Tag Archives: Yeast

Bread Again aka Bread # 4

I worked with a local baker for a day in hopes of picking up some tips and tricks regarding my pursuit of baking great bread.  I picked up a flour – water – starter ratio (3:2:1) and better idea of the final feel dough post kneading.  I kneaded a lot of dough that day.  I still have work to do in order to get the bread dialed in just right, but here is the next segment of my bread baking journey.

Bread # 4

(We’ll call it number four to be consistent with the blog, but it is really like Bread #9.)

1/4 Cup  Warm Water

2 tsp  Yeast, dried

In a medium bowl, add the water then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 or so minutes.

Add:

55 g  Water

Stir into the yeast liquid.  Then add your flours:

55 g  Whole Wheat Flour

55 g  All Purpose Flour

Stir it all up, cover, and let that rise for 2 hours.

The dough should be nice and poofed/bubbly by this point.

You’ll want to do this next bit on a kitchen scale.  Scrape the starter dough into a large bowl which is on the scale.  The starter should be   about 212 grams, give or take a gram.  This is now 1 part.

Add that starter:

424 g  Water (or two parts)

Stir it around to loosen up the starter a bit.  Now add 3 parts Flour which would be 636 grams.  The flour gives you some room to customize.  I used:

100 g  Whole Wheat Flour

536 g  All Purpose Flour

and

3 tsp  Kosher Salt

Mix all this up until the spoon becomes ineffective and then turn out onto a well floured surface.

Knead the dough for about 30 minutes.  Your are looking for the dough to be lightly tacky, but not sticky.  I ended up adding another 1/2 to 3/4 cup All Purpose flour during this kneading process…

Once you get the dough where you want it.  Toss it into a bowl, cover, and rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Then take your big ball of dough and separate it into two pieces forming each piece into a tight boule.  Put those back into the bowl, cover it again and let them rest for about 20 minutes.

Next, I did a final shaping making nice and tight, but also trying not to press out all of the air bubbles that were in the dough.

Place these onto a floured cloth, somewhat covered with the extra cloth.  Let it rise for another 1-2 hours.

About an hour before you expect to be ready to bake the bread, you’ll want to get your oven heating up.  Get your baking stone and a pan for a steam bath in place in your oven and preheat to 500 F.

Now your bread is ready.  Prep a peel or, as is my case, a wooden cutting board with a dusting of semolina flour.  Gently move the loaves to the “peel.”  Score the tops any which way you like, but aim for having your knife at a 45 degree angle.  Turn the heat on the oven down to 450 F.  Have a cup of hot water (from the tap is fine) standing by.

Open the oven slid on in your soon-to-be bread and pour the water into the hot pan.  Set your timer for 25 minutes and listen to the oven roar.

Cool on a wire rack.

Final thoughts:

The crumb was still a bit more dense than I want it to be.  The crust was a nice color, however, I didn’t get the spring I was hoping for, since “skin” looked as if it had sagged during baking.  See:

It could be that I didn’t shape the final loaf tight enough…  I probably could have baked it another 5 minutes and maybe next, time I’ll keep the oven 25 degrees hotter.  Another tsp of salt wouldn’t hurt either.

On the plus side, it wasn’t dry or crumbly.  It had a very nice flavor and texture, maybe a little bit more chewiness would be nice, but I won’t fault that.  At least not at this point.  Possibly adding 1oo – 200 g Bread Flour would help add a tough of chew.

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Bread Yeast Starter #1

So I’ve tried this once before: mix equal parts flour and water, let it sit, and after a couple of days I had some bubbling.  As I kept feeding the starter, it got thicker, then started to dry out on top creating this leathery crust with a pinkish hue.  I tried removing it a couple of times, but couldn’t get all of it off so I  just started stirring it back in.  It smelled more perfume-y than sour and the resulting bread tasted decidedly reminiscent of grape nuts cereal.

I scrapped it.

It’s time to try it again.  With some adjustments of course…

1/2 cup Rye Flour (used to boost sour flavor)

1/2 cup Whole Wheat Four

1/2 cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Bread Flour

2 1/2 cups warm-ish Water

Mix it all up (I did this in a large Pyrex container).

Then cover with a damp double layer of cheesecloth.  Stir it up a few more times over the next two days.  After 2-3 days you should see some bubbles breaking the surface or your starter may have separated with a dark liquid layer on top.  From what I have read on other blogs, books, etc. that is alcohol which is a byproduct of fermentation and a good sign that you have active yeast in the starter.

From this point you’ll want to feed your starter by stirring in 1-2 Tbs of flour at least once a day.  I have been removing a half cup of starter, stirring in a 1/2 cup of warm water, and then 1/2 cup of all purpose flour in the morning and then giving it another stir with a spoon full of flour in the evening.  I keep the starter covered after the first couple days to keep it from drying out.  However, if it looks like you are not getting the desired yeasty activity, leave the lid off for a few hours, then stir it up and put the lid back on.  Occasionally, adding a spoonful of Turbinado or other sugar will help keep a strong fermentation going or juice up a tired starter.  If the starter starts to thicken pass the “pancake batter” stage, add a little more room temperature water.

When you reach a sourness that you like, you can cover and refrigerate it.  That will slow down the lactobacillus growth and keep for a couple weeks or so.  Or just let ride.  As long as you are feeding it and pulling out some of the starter each week to make bread you should not have a real big difference in the flavor from the starter.  If you choose the leave-it-on-the-counter method, but do not make bread on a particular week, I would then discard 1 cup or so of starter and replenish with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup flour.  f it ever starts to develop mold or smell really awful, just discard it and start over.

Okay now it is time to try it out.  Bread #2 is on its way…


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