Posted 14 June 2004 - 03:46 PM
Thanks for the question.
First, a quick comment/query on the recipe which you mentioned : 1 1/2 hours seems like a very long rest for the dough pieces between weighing/preshaping and the actual shaping. If the dough pieces rise so much that they begin to fall, then they have probably lost strength and will lose gas and the large bubbles as they are shaped ( of course, if there is not enough of a rest. shaping will be difficult, and those additional bubbles formed during the rest don't get formed.).
The formulas in the Calvel book are meant to be followed as written, with or without the ascorbic acid and the intended role of the a.a. is remedial. . It is the primary fermentation ( aided in many recipes by preferments ) that give strength and structure to the dough. My own use of ascorbic acid is only occasional unless there are flour problems ( limited to the occasional retarded batch, and, perhaps, frozen raw croissants ) but if I've understood things correctly, the only danger in Calvel's intended use of ascorbic acid is that the shaped loaves can rise longer before going into the oven ( with bad effects upon texture) and that therefore this should be avoided.
Recipes which make bad use of ascorbic acid are structured very differently from those in the Calvel book and probably call for greater amounts of ascorbic acid, lots of kneading at high speed, a reduced primary fermentation, but longer fermentation of the shaped loaves, similar to the intensive mixing recipe which he could only bring himself to describe rather than giving it in detail. Just for fun, you could always compare it to what you see at work.
I confess that my experience with the alveograph is extremely limited. I have only once seen one in use, and although I have a reasonable idea of the ideal shape of the curve, and the importance of the various numbers, that's it. When I stopped in to see Jeffrey Hamelman at King Arthur Flour about ten days ago, he was teaching a class about the alveograph and other testing equipment, and the students thought I was kidding when I said that I could stick around and learn something, I wasn't He would be the guy to ask.
That said, when Raymond Calvel came to the Culinary Institute Of America to teach a conference with the American Bread Bakers' Guild, much attention was paid to the alveograph results and other data when it came time to choose a flour, and this permitted rejecting a number of the samples out of hand. The final step, however, in making the final choice was to make test batches. Professor has used other American and Canadian flours with very good results, but on that occasion, it was King Arthur Sir Galahad ( all purpose).