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Raamo

Baking with Myhrvold's "Modernist Bread: The Art and Science"

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2 hours ago, JoaoBertinatti said:

Chris, may I ask if you really do it with 92% hydratation? I could not make it work following that recipe, I had to proof and bake in a loaf pan due to consistency... Thank you!  I am a bit sad too that I don't have dried cherries here...

I make it exactly as per the recipe -- actually this time maybe even slightly higher hydration, I doubled the amount of espresso (but that's a pretty tiny quantity). It's a very sticky dough to work with, but one key for me is that I pretty much always proof in the refrigerator, and I proof in bannetons. The refrigerator temperature gives a firmer dough, and the banneton means I don't have to work with the dough after it's been proofed. Obviously there's also a very large amount of flour involved in prepping the banneton to keep the dough from sticking.

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7 hours ago, JoaoBertinatti said:

What is  your room temperature?  For me, that was the problem... When I started my RT was 13ºC/55F, and I failed a lot of times starting it. It worked when I did in a hotter week. Recently i had problems because my room temperature was 34ºC/94F, I made it work by putting in inside a thermal box full of water and controlling temperature 19~~23ºC with ice everytime I feed it (as I don't own a wine cooler).

 

Chris, may I ask if you really do it with 92% hydratation? I could not make it work following that recipe, I had to proof and bake in a loaf pan due to consistency... Thank you!  I am a bit sad too that I don't have dried cherries here...

 

It's a good coincidence you mentioned that. I also considered starting my levain at 55 F since the book mentions that was their favorite maintenance setting, but I guess they only move to this schedule after they have a mature levain. For a little background on my setup, my proofer is a mini-fridge hooked up to an Inkbird ITC-1000 (temperature controller), and the controller has a temp probe which I run into the refrigerator. The heat is provided by a seedling heating pad.

 

 Inside I also keep a separate Acurite humidity monitor. I only use it to check for humidity, i rarely pay attention to the temp reading. But last night, I looked at it, and noticed it was reporting a temperature that was 2 degrees lower than what the Inkbird was reporting! Doh! Then I grabbed a separate temperature probe and placed it in the refrigerator to confirm that the Acurite reading was correct. That temperature difference must have affected the levain schedule, as my temperature fluctuations were between 66-68 F, not the 70 F prescribed in MB. I felt like such an ass haha.  

 

I've adjusted the Inkbird to compensate for the two degrees. Now I'm debating whether or not to start all over again, or keep feeding my levain at 25 % / 100% / 100% and hope it eventually becomes active. There are some bubbles on the top, but it doesn't rise and I don't see bubbles dispersed throughout the levain as I do in photos. Or maybe I should just discard 75% of the culture and go that route for a couple of days. 

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8 hours ago, underproofed said:

 

It's a good coincidence you mentioned that. I also considered starting my levain at 55 F since the book mentions that was their favorite maintenance setting, but I guess they only move to this schedule after they have a mature levain. For a little background on my setup, my proofer is a mini-fridge hooked up to an Inkbird ITC-1000 (temperature controller), and the controller has a temp probe which I run into the refrigerator. The heat is provided by a seedling heating pad.

 

I think that most of levain problems relates to temperature control, although it may start in temperatures less than 68F, I wouldn't lengthen the time, but it probably will someday work... As for the percentage of discarded levain, they showed for maintence it does not matter if the levain is ((15-50%) of flour added for a final pH, so you may as well do it eyeguessing

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On 1/5/2019 at 2:57 AM, JoaoBertinatti said:

 

I think that most of levain problems relates to temperature control

I think you are probably right, with the caveat that that is directly correlated with feeding interval, so it's the combination of the two that you are looking to get right. I only bake once per week so I work on a highly-modified feeding schedule that involves refrigerating the levain, then taking it out of the fridge the morning before I want to use it, letting it get up to full expansion, and feeding it when it looks "hungry." The amount of time it takes to get to that point depends on room temperature, whether the undercounter lights are on, where it was in the fridge, etc. This is perfectly fine for a home baker, though of course for a professional operation the wild swings in feeding time would be wholly unacceptable. 

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1 hour ago, Chris Hennes said:

I think you are probably right, with the caveat that that is directly correlated with feeding interval, so it's the combination of the two that you are looking to get right. I only bake once per week so I work on a highly-modified feeding schedule that involves refrigerating the levain, then taking it out of the fridge the morning before I want to use it, letting it get up to full expansion, and feeding it when it looks "hungry." The amount of time it takes to get to that point depends on room temperature, whether the undercounter lights are on, where it was in the fridge, etc. This is perfectly fine for a home baker, though of course for a professional operation the wild swings in feeding time would be wholly unacceptable.  

When I said that about temp I think I was refering for starting from scratch, I like to follow their tip of freezing the just-fed levain and take out of freezer at Room temperature 20-22ºC exactly 18 hours before baking, I found that that worked fine.. Everywhere I read I see people refrigerating, the only reason I have never done that is because in the book they say that doing that kind of changes in temperature will not keep forever a stable culture, well, in that case, I don't think freezing everyweek will as well...

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25 minutes ago, JoaoBertinatti said:

Everywhere I read I see people refrigerating, the only reason I have never done that is because in the book they say that doing that kind of changes in temperature will not keep forever a stable culture, well, in that case, I don't think freezing everyweek will as well...

Yeah, the book definitely says not to do what I am doing. I don't know over what time period they are concerned about the culture degrading, nor do I know what form that degradation will take, but feeding every day was just wasting too much flour for my comfort. Now that I have a reliable way to restart my levain I'm not that concerned about killing it.

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Here are a pair of baguettes based on MB's French Lean Bread recipe. Shaping an evenly distributed cylinder has proven a struggle. The fact that the vessel I bake in, a Bayou Classic oval cast iron, restricts the baguettes length to 15” (it's actually 16" but you're pushing the limit) means I have little little wiggle room to lengthen one half or shorten the other. I’ve made the recipe using KA’s bread flour (12.7%) and really enjoyed the almost buttery scent of the bread. Below is using Central Milling’s Type 70 Malted (11.5%) which I picked up a few days ago (A two hour drive in the pouring rain through San Francisco up to freaking Petaluma). Coming from KA’s unmalted flour, the crust eruption I saw with CM’s malted flour was pretty jolting. It has a very crispy, craggly, crusty exterior. 

 

Scoring is an issue I’m slowly working to resolve. In the beginning I was an extremely tentative scorer and got zero ears. With my last several batches I’m a lot bolder in getting the blade in there. Overlaps and smooth scoring are an ongoing skill to develop. 

 

As for equipment, I mentioned above that I use a Bayou Oval. Highly, highly recommended over the fish poacher solution offered by MB, for reasons we all know: cast iron retains heat and its heavy lid creates a good seal, attributes lacking in the Norpro fish poacher I previously used. 

 

The cast iron was good, but the crust of my baguettes did not seem all that different than the ones baked in the Norpro. It was dull and not as crisp as I would expect in a baguette. I hypothesized that not enough steam was generated by the single baguette to fill the entire cast iron vessel. So I performed some experiments and found a perfectly acceptable solution: a 10 gram ice cube. After I slide the baguette onto the lid and place on the cover, I use a pair of long metal tweezers to slip the ice cube inside. The result is a crispy crust with a lovely sheen (when seen in person! :) ). 

 

In this first photo is the bake where I first used an ice cube. Both were of KA bread flour. Both were baked in the cast iron for the exact same amount of time (lid on for 15 m at 470 F, lid off for 10m at 450 F). The baguette on the left did not get an ice cube. The one on the right did get the ice cube. I found the color difference remarkable. The textural difference in the crust was also significant.

 

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Below are this morning’s bake using CM’s Type 70 Malted. Note this is not my first two baguettes I’ve baked, or my tenth and eleventh baguettes. These are baguettes #35 and #36 from Trial 11 (I track my progress!)! It has taken me this many attempts to even get to this point, and the baguettes still aren't evenly shaped. Ahhh. 

 

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I’ve had better, more open crumbs using KA’s bread flour. As I become more comfortable using the Type 70 flour, I hope to get a more open crumb. I wonder if the parts of dense dough is due to shaping errors. Perhaps I was too heavy handed with the seam binding during shaping, or maybe during the envelope folding portion I overlapped one edge over more than I should have? Or maybe it's underproofed?

 

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The mise en place for oven loading.

 

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If anyone was curious, here is a photo from my first attempt at making homemade baguettes last September. I gave up for a while after that. I find with anything, but especially in baking, when you do something enough times you start to see progression. And that's what makes shaping and baking baguettes such an addictive endeavor. 

 

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Nice report, @underproofed. I still can't shape a baguette worth crap, I've switched to proofing in bannetons and only making boules and batards. I'm looking forward to seeing your continued progress -- you could make a neat time-series graphic with photos of your progression!

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@Chris Hennes Thanks. And I like the idea of a progressive photo series. I wish I'd thought of that when I started making baguettes. Many of the photos I took are rather half assed haha. But I think I will do that one of these days. As long as I continue to be obsessed with baguettes, and so long as my freaking starter won't activate (!!), I'll be making these lean yeasted doughs for my foreseeable bread future. 

 

It was hard for me to visualize the baguette shaping directions outlined in Modernist Bread, so instead I studied these two videos. I'd watch them at half speed over and over again. 

 

 

 

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