Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sourdough Pretzel Rolls

Well, I definitely "winged' this one as I had to make a number of changes to the original recipe:

It called for one cup of rye starter (no weights given).  After looking up the recipe for the starter, I found it had a lower hydration than the whole wheat starter I planned to use.  I was able to make the necessary corrections to this batch (with the help of a little math) in order to get the final dough to a 63% hydration.

While this recipe called for a bake on the same day, I just didn't have the time to do that so I opted to do an overnight cold bulk fermentation instead.

  • 238 grams active levain (100% hydration)
  • 2 tbs diastatic malt powder
  • 222 grams Warm Water (~90°F)
  • 180 g AP Flour
  • 240 g Bread Flour

Autolyse 30 minutes and then add the following (one at a time) until fully incorporated
  • 8 grams salt
  • 1 gram instant yeast
  • 15 g melted butter

Perform 4 stretch and folds at 20-minute intervals. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight until doubled in size (in my case, 12 hours).

Divide the dough into 18 pieces, roll them into tight balls, and proof at room temperature. Since the dough balls are deflated after rolling, and there's not much yeast in this recipe (by my own choice), I let them proof again for about an hour or so until they felt "puffy".

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda in a pot of boiling water (my square "Copper Chef" was perfect for this :) )

Boil the dough balls for about 30 seconds each top and bottom (4 or so at a time) and transfer them to a baking pan lined with parchment paper.  When done, score each ball with an "X" and top with coarse salt or a finishing salt.

The recipe calls for baking these for 30 minutes; I would check these starting around the 20-minute mark so they don't get too dark.  Make sure you cool them on a rack for at least 30 minutes.  

These were absolutely delicious!  Crispy on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside.  A definite winner :)  Next time I'll make them a little bigger so they can be used as hamburger buns.
(click on pic to enlarge)

75% Whole Wheat from: "Flour Water Salt Yeast" (Forkish)

Since my Pain de Campagne was successful, I decided to try the next hybrid levain bread in the "Flour Water Salt Yeast" book.  The levain build is identical to the Pain de Campagne. The obvious differences are the amounts of whole wheat and water (hydration %).

75% Whole Wheat Bread

82% Hydration (higher hydration due to the amount of whole wheat in this dough)
75% Whole Wheat Flour
Hybrid leavening (20% levain / .175% instant yeast)
Overnight cold proof in bannetons after forming (12 hours)
Baked in dutch ovens

Building the Levain (8 AM)
  • 100 grams of mature starter
  • 400 grams of white flour
  • 100 grams of whole wheat flour
  • 400 grams of water @88.9°F (85°F-90°F)

COMMENT:  As you can see, this recipe produces 1,000 grams of levain; far more than the 360 grams needed for the dough (see below).  In his video, Forkish throws out the excess levain calling it "spent fuel".  I call it a waste (although it can be used for other things).  It is said that the greater volume helps fermentation as it's easier to control the levain's temperature.  However, the next time I make this, I'll scale it down and see what happens.  The temperature in the cabinet (where I keep the levain) is very consistent. 

The levain was covered and left to rest at room temperature (73.7°F) for 7 hours (target 6-8 hours.  After 7 hours, it looked very bubbly/active.

(click on pics to enlarge)

Mixing the Final Dough: (3 PM)
  • 90 grams of white flour (25%)
  • 710 grams of whole wheat flour (75%)
  • 660 grams of water (82%) @ 93.8°F (90°F-95°F)
  • 21 grams of salt (2.1%)
  • 1.75 grams of yeast (.175%)
  • 360 grams of levain (20%)
The dough was autolysed for 30 minutes.  The salt and yeast were then added (separately).  After it was fully mixed by hand, 360 grams of levain (made earlier) was added and incorporated into the dough. TDT (target dough temperature) 77° - 78°F.  Actual: 78.4°F.

Four stretch and folds were completed over the next 1.5 hours.  

After the 5-hour bulk fermentation (when it had more than doubled in size), the dough was divided and placed in bannetons dusted with a 50/50 mixture of rice flour and bread flour. Both were covered with plastic bags a put in the refrigerator overnight.

8 PM

8 AM

I thought these might be slightly under-proofed, but I'd rather err on the side of under-proofed than over-proofed...

The oven and dutch ovens (with lids) were preheated for 50 minutes @475°.  Both boules were turned onto a piece of parchment paper, scored, and placed in the DO's with the lids on for 30 minutes and around 20 minutes with the lids off.

After 30 minutes: Not a tremendous about of oven spring (maybe they were a little over-proofed?) but they looked nice.

While I would have preferred to see the crumb a little more open than this, the end result wasn't bad.  All in all, even though the crumb was a little dense, the texture was very nice (considering this is 75% whole wheat). Good chewy, crunchy crust and a very nice nutty whole wheat taste and aroma.  Great as a lightly toasted sandwich bread or simply toasted and buttered up :) 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pain de Campagne from: "Flour Water Salt Yeast" (Forkish)

This was my first opportunity to use the new sourdough starter I recently made.  I picked this particular bread to make because the overnight cold proofing best fit my schedule.

Pain de Campagne (Country Bread)
  • 78% Hydration (this is a fairly wet dough, yet manageable)
  • 10% Whole Wheat Flour
  • Hybrid leavening (20% levain / .2% instant yeast)
  • Overnight cold proof in bannetons after forming (15 hours)
  • Baked in dutch ovens
At 9:30 am, I began building the levain:
  • 100 grams of mature levain
  • 400 grams of white flour
  • 100 grams of whole wheat flour
  • 400 grams of water @87.6°F
Finished levain temperature was 87.6°F.  Not much to look at after mixing.  It was covered and left to rest at room temperature (73.7°F) for 7 hours.

(click on pics to enlarge)

After 7 hours, it looked to have at least doubled in size and showed signs of activity: Great aroma and some bubbling (although not as much as I thought there'd be).

At this point, I began to mix the final dough:
  • 740 grams of white flour
  •  60 grams of whole wheat flour
  • 620 grams of water (@93.8°F)
TDT (target dough temperature) 77° - 78°F.  Actual: 78.4°F.

The dough was autolysed for 30 minutes.  21 grams of salt and 2 grams of yeast were then added.  After it was fully mixed by hand, 360 grams of levain (made earlier) was added and incorporated into the dough.

Four stretch and folds were completed over the next 1.5 hours.  This is what it looked like after all were completed.

After 5 hours of bulk fermentation at room temperature, it more than doubled in size.

After bulk fermentation, the dough was divided, formed into two boules, and placed in bannetons dusted with a 50/50 blend of white flour and white rice flour.  The loaves were cold proofed (covered) overnight in the refrigerator (15 hours)

Before overnight proofing:

After 15 hours:

Two dutch ovens were preheated for 45 minutes at 475° F with the covers on.  The loaves were turned onto parchment paper to make it easier to transfer to the dutch ovens.  Both loaves looked to have some good structure and kept their shape.  Absolutely no sticking with the 50/50 flour and rice flour dusting.

The loaves were scored, placed in the preheated dutch ovens, and baked for 30 minutes with the lids on.

After 30 minutes, some nice oven spring and the beginnings of caramelization on the crust.

The loaves were returned to the oven and baked, without the covers, for approximately another 20 minutes.  (this is something you have to watch).

End result:

I was very happy with the color and texture of the crust; not overly chewy with a delicate crunch.  The crumb had the large irregular holes I was anticipating (some too big?).  The other loaf was actually better; more consistent.  

The flavor of this bread was pretty outstanding.  I'd say this was one of the better breads I've ever made.

Looking forward to my next bake :)

Monday, July 24, 2017

San Francisco Sourdough Starter Culture

I received my San Francisco sourdough culture from "Cultures for Health" through Amazon on Thursday and promptly began the process of getting the culture to grow at 4:30 pm.  Apparently, they've had to update their instructions as the one included with the packaging differs from that on their website.

New Methodology 
  1. Add packet of starter to 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon water in a quart-size glass jar and stir thoroughly. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or breathable material secured with rubber band and culture in a warm place for 12-24 hours.
  2. After 12-24 hours, feed the starter with an additional 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons water. Stir vigorously. Your starter should have the consistency of pancake batter, and you may need to add more flour or water.
  3. After 12-24 hours, feed the starter with an additional ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup water. Stir vigorously.
  4. After another 12-24 hours, feed the starter with an additional ½ cup of flour and ½ cup water. Stir vigorously
  5. Every 12-24 hours, discard down to ½ cup of starter and then feed the starter with ½ cup water and ½ cup flour. Continue this feeding schedule, and after 3 to 7 days, your starter will be bubbling regularly within a few hours of feeding.

Rather than go for every 24 hours (as I had been doing with my previous attempt), I decided to go with every 12 hours.  It was stored in the cabinet above my refrigerator (at a pretty constant 73.5 degrees).  

Believe it or not, I happened to wake up at exactly 4:30 am on Friday morning and did the first feeding.  There wasn't any action taking place that I could see and, after 12 hours, what I had was devoid of any bubbling and pretty bland tasting.  

At 4:30 pm on Friday, I can't say there was much difference.  By Saturday afternoon, it was smelling much better and there was definitely some sourness to the starter.  However, I still didn't see any bubbling and couldn't smell any yeast at all.  

Sunday morning at 9:30 am (still no bubbling, but it did have a layer of "hooch"), I went by day 5's instructions, discarded all but 1/2 cup of starter, and fed it the additional water and flour.  However, this time I added equal parts by weight (a 100% hydration) as I thought the starter was too thin at a 185% hydration. 

UPDATE: See my "Sourdough Infographic" page; this is the process I'm now following.

I put everything in my new jar and covered it with a coffee filter held on with a rubber band. I have the following 50.75 oz and a 33.75 oz by the same manufacturer; quite nice. 

Bormioli Rocco Fido Square Jar with Blue Lid, 50-3/4-Ounce

I checked it at around 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon and, much to my surprise, "Tony", is ALIVE!  Let me explain the name...  I've read that one MUST name their starter or "very bad things can happen" :)  I picked "Tony" as a name because, well, he left his heart in San Francisco :) 


"TONY" AFTER:  As you can see, it clearly doubled in volume in about 4-5 hours after feeding.  (That's PERFECT).  It had a wonderful, yeasty aroma, and tasted a bit "tart".

Now, my previous starter, from my initial post (called "Winnie"), was not working at all.  On Thursday, I gave her a couple of grains of the SF starter culture and followed the same feeding instructions above.  As of Sunday morning, there still wasn't any change.

Sunday afternoon, I gave her one cup of "Tony" and the same amount of flour and water I'd been feeding him.  I made the decision to discard some of the total contents because I was afraid that, if it did double in volume like "Tony", it would overflow its smaller storage jar.  I checked it Sunday evening and it turned out that my decision was a good one:



At this time,  "Tony" and "Winnie II" do not taste exactly the same or have the exact same aroma.  Close though I think...

I will continue feeding equal amounts of flour and water (by weight) for another couple of days until I'm sure "Tony" and "Winnie II" are both viable and ready to be used.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sourdough Starter (Day 5)

This is my second attempt at producing a sourdough starter within the last couple of weeks and, unfortunately, it doesn't appear that I'm having much luck.  I have two separate "batches" working at the moment. If either of them work, I'll provide details on how I did them.  However, it's only been 5 days and I've read that it can take upwards to 16 days to fully activate a starter.  

What I have now definitely has a pleasantly sour taste (before feedings), so it certainly looks like Lactobacillus is growing.  I just don't see any definitive evidence of a wild yeast fermentation. Everything looks good / smells good / tastes good / temperatures are fine; I guess I'll just have to be patient. From all the reading I've done, I'm not the first person to have this issue.

However, just in case, I ordered a San Francisco sourdough culture today and I'll have it by Thursday :) 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sourdough Starter (Day 2)

Not much in the way of bubbling, but that's not unusual.  However, there does appear to be some added volume since yesterday.  There was a little bit of what's commonly called "hooch" or alcohol production at the top / sides (a by-product of yeast fermentation). The aroma is nutty and sweet and the starter also had a sweet taste .  Looks like it's working 
(I think :) ) 
  • Ambient Temperature: 73.2°
  • Starter Temperature: 73.2°

First Feeding:
  • Discard 1/2 of the starter (150g)
  • Add: 150g of WW and 150g of filtered water
  • Water Temperature: 72.8°

Mixed all the ingredients well in another container, washed the glass storage container and place the starter back inside.  This will be kept for another 24 hours in the same location.  I'll be stirring it occasionally during the day to add the oxygen needed to promote yeast growth.

Sourdough Starter (Day 1)

After attempting to get a starter to ripen over a 10 day period with no success (I won't get into it at this point, but I believe I know now why it didn't work), I decided to try another similar method... 

I recently found (and read) a rather small book called: Baking Real Sourdough Bread by a place called "The Artisan Bakery School" in the UK.  While I have many sources of information on this subject in books I own and on the internet, I chose this one (for no particular reason). The instructions are very similar to others I've seen (give or take some somewhat minor differences).

Day One:

  • 150 grams of whole wheat flour (whole wheat or rye flour contain more wild yeast than regular flour).  
  • 150 grams of filtered water

I purchased a 17oz glass storage container with a locking lid for the starter.  There's some conflicting information regarding whether the container should be sealed or not, but I chose to remove the silicone gasket and simply close the lid.

Room temperature (72-73 degrees) is optimum for the wild yeast (Saccharomyces Exiguus) to grow and allow for the beneficial bacteria (Lactobacillus) to grow as well.  Lactobacillus (which produces lactic acid) grows more slowly than yeast (depending on the ambient temperature) while Saccharomyces Exiguus grows more quickly at warmer temperatures. These two microorganisms, the sourdough's microflora, have a symbiotic relationship and both work together to produce the balance of flavor, "tang", and texture that is characteristic of a sourdough bread.  To control this balance, the yeast growth needs to be retarded just enough to allow time for the beneficial bacteria to do its thing. 

I checked the temperature of various areas, i.e., the counter, the cabinet above the refrigerator, the oven (light off/ light on), the microwave, and another storage cabinet in a corner of my kitchen.  The corner cabinet appears to be near the perfect temperature at 73.6 degrees.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Starting Over

I started this blog in 2011, and it quickly became (very) evident that I had neither the time nor the inclination to keep it up to date.  Instead, I turned to Facebook where I could easily post my bread and food porn pics at will :) However, now that I'm "retired", and have a renewed interest in bread baking, I've decided to start all over.  

Since my first blog, I've baked quite a bit, read a lot of books, done research on-line, watched countless bread related videos, and (hopefully) learned much.  Before I deleted all of my previous blogs (I actually saved them as drafts), I read through most of them.  I had to chuckle. While I did (luckily) manage to produce a fair amount of good breads, I had many that were mediocre at best (yet still edible), and more than my fair share of complete and utter failures. Inconsistency was a big issue for me.  I'm now ready to learn from my mistakes and give it another go.

My plan is to devote the time to developing (and documenting) a good sourdough starter, and try some new recipes from various bread baking books I've acquired.  I've amassed quite a nice collection on my iPad:
  • The Bread Baker's Apprentice (Reinhart)
  • Artisan's Bread Every Day (Reinhart)
  • Bread Revolution (Reinhart)
  • Whole Grain Breads (Reinhart)
  • Bread 2nd Edition (Hamelman)
  • Baking Sourdough Bread (Söderin, Strachal)
  • Classic Sourdoughs (Wood, Wood)
  • Flour Water Yeast Salt (Forkish)
  • Tartine Bread (Robertson)
  • The Art of Baking Bread (Pelligrini)
  • A Passion for Bread (Vatinet)
  • In Search of the Perfect Loaf (Fromartz)
  • Baking Artisan Bread (Hitz)
  • Bread Baking (DiMuzio)
My blog already contains some informative bread-related videos, but I'm sure I'll be adding even more from the extensive list of bookmarks I've collected over the years.

As of today, I have a new sourdough starter in the works (I'm also thinking of purchasing an authentic San Francisco sourdough culture).  I'll be documenting everything to include:
  • Starter hydration
  • Flours used
  • Feedings
  • Times 
  • Ambient fermentation temperature / Starter temperature
  • Observations: Taste/ Aroma / Appearance
  • Mother starter information
  • Dough making (hydration, mixing, fermentation, times, temperatures, scaling, forming, proofing, scoring, baking, etc.)
  • Final crust and crumb observations: Taste, texture, aroma and appearance.
  • Comments from my volunteer panel of taste testers :)

All of this is a plate full for sure (no pun intended), but I'm willing to give it a shot :)

Till tomorrow...