Friday, January 31, 2014

Flashback Friday: Tartine Country Bread

We've come a long way, haven't we? So, it got me thinking, right, that it would be fun to celebrate this road so travelled in some way. Then I had an epiphany. I decided it would be a hoot to start Flashback Friday posts, you know, to revisit some old faves from Book Two, perhaps visit some things that I never got to at all, rectify some things I did altogether wrong.

And timing is everything.

This week I got a few emails from new bakers asking for my advice about which loaf on the blog to try first. Et voila! The perfect week to start our Flashback Friday posts, and so why not begin with the most famous loaf of them all, the Tartine Country Bread. It's the most challenging for new bakers with new starters to master, and the most elementary bread in the book. I remember my first one. Not bad, considering. I remember how over the moon I was when I pulled it out of the oven and the crust sang, just like Chad said it would, and the crumb was open, just like Chad promised. It was a little flat, I remember that, and a little wonky-shaped. But it was perfect. And I loved it. It's that loaf of bread that kept me going.

I always like to tell people new to bread baking to choose something simple. Something that won't fail. There is nothing more fantastic than pulling that first perfect loaf of bread out of the oven. It's the one thing, the only thing that will keep you baking. My father used to say: 'You need some successes so you have a reason to keep moving forward'. Daddy was always right.

So, with this wisdom ringing in my ears, I decided to bake up two loaves, one done my old-school way with a higher levain percentage, for old time's sake, yeah, and because I think it works really well with new starters so it's easy for people new to baking. I call it my Tartine Country Bread with training wheels...


Tartine Country Bread with 250g levain (a.k.a. the 'Training Wheels' loaf)

And then I baked one for when newbies have gathered more confidence (by the way, I'm still a newbie), one with a smaller levain. And lo! She ended up looking like the most gorgeous moon.


Tartine Country Bread with 150g levain (a.k.a. 'La Bella Luna') 

Training Wheels grew fabulous ears, and La Bella Luna left my friends moonstruck by her beauty. Both were fabulous in flavor with a light crumb texture, and each yielded an uber shattery crust. Hooray!

Oh how we struggled at the start but today we can do this one with our eyes closed. Damn we're good.

P.S., you don't have to be a newbie to make these two loaves. They are equally as fabulous for bakers with lots of loaves under their belts.

Have a look.

Tartine Training Wheels Loaf
This formula makes one loaf

MAKE YOUR LEVAIN

You will need:

50g 100% hydration dark rye starter (mine is made with BRM home-milled dark rye flour)
50g Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour
50g KA all-purpose flour
100g room temperature water

Mix the levain ingredients together until you reach a paste. It will be thinnish, like this:




Mine fermented for 7 hours and 20 minutes. You will know when it's ready, because it will look like this:




DOUGH DAY

You will need:

All of the levain
450g KA Bread flour
50g Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour
330g h2o
12g Diamond kosher salt

When your levain is properly fermented, mix together the levain, the flours, and the h2o until you reach a shaggy mass. It will look like this:



Autolyse for 2 hours.

After the autolyse, the dough should have expanded and look smooth and elastic like this:



Squish the salt into the dough until it's fully incorporated work the dough into a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 4-hour bulk fermentation (I got a phone call toward the end of my bulk and mine fermented for 4 hours and 30 minutes! But it was fine. Yours will ferment for about 4 hours).

Every half hour, perform a series of turns throughout the entire bulk fermentation, taking care not to deflate the dough as you near the end of bulk.

When bulk fermentation is accomplished, turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with brown rice flour, and shape into a loose round. Let it rest. Drape with a damp paper towel to keep it from forming a skin. Mine rested for 10 minutes. 

After the bench, shape the dough into a taut boule and pop into a banneton or a bowl lined with linen that you have dusted with brown rice flour.

Pop in the fridge and ferment. Mine fermented for 16 hour and 23 minutes.

BAKE DAY

Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Dust the dough lightly with brown rice flour then unearth by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash the dough in some divine manner, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp, then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.

After the steam, remove the fat end of the dutchie, then stack the pan over its mouth to create a buffer between the hot stone and the bread. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening.

Toggle the oven between 460 and 475 until the boule is baked to desired darkness. I find that it's almost impossible to go as dark as Chad's without drying out the loaf in a home oven. So I aim for chestnut-colored.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

Training Wheels (are hot)




.
.
La Bella Luna
This formula makes one loaf

MAKE YOUR LEVAIN

You will need:

10g 100% hydration dark rye starter (mine is made with BRM home-milled dark rye flour)
75g BRM home-milled hard red spring flour
75g room temperature h2o, mine was 71 degrees

Mix the levain ingredients together until you reach a paste. Mine fermented for 6 hours 30 minutes. 

DOUGH DAY

You will need:

All of the levain
450g KA Bread flour
50g BRM home-milled hard red spring flour
377g h2o, mine was 72 degrees
12g Diamond kosher salt

When your levain is properly fermented, mix together the levain, the flours, and the h2o until you reach a shaggy mass.

Autolyse for 1 hour 15 minutes.

After autolyse, squish the salt into the dough until it's fully incorporated work the dough into a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 4-hour bulk fermentation (mine actually fermented for 4 hours 23 minutes because the dough was a little on the small side. It needed a little more time).

Every half hour, perform a series of turns throughout the entire bulk fermentation, taking care not to deflate the dough as you near the end of bulk.

When bulk fermentation is accomplished, turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with brown rice flour, and shape into a loose round. Let it rest. Drape with a damp paper towel to keep it from forming a skin. Mine rested for 25 minutes. 

After the bench, shape the dough into a taut boule and pop into a banneton or a bowl lined with linen that you have dusted with brown rice flour.

Pop in the fridge and ferment. Mine fermented for 20 hours.

BAKE DAY

Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Dust the dough lightly with brown rice flour then unearth by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash the dough in some divine manner, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp, then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.

After the steam, remove the fat end of the dutchie, then stack the pan over its mouth to create a buffer between the hot stone and the bread. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening.

Toggle the oven between 460 and 475 until the boule is baked to desired darkness. I find that it's almost impossible to go as dark as Chad's without drying out the loaf in a home oven. So I aim for chestnut-colored.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

La Bella Luna!

To the staff of life!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wheat-Rye 10%

This week's experiment:

- Extended levain fermentation. Just how far can we push it? And how do we achieve it?
- The question of raising bread. How much levain do we really need?
- High-extraction flour. What's accessible, and what does it mean for our breads?
- This week's grain grower: Bob's Red Mill hard red spring wheat and rye.

Can I just say this: never bake when you are tired. I baked six loaves yesterday with a full schedule of all kinds of other stuff. And man, I am exhausted! Alas, here I am with the next loaf of bread.

So, here's what happened. I was planning my bread day, right, with just three loaves, the wheat-rye 10% with two different levain types - one using a higher percentage of starter like I usually do, and one using a lesser amount, as Chad writes about (more on this in a sec) - and one other loaf just for kicks. So, just three loaves of bread. Doable. Certainly.

Well, I miscalculated the maturation time for my levain, so instead of, say, a 6 or 7-hour fermentation, I couldn't get to it for 11 hours. Mon Dieu! is right. My first reaction was to just pitch the levain and just start over again, but then I thought: wait a sec. This is a great experiment. Let's see just how yielding our levains are... but then, if it didn't work I would have no post for this week. So, I made another round of three levains, just in case, this time fermenting them in what I think is an 'ideal' timeframe, about 6 hours.

Six loaves. I ask you, dear reader. What was I thinking?

Alas, things came out smashingly! And I learned how to control the fermentation of my levain, a whole new level of skill to make baking conform to my schedule, and to keep my levains from fermenting too quickly when the weather starts to get warm.







Tartine's Wheat-Rye 10% with extended (11-hour) levain fermentation, and a more modest levain amount

Speaking of fermentation, I also wanted to try my hand at reducing the amount of starter I use to make my levains, and to decrease the amount of my levain.

You know, when I first started Tartine Bread Experiment, my starter was a sluggish thing. It took forever to get going. And when I finally started making bread, I was so new to the whole thing that, well, you know what kind of bread you turn out as a new baker with a new starter. Flat loaves and all that. I assumed that the way to rectify this was to increase the amount of starter and levain in my breads. Even though I knew the whole premise of Tartine Bread was a French-style loaf whose flavors were based on coaxing the sugars out of our grains rather than bread whose flavor came from a huge amount of sourdough (which I actually don't care for). My compromise was to increase the amount of starter without going too overboard.

Chad's formula uses about 15g of starter to make 400g of levain, 150g of which you use to make two loaves of bread, the rest becomes your starter for ensuing loaves. I will admit that my method was a happy accident. It worked swimmingly. Even though my breads have used 40-50g of starter to make a 240-250g levain, my bread is not unpleasantly sour at all. I think my modest hydrations have kept it in check, and I think because I increased the overall amount of flour/water to the seed starter amount, it somehow balanced out. The breads I have been making have indeed been really flavorful, totally balanced. But lately I have been thinking, now that I have this uber powerful starter, do I really need to keep up with this much larger levain? Which brings us to the next experiment today.

I decided to make a bread whose levain employs my usual ratios - 40g starter, 100g rye flour, 100g h2o, using the total levain amount, along with one whose levain employs 10g starter, 75g rye flour, 75g h2o. (Oddly, the result was 150g of levain, not 160g. Hm. Where did that 10g go?)

Both breads came out fabulously, and interestingly enough, not terribly different in terms of flavor. I milled my own grains for this, Bob's Red Mill hard red spring wheat and rye. The flavors of both loaves were clean, earthy and sweet, a little back note of honey. The crust was smoky, rich. Just enough acid, really balanced. The most obvious flavor difference was that the acid of the larger levain loaf lingered just a hair longer than the one using less. The lingering flavor of the lesser was more sweet. The loaf with the smaller levain got a bit better oven spring than the one that employed a larger levain. Both crumbs were exquisite - tender with glossy gas chambers.

While the loaf with the lesser levain was able to bulk ferment at room temp (ambient temp about 72 degrees), the one with the higher amount of levain was only able to do half of the bulk at room temp, then I had to put it in the refrigerator for the remaining two hours. The one with the lesser levain was able to be turned throughout the full 4-hour bulk fermentation, the refrigerated one was left unturned for the last two hours.




Tartine's Wheat-Rye 10% with extended (11-hour) levain fermentation, and a larger levain amount

Both of the loaves above used a levain that fermented for 11 hours, as you can see, with pleasing results.

Of course, I did a boat load of research at 5:30 in the morning to try to manage this levain so that it would have a chance of being viable. I discovered a few really useful things for all of us. The first is that if you are managing a stiff levain, then it will need to/can ferment longer than one more liquid. Since I am milling my own grains for both my starter and my levains, they are very, very stiff (you will undoubtedly find this to be true as you get into milling your own gains), almost to the point where I was tempted to add more water to it. Even at 100% hydration, both my starter and levains seem to be more like 70% hydration. So, this stiff starter turned out to be work to my advantage when I found myself faced with this long-fermented levain situation. Thank goodness I didn't add more water to it at the start, though I was awfully tempted to.

Oh, side note, lots of you have emailed me about when your levain is ready to be used, and some of you mentioned that you were not having success with the float test. That's one way of testing the readiness of your levain, but another way to determine it is that with a more liquid levain, you know that it's ready for use when it's all bubbly and sweet/sour smelling (click here for a picture of a more liquid levain). With a stiffer levain, it puffs up into a little dome like this:


very stiff levain just mixed looks like this

 fully fermented levain, puffs up like this

The next thing I discovered about extending the maturation time of your levain is that if you cool it down it will slow the fermentation, thus, extending its time of viability. This does not mean that you refrigerate it. You should not refrigerate a burgeoning levain. Since I forged mine early in the morning (seriously, 5:30 a.m.), I put them out on the porch where it was 58 degrees (it was 72 degrees in my house). Out on the porch, they got a good 4 hours of retardation before the thermometer registered 72 degrees, whereafter I brought them back inside. After this, I am only assuming that the ambient temp hovered around 72, because I left and would not come back for another 6 hours.

So, the finding for this experiment is that if you need to extend your levain, take it to a coolish spot, like the basement. And you are in good shape if you have a stiff levain to begin with because they take longer to ferment. I also read that you can add a pinch of salt, no more than .2% of what you would use in your final dough, to the levain to retard it. But that seemed like a drastic measure and another experiment for another day.

Onto the third loaf. Chad's wheat-rye 10%. Here I employed the same smaller levain as described above, and fermented it at an ambient temp of 70-72 degrees for 6 hours, the duration of time that I had originally thought would bring my levain to viability. I milled my own grains for this loaf too, Bob's Red Mill hard red spring wheat and rye. The resulting loaf was gorgeously developed. Fabulous oven spring. Beautiful tender crumb with floral(!) notes, good acid oddly a hair more than the two above, but only just, and a smoky crust.

All of the crusts were brittle and shattered when cut, by the way.



Tartine's Wheat-Rye 10% with 6-hour levain fermentation, and a more modest levain amount

Today, our experiments with both reducing the seed amount of starter in our levain and extending the fermentation time of it was a major success. I will keep experimenting with reducing the amount of seed starter and levain in subsequent loaves to see just how low we can go. Our goal as bakers is to coax the flavors out of the grains, and to skillfully ferment and strengthen dough, not to use our starters as a crutch to raise our breads.

About the flour for these breads. As I mentioned, I milled my own Bob's Red Mill grains for the whole-grain wheat and rye, for the bread flour I used King Arthur, and for the high-extraction, I used Jovial which is this fantastic golden cast and smells really earthy and minerally. The texture is really interesting too. It's almost clay-like.This is my first venture with purchased high-extraction flour and I am really pleased with it. I will be trying another brand with our next loaf. There are such a scarce few, right, so I got them and will be trying them all.

What does high-extraction mean anyway? Well, if you're confused, you are not alone. One would think the more bran you extract, the higher the number. But that is not the case. Commercial millers are able to obtain 72%-75% of white flour from 100 pounds of wheat berries. Thus the extraction rate of white flour is expressed as this percentage, so, all-purpose flour or bread flour would be called 72% extraction, or 75% extraction. From here, the higher the percentage, the more bran particles are present in the flour. Whole wheat flour, for example, is represented as 100% extraction, and when you purchase high-extraction flours, they are usually an 80% - 90% extraction rate. So, not quite a while wheat flour, but not a white flour either. Rather somewhere in between. With high-extraction flours you get the best of both worlds, a flour with the raising powers of white flour and the nutrition and flavor of whole grain flour. It also opens up the crumb a bit in breads that use a high percentage of whole grain flour. Just a recap, white breads rise higher than whole grain breads and have a more open crumb because there are no sharp bran particles to cut at the gluten structure thus tightening the crumb.

Speaking of. Let's talk grains.

All of the grains that I mention in my blog, whether whole or milled into flour, are grains that I have personally worked with and love. I realize that this is a huge sort of confusing area for new bakers. Perhaps you know what type of flour or grain to use now, but whose? The go-to flours are Bob's Red Mill, Bob's with the advantage of also supplying us with whole, organic grains, Arrowhead Mills and King Arthur. All three brands are highly accessible for consumers across the United States, so if you are baking from this blog in the middle of the country and have limited access to or awareness of 'boutique' grains, you have access to these giants. I have had success with all of them, and I have a special love for Bob's Red Mill. They offer a huge variety of organic grains and make quality organic flours. Their flours and grains are the foundation of my baking pantry.

The good thing about a larger company is the price point. Perhaps if you don't have huge stores of money to put into your breads and you are indeed baking near-daily, you can use the small boutique grain companies as special additions to your baking schedule, and rely on, say, Bob's Red Mill for regular baking. I don't have a lot of money and find myself juggling happily between the two.

And on that note, lets talk about the small growers who dedicate their companies to the revival of heritage grains. I am going to give you a nutshell view of which I have used here, but each subsequent post will be dedicated exclusively to a given company where I will go into detail about the attributes of the grains and/or flours that they offer.

Heritage grains take your baking to a precious level. I have a serious respect for the smaller producer who wants to bring something special to the table. They are the growers of the 'lost' grains, referred to as 'heritage', and despite being in the shadows of the giants, persevere in their continued growth and revival of 'new' grains. Because price really is a factor for me, and perhaps with many of you, I do treat them as special, having them when my budget allows, and also really paying attention to the varietals that I am working with, the practices of the grower and the mills, and the history of the grains and the farmers who are growing them. While I can't afford to bake them several times a week, they make regular and happy appearances in my baking schedule, at least once weekly, and I am always kept in the loop about what's out there in the grain world. I also do a fair amount of research about the flour and grains that I use. I figure that if I am going to pay a bit more money for them, I owe it to myself to know who I am supporting so I can feel completely educated about my baking.



Here are the companies whose grains and flours I use regularly, listed alphabetically:

Arrowhead Mills - A wide selection of flours available at whole foods. Great quality. I have used their all purpose, rye, and whole grain pastry flours with excellent result. I have also used their brown rice flour which I have found to be great for dusting loaves of bread, because the grind is rather coarse, to give my loaves a rustic look. (I have used it in pastries, but find it much too coarse, even sifted. You are better off using a superfine brown rice flour for pastries). A ubiquitous company with a quality product that can make several of the breads in Chad's Book Three.

Bluebird Grain Farms - One of my absolute favorite companies. Gorgeous grains. I have used their Emmer farro both in bread and whole and it's incredible. I will be experimenting with their hard red spring and hard white spring wheats as well as their very special heritage rye and 'Einka' farro - their Einkorn wheat - this next few weeks, and writing a dedicated post so that you can see for yourselves how special they are. They also mill their flour to order, which means the most fragrant and freshest flour you can find. They are also really nice over there, which always wins me over.

Bob's Red Mill - My mainstay. Bob's Red Mill has been my go-to since I began the blog, and I will continue to use their grains and flours. I have been feeding my starter Bob's organic dark rye flour for years with consistent results. It's available, and affordable, and every bread that I've made using their flour has been incredibly successful. I really like their light spelt flour, a product that I have only ever found on their website. It makes a fantastic bread. For such a large company, Bob's Red Mill offers an impressive array of whole grains and flours and adheres to milling practices that I respect. They are so nice, and extraordinarily attentive to their customers. If you have any questions, they respond immediately. I'm not surprised that Bob's Red Mill comes through with flying colors with their whole grains since I've had such good luck with their flour. Incidentally, I am really focusing on companies that use milling practices that benefit the consumer. That means cold stone milling of grains in their entirety. I think I talked about this before, but many companies mill their flour with metal, then sift out the bran and germ, only adding the germ back into the white flour (not necessarily from the same wheat berries that they extracted it from), and omitting the germ. The germ is where the majority of the fats of the berry live, and they remove it because it spoils quickly, thus shortening the shelf-life. It's advantageous for flour companies to produce flours with a long shelf life. For you and me that means stale flour and less nutrition. Companies like Bob's Red mill mill the whole berry in tact. An eye on the health of the consumer rather than their bottom line. I like that.

Community Grains - My very good friends. I don't even know where to begin. As you know from this and my other blog Farm To Table Geek, I am a faithful supporter of Community Grains. Their milling practices are non-pareil, which I talk about here. Bob Klein, who founded the company and who also owns Oliveto where I cut my teeth as a young chef, makes some of the most incredible whole wheat flour and pastas that you will ever have, and I must be honest, I use no other brand for my whole wheat flour. They also make a mind boggling Floriani red flint polenta and grow gorgeous beans. Indeed, I am making a pot of their chestnut beans as we speak, with plans to toss them with their whole wheat fusilli tonight for dinner. The post will be up on Farm to Table Geek soon. You can purchase their goodies online at Market Hall, a gorgeous little European-flavored market below Oliveto.

Heartland Mills - I finally used my HM high-extraction flour (called 'Golden Buffalo') and I could not be more pleased. The flour is indeed golden and the high mineral content is evident.   The extraction rate is 90% here. Love that.

Jovial - They grow and sell Einkorn, a non-hybridized wheat that some say people with gluten intolerance can happily eat. I will be doing several experiments with Jovial's Einkorn berries milled in the KoMo mill as well as their Einkorn high-extraction flour that I used in this post. So far I have found their high-extraction flour to work beautifully for Chad's bread, many of which call for it. Just a note, when you purchase Jovial high-extraction, it does say 'all-purpose' on the label. I confirmed with them that it is indeed a high-extraction flour at 80%, but it can also be used as an all-purpose flour in your other recipes.

Mendocino Grain Project - A gorgeous little organization that grows sustainable grains (and legumes), and supports Northern California grain growers by harvesting, cleaning and milling their crops. They are located in Ukiah, and their focus is on local distribution via 'Grain Share', a program set up so that a portion of their annual grains harvest can be purchased by harvest members. You must subscribe to partake in their program, and they give preference to people living in Mendocino County (their goal is to support local farmers, reduce carbon footprint, and support the local food economy). Each share offers about 110 pounds of grains, including hard red wheat, durum wheat, rye and several others. Members pick up their allotment at one to two month intervals or all at once at a determined location. They also offer half shares. I received some coveted Red Fife from them recently, which is unfortunately not offered this year, but which I have been dying to work with. So expect a post about it soon!

Timeless - I stumbled upon Timeless and had no idea what I was in for. They produce a gorgeous heritage barley like you have never seen called Purple Prairie, which is indeed purple. I will be working with it in the next month, as well as their farro and a very special Durum-Iraq wheat.  You can purchase the farro and barley online.

To Your Health - one of my absolute favorite companies that mills the most intensely fragrant sprouted flours you will ever find. Their spelt and rye flours will change your perception of fresh flour. I have been using them for about two years now, and when I received my first few bags from them, I never looked back. I opened the bag of spelt and it was like inhaling toasted hazelnuts, and the rye was equally nutty with notes of fresh hay. And when you bake with them, the resulting loaves taste like the hazelnuts and hay that you smell in the raw flour. Indeed the coolest thing about To Your Health is that they offer sprouted grains and sprouted grain flour, and I seriously thank the Universe that I stumbled across this company. Their sprouted spelt and rye meant weeks of gorgeous loaves using nothing but. A number of Chad's formulae call for sprouted grains, which you can sprout yourself, of course, and To Your Health is a good go-to source when I get to those loaves. They mill their flours to order, which accounts for their heady aroma, but you can also purchase it at Whole Foods now. If you can wait an extra few days to get your flour, do yourself a favor and buy it online.


As I experience more grain companies I will keep you in the loop with new posts. I have my eye on a couple more companies, but I do like to try the flours and grains before I recommend them. When I do, you will be the first to know. I will add to the list here, as well as any new posts that I use them in.

With all that said, here are the details of this weeks loaves!



Tartine's Wheat-Rye 10%

This formula makes one loaf

MAKE YOUR LEVAIN

10g 100% hydration 100% dark rye starter (I use BRM home-milled dark rye to feed mine)
75 BRM home-milled dark rye flour
75 h2o, 71 degrees

Oh, just a note, I recently got a fabulous Thermoworks Thermopen so that I can keep track of my water temps. It's way more accurate than my dial-thermometer and reads temperatures within seconds. In the future I will be recording the temperature of my dough through its fermentation for you all.

Onward.

Mix the levain ingredients together until you reach a paste. Ideally, you will plan to ferment your levain for 6 or 7 hours. If you must extend the fermentation, keep it in a cool place. Depending upon what type of rye flour you are using, and if you are able to keep it cool, you may be able to extend it up to 11 hours. This particular levain fermented for 6 hours.

DOUGH DAY

50g BRM home-milled dark rye flour
50g BRM home-milled hard red spring wheat
200g Jovial Einkorn high-extraction flour
200g KA bread flour
402g h2o, divided into 377g and 25g quantities
35g Wheat germ
12g Diamond kosher salt

When your levain is properly fermented, mix together 150g of levain, all of the flours, the wheat germ and 377g of water until you reach a shaggy mass. Autolyse for one hour and ten minutes.

After the autolyse, squish the salt into the dough with the remaining 25g of water until you reach a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 4-hour bulk fermentation.

Every half hour, perform a series of turns throughout the entire bulk fermentation, taking care not to deflate the dough as you near the end of bulk.

When bulk fermentation is accomplished, turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with brown rice flour, and shape into a loose round. Rest for 20 minutes. I cover mine with a damp paper towel to keep it from forming a skin.

After the bench, shape the dough into a taut boule and pop into a banneton or a bowl lined with linen that you have dusted with brown rice flour.

Pop in the fridge and ferment. Mine fermented for 17.5 hours, but I make a sort of demi-rye often, and have excellent results with 10, 12 and 15 hour ferments. Rye breads do not want to be pushed too far at final fermentation. The enzymatic activity in rye dough is really vigorous. Also know that the higher the amount of rye flour in the bread (i.e., if you are indeed using your 100% rye starter, and a 100% rye levain) the more enzymatic activity you will have, and the faster it will ferment. With this additional rye, you are pushing this loaf from 10% rye to just about 22.25% (Total flour for this loaf 578g, and of this the rye content is: 3.3g rye flour in the 100% starter, 75g rye flour in the levain, 50g rye flour in the final dough for a total of 128.3g of rye flour vs. 50g of rye called for in Chad's formula), so keep this in mind when you are doing your final fermentation. This loaf will also be a bit stickier than you may be accustomed to. This is the nature of rye (though with this particular loaf, the dough was not difficult to manage at all). If you want to cut down on the rye in this loaf and keep it closer to the 10% rye in the book, make your levain using a different flour. Some ideas are 100% whole wheat, 100% white flour, or a 50/50 blend of white/wheat.

Onward.

BAKE DAY

Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Dust the dough lightly with brown rice flour to get a cool dusty bottom like Chad's bread in the last post, then unearth by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash the dough in some divine manner, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp, then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.



After the steam, remove the fat end of the dutchie, then stack the pan over its mouth to create a buffer between the hot stone and the bread. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening.

Toggle the oven between 460 and 475 until the boule is baked to desired darkness. I find that it's almost impossible to go as dark as Chad's without drying out the loaf in a home oven. So I aim for chestnut-colored.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

THE SLEEPY HEADS

To the staff of life!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Guest Baker: Chad Robertson

So, a few of you have emailed me about Chad's extended autolyse, an arena new to me as well. I wanted to know what he meant by 'overnight', further, if we add the levain before or after autolyse is accomplished. So many questions swirling all round us, so I decided to defer to Chad himself for a method that would shed some light on things.

Of course, he could have sent me an email with a quick bullet-pointed method. Instead, what I got was a beautiful photographic explanation, proving once again that our Guru is all about style and grace.

(And the answer is yes, yes I do have a bat phone to call him when my dough is in danger).

Have a look.


Weigh out the flour and 80 degree water for the dough.



Mix up the flour and 80 degree water by hand until you arrive at a shaggy mass.

NOTE: We do not add levain or salt at this stage with this extended autolyse. Furthermore, to clear up any confusion, this does not change that we can add levain to our shorter autolyses, as Book Two and Book Three both instruct, and as directed in all of the other posts on this blog. This post is to clarify the longer autolyse that Chad mentions on page 23 of Book Three. You will find happy results with both methods.

Onward.

Cover the dough. Chad puts the bucket of dough into another container to insulate the resting dough, then places it on a high shelf where it's warmer. The key with this extended autolyse is to not let the dough get cold. This is a whole different animal here. When we are in the fermentation stage of our dough, going cold works to slow the fermentation of bread, thus allowing flavors to develop. With autolyse, the goal is to make the dough more extensible, and warmer temps help with this process. Why do we want extensible dough? Because extensible dough opens up more during baking, which is how we get that coveted open crumb. When the levain is added later, the acid will counter the extension benefits of autolyse, building and strengthening the dough. At the end of final fermentation, these two environments (autolyse, without added levain / fermentation of the dough once levain is added) create a balanced dough both extensible and elastic.

A note here, you should ferment your levain when your autolyse is working so they arrive at completion at the same time.

Chad's autolyse was 8 hours.


Salt and levain at the ready.


 Amalgamate the salt and levain into the autolysed dough.

2 hours bulk/ 3.5 hours bulk with stretch and folds until the dough becomes too tight to fold without pressing out the precious gasses. Chad's bulk was about 4 hours at 77-78 degrees ambient temperature. But this is where your prowess as a baker comes in. You have to learn to read your dough, right, so Chad's was ready at around 4 hours, maybe yours is ready at 3.5. Once you learn to read the signs of your dough, you will be turning out better and better bread with each session. Perfectly fermented dough looks like it's 'ready to go'. It's filled with gasses, it has increased by roughly 30 percent. When you touch it, it will feel springy and alive. Dead dough feels flaccid, weak. It does not hold a dome. It oozes rather than remaining taut. Dough that is not finished fermenting during bulk is small. It's still energized and springy, but it has not quite filled with gasses and expanded to its potential. It needs more time.

Get the dough onto a worktable. Divide. Preshape into a loose round in prep for bench rest. The more meticulous you are in your preshape, the longer the bench. I personally gather up the ends to the center of the dough with an easy hand. I don't want to press the gasses out of the dough after 4 hours of first fermentation.

This particular dough was benched for 15 minutes. Chad stresses the importance of 'proper curve retention' on the edge as the preshaped round of dough relaxes and spreads. A dough that is flat at point of contact with the bench means that it's underactive or underfermented, underdeveloped or too wet. Overfermented dough will stay very tight and round like a ball, and will start tearing on the surface as the high acid breaks down the gluten earlier than desired.

Speaking of hydration. Start with a modest amount of water in your dough, right, because you can't take it out, but you can always add more water at the start of dough if you need it, or even at the salt stage. Chad hydrates at 80% - 85% at dough time then based on how the dough feels -- and many variables will determine this: ambient temp, type of flour, strength of starter -- he will add more in increments. He pushes hydration to its limits, yeah, but it's always determined by the needs of the dough in a given bread. So, learn to read your dough and use any bread book or formula as a guideline rather than a bible. Your environment is much different than mine or his, so you have to make adjustments to accommodate it. You can make a Tartine Country loaf at 80% one week, then 88% the next. Listen to your dough, be flexible, and with this skill, you will truly learn bread.



Seam side up, into the banneton for final fermentation. After 4-hour refrigerated final fermentation.

Dust the bottom of the dough with rice flour. Chad gets his dough into the Dutchie first, then slashes. I slash first, then into the Dutchie it goes. I also use a lodge combo cooker because I find that it's easier to get the dough in and out. Many burnt knuckles made this piece of apparatus a necessity. So be careful if you are using a deeper Le Creuset! Oh, and a word on cheap Dutchies, over time the hot temps we use for bread will break down the enamel in the pot. I have ended up with enamel from the pot baked into my loaves. No bueno. This does not seem to happen with Le Creuset, so, if you are using enameled Dutchies, I think you get what you pay for.

Onward.

Have a look at Chad's 'slashes'. Here, rather than actually slashing with a razor, he snips the dough using a scissors, sort of in the manner of snipping an epi, and makes what I call his 'Stegosaurus' pattern (and yeah, he does this pattern in the bakery).

I always bake right from cold, as does Chad. He clarifies: baking from cold helps keep the loaf from burning since they always bake from so hot from the start. This ensures that they get enough oven spring from their super hydrated doughs.

Oven and Dutchie are preheated at 500 with stone in oven. Steam at 500 degrees for 15 minutes, turn oven down to 475 degrees, steam for another 15, uncover, bake out till chestnut colored at 460 degrees.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. I mean it.

To make this loaf, use the Ode To Bourdon formula in Book Three. Remember to autolyse warm and adjust your hydration percentage and fermentation times to suit your environment.

I will be back next week with some information about grain companies. I promise!

To the staff of life!


(All photos in this post ©Chad Robertson)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chad's Ode

None of my whole grains have arrived yet (and when they do, man alive! do I have a post for you). But I desperately wanted to make bread. All week its been gnawing at me. So I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to work with the book using some hard red winter wheat flour that I got from my friends at Community Grains, since not everyone is going to run out and buy a flour mill. I stopped by Oliveto recently and Bob Klein, who owns Oliveto and founded Community Grains, was lovely enough to give me some hard red winter wheat to play with. How could I resist? Community Grains is now available at several Whole Foods and some specialty stores. The link above will direct you to their website where you can get it online. They have also listed a number of stores where you can find it here.

This particular wheat is milled from California-grown Red Wing with 13.61% protein. It's 100% stone milled on a granite wheel at temperatures below 110 degrees. Cooler milling temperatures mean that less of the grain's vitamins are destroyed in the process. As well, the wheat at Community Grains is milled without separating the germ, bran and endosperm at any point during the milling process. And here's some news: many companies separate the germ, bran and endosperm in the milling process then later combine the bran and endosperm to make 'whole wheat' flour, leaving the germ out because it can go rancid quickly. This separation process means longer shelf-life for companies but less nutrition for us since it is the germ that contains most of the grain's nutrients and fats. 'Whole grain' flour by definition is a flour where the grain has been milled in its entirety - 100% of the germ, bran and endosperm. 'Whole wheat' flours are not whole grain flours if the grain is not milled in its entirety. Just some food for thought when you reach for your next bag of flour. Know your miller's practices if you want to be confident about the nutrition of your flour, not to mention flavor.


Tartine's Ode to Bourdon loaf, 83% hydration

Onward.

In the first Tartine Three loaf, Chad has tempered the more stalwart flavors of red whole wheat with white whole wheat. Though I happen to find bitterness agreeable. Dandelions are my favorite greens. Campari is my favorite drink. When I hear of people talk about the unpleasant bitterness of whole wheat bread, I don't understand. All that aside, I do like the idea of using white winter wheat in bread because I think it lightens the loaf. Not only aesthetically, but I think that it opens up the crumb in what could otherwise be a very serious bread. It's like 'the other white flour'.

For the white whole wheat flour I used Bob's Red Mill hard white wheat and the marriage of the two flours was harmonious indeed. The nuances of the red wheat shine through here where they might otherwise be clouded by its own bitterness. A temperance that hinted at so many possibilities, so many ideas for later loaves. And so I think you are going to see it make regular appearances in our bread lab.



In keeping with this decision to start with pre-milled flour, instead of sifting out some of the bran to make high-extraction flour - which is near impossible to achieve if you are not milling your own flour and able to control the coarseness of the grind - I decided to go with Chad's suggestion of mixing 50/50 whole grain and sifted strong flour, in this case I used King Arthur bread flour. In the future I am going to work to control the extraction rate through sifting, but when I began this post, my screens had not yet arrived, and since I really wanted the first post to be about using pre-milled flour for people who don't want to mill and sift their own, I figured that it's most logical to make our high-extraction flour using this method because this is probably how you will do it yourselves.



Aside from the welcome addition of higher percentages of whole grains in our breads, in this particular experiment I wanted to try my hand at a couple of different things, namely shaping, making high-extraction flour, and sorting out all of this autolyse business. Actually, let's start there.

To refresh everyone's memory, on the first leg of the experiment, I routinely used one-hour autolyses. It worked for me, so I just carried it over from loaf to loaf. Sometimes I would go a little further. I have gone to an hour and a half with fantastic results. In Book Two, Chad calls for a twenty-five to forty minute autolyse, and now with Three, he comes along and blows our minds with an overnight autolyse. To begin our experiment, I used a conservative hand. Three-hour autolyses for the first round of loaves. I think that through the last experiment we all learned that it's best to start conservatively and push the boundaries gently. It's easier to make adjustments this way because narrow parameters are more manageable. The narrow margins allow us to focus on specific things. When we experiment too widely within a given bread we can get lost, never able to determine what went wrong in the broad sea of variables. Within this new autolyse question, I wanted to keep in mind that our bread is already really time-intensive, so if we can achieve happy results with lesser autolyse, then let's do that, right?



PLEASE SEE THE NEXT POST FOR AN EYE OPENING UPDATE ON AUTOLYSE

In our next post I am committed to try some longer autolyses for the sake of the experiment, but unless this new extended autolyse manages to part the sky and sea, then I think this may be one area of my bread where I am willing to be practical. I like the idea of being able to make bread in a manageable time-frame. I have worked out a schedule where if I rise early, I can make a levain in the morning, work the dough in the afternoon, proof it in the fridge overnight then bake the loaf by noon the next day. This round of loaves found smashing success with a three-hour autolyse, and it fell within a reasonable time-frame, so instead of baking at noon, I could conceivably bake at around 2pm, still enough time to have bread for an afternoon charcuterie and cheese plate.

About this new extended autolyse. I was a little worried about the possibility of overproofing dough, but I kept a close eye on it as it was hydrating, and it expanded at a comfortable rate. That is to say that it didn't blow up too quickly as I feared it might, possibly resulting in an exhausted final dough. Contrarily, at the end of the autolyse, it had increased just enough and became very much alive. At the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough had easily increased by about 30% as you can see in the photos below, and at the end of the final fermentation, accomplished overnight in the refrigerator, the dough had expanded impressively and yielded a really fantastic loaf. Smoke, hazelnuts, sweet molasses, notes of coffee. A good round flavor with all of the loaves, thanks to the white wheat, yeah, but with varying degrees of sourness due to the varied hydrations employed in each one, which you will read about below. The loaves also achieved fine oven spring (more on this with regard to shaping), and the crumb texture was really light and tender with a ruddy hue and a really brittle crust. It's actually a little hard to believe that these loaves are almost completely whole grain, the only white flour being 125g, or 25%, contributed by the high-extraction flour.



81% hydration

To start, I used refrigerator-cold water in both the levain and the final dough, and to be safe, I planned my bread day to start early in the morning so that autolyse through bulk could be accomplished at cool room temperature. The ambient temperature during autolyse was around 64 degrees then crept up to around 70 by the time bulk fermentation finished.

Given the cooler weather, I decided that it was safe to extend the autolyse at room temperature when I was poised originally to mix up the dough then send it immediately to the fridge. I figured that if it started to get too wild too quickly I could always pop it in the fridge. You know what a fan I am of the refrigerator for controlling fermentation. Though it turned out to be just fine with a moderate ambient temp. Maybe I'm a sissy. I don't know. I will tell you this, Chad and Lori are no sissies. His kitchen is warm, and when I arrived there were seriously hydrated pools of dough rubbing shoulders on his bench. I will admit, it made me panic a little. It also made me feel ridiculously conservative. I know it's a fine line between high hydration and madness, so I'm out to find out where that line is.

Chad and his team are daredevils with hydration, which is what produces the bread that all of us are striving to achieve - shattery crust, chewy interior whose flavors reveal all of the nuances of a given grain's terroir. So with this first experiment I added different quantities of water when adding the salt to the dough to see what the outcome would be. These first loaves are weighing in at 79% hydration (this is the suggested hydration that the book calls for in the 'Ode' loaf), 81% hydration, and 83% hydration. And while I don't think that any of these hydrations are out of control, I definitely fumbled during shaping, which, as you know, has an enormous effect on oven spring. If you don't shape your dough tightly enough, it will spread rather than spring. But if you shape it too tightly, you risk pressing out all of the precious gasses that the dough has developed through its several fermentation processes, resulting in a compressed crumb. I didn't shape tightly enough, thus found myself perilously close to flat loaves. The thing that saved me, even with the highly hydrated doughs, was the incredible elastic powers of the flour that I used. Even with the higher hydrations, the dough was active and tight and expanded impressively during the final fermentation.



79% hydration

For this round of loaves, I experimented with the Tartine method of shaping, a method admittedly foreign to me, and I don't think I got the dough tight enough. In the long-run, I think this contributed to the relative flatness of the loaves. I have found that when I shape in my usual way, my bread comes out with a much higher dome even with my high hydration and whole grain breads. My practice is to shape the loaves by twisting the boules on the bench, the friction at point of contact tightens the dough into taut rounds. My friend Joe Bowie, a professional baker in New York, stresses the importance of getting the boules nice and tight. When I watched Lori shape the dough at Tartine (which was exactly how Chad teaches us to shape in his books), she managed to get the dough much tighter than I did with a few deft moves, even though it was clearly very hydrated. And when Crystal lined the fully fermented dough on the belt that fed them into the oven, they were really rambunctious masses with temperamental personalities. They were not these prim, well-behaved spheres that I had imagined they might be. When the bread came out of the oven, the oven spring was incredible and the loaves were gorgeous. Rustic, reddish-brown and enormous, their shapes were wonky and fantastic, not neatly shaped boules and batards. It made me think that I need to let go of the idea of making this 'perfect' bread, right, to just let myself go wild with it.

I think I need a little more time to fine-tune my wild side.

 79% hydration

81% hydration


83% hydration

As you can see from the pictures, shaping and tension in the final dough is critical. I mean, I've always known this, but now I really know it. I managed to shape the loaf with the highest hydration the tightest, and I was rewarded with greater oven spring and less spreading. The 81% loaf fought me most during shaping. There was serious elasticity in this dough - and I was admittedly a little more aggressive than usual with my first two series of turns during bulk which probably accounts for some of its strength. I did manage to get the 79% loaf shaped a little tighter. You can see the difference in the height of the loaves above. The folding method did produce a more rustic shape than I usually get with my twisting method, which I like a lot. But bottom line, whether your aim is a rustic shape or one more uniform, it is crucial to get your dough nice and taut. It's not about the method you choose so much as your success in it.




In the next post I am going to work exclusively with home-milled grains and give you all some resources to source your own. For those of you who do not want to mill your own grains, splurge on the best whole grain flour you can afford. After all, bread is flour and water, so choose wisely and your amazing loaves of bread will be your reward. To be sure, I will always tell you what brand of flour and grain I use in my loaves, including links whenever possible.

Overall I think this is an excellent start to our experiment. The introduction of several different kinds of grains in our bread. Using higher percentages of these grains. Pushing the envelope a bit with hydration. Futzing with autolyze and shaping. I'm feeling confident.

Here are the details of our trio of breads. Please note that all hydration percentages include the flour and water in the starter and the levain, and includes the volume of wheat germ.

The Method



This is our 79% hydration bread, and the one that most closely follows the formula in the book in terms of hydration.

The formula below makes one loaf. Gather together these things:

-250g of levain, formula below
-250g high extraction wheat flour, which is simply 125g bread flour (I used KA) whisked together with 125g Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour
-125g Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour
-125g Bob's Red Mill hard white winter wheat flour
-35g wheat germ
-425g cold h2o (see note below which gives hydration amounts for the 81% and 83% hydration loaves) *
-11g kosher salt

A note on the starter. Mine is 100% hydration, 100% dark rye, and I use Bob's Red Mill rye berries in my Komo mill. Until I got my mill, I relied on Bob's Red Mill dark rye flour to feed my starter.

THE NIGHT BEFORE DOUGH DAY

Make your levain. You will need:

-50g active starter (fed about 6 hours before)
-100g cold h2o
-100g Community Grains red winter wheat flour

Dissolve the levain in the h2o, then mix in 100g of Community Grains red winter wheat flour until you arrive at a paste. Cover and let it bloom. I made mine the night before dough day, so it fermented for 8.5 hours. I have had success with levains as young as 5 hours and fermented for 10 hours. For longer ferments, I advise placing the levain in a cool room to ferment more slowly.

DOUGH DAY

Mix together the high extraction flour, the Community Grains red winter wheat flour, the Bob's Red Mill hard white wheat flour and the wheat germ. Set aside.

Dissolve the total levain in 400g of h2o, then add the flour mixture into this, combining well with your hands. You will arrive at a shaggy, sticky mass. Autolyse in a cool room for three hours. It will swell a bit as the gasses begin to expand and turn glossy and smooth as the gluten begins to develop. The ambient temp was about 65 degrees during autolyse.

After you have accomplished autolyse, squish the salt into the dough along with 25g of the remaining water (see note below which gives the additional hydration amounts for the 81% and 83% hydration loaves)*, and proceed with a 4-hour bulk fermentation, the first 2.5 hours of which you will perform a series of turns every half hour. Take care to handle the dough gingerly during the final turns so that you do not press out the gasses that are developing in the dough. Leave the dough unmolested for the remaining 1.5 hours. It should expand about 30% and when you press it with your finger, it will feel taut and alive. I accomplished my bulk fermentation at room temperature, about 70 degrees.

After the bulk fermentation, scrape the dough onto the bench dusted with brown rice flour. A note on brown rice flour, I used Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour this time around and found it to be much more coarse than Bob's Red Mill organic brown rice flour which is what I normally use. Arrowhead Mills feels more like cornmeal. They both serve the purpose of keeping the dough from sticking to the surface of the bench and the linen-lined proofing cloth. But aesthetically and tactilely I prefer Bob's Red Mill. This comes down to a preference thing.

Back to the task at hand.

Shape the dough into a loose round, cover with an inverted bowl, and rest for 25 minutes. After the bench rest, shape the dough into a round, using whatever shaping method you fancy. You only want to be sure to develop some tension in the dough so that you can achieve optimum oven spring.

Pop the dough into a linen-lined bowl dusted with brown rice flour, seam side up, and refrigerate it for 18 hours. Incidentally, my oven only holds two loaves at a time, so this particular loaf was fermented for an additional hour and a half while the other two loaves baked.

BAKE DAY

Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Unearth the dough by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash the dough, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, turn the oven down to 475 and steam for thirty minutes.

After the steam, remove the lid, then stack the pan over its mouth. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening. Nice move, eh?



Turn the oven down to 450 and bake the bread to desired darkness. I find that it's almost impossible to go as dark as Chad's without drying out the loaf in a home oven. So I aim for chestnut-colored.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

*For the 81% hydration loaf, add 40g of water when you add your salt, for the 83% hydration loaf, add 50g more water.

Tasting notes: all of the breads had a lovely tender crumb and brittle crust. I will say that there was a pronounced sourness with the increased hydration loaves. The 79% hydration loaf was pretty mild. It was all about the wheat here and the nuances that come with extended fermentation - notes of coffee and nuts, with just a bit of acid. While neither the 81% nor the 83% hydration loaves were overly sour, it was definitely more prominent in the 83% loaf which I loved. I have been asked about my extended cold fermentations and if they yield sour loaves, and I have never had an issue with excess acidity. I am beginning to think that it may be because I have consistently used moderate hydration in my breads. So, perhaps not so much does cold fermentation yield a more acid loaf as does one that is more highly hydrated, or a combination of the two factors. I actually like the acid in sourdough bread. I know some do not. So, if acid is what you are trying to avoid, you may want to experiment with more modestly hydrated loaves. Out of the three, I preferred the flavor of the 83% hydration loaf. All three had their merits, and I imagined each of them pairing more or less agreeably with different things. The lesser hydrated loaves with charcuterie and pickles, the more highly hydrated loaf with olive oil, parmesan, fresh marjoram and chili. All of them would do well with a fantastic glass of wine.

THE JOURNEY, IN PHOTO


 levain, ready



 the dough, mixed, the start of autolyse


 the dough, after 3-hour autolyse


 salt added, elastic dough due to extended autolyse


 the turns, first and second series


expanding after third and fourth series




fifth and sixth series, expanding nicely

 completion of 4-hour bulk


on the bench


successful final ferment


 unearth and slash


THE RESULTS

To the staff of life!

This post was shared on Susan's Wild Yeast Blog

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