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Modernist Bread: French Lean Bread (MB Contest Topic #1)


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Next week marks the official release of the highly-anticipated Modernist Bread by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya. The eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters is excited to provide you with the opportunity to win a copy of the book. The Cooking Lab has provided us with a couple of other prizes that will go to a second and third winner: second place will win an autographed poster and calendar, and third place will receive an autographed poster. They are also providing an autographed bookplate for the first place winner's copy of Modernist Bread. The rules are simple: we are going to post recipes from the book that the team at The Cooking Lab has graciously provided for this purpose. To enter into the contest, you need to bake one or more of these recipes and post about them in the official contest topics by the end of November 2017. Winners will be drawn at random from those posting pictures and descriptions of their completed loaves. Complete rules and other details can be found here.

 

For our first recipe, we're starting with a cornerstone recipe from the book: French Lean Bread. I've personally made this one and it's both delicious and completely approachable by anyone with an interest in this book. Courtesy of The Cooking Lab, here's that recipe (extracted from the book and reformatted for purposes of this contest):

 

MB_FLB_1.jpg

MB_FLB_2.jpg

MB_FLB_3.jpg

MB_FLB_4.jpg

MB_FLB_5.jpg

 

The recipes in this book tend to rely on information presented more extensively earlier in the books, so if anything isn't clear enough here please ask and Dave and I will do our best to answer your questions (we've had early digital access to the books for the last month or so).

 

ETA: Here's what my first go at the recipe sounded like coming out of the oven...

 

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Chris Hennes
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I notice that Instant Yeast is specified in this recipe.  Is any reason given for preferring Instant Yeast over regular active dry yeast?

I see that temps are indicated for the final proof. Is any temperature guidance given for the 12 hr preferment or the bulk ferment?

 

I find the mixing instructions to be awkward.  According to the table, #1 is 15g water, #2 is 265g water and #3 is 485g flour. 

Neither the hand nor machine mixing instructions mention adding the salt.  I'm guessing it's added with the 15g of water but maybe not.  Is the 485g of flour and the polish supposed to be mixed together before adding, added in a specific order or just all dumped in together?  The machine mixing instructions don't mention adding either flour or poolish. 

Perhaps the #s in the ingredients list are to include items in rows below the printed #?  Or not?

 

I have made enough bread that I can take a stab at it but I wouldn't feel like I was making the recipe presented.

Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
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16 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

I notice that Instant Yeast is specified in this recipe.  Is any reason given for preferring Instant Yeast over regular active dry yeast?

There is (of course) an entire discussion of this in the book in the chapter on yeast, but while they prefer the instant, active dry will work.

 

17 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

I see that temps are indicated for the final proof. Is any temperature guidance given for the 12 hr preferment or the bulk ferment?

Room temperature, it's not particularly sensitive.

 

17 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

I find the mixing instructions to be awkward.  According to the table, #1 is 15g water, #2 is 265g water and #3 is 485g flour. 

It's a little confusing pulled out of the book, but that's not how it works. It's like this:

  1. Water and salt
  2. Water and yeast
  3. Flour and poolish

It's much easier to see that in the actual books, thankfully, this is just an artifact of the reformatted version they've given us to post here. Basically:

  1. Mix the salt with a little water.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the rest of the water.
  3. Mix the flour, poolish, and yeasted water together.
  4. Autolyse 30 minutes.
  5. Smear the salt mixture over the dough.
  6. Mix.

Chris Hennes
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Thanks!  

12 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

Room temperature, it's not particularly sensitive

My room temp tends to vary between 60°F in the winter and 85°F in the summer and I've found it to have a pretty big impact on rise times. I've been trying to impose some control to improve my results but it's good to know I shouldn't worry about it for this one!

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2 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

Thanks!  

My room temp tends to vary between 60°F in the winter and 85°F in the summer and I've found it to have a pretty big impact on rise times. I've been trying to impose some control to improve my results but it's good to know I shouldn't worry about it for this one!

For the record, when I made it my overnight temp for the poolish was 70°F, which is the temperature they used when constructing their tables (page 3•17 has a big table of yeast percentage to fermentation time for various preferments). They suggest 68°-70°F as the storage temperature in the chapter on preferments.

Chris Hennes
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Same bake time and temperature I've arrived at over the years:  470 deg F. for 35 minutes (though having calibrated my new oven I set it to 475 to get closer to 470) -- and almost exactly the same formula as mine.

 

But very different mixing.  I mix my yeast in with the flour.  However I note the instruction calls for mixing yeast with water.  I always thought adding yeast to water was the way to shock and kill the yeast.  Do they not store their yeast at freezer temperature?  I add my salt to the dry ingredients also.

 

Plus I note the poolish is to be kept in an airtight container.  What is the purpose of doing so?  In my case I use a bowl covered with stretch-tite.  What vessel do they use that is airtight?

 

Three days till all is revealed.

 

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28 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

But very different mixing.  I mix my yeast in with the flour.  However I note the instruction calls for mixing yeast with water.  I always thought adding yeast to water was the way to shock and kill the yeast.  Do they not store their yeast at freezer temperature?  I add my salt to the dry ingredients also.

They mix the yeast with water for optimal distribution. They don't store their yeast in the freezer, but I store mine there so can personally attest to this method of mixing working just fine. And they add the salt after the autolyze, which necessitates not adding it to the dry ingredients.

 

29 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Plus I note the poolish is to be kept in an airtight container.  What is the purpose of doing so?  In my case I use a bowl covered with stretch-tite.  What vessel do they use that is airtight?

I think they really just mean "covered" -- I'm pretty sure they are using Cambros, which is what I used. 

Chris Hennes
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5 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

They mix the yeast with water for optimal distribution. They don't store their yeast in the freezer, but I store mine there so can personally attest to this method of mixing working just fine. And they add the salt after the autolyze, which necessitates not adding it to the dry ingredients.

 

Thanks, Chris.

 

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Does vent time not apply if not using a vessel?  Edit - ah this is to vent all the steam out from the oven?

 

I'm guessing with my steam oven it's 3 mins of convection and steam and then rest of time just convection (with a break to vent the oven).  Also my steam oven only goes to 450 so I might have to cook a little longer.

I have a program option that takes the weight of the loaf - starts with steam and produces amazing artisan style bread - but that takes longer then 25 mins - it's more like 38 mins for 1 lbs loaf.

 

Guessing there's more detail in the section on ovens?  

Edited by Raamo
Found possible answer elsewhere (log)
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9 minutes ago, Raamo said:

Does vent time not apply if not using a vessel?  Edit - ah this is to vent all the steam out from the oven?

Right, the vent time always applies, it's just a question of whether you need to remove a cover as well as vent the steam out of the oven.

 

14 minutes ago, Raamo said:

Guessing there's more detail in the section on ovens?  

Yes, as you suspect there are many, many pages on how and why to use the various types of ovens for different types of loaves. For lean breads in combi ovens they suggest using the lowest possible fan speed, steaming for the first five minutes, or potentially bypassing the thing altogether by baking in a cast iron cooker, clay pot, or Dutch oven.

Chris Hennes
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1 minute ago, Chris Hennes said:

Yes, as you suspect there are many, many pages on how and why to use the various types of ovens for different types of loaves. For lean breads in combi ovens they suggest using the lowest possible fan speed, steaming for the first five minutes, or potentially bypassing the thing altogether by baking in a cast iron cooker, clay pot, or Dutch oven.

 

Sounds good - I have the big oven just below for when we don't need or want steam.  I don't believe I can control the fan speed.  That comes on more expensive models... and this was anything but cheap.  The bread we already get out of it is fantastic and that's using Artisan bread in 5 mins a day recipes and the pre-programmed modes on the oven... This should be an improvement and be more variety. 

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26 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

For purposes of this recipe, what is "bread flour"?

 

 

Bread flour is high in gluten protein, with 12.5-14% protein compared to 10-12% protein in all-purpose flour. The increased protein binds to the flour to entrap carbon dioxide released by the yeast fermentation process, resulting in a stronger rise. Bread flour may be made with a hard spring wheat.  From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flour#Bread_flour

 

I'm using bread flour we bought at the store - not sure which brand.

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

For purposes of this recipe, what is "bread flour"?

Page 2•241 list the protein content as 11-13% for "bread flour" and 13-14% and up as "high-gluten bread flour". It's made with either hard red spring or hard red winter wheat. They suggest Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Plus Flour (11.5%) by Central Milling in Utah, but indicate that you can substitute 1:1 with King Arthur Sir Galahad (11.7%), Gold Medal Bread Flour (12%) and Pillsbury Best Bread (12.9%).

Chris Hennes
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6 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Page 2•241 list the protein content as 11-13% for "bread flour" and 13-14% and up as "high-gluten bread flour". It's made with either hard red spring or hard red winter wheat. They suggest Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Plus Flour (11.5%) by Central Milling in Utah, but indicate that you can substitute 1:1 with King Arthur Sir Galahad (11.7%), Gold Medal Bread Flour (12%) and Pillsbury Best Bread (12.9%).

They also handily provide a table to convert lower protein flours to bread flour using vital gluten. 

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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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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6 hours ago, rotuts said:

@Anna N 

 

do they mention any difference in the final bread  , rise , flavor etc

 

using VWG  vs finding  high gluten flour to start off ?

 Not that I’ve seen so far but there’s an awful lot of reading matter here and I’ve only scratched the surface. 

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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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Is there more tables for times of proofing at other temps?  Proof time is show as 30 mins-2.5 hours - but the two examples are in the middle of that range.

 

I'm on the proof step right now - and the house is 65F so I'm proofing in the steam oven using proof setting, which doesn't go lower then 95F  I'll check it per the "how to know it's done" but in case others run into this.

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Proofing is the most nebulous of the steps, and the conclusion they come to is basically that there is no set time, you just have to check for proof using the technique that most of us have been using forever! So the times are just guidance, your exact room temperature, starting dough temperature, and yeast liveliness will all factor in.

 

ETA: I should mention, I think my loaf above was under-proofed based on the way it baked! I probably needed another half hour beyond what I gave it.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)
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Chris Hennes
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First attempt is done, turns out my oven self vents so when it came time to vent there wasn't much steam left, I ended up baking until it was over 190 inside - hit about 200, all in less time then 30 mins total.

Likely because I can't control the speed of my fan - all in all it's dark but not burnt so I think it's OK.  I'll add a picture of the crumb when I cut into it in a few hours.  I took a series of pictures of many of the stages in case others are interested - I posted them in the cooking with MC:Bread thread.  I really am now looking forward to the modernist version of this bread.  I used a stand mixer rather then attempt this by hand, I actually ended up with 1080g of dough, used about 530g for this and the rest is in the fridge to bake tomorrow.

 

I baked at 450 (the highest my steam oven will go)  with steam to start - preheated the steam oven first, after about 15 mins I changed it to 100% convection because I saw the oven itself vent twice  but I figured there was enough steam still in the oven (which turns out was not true), I think I'll call Thermadore for some more explanation of how the steam with convection mode actually works.  i figure I'm going to learn a lot about my oven over the next few months.

 

I used to be big into bread baking - as a kid I loved baking bread - the past 15+ years I've been more of the savory cook and my wife has been the baker so it was fun to work on a loaf again.  

 

20171107_152654.thumb.jpg.4fe8d8a58c364bbe9372b1d93b2d0b92.jpg

 

Here is a picture of the crumb.  

 

20171107_165557.thumb.jpg.810c6a36c9a9cdedeaf05f02428c13f2.jpg

 

 

I'm eating some slices right now with butter on them - it's more tender then the 5 mins a day stuff I'm really used to, really quite outstanding bread.  I'm more into the sourdoughs myself - but this is excellent!

 

Oh and I called Thermadore - they were ZERO help - seems only rich people who don't really cook buy this model or something.  Least that's all I can find from google searches - these are really popular in NYC for some reason.

Edited by Raamo
Noted I posted more pictures in other thread (log)
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Nice. I am quite concerned about the oven temperatures and the recommended baking time. Mine is proofing right now but life got in the way of following times exactly so it spent many hours in the fridge. 

Edited by Anna N (log)

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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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