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


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Many thanks to @JoaoBertinatti and @teonzo for the tips.   I managed to find some flour with 13% protein and supplemented it with vital wheat gluten to 14.5%.   Increased mixing time for the final dough to about 15 minutes and a robust gluten development before starting to add the sugar, eggs and butter (total mixing time for the 2nd dough was about 45 minutes).   Came out as expected!   About 10 hours proving and then 60 minutes baking.   I need to work a bit on my presentation and order some panettone cases - will post pics next time!

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A couple more suggestions:

- for the levain it's better to use the same flour as the dough, so when you feed the levain remember to use the flour with added vital wheat gluten;

- if you are making small quantities (which I assume is your case) then it's better to make two emulsions for the two mixing stages, this helps reducing mixing times (which means better gluten matrix and better final result); for the first mixing stage prepare an emulsion with butter + sugar + egg yolks, add it to the dough (levain + flour + water) after you reach proper gluten development, add it in parts (5-6 parts) wait for the dough to absorb it before adding the next part; for the second mixing stage prepare an emulsion with butter + sugar + honey + vanilla + orange zest + salt + egg yolks, add it to the dough (dough from the first mixing stage + flour) after you reach proper gluten development, always in parts (3-4 parts is ok here).

 

 

 

Teo

 

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5 hours ago, teonzo said:

A couple more suggestions:

- for the levain it's better to use the same flour as the dough, so when you feed the levain remember to use the flour with added vital wheat gluten;

- if you are making small quantities (which I assume is your case) then it's better to make two emulsions for the two mixing stages, this helps reducing mixing times (which means better gluten matrix and better final result); for the first mixing stage prepare an emulsion with butter + sugar + egg yolks, add it to the dough (levain + flour + water) after you reach proper gluten development, add it in parts (5-6 parts) wait for the dough to absorb it before adding the next part; for the second mixing stage prepare an emulsion with butter + sugar + honey + vanilla + orange zest + salt + egg yolks, add it to the dough (dough from the first mixing stage + flour) after you reach proper gluten development, always in parts (3-4 parts is ok here).

 

 

 

Teo

 

 

Thanks - good tips!

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2 hours ago, MelissaH said:

Just wondering: why?

I would guess that you are making the population which is multiplying adaptted and rising easier.

 

I am wondering about that emulsion in second dough, should I just mix  with a fork or mixer softned butter with the rest of ingredients?

In MB recipe, for the first dough, you just add everything and mix to a shaggy mass and let gluten develop itself

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On 12/24/2018 at 3:10 PM, MelissaH said:

Just wondering: why?

 

Two main reasons:

- the levain will be part of the final dough, if your levain has poor gluten then it will cause problems (you can't succeed making panettone if your gluten content is medium/low);

- the microorganisms in the levain will be accustomed to the "food" they will find in the final dough, so their balance won't need major changes.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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On 12/24/2018 at 5:17 PM, JoaoBertinatti said:

I am wondering about that emulsion in second dough, should I just mix  with a fork or mixer softned butter with the rest of ingredients?

 

You just need a bowl and a whisk. I would suggest to start with softened butter and everything except egg yolks, whisk butter and the rest a bit (no need to whip them), then add the yolks and whisk another bit, then put everything in the fridge. It's better to add the emulsion when it's quite cold (around 10°C) so it will lower the dough temperature and you won't risk it becoming too warm.

 

 

 

On 12/24/2018 at 5:17 PM, JoaoBertinatti said:

In MB recipe, for the first dough, you just add everything and mix to a shaggy mass and let gluten develop itself 

 

I don't have MB, I was thinking about the traditional method for panettone, sorry.

Here in Italy making panettone has some sort of "religious" rules (my suggestion of making the emulsions is against those rules hahahah), everyone follow them. For the first mixing stage the rules say to add butter and yolks after the gluten reached appropriate development (from what I understand it's called "middle" development in MB). If mixing eveything together just to a shaggy mass works fine for the first dough then this would be a significant improvement: less work and less hassle. I'll try this the next time, thanks!

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Modernist White Sandwich Bread

 

This is without a doubt the most disappointing bread I've ever made. It comes out of the oven looking and smelling great, but one bite and the illusion is shattered. And the worst part about it is that you do it on purpose! It starts out as a perfectly respectable white sandwich bread recipe. Then you add propylene glycol alginate and sodium stearoyl lactylate to modify the texture. And what you end up with is squishy, rubbery, bread-flavored cotton. I guess the recipe is a demonstration of how to produce knock-off Wonder Bread at home, but there's something deeply wrong with a fresh, warm loaf of bread having that texture. I'm definitely sticking with the non-Modernist version of this one.

 

DSC_7070.jpg

 

I even tried it in the one application where I actually like that style of bread:

DSC_7073.jpg

 

Nope. Still bad.

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Chris Hennes
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13 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Modernist White Sandwich Bread

 

This is without a doubt the most disappointing bread I've ever made. It comes out of the oven looking and smelling great, but one bite and the illusion is shattered. And the worst part about it is that you do it on purpose! It starts out as a perfectly respectable white sandwich bread recipe. Then you add propylene glycol alginate and sodium stearoyl lactylate to modify the texture. And what you end up with is squishy, rubbery, bread-flavored cotton. I guess the recipe is a demonstration of how to produce knock-off Wonder Bread at home, but there's something deeply wrong with a fresh, warm loaf of bread having that texture. I'm definitely sticking with the non-Modernist version of this one.

Have you tried BraveTart's version of Wonder Bread, in her cookbook? I thought it was a little sweet, but for that sort of thing, I kinda liked it. I'd make it again, but cut the sugar down to a more reasonable level.

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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On 12/27/2018 at 8:10 AM, MelissaH said:

Have you tried BraveTart's version of Wonder Bread, in her cookbook?

I have not -- I don't really want bread with that particular texture, personally I'm happy with the non-Modernist version of White Sandwich Bread in MB.

Chris Hennes
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Sauerkraut Rye (KM p. 219)

 

This is a variant on the Farmer's Bread recipe which includes sauerkraut and pressure-cooked mustard seeds. It has a massive amount of levain in it, 230g of rye and 300g of wheat to produce 1kg of bread. It has a very moist crumb -- I squeezed some of the liquid out of the kraut before including it, and I'm definitely glad I did. Overall it's very strongly flavored -- it works great with mustard and pastrami, but not so well on its own eaten out of hand.

 

DSC_7076.jpg

 

DSC_7087.jpg

 

DSC_7088.jpg

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On 11/14/2017 at 6:33 AM, 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%), 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.

 

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).

 

What a fantastic thread! I've been struggling with the basic levain recipe described in Modernist Bread on page 3-54. I also noticed the same discrepancies with the suggested feeding schemes described in the HOW TO Start a Liquid Levain section (pg 3-54) and Best Bets for Levains - liquid levain (pg 3-55). I thought maybe I was not reading the former section correctly, and so I tweeted Francisco Migoya asking about it, but he didn't reply :(. But thanks to your post, I know I wasn't the only person confused by it.  :)

 

Anyway, so I failed at building a levain...again! Here was my schedule based on how I interpreted the steps in the "HOW TO start a Liquid Levain" section. I remove 75% of the culture, and add equal amounts of flour and water to replace what I discarded.

 

Temperature: 68-70 F

Storage vessel: glass jar with an air tight lid.

 

Friday, 10:00 PM: Start levain: 150g/150g (flour/water)

 

Saturday, 10:00 PM: Do nothing

 

Sunday, 10:00 PM: 75g/112.5g/112.5g (culture/flour/water) --> I see bubbles. It appears lively.

 

Monday, 10:00 PM: 75g/112.5g/112.5g (culture/flour/water) --> I see bubbles. It appears lively. It had doubled in size at some point in the past 24 hrs. The levain is light and airy as I pour it out of its container.

 

Tuesday, 10:00 PM: It looks completely inactive. There's a layer of hooch on top, and very few bubbles. When I pour it out, the levain is loose and wet. There's really very little if any discernible air in the levain.

 

*I gave up after that. I'd tried on a previous attempt and kept with it for 7 days, but the levain never seemed to become lively/bubbly and was not rising in size. That's why I gave up so early on with this attempt. Should I have kept going? Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of it, but it looked very similar to Anna's photo

 

This is my first post here. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute to this wonderful community!

 

Thanks!

 

* Actually I didn't "give up". I said "screw it" and I switched over to the recipe 25% levain/100% flour/100% water on pg 3-55. We'll see how it goes. But I really wanted to see it work with their original steps in the "HOW TO Start a Liquid Levain" section. 

 

 

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@underproofed

 

I don't have my books here at the moment, so I can't check what is written in MB, but that seems to me a very strange way to start a levain.

 

When I make bread, I build a quantity of levain from my starter and use it to make dough within 24hrs.  So my schedule would be

 

Friday, 10 pm: Make levain.

Saturday, 4pm: Make dough, proof overnight in fridge.

Sunday, ~noon:  bake bread.

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29 minutes ago, jer_vic said:

@underproofed

 

I don't have my books here at the moment, so I can't check what is written in MB, but that seems to me a very strange way to start a levain.

 

When I make bread, I build a quantity of levain from my starter and use it to make dough within 24hrs.  So my schedule would be

 

Friday, 10 pm: Make levain.

Saturday, 4pm: Make dough, proof overnight in fridge.

Sunday, ~noon:  bake bread.

 

I’m probably mixing up the terms. I’m still unclear on the differences between a starter and a levain. Does a starter become a levain once it has established the requisite LAB levels? 

 

Also did you develop your starter using MB’s directions? Was it lively looking on the fourth day of starting it? 

 

i didn’t mention it before but I am using King Arthur Bread Flour. Thank you!

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@underproofed -- I think MB uses the term "levain" to the exclusion of "starter." And I came to the conclusion that their "discard and replace 75%" instruction is either a mistake or only valid until the levain gets going -- it almost certainly underfeeds a well-established levain, so I use a 25g levain, 100g flour, 100g water 24hr feeding schedule at a 68°F room temperature.

Chris Hennes
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@Chris Hennes

 

That totally makes sense, the appearance of my levain has all the telltale signs of a starved levain. Hooch on top, no bubbles, flat. Did you start the levain using 25g levain, 100g flour, 100g water as well (after the 48 hour wait period)? Or did you start it by discarding 75% of the culture, per MB directions, and then transitioned over to 25g starter/100g flour/100g flour?

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2 hours ago, underproofed said:

 

I’m probably mixing up the terms. I’m still unclear on the differences between a starter and a levain. Does a starter become a levain once it has established the requisite LAB levels? 

 

Also did you develop your starter using MB’s directions? Was it lively looking on the fourth day of starting it? 

 

i didn’t mention it before but I am using King Arthur Bread Flour. Thank you!

 

Terminology is dodgy when you're talking about starter and levain, for sure.  I use starter to mean the pet that I constantly feed, and levain to mean a larger batch of starter I prepare as the first step to making bread. I didn't use the MB directions, as I already had a starter/levain when I bought the books.  But basically, I mixed flour and water and let it sit for a few days until there was activity, and then started feeding it daily when there was sufficient activity.  Usually a ratio of 15g culture, 50g flour (1/2 white, 1/2 wheat) and 50g water.  Or thereabouts. I don't really measure (I like surprises 🙂)  Been over a year now since I started my starter, so a little fuzzy on the details.  It lives in the fridge for ~4 days a week, and comes out once a week for revitalization/bread making.

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17 minutes ago, jer_vic said:

 

Terminology is dodgy when you're talking about starter and levain, for sure.  I use starter to mean the pet that I constantly feed, and levain to mean a larger batch of starter I prepare as the first step to making bread. I didn't use the MB directions, as I already had a starter/levain when I bought the books.  But basically, I mixed flour and water and let it sit for a few days until there was activity, and then started feeding it daily when there was sufficient activity.  Usually a ratio of 15g culture, 50g flour (1/2 white, 1/2 wheat) and 50g water.  Or thereabouts. I don't really measure (I like surprises 🙂)  Been over a year now since I started my starter, so a little fuzzy on the details.  It lives in the fridge for ~4 days a week, and comes out once a week for revitalization/bread making.

 

Sweet. I wish I had your intuition. It's going to take a while :) 

 

I'm going to try out your method if this one doesn't pan out 😄. I'll give my current starter another full week of feeding. Hopefully it will show me some gratitude for feeding it..trust the process, trust the process. 

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3 hours ago, underproofed said:

That totally makes sense, the appearance of my levain has all the telltale signs of a starved levain. Hooch on top, no bubbles, flat. Did you start the levain using 25g levain, 100g flour, 100g water as well (after the 48 hour wait period)? Or did you start it by discarding 75% of the culture, per MB directions, and then transitioned over to 25g starter/100g flour/100g flour?

I went straight to 25/100/100, but I cheated 😃 -- I mixed it in a bowl that I had just used to feed an active rye levain. So it was basically active right away. And rye levains are easy to start, you basically can't screw them up (at least that's been my experience).

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Chris Hennes
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15 hours ago, underproofed said:

 

Sweet. I wish I had your intuition. It's going to take a while :) 

 

I'm going to try out your method if this one doesn't pan out 😄. I'll give my current starter another full week of feeding. Hopefully it will show me some gratitude for feeding it..trust the process, trust the process. 

 

I'm glad you recognize my brilliance.   Other people have mis-interpreted my "intuition" for laziness.  🙂

Chris has provided excellent advice as well. It's really about the ratio of culture/flour/water, and I'm roughly aiming for what he has listed - 25/100/100.

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Onion Rye Levain (KM p. 232)

 

This one gave me some trouble, consider this Attempt 1, to be followed eventually by another. The gist of the recipe is that you take a liquid rye levain and use it to produce a stiff rye levain that has onions included in it. My stiff levain showed minimal signs of activity after the requisite twelve hours, however, which threw a curveball into my timing. I plowed ahead with the recipe to produce the final dough, but when it came time time to proof it and it was showing no signs of activity instead of putting it into the refrigerator I left it at room temperature. And waited. And waited. And waited. It's a rye, I know it didn't kill it, and it's rising... but very slowly. At this point it was almost midnight, so I said "screw it" (I may have used a different word) and just left it on the counter overnight. The next morning it was more than a little overproofed. In retrospect I should have given it another fold and tried to recover it, but in my defense it was early, I just baked it off in its overproofed state. I give you exhibit A of why you should not do that:

 

DSC_7078.jpg

 

DSC_7089.jpg

 

So it's edible, I mean it's definitely recognizable as a bread product of some kind. But I probably wouldn't serve it at a dinner party.

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Chocolate Cherry Sourdough (KM p. 78)

 

To prove I still know how to bake despite the previous travesty, here's the local fan favorite. I make this one a lot, and fortunately hedged my bets this past weekend. It's good to include some proven winners in your baking plans, particularly when your other loaves are... esoteric. This really is a terrific bread, particularly made with good chocolate chips (I use the E. Guittard 63%).

 

DSC_7080.jpgDSC_7082.jpg

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On 1/2/2019 at 9:52 PM, underproofed said:

@Chris Hennes

 

That totally makes sense, the appearance of my levain has all the telltale signs of a starved levain. Hooch on top, no bubbles, flat. Did you start the levain using 25g levain, 100g flour, 100g water as well (after the 48 hour wait period)? Or did you start it by discarding 75% of the culture, per MB directions, and then transitioned over to 25g starter/100g flour/100g flour?

 

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).

 

23 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Chocolate Cherry Sourdough (KM p. 78)

 

To prove I still know how to bake despite the previous travesty, here's the local fan favorite. I make this one a lot, and fortunately hedged my bets this past weekend. It's good to include some proven winners in your baking plans, particularly when your other loaves are... esoteric. This really is a terrific bread, particularly made with good chocolate chips (I use the E. Guittard 63%).

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...

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