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Baking Bread from Scratch in France


bethesdabakers
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Thanks for your responses.
 

The flour and water in a starter provide the medium for wild yeasts and bacteria to inhabit. You mix it up and wait for the little bugs to come along and take up residence – in the case of the yeasts they are probably already dormant in the flour. The first few days are very uncertain. The yeasts and bacteria need to be ones which will thrive in that environment and at the temperature of the mixture. So if you like, there is a lot of jockeying for position before any wildlife balance is achieved. (You can tell I never passed a science subject in my life.)

 

The bubbles that appeared in the first few days were pretty superficial and probably evidence of the presence of bacteria not yeast activity. The point where I baked the loaf was probably the earliest the starter could have provided the rise for the bread.

 

The mixture will still be very fragile and will continue to develop for several weeks but if it survives that long it will probably have become very robust. My real starter is celebrating a lonely 15th birthday in the fridge back in Wales but I am totally confident that it will be fully active again within two refreshments when we get back after four weeks.

 

At this stage it would be pretty pointless to compare this starter or the bread it produces with any other – it’s just too immature.

 

If you want to be a good sourdough baker the best thing to do is ditch your commercial yeast along with a lot of the mythology around starters. Once they are established they don’t improve with age. Anytime you hear about a bakery with a unique, centuries-old starter which is kept in a safe whose combination is known only to the senior member of this fifth generation baking family, you know you are involved in bread theatre. Same applies to legendary starters that can only be found in one particular part of the world.

 

For that matter having a comparatively mild starter can be a positive asset. The starter is only one factor in the flavour of a loaf, the others being the flours used and the length of fermentation. If like me, you only make sourdough and want to make the full range of breads - savoury, sweet, enriched – a mild starter is very useful.

 

 

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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Thank you for a very interesting set of posts. 

 

I'd heard that Alaska sourdoughs kept their starter near their body heat, as well, and they probably did drink the hooch as hooch.  And since the word "hooch" came from Alaska, it makes even more sense.  (Doesn't mean it's true, but it sure sounds plausible, /pedant.)

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Would you bake that loaf in a loaf pan, instead of free-form? I just put together the dough, it's in the fridge until tomorrow. A bit different than yours, I used 250 gr bread flour, then 100 gr coarse semolina, 100 gr white whole wheat, and 50 gr rye flour. I used a bit more water, and a bit more starter than your recipe. Also a combination of white starter and rye starter. The starters are about two years old. No yeast. (I found it amusing that you called your rye starter your "fail safe" and dumped it. I always use a bit of each starter precisely because the rye is my fail safe! And it helps give a better rise to the bread.)


 


My problem with sourdough is I don't bake often enough, I've never worked out a consistent recipe or method. Doesn't stop me, but of course I don't get consistent results. The loaves are always good, and sometimes they're excellent. But when they're excellent, I'm never quite sure why. :huh:  I suppose the answer is to bake more often. And pay attention.


 


Anyway, loaf pans. I'm thinking of putting this into a large Pullman loaf pan tomorrow. (No lid.) I love the shape. Free form loaves are beautiful, but not always the best for sandwiches. I will do it and see what happens, but I was wondering if there were any suggestions about baking in loaf pans vs. baking free-form.


 


Thanks for starting this thread.


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Hmmm. I think sourdough just doesn't like the confinement of a loaf pan. It wants to be free. I swear it shrank! The pan went into a 450F oven after proofing in the Pullman pan for about four hours, then I lowered it to 425. It proofed beautifully, rose to about 3/4 the height of the pan, looked really good. I keep a cast iron pan in the oven (it's 12 inches, I don't know why I ever bought it because I can't lift it), in which I poured some boiling water for steam. Anyway, the bread itself is good. Nice texture, good crust, crisp but thin, which is what I like in a sandwich bread. The bread has a nice tang to it and good flavor. I shouldn't complain. But what I really wanted was some height. I thought the structure of the pan would offer that, but it seems to have inhibited it. It really was a bit lower in the pan when I took it out than when I put it in. This has happened before. I usually make the Reinhart basic sourdough. Great as a free-form, but it rebels against the pan. I figured I'd give it one more shot with this, but I guess it's back to free form. I like this recipe. I took some photos and if I can figure out how to upload them I'll do so.

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Hi Cakewalk

 

You're right - regular baking solves most sourdough problems. But the only reason I can think of for dough not rising in those circumstances is because it's pretty seriously overproved and just at the point of collapse when it goes in the oven. At home, with my regular starter it's 4 hours fermentation (or overnight in the fridge) and 3.5 hours prove.

 

I'm an armchair baker for the next few days:

brion stall 003 small.jpg

Paid a visit to M. Brion's stall at the Sunday market yesterday!

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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Starting to look a bit more like bread – loaf number two

bread 2 002 small.jpg

 

I nearly killed off the starter the other day. Amongst the jumble of bread mixes in the supermarket I was trying to find something that was just straight flour. Saw bags of sarrasin which I knew was buckwheat. Next shelf was something called farine de ble noir – black wheat flour - which I foolishly bought. Deep down I knew it wasn’t right but I refreshed my new starter with it. Deep down I knew this was also buckwheat.

 

I’ve never seen a starter looking queasy before – weak, yes, but about to throw up, no. Anyway a couple of refreshments with T65 and it was ready to go again.

 

This one is one of my favourite all round doughs. Pretty wet at almost 80% water it usually goes in the fridge for at least 48 hours and I use it for pizza, baguettes, burger buns, focaccia – virtually anything.

 

Strong White Bread Flour  503g  100%

Water  393g  78.2%

Starter  126g  25.0%

Salt  8g  1.5%

 

This time it was only in the fridge overnight after about three hours fermentation and three folds. This morning I just shaped it as a boule and placed it on a pizza tin good side up, proved it for two hours, slashed and baked it for 60 minutes at “230C” as the oven claims.

 

Here’s a photo of the boulangerie that our neighbour here reckons is the best in town. Bought a rye there once and wasn’t much impressed.

boulangerie 002 small.jpg

 

When you zoom out:

boulangerie 003 small.jpg

 

look at the original chimney – sadly long out of use.

 

 

 

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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We're still here - sometimes with an internet connection and sometimes without. After four days without it decides to rejoin us this morning.

Starter's still looking happy:

starter 27.09 small.jpg

This was on Sunday.

 

The third bread was even more bread-like:

pug001 small.jpg

Pane Pugliese - back home it would be so active it would be difficult to control

pug008 small.jpg

It even had something resembling a crust - after an hour at 230C (so it claims).

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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It's been the year of the fig here. A new stall appeared on the market on Sundays run by two young women selling local organic produce, mainly fruit, and including fabulous green figs. We have been taking full advantage.

By chance there was a recipe in the weekend Guardian for fig and serrano flat breads. I ignored the dough recipe and used the 80% hydration posted some days back.

fig 001 small.jpg

Basically sliced figs and ribbons of serrano are gently pressed into the dough and drizzled with a dressing of honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and topped with rocket (arugula) after baking.

 

So good we've done it twice.

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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olive 004 small.jpg

Well, That's your lot. Starter's gone down the sink - Home tomorrow.

 

Last loaf was olive bread using wonderful Greek cured olives from the market. Took all of 80 minutes to bake at full "blast".

olive 006 small.jpg

 

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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I also found it interesting and inspiring. I've been trying to get up the gumption to try my own sourdough starter, and letting inertia get in my way. This series of posts (and in particular that lovely olive loaf at the end) will help, the next time I set out on the project.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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As everyone knows here, I'm a fresh fig fanatic.  I'm finding it hard to quit staring at that bread.

 

I made sourdough (modified Tartine country dough) flatbread with fresh figs, prosciutto, and fontina for diner last night. As soon as I can get more fontina I will make it again! I have a tree in my yard that is very prolific and have been picking about 4 figs per day for a couple weeks. If I recall, you don't live that far north of me and are a gardener - do you have a tree? 

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Thank you for all your thank you's. There was a point when I thought I was talking to myself!

 

I thought I'd round it off by showing you the aftermath - we got home Sunday morning about 1.00 a.m., my starters have been in the fridge for over four weeks and I need about 4.5 kilos of active starter to mix dough for around 30 large loaves on Wednesday evening to bake for customers the following day. Then I'll maybe give you the formulas for the Pan Pugliese and the Olive  Bread and a feeding regime for your new starter.

 

It's Tuesday morning and I'm getting a little nervous. Cats are supposed to be sulky after you've been away but Legs, our current furry, has been just so pleased to have us back. On the other hand I'm not so sure about the starters. I took them out of the fridge when we got home and did nothing till the morning.

starters 05.10 002 small.jpg

As you can see, a few millimeters of hooch on the top of the white starter. Poured it away and refreshed it at a ratio of 1:1:1 (equal weights of starter, water and flour).

starters 05.10 003 small.jpg

Rye - can't tell much from this. Refreshed as above.

Not much action by Sunday evening so left them in peace until Monday morning when they looked like this:

starter 06.10 am small.jpg

Not a lot of activity - refreshed same as previous.

rye 06.10 pm small.jpg

Rye not doing a lot either so left it alone as ryes can take longer to mature.

Monday evening:

starter 06.10 pm small.jpg

Some activity in the white but not as much as I would have expected - refreshed again as above.

rye 06.10 pm.jpg

The rye - which I hadn't refreshed - has moved on a little. Refreshed as before.

This morning - with all the bread orders in - I start to get a little nervous:

starter 07.10 am small.jpg

It IS active but it doesn't look the way I would expect.

rye 07.10 am small.jpg

The rye is doing a little better. Time for drastic action - I must have a kilo of active starter tomorrow morning so I can build it to 4.5 for the evening's mix. Split the white starter and refresh one half at 1:1:1 and the other 1:2:2 (starter:water:flour) and do quite a large refreshment with the rye as back-up.

 

And you never thought watching a starter could be so gripping ...

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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This IS gripping. It's useful to see how you handle the revival process, and what you do when the process isn't going as expected.

You mentioned that the starter you'd left behind in France had gone 'down the drain'. I'd have expected it to be too stiff for that. Were you writing literally or figuratively?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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B-limey

camp 001 small.jpg

Forgot to say that I divided the white starter into three this morning and used one part to make a test loaf.

camp 002.jpg small.jpg

Don't think there's anything wrong with the starter. Of course I was only pretending to be nervous ...

By this evening the rye was flying:

rye 07.10 pm small.jpg

so I've got rather a lot of un-needed rye starter on my hands. Have to do something with it in the morning.

starters 07.10 pm small.jpg

The two divided white starters are both doing well - I would almost say the smaller (1:2:2) is doing a bit better than the larger (1:1:1). I've amalgamated them and refreshed them up to about 1500g. Will build again in the morning.

Yes, Smithy, it went down the sink. Starter at 100% hydration is easily diluted so it went down with plenty of other water.

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Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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