp, crackly, and thin. The crumb is moist light and has large holes. When you toast the bread and put butter on it the butter melts right through to the counter.
I wish I had made deeper slashes but was trying something new. The dough was so wet that slashes just went back together before the loaf got into the cooker.
Summary: The changes seem to be bringing out the wonderful flavors of the wheat flour. I'm very happy about how this loaf tastes and feel I'm learning a little bit about how changes I make impact the final out come of the loaf. I might have one more variation that I want to try but this is really close to what I'm looking for.
This week I went back to 80% hydration and just 10% preferment. The autolye was only 3 hours because that was all the time I had to do it in. The bread was good but didn't have that sweet wonderful taste the the previous loaf had.
I'll try a different variation again this week.
A Google search on "Philippe Gosselin baguettes" turned up a message Peter Reinhart sent to the Bread-Bakers mailing list in January, 2003. Peter's message gives more details regarding Gosselin's formula for baguettes, although, please note, Peter says that Gosselin apparently gave somewhat differing information to other visitors.
Here is the message in its entirety:What do you all think?
Oh my!!! We have ANOTHER baguette technique to try!!! I don't know what the Retrodor is. I'll look it up on french sites.
OK, I found it. It's a chain of bakeries that guarantee "quality". Like any chain here, they have a to use a certain type of flour and a certain procedure. In their web site they describe the making of the Retrodor baguette... but it just resembles and other baguette recipe. We know that they wouldn't get the crumb with such a straight dough procedure, who's fooling who?http://www.retrodor.com/index2.htm
To me, a chain is a chain. I'm a fan of artisans that do it their way.
Gosselin's method does use the long "autolyse" that we discussed (without salt or levening).
The original method is really very workable for a weekend baker like myself. Mix for the autolyse Friday evening. Refrigerate overnight. Mix the salt, yeast and additional water Saturday morning. Go about my normal weekend errands and chores while the dough ferments, and bake fresh baguettes cooled in time to use the oven (if needed) to cook dinner.
Why did Reinhart have to change it? Not for me.
The surprising thing is how little kneading there is. But, I guess, given how wet the dough is and how long the fermentation is, the gluten develops enough to support the bubbles of gas. On the other hand, I often feel that Reinhart's recommended mixing times are shorter than what I need.
OK, I'll definitely try! That is the beauty about baking at home compared to professionals. We don't have to make dozens of loaves and different types, ready for a certain hour. We can make bread much more leisurely.
So that gives me two more to try...
I guess I should have thought to consult The Google myself. Thank you! (I am copying the text and saving for future experiments.)
I wonder if the Gosselin recipe would have daunted the readers of BBA all that much? (Obviously many readers wanted to know the original.)
I too Googled Gosselin last night, but didn't dig deep or long enough and missed Reinhart's comments. Thanks so much for posting them, David. I may give it a try this weekend.
PR's modifying the method to shorten the time involved was something that crossed my mind last night, but as many of his formulas take two days to create and bake (or sometimes three days), simply saving time doesn't make all that much sense.
It will be fun to discover if there is that much of a taste difference using the Gosselin method.
Appreciate you posting Reinhart's interesting notes re: Gossilin's baguette technique, along with the reference to Jeffrey Steingarten's book. With Gossilin's long autolyse of the flour and water and the high hydration dough his method sounds very interesting. I plan to try this method in the near future. I tried Reinhart's Pain a la ancienne when I first bought BBA, with marginal results, but that was quite a while ago and my problem was, I'm sure, a result of operator trouble.
I would be very interested to see and hear about your results, if and when you bake the Pain a l'Ancienne. If you haven't seen it, I recommend taking a look at dmsnyder's blog, where he posted beautiful pix of baguettes he made from that recipe.
The method was apparently so interesting to Reinhart he kind of based his subsequent book on it. I'm not sure how well it applies to 100% whole grain breads, however. I await others chiming in on that one!
Thanks for your thought. I've been at this baguette thing for a while. I have composition books filled with formulas that I've tried over the years...mostly marginal successes along with some abject failures until I joined TFL and purchased Maggie Glezer and Reinhart's books. I've had good success with the Acme baguettes in Glezer's book and have tried the Anis method, which David was kind enough and dilligent enough to develop and share, which was fairly successful.
I am really trying to make something as close to the French baguette as I remember it from when I lived there. I'm interested in trying the long autolyse with only flour and water. Anyway, I have compiled all of David' blogs on the subject along with some others and will review, study and use them as I continue my ongoing baguette experiments. I will eventually post something on the subject.
This may be heresy to whole grain enthusiasts, but as for 100% whole grain breads, from my perspective, that's altogether a different ball game than baguettes. The long autolyse and stretch and fold might be applicable but I don't see a great deal of similarlity beyond that, other than the flour, water, levain and salt.
Howard - St. Augustine, FL
I appreciate the diligence and perserverance you have demonstrated on this noble quest! I think the baguette's the acid test for bakers for good reason. I may well join you in that quest, once I'm satisfied I can make consistent sourdough loaves.
I have to be honest that I am, like you, not convinced that the long autolyse, using just flour and water, as Gosselin has developed it, will translate with whole grain breads, as Reinhart suggests. I made the Pain a l'Ancienne once and it worked beautifully, but that technique applied to soakers and "mashes", etc., with a lot of yeast in the final dough to get a quick rise, just seems like a completely different process!
Full disclosure: I bought the Reinhart Whole Grain book, and I've read all the on-ramp stuff, but it didn't make me want to bake. So I still await some loaves made using Reinhart's techniques that make me want to bake 100% whole grain.
Thanks for your note. I too have Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, which I'm ashamed to admit I haven't really given a thorough read yet. However, after reading your post I did take it out and look through it and found some recipes that look interesting that I will try in the near future. A few that caught my eye were; Transitional Rustic Bread, Focaccia, Whole Wheat Hearth Bread, Traditional Hearth Rye Seigle and Whole Wheat Challah, which I'm not sure is traditional but sounds interesting just the same. I really like whole wheat breads as well as the combination of rye and whole wheat in breads.
Anyway, I'm going away for a short vacation, about a week, and will take the book with me and read it while I'm away.
Bill Wraith, who, in the past, posted frequently on TFL used to make some great breads and was into grinding his own grain, and would post the results along with charts on this site. He also posted a video showing stretch and fold which was short but excellent. Here's a link to one of Bill's breads.
Sure hope Bill returns to this site, as I really miss seeing his posts. Bill...if you're out there come on back to TFL, we miss you and your amazing knowledge and baking.
Meanwhile, Soundman, hang in there and keep us posted on your baking adventures and I'll do the same.
Howard - St. Augustine, FL
As always I truly appreciate your response. I too owe this book a fairer shake, and will keep reading. Thanks for the nudge.
I have read a lot of Bill Wraith's posts to TFL with great interest. It was Bill, and his fascinating and deeply committed posts, who got me interested in milling some of my own flour. I have recently bought the KitchenAid Grain Mill attachment, and am enjoying exploring its possibilities.
Enjoy your vacation! I'll be looking for you on TFL.
I'm looking forward to seeing your results too!
One caveat: Gosselin's comment about hydration, cited by Reinhart in the quote I posted, should be heeded. I don't fully understand why it should be so, but tiny changes in hydration (5-10 gms per 500 gms of flour) make a very substantial difference in how the dough behaves. How your flour absorbs water is the important determinant of how much water to use.
I wish I could tell whether the hydration is just right when I first mix the dough, but I can't yet. I think I will have to make more baguettes to accumulate experience. But I sure see the difference when I go to shape the loaves! I guess my message is, it may take several trials before you "get it right."
I think it is telling that PR suggests that Gosselin didn't show everyone the same procedure. My Mother-In-Law does that with her garlic chicken recipe. I've asked for it 3 times and it's always different!
Credit to Mike Avery who told me several years ago I should consider a longer autolyse to improve flavor.
I suppose it's also possible Gosselin, rather than "sticking with a winner," was still tweaking his formula.
The period where I let the dough "do its own thing" is usually around 18 to 25 minutes depending on conditions. The dough will loose the "chewing gum" resistance to kneading becoming softer and more pliable.
Your really should try the overnight retard. One caution though, your kids may want this as their pain quotidien...,
Although this thread is ancient, I read it all and went to the links and learned so very much from it. Thank you for posting it all, it was tremendously helpful.