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Bread Tips & Techniques: Not Sourdough

52 posts in this topic

Hydration (the amount of water in the dough) has a number of effects.

Crudely it changes the viscosity, and hence the workability of the dough, but also the resistance to the gas bubbles expanding, and the amount of steam available to make that expansion. Roughly the wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the crumb, but too much water can make the dough sort of pudding like.

You can tell the loaves that try to get a good texture from an over wet dough rather than proper gluten development, by the characteristic of thick cell walls.

Most loaves I make are around 70% hydration (weight of water to total flour weight) for example:

Preferment: 200g flour + 100g water (plus 10g culture)

Dough: 400g flour + 320g water (+10g salt) (plus preferment)

Total: 420g water/600g flour = 70% hydration.

This dough will need support during proof.

Different flours adsorb different amounts (wholemeal adsorbs more).

Other factors affect viscosity as well, such as the acid in sourdough breaking down the starch - sourdough gets wetter as they prove. Temperature affects viscosity with cold doughs stiffer, hence cold retarded dough is less delicate and easier to handle, especially at the end of proof.

Bread can range from about 55% (tight, stiff, long fermented boules) to more than 100% hydration (ciabattta, more a batter than a dough). Very wet doughs are hard to handle directly - form, shape and bake them on silicon paper.

Its worth noting that you need to measure accurately. 5g difference in water (a teaspoonful) will make about a 1% difference to the hydration in the example above, and that will change the handling characteristics and the crumb structure.

Bread dough is tough stuff at the beginning of fermentation and can stand a lot of abuse, but it gets more and more delicate as the structure is set up and it expands, especially high hydration doughs.

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Hydration (the amount of water in the dough) has a number of effects.

Crudely it changes the viscosity, and hence the workability of the dough, but also the resistance to the gas bubbles expanding, and the amount of steam available to make that expansion. Roughly the wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the crumb, but too much water can make the dough sort of pudding like.

You can tell the loaves that try to get a good texture from an over wet dough rather than proper gluten development,  by the characteristic of thick cell walls.

Most loaves I make are around 70% hydration (weight of water to total flour weight) for example:

Preferment: 200g flour + 100g water (plus 10g culture)

Dough: 400g flour + 320g water (+10g salt) (plus preferment)

Total: 420g water/600g flour = 70% hydration.

This dough will need support during proof.

Different flours adsorb different amounts (wholemeal adsorbs more).

Other factors  affect viscosity as well, such as the acid in sourdough breaking down the starch - sourdough gets wetter as they prove.  Temperature affects viscosity with cold doughs stiffer, hence cold retarded dough is less delicate and easier to handle, especially at the end of proof.

Bread can range from about 55% (tight, stiff,  long fermented boules) to more than 100% hydration (ciabattta, more a batter than a dough). Very wet doughs are hard to handle directly - form, shape and bake them on silicon paper.

Its worth noting that you need to measure accurately. 5g difference in water (a teaspoonful) will make about a 1% difference to the hydration in the example above, and that will change the handling characteristics and the crumb structure.

Bread dough is tough stuff at the beginning of fermentation and can stand a lot of abuse, but it gets more and more delicate as the structure is set up and it expands, especially high hydration doughs.

Wow...thanks a lot.

Do i get another Q?

( how to indicate the amount and timing of Turning the dough?)

:smile::wink::rolleyes:

iii

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This is part of a larger question, of how long to ferment and prove the dough, and that depends on the sort of bread you are making, what the yeast or sourdough culture characteristics are, how much of it you use, level of salt and sugar (which inhibit) and the dough temperature I'm sure others will correct me.

You might find it instructive to put some of your dough when you have mixed it into a straight sided glass jar or glass tumbler and mark the level. Loosely cover. Keep it at the same temoperature as the dough you will bake. When the dough has expanded to two and a half to three times its initial volume, its ready to bake. This is for plain white - wholemeal or bread with additives rises less. That gives the total of fermentation plus proof times.

In general you want to bulk ferment until the bread dough is saturated with CO2, and little bubbles and the structure are beginning to form. When you can just see the bubbles its time to shape and prove. So when you cut into the dough with a sharp knife and can can see little bubbles starting to form its time to stop folding and start shaping.

For my sourdough in my kitchen (about 80F) the total time is about four hours from end of mixing to baking, I usually split it into 1 hour bulk and 3 hours proof. Straight yeasted dough takes about half that, about 2 hours total. I try and get 3 or 4 folds or turning into the bulk fermentation period, so every 15 or 20 minutes or so. Sometmes I only give it one turn every half hour. Its not critical.

If you retard (put the dough in the fridge) you have to reckon on the cool down time. For a 1Kg loaf I reckon that is about 2 hours, so retarding overnight is about equivalent to 2 hours proof at room temperature for that size loaf, Retarding (in a loose plastic bag) will give you better flavour, better crust (little bubbles), and make timing easier and less critical.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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This is part of  a larger question, of how long to ferment and prove the dough, and that depends on the sort of bread you are making, what the yeast or sourdough culture characteristics are, how much of it you use, level of salt and sugar (which inhibit) and the dough temperature I'm sure others will correct me.

You might find it instructive to put some of your dough when you have mixed it into a straight sided glass jar or glass tumbler and mark the level. Loosely cover. Keep it at the same temoperature as the dough you will bake. When the dough has expanded to two and a half to three times  its initial volume, its ready to bake. This is for plain white - wholemeal or bread with additives rises less. That gives the  total of fermentation plus proof times. 

In general you want to bulk ferment until the bread dough is saturated with CO2, and little bubbles and the structure are beginning to form. When you can just see the bubbles its time to shape and prove. So when you cut into the dough with a sharp knife and can can see little bubbles starting to form its time to stop folding and start shaping.

For my sourdough in my kitchen (about 80F) the total  time is about four hours from end of mixing to baking, I usually split it into 1 hour bulk and 3 hours proof. Straight yeasted dough takes about half that, about 2 hours total. I try and get 3 or 4 folds or turning into the bulk fermentation period, so every 15 or 20 minutes or so. Sometmes I only give it one turn every half hour.  Its not critical.

If you retard (put the dough in the fridge) you have to reckon on the cool down time. For a 1Kg loaf I reckon that is about 2 hours, so retarding overnight is about equivalent to 2 hours proof at room temperature for that size loaf, Retarding (in a loose plastic bag) will give you better flavour, better crust (little bubbles), and make timing easier and less critical.

Thanks.

Do appreciate your advice. Cannot wait to get my hands on the dough again!

:rolleyes:

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Man I hear ya 111_bake. Every year coming upto Thanks Giving and on through the rest of the holidays pure frustration. Frustrated because what I could make in the spring never came close in the fall.

And I mean I gave up. Recently my cousin pointed out temp and humidity change. House is bone dry in fall unlike spring.

Got myself thermometers for the oven and fridge and man do they tell a story. The oven temp is off like 30 degrees and the damn fridge is inconsistent which I kinda already knew.

Have a baking stone on my wish list, would I be wasting money getting one of those?


"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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... Can you write about your experience in bread making that helped enlighten you or gave you the feeling that you have advanced another step?

For me, a major leap in understanding came with digital scales, weighing flour (don't use volumes , 'cups', for solids with variable packing density), weighing liquid (don't use a measuring jug - its imprecise and so inconsistent), weighing in grammes always, and thus easing thinking in percentage terms (but not, I must admit, always strict "bakers' percentages").

Put all those together and you can cut through most recipes to see what's really going on.

A major taste breakthrough was when BBA explained *why* it should be that following Elizabeth David's remarks, about less yeast and longer slower rising, really did give more interesting flavour. Hence my adding a little rye flour (3% of the flour) and giving a cool overnight rise to allow the amylase time to work its magic.

There are things that matter in bread baking and many things that do not. Here is a rough list, but not exclusive. I'm sure others will have their views:

Things that matter:

...

Steam in the first minute, but not after

...

If you add sugar etc it will slow fermentation

Things that don't matter:

Strong flour - almost any flour will do

Steam after the first minute

Kneading - its time and water that develop the gluten, not mechanical work

While I'd broadly agree with all Jackal10's comments - I will quibble with the expression of a few of the details!

- The flour. You can indeed make good bread with most (wheat) flours. However a different flour will produce a different loaf - different in both taste and texture . So as regards "almost any flour will do", I'd suggest that might be rather misleading if one were after either a particular quality in the result, or the achievement of consistency. Certainly a strong flour may actually be a disadvantage to the baguette baker!

I gather that iii_bake is in Thailand (from the prawns). I have no idea what flours may be available there. However it may be worth remarking that stoneground flours (with lots of tasty wheatgerm oils) would have an even shorter storage life at tropical temperatures.

- Kneading. Agreed, don't think of it as developing gluten. But do think of it as mixing, and distributing (or redistributing) the yeast and microbubbles (whether of air or CO2, the tiny bubbles that will spring in the oven).

- "Steam". Steam is actually visible because it is water vapour condensing out to a fog as it cools. What does the work on the dough is the vapour, not the visible stuff. Misunderstanding that point leads to some people being misguided into putting ice cubes in the oven - lots of cooling so lots of visible "steam" - but actually less water vapour in the air and a colder oven! Personally, I leave a shallow tray of boiling water in my oven for more like 10 minutes - but I think this *must* depend both on one's oven *and* what you are trying to achieve (rather different for a baguette and a pain de campagne) - so I'd just say boost the humidity in the oven at the beginning is useful, but IMHO it'd be wrong to be absolutist about detailed timing.

- Sugar. Some people must like sweet bread, but I personally don't. The other thing that sugar will do is give more CO2 more quickly (as when 'starting' yeast). So with added sugar, you could get to the same dough volume faster - BUT - you won't have changed the rate of fermentation of the flour much, so in the shorter rising time, you will have fermented the flour less and so developed less flavour in the bread. So while Jackal10 might say sugar slows fermentation, I'd say it gives you less flour fermentation for the same amount of rising (because the rising will actually happen faster).

The important thing is to develop an understanding (whether conscious or 'by feel') that works for you individually. Gather whatever ideas work for you - but do recognise that different people can have quite different, but often equally workable, understandings! :smile: Which very often just turn out to be different ways of looking at the same thing... :smile:


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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For me, a major leap in understanding came with digital scales, weighing flour (don't use volumes , 'cups', for solids with variable packing density), weighing liquid (don't use a measuring jug - its imprecise and so inconsistent), weighing in grammes always, and thus easing thinking in percentage terms (but not, I must admit, always strict "bakers' percentages").

......

I gather that iii_bake is in Thailand (from the prawns). I have no idea what flours may be available there. However it may be worth remarking that stoneground flours (with lots of tasty wheatgerm oils) would have an even shorter storage life at tropical temperatures. 

.......

The important thing is to develop an understanding (whether conscious or 'by feel') that works for you individually. Gather whatever ideas work for you - but do recognise that different people can have quite different, but often equally workable, understandings!  :smile: Which very often just turn out to be different ways of looking at the same thing...  :smile:

Another WOW n Thanks.

I like baking so i have digital scale and Yes, i am from Thailand.

Now i live in Singpore.

When i was in Thailand and worked with BBA i had my cousin carry Bags of King Arthur AP & Bread Flour all the way from US for me. We have Gold Medal AP but not unbleached though, we also have bread flour but i always put the blame on the flour and thought i would really feel the right stuff using ingredients from the same source as the recipe's owner :huh: .

Now that i am in S'pore, i can find Gold Medal Organic AP and Bread Flour.

I can also find Waitrose Strong Bread Flour.

So it seems i am in a much better position for flour sourcing!

You guys' experiences are worth noting and they are indeed interesting.

Thanks again

:smile::rolleyes::wink:

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Now that i am in S'pore, i can find Gold Medal Organic AP and Bread Flour.

I can also find Waitrose Strong Bread Flour.

So it seems i am in a much better position for flour sourcing!

[snip]

You can say that again. You can also find Doves Farm (and their spelt flours) which can't be found in the whole of Malaysia. I've to get my flours from organic food outlets...and there are not much choices.

Happy bread-baking!


Edited by Tepee (log)

TPcal!

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Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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After reading the Julia Child book about her time in France, I got to wanting some fresh baked bread. Being a novice baker, I trusted the recipe completely. Since my wife took the book out with her this morning, I found the recipe on the web and got to work. My dough came out perfectly, and I was so excited. I was suspicious when it said to bake at 450 for 30 minutes, but I dared not question Julia.

Well, I'm sure Julia was right but whomever reprinted her menu was WRONG. As anyone who knows anything could have likely told me, my bread was black on the bottom and wet inside.

Curses.

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Yes, do try again! I made two loaves of bread from a trusted book this am and they looked lovely but the first taste told me something was missing - yep - salt - none called for in the recipe! So I made it again and added 2 teaspoons salt - NOPE - that's too much salt - 1 teaspoon should be perfect. So before the week is out I will be making it again.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

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The timing sounds ok. But don't get too hung up on it. Look for that nice brown colour. I like to brush mine with a egg/water wash & make a few angled slits with a knife before baking the loaf. Let us know how it goes on your next try.

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The timing sounds ok. But don't get too hung up on it. Look for that nice brown colour. I like to brush mine with a egg/water wash & make a few angled slits with a knife before baking the loaf. Let us know how it goes on your next try.

I did the scoring and the egg wash. It was burning in 15 minutes!

I'm thinking preheat to 450, then kick it down to 375 next time.

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Have you had your oven calibrated recently?

I routinely bake bread at 450 F. and have no problems, either on the stone or in pans.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

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I guess I need to have it calibrated. It's less than 6 months old, and I checked it when we got it with an oven thermometer.

Maybe the bonfire I built in the bottom moved things along too fast...

Seriously, though, I was browsing the podcasts on iTunes today, and Cooks Illustraed had a video podcast up where they perfected the NY Times no-knead recipe. I shall try it presently...

15oz flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp instant yeast

7oz water

3 oz pilsner

1tbsp white vinegar

Mix, cover in bowl with plastic.

Set aside to ferment for 8-18 hours

10-15 turns to knead, form into ball

Place in parchment coated skillet. Oil parchment.

Oil bread and proof 2 hours covered with plastic loosely.

Preheat oven to 500 with lidded Dutch oven inside

30 min before proofing is done.

Transfer dough using parchment to pot.

Cover and bake at 425 for 30 min.

Remove lid and continue baking until bread is 210 degrees

20-30 minutes

Cool 20 min.

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. . .

Seriously, though, I was browsing the podcasts on iTunes today, and Cooks Illustraed had a video podcast up where they perfected the NY Times no-knead recipe. I shall try it presently...

. . .

I have made it and it's a lovely bread but do be aware before you start that the handles on most LeCreuset lids and on some other lids will melt at these temperatures!


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I have made it and it's a lovely bread but do be aware before you start that the handles on most LeCreuset lids and on some other lids will melt at these temperatures!

Yes, yes! And that is why you should upgrade your knob! About 4 bucks at Lowe's or Home Depot...


So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Man I hear ya 111_bake. Every year coming upto Thanks Giving and on through the rest of the holidays pure frustration. Frustrated because what I could make in the spring never came close in the fall.

And I mean I gave up. Recently my cousin pointed out temp and humidity change. House is bone dry in fall unlike spring.

Got myself thermometers  for the oven and fridge and man do they tell a story. The oven temp is off like 30 degrees and the damn fridge is inconsistent which I kinda already knew.

Have a baking stone on my wish list, would I be wasting money getting one of those?

You probably will not be too consistently proficient if you bake bread only twice a year. That's probably okay, if you're baking bread only twice a year. :smile:

About the stone. No, it's not a waste of money, and in fact you'll find it a huge help in producing a better loaf. Make sure you preheat your oven on high for at least an hour and then turn it down to the required temp to bake.

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I have a question for you bread heads. I recently baked a couple of loafs of lean dough with poolish and ran into a problem that seems to frequent me. The gringe is spreading fairly well but as it spreads apart it forms a little gap. Note that not all of the slashes do this. I'm thinking that I'm slashing too deep but I also thought that it could possibly an ovenspring problem.

Here's the formula

Poolish:

100% flour

100% water

pinch of yeast

Final dough:

70% flour

.63% yeast

60% poolish

37% water

2% salt

btw, I'm using AP flour.

Any help is greatly appreciated (criticisms welcome too!).

gallery_58748_5842_36082.jpg

gallery_58748_5842_23161.jpg

edited to make the pictures manageable.


Edited by BBJoe (log)

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Are you slashing at a 45 degree angle?

Actually no... Which seems silly to me now since I've read countless times to slash almost parallel to the dough. I guess it just wasn't registering with me for some reason. I was watching a Julia Child segment on french bread last night and when she slashed her loaves a little light bulb went off in my head. I will see if this fixes the problem.

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I'm not sure what forum to post this in, so I thought I'd try here first.

I made a yeasted sweet dough from a Carole Walter book called Sweet breads, muffins, coffee cakes, etc, etc( or a similar title to that effect).

Anyway, The recipe called for 1 packet of active dry yeast, but I didnt have that so I used 1.5 plus 1/8tsp of instant. I also used "light sour cream" instead of regular. Those were the only changes I made except of course I didnt proof the yeast.

The instructions said the dough would be soft( it was) and throw it in the fridge overnight before using it. I did that and it didnt rise at all( Yes, the yeast is very fresh).

I took it out, shaped it into balls( I was going to make crumb buns) and put them in my oven on the proof feature and 45 min later, nothing.

It didnt rise at all. I left the other half of the dough out of the fridge to see what it would do and NOTHING. I just made hot cross buns 2 weeks ago with the same yeast so I know its fresh.

What do you think went wrong?

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Cali, I've made this recipe many times. it doesn't rise in the refrigerator at all,as far as I can tell. I'm not sure, I think it rises a little bit once I shape it but not much, once again I have a hard time telling, so obviously it can't rise much... when I bake it though it poofs up and tastes wonderful. Have you tried baking the dough yet?

I use instant yeast as well. I always stir it in with the liquid like she says, but I don't let it sit so long. I'm not sure what's wrong with your dough. I really wish I had a better answer for you!

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Cali, I've made this recipe many times. it doesn't rise in the refrigerator at all,as far as I can tell. I'm not sure, I think it rises a little bit once I shape it but not much, once again I have a hard time telling, so obviously it can't rise much... when I bake it though it poofs up and tastes wonderful. Have you tried baking the dough yet?

I use instant yeast as well. I always stir it in with the liquid like she says, but I don't let it sit so long. I'm not sure what's wrong with your dough. I really wish I had a better answer for you!

Thanks for the response.

I actually threw it out because I was having ppl over for brunch and I didnt want to risk it not coming out. I ended up using the streusel that I made for the crumb buns on a sour cream coffee cake recipe( my mom's) that I've made many times.

I was totally bummed about the dough though, especially since I wasted 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter.

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Cali, I can't speak specifically to the recipe you were trying to make, but I know that when I use regular instant yeast for my sweet breads, they take a REALLY long time (like 8-10 hours) to rise. I picked up some SAF Gold (from Amazon, no less) which is instant yeast specifically designed for high fat/high sugar doughs and it works MUCH better. It literally cut the time in half from my regular instant yeast. Now I keep two kinds of yeast in my freezer.

BTW, SAF makes a "Red" variety as well. This would be equivalent to the regular instant yeast you already have.

Hope that helps.


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