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


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50 minutes ago, Raamo said:

So many things in these books require levain.... so I started one - it's cold her so we'll see how well it works, on top of the fridge.

 

I'm going to make some more french lean bread for now while I wait for the wild yeast to do it's thing.  I manged to find a number of items on amazon, seems Modernist Pantry needs to get a copy of this book - they had only one thing.

 

 

I, too, broke up a vow to myself that I would never, ever again attempt to make a levain. I started it last Thursday.Until this morning I was exceedingly proud of it. I fear it has now gone the way of all my previous attempts.  Instead of being active and bubbly and delicious looking as it has most mornings today it had a layer of liquid on top and looked cold and dead. I mixed it up, poured off 75% and fed it. I am thinking of dropping into to my local church on my way to an appointment and lighting a few candles. 

 

 I was very pleased to see that Modernist Bread would have no truck with weird and wonderful additions to a levain but called for only water and flour. 

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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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1 minute ago, Anna N said:

I, too, broke up a vow to myself that I would never, ever again attempt to make a levain. I started it last Thursday.Until this morning I was exceedingly proud of it. I fear it has now gone the way of all my previous attempts.  Instead of being active and bubbly and delicious looking as it has most mornings today it had a layer of liquid on top and looked cold and dead. I mixed it up, poured off 75% and fed it. I am thinking of dropping into to my local church on my way to an appointment and lighting a few candles. 

 

 I was very pleased to see that Modernist Bread would have no truck with weird and wonderful additions to a levain but called for only water and flour. 

 

I'm 12 hours into my first one - there is a layer of what must be alcohol on mine (yellow liquid) - which means there must be yeast present and feeding.  I wasn't expecting anything for over 24 hours so the liquid layer is surprising.

 

Hard to believe T-Day is next week - I have my eyes on the country bread as one of the things I'll make - which requires a Levain...  So I hope this works.

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1 minute ago, Raamo said:

 

I'm 12 hours into my first one - there is a layer of what must be alcohol on mine (yellow liquid) - which means there must be yeast present and feeding.  I wasn't expecting anything for over 24 hours so the liquid layer is surprising.

 

Hard to believe T-Day is next week - I have my eyes on the country bread as one of the things I'll make - which requires a Levain...  So I hope this works.

In the event that your levain lets you down, there is a direct method for that bread which is the one I used and got two lovely loaves. 

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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Opps I did it again.... well not quite.

 

Since I'm waiting for my ingredients and my levain to grow up enough to be harvested...  I decided to make the french lean loaf again, though I am doing two things differently.

 

I didn't use any additional flour to shape the bread - instead making sure it's was coated in veg oil.

 

I also am using .45kg piece today, .4-.45 tomorrow, and on the 3rd day I plan to combine what is left with what I have to "discard" from my levain, possibly adding in a very small mount of additional yeast.

 

Not sure how the 3rd loaf will turn out - but this one looks great.  We'll be slicing into it in about 4 hours for dinner (needs time to cool)
 

20171113_130520.thumb.jpg.3f2e6f52cb795e24318f8fd2bae6aad4.jpg

The oven spring on this loaf was quite nice to behold.

 

And the bread was great - once we cut into it it was gone within 90 mins. 

Edited by Raamo
this loaf is gone. (log)
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25 minutes ago, Raamo said:

 

This is the box sent to Amazon directly - that's for them, not for the end user :)  Darn confusing box.

 Perhaps someone remembers the kerfuffle when Modernist Cuisine was released and employees at Amazon were unpacking the boxes and people were receiving incomplete sets.  Guessing they are trying to avoid that problem this time. 

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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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Second-Chance Sourdough (p. 4•70)

I've been maintaining a liquid levain for a few weeks now, but this weekend I was out of town for three days. Rather than try to find a levain-sitter I used the refrigerator technique, putting it into the fridge right after its last feeding and then taking it out and feeding it again as soon as I got home. So while not strictly-speaking "inactive", the levain I had for this recipe was definitely in the "hangry" category. 

 

The recipe is really just a basic direct-method lean bread with inactive levain added for flavor (scaled at 40%). The dough is relatively high hydration, so is quite sticky until the second four-edge fold, pretty much the same as the French Lean recipe. I mixed by hand, and bulk fermented at room temperature for four hours. Shaped small boules and proofed for almost two more hours and got this:

 

DSC_6170.jpg

 

Apparently the levain still had some energy, because the rise was very high, with a very open crumb (it's hard to tell scale from the photo, but for a "small" boule that thing is pretty big). While the crust and crumb texture was similar to a sourdough, I didn't get a whole lot of sourdough flavor out of this loaf. Presumably a lot of that depends on the exact state of your inactive levain, but apparently mine wasn't all that acidic. 

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Chris Hennes
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@Chris Hennes

 

What baking method did you use? Combi-cooker? Steam oven? Or?

Thanks. 

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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12 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

I've been maintaining a liquid levain for a few weeks now, but this weekend I was out of town for three days. Rather than try to find a levain-sitter I used the refrigerator technique, putting it into the fridge right after its last feeding and then taking it out and feeding it again as soon as I got home. So while not strictly-speaking "inactive", the levain I had for this recipe was definitely in the "hangry" category. 

 

So Chris are you the expert levain person now?  Did you often get a layer of hooch in your levain?

 

I'm 36 hours into my levain and I've had pooch since 12 hours - I've been stiring and shaking it to reincorporate it.  I'm not seeing any bubbles yet, but something is causing the hooch.

 

Also  - Is this correct use?  When I take 3/4 off the levain to feed it - this 3/4 discard I'm supposed to use to bake bread.  But it's not going to be at mature level - so do I feed the 3/4 separately and use it 12-16 hours later?  If this is all clear in the book I'm missing it - I've read everything I could find in multiple volumes - but it's not hard to miss.

Edited by Raamo
hooch not pooch (log)
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25 minutes ago, Raamo said:

So Chris are you the expert levain person now?  Did you often get a layer of pooch in your levain?

Pooch?   Sorry I just can’t help myself I’m laughing so hard. 

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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On 11/14/2017 at 7:25 AM, Raamo said:

So Chris are you the expert levain person now?  Did you often get a layer of hooch in your levain?

 

"Expert" is almost certainly too strong a word here! But in a word, no. I had a liquid layer very early on (days 2-4, maybe?) but now it's just a relatively uniform bubbly mass. And I took the hands-off approach when I started it, I literally just mixed it up and let it sit for 48 hours untouched. Now I'm feeding it at 40g/80g/80g. I find the book's discussion of this quite confusing, since they really give two completely different feeding schemes and I can't tell if that's intentional or not. There's the "discard 75% and replace it with equal parts flour and water" line (which works out to 67%/100%/100%), and there's the bakers percentage table which is 25%/100%/100%. The chapter says the starter isn't that sensitive to this, and that does seem to be the case so far, but I don't understand the huge variation here.

 

On 11/14/2017 at 7:25 AM, Raamo said:

Also  - Is this correct use?  When I take 3/4 off the levain to feed it - this 3/4 discard I'm supposed to use to bake bread.  But it's not going to be at mature level - so do I feed the 3/4 separately and use it 12-16 hours later?

Yes. Or at least, that's what I do. When it's feeding time on Fridays I don't discard the 75% portion, I just split it off and feed it as well (or as much of it as I need to create the levain for Saturday's baking).

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Chris Hennes
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3 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

 

"Expert" is almost certainly too strong a word here! But in a word, no. I had a liquid layer very early on (days 2-4, maybe?) but now it's just a relatively uniform bubbly mass. And I took the hands-off approach when I started it, I literally just mixed it up and let it sit for 48 hours untouched. Now I'm feeding it at 40g/80g/80g. I find the book's discussion of this quite confusing, since they really give two completely different feeding schemes and I can't tell if that's intentional or not. There's the "discard 75% and replace it with equal parts flour and water" line (which works out to 67%/100%/100%), which is what I'm doing, and there's the bakers percentage table which is 25%/100%/100%. The chapter says the starter isn't that sensitive to this, and that does seem to be the case so far, but I don't understand the huge variation here.

 

Thanks - I suppose that's why they call it a science experiment - it'll vary by person / environment.  I had liquid after  < 12 hours.  I'll stick with this - first attempt is only a little over a cup - so if I have to toss it all out it's not that bad.  

 

The web is FULL of conflicting information - I figure MB at least tested their approach enough when they made tens of thousands of loafs...  Since they really don't have any debugging information like some other sites do.  

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3 minutes ago, Raamo said:

The web is FULL of conflicting information - I figure MB at least tested their approach enough when they made tens of thousands of loafs...  Since they really don't have any debugging information like some other sites do.

Right. I just pressed forward with mine, baked whatever came out of the couche after the final proof (I did mine at 39°F for 24 hours), and... voila! it worked. That said, I didn't have enough faith to actually bake after only five days, I let mine achieve full maturity before trying to make any bread with it.

Chris Hennes
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Well loaf 2 worked great - 1/3 of it is gone.  Tomorrow will be the interesting loaf...

 

My new pet is happy!  There are bubbles of joy, in a few more hours the first feeding will occur.  The discard from that is going into tomorrows bread.

 

co2bubbles.thumb.jpg.8dba6c368175252043597aac49fecf48.jpg

Bubbles of joy!

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19 minutes ago, rotuts said:

do they mention an ideal temp

 

or a temp rage for the levain ?

 

Yes - goal is around 70F.  Temp of water you use depends upon if it's hot or cold.

 

Oh and be prepared for a big stink when you go for the first feeding.  Most of the sites don't talk about that - but you can find at least one that talks about the smells of keeping a yeast pet.

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1 hour ago, rotuts said:

or a temp rage for the levain ?

They (of course) suggest a couple possibilities, but their favorite is 55°F on a 24-hour feeding schedule. I'm growing mine on the kitchen counter and it's plenty happy at the roughly 70°F that entails.

Chris Hennes
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1 hour ago, rotuts said:

Ive done a sourdough starter for years.

 

 

 

Do you still have it?  Why not just use that?  And it seems 55F is popular because they have a wine cellar :)  Already temp controlled.

 

Others seem to like keeping it in the fridge - all depends upon how much bread you make.  

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