Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The rehabilitation of a failed baker


gsquared
 Share

Recommended Posts

Does this mean that you think that the food processor is the problem? I will do the folding bit if you are sure that this is the only way of eliminating the most likely problem. I am not too keen on the amount of interaction required, at least not as a permanent solution. There is no way that I can set aside 2.5 hrs every day to be available for the folding. Also, the timing is out for baking for breakfast, unless I can still retard in the fridge.

How about simply doing the food processor whizzing and then taking the temp of the dough. If it is ok, it cannot be the food processor doing the damage. I am really keen to retain the food processor part, because it is so quick and easy. Please rethink - the more I think about Dan's method, efficacious as it may be, the more I realise that the exigencies of my life would not allow it as a daily routine.

If the food processor is not the culprit, I am at a loss where to go from there. That is, assuming the the dough temp is fine. Is there any way to determine whether the dough, after proving, has had yeast activity? Drop a ball into hot oil?

My experience (I've been learning in a very concentrated, self-taught way, talking to people who know what they're doing, reading as much as I can get my hands on and baking and experimenting all the while for going on 5 years now) has indicated to me that the less you actually work a dough, the more beautiful the crumb, and the better it will behave for you.... That, of course, comes with dozens of caveats that you figure out as you learn. I don't use any mixers or processors for my breads. I use the turn and fold method, and I work with big bins of the stuff at a time, making 20 loaves of one formula at a time. And I work with very wet doughs. And a sourdough culture that is like manna. I'm in love with my sourdough culture and my breads just keep getting better.

Yeah, it is sort of labor-intensive, but only every couple of hours in short spaces of time. And I really don't know right now that to do it the quick and easy way will get you exactly what you're looking for. Maybe I'm wrong about that. In my gut, I don't think so. One of the reasons we've all been eating such degraded breads for so many years was that desire for the quick and easy process. Hence commercial yeast. Hence quick, warm rises. Hence tight crumb and weak crust and an inferior, flavorless product once you factor out the butter or jam.

Personally, I'm watching you work through a process here very quickly and actually getting very good results in a short period of time. Nope, it's not perfect. But to expect perfection right off the bat isn't reasonable.

Beautiful, gorgeous, flavorful bread is as much art as science. It takes a lot of time to get there. It takes a lot of failed bread. It takes a lot of desire to keep trying after every failure.

Frankly? Your first failures look way better than my first failures did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience (I've been learning in a very concentrated, self-taught way, talking to people who know what they're doing, reading as much as I can get my hands on and baking and experimenting all the while for going on 5 years now) has indicated to me that the less you actually work a dough, the more beautiful the crumb, and the better it will behave for you.... That, of course, comes with dozens of caveats that you figure out as you learn. I don't use any mixers or processors for my breads. I use the turn and fold method, and I work with big bins of the stuff at a time, making 20 loaves of one formula at a time. And I work with very wet doughs. And a sourdough culture that is like manna. I'm in love with my sourdough culture and my breads just keep getting better.

Yeah, it is sort of labor-intensive, but only every couple of hours in short spaces of time. And I really don't know right now that to do it the quick and easy way will get you exactly what you're looking for. Maybe I'm wrong about that. In my gut, I don't think so. One of the reasons we've all been eating such degraded breads for so many years was that desire for the quick and easy process. Hence commercial yeast. Hence quick, warm rises. Hence tight crumb and weak crust and an inferior, flavorless product once you factor out the butter or jam.

Personally, I'm watching you work through a process here very quickly and actually getting very good results in a short period of time. Nope, it's not perfect. But to expect perfection right off the bat isn't reasonable.

Beautiful, gorgeous, flavorful bread is as much art as science. It takes a lot of time to get there. It takes a lot of failed bread. It takes a lot of desire to keep trying after every failure.

Frankly? Your first failures look way better than my first failures did.

Much food for thought there, Devlin. Thanks. I wish that you were producing your bread next door. I share your sentiment regarding the quick and easy culture and would love to apply its antithesis to my breadmaking. There has, however, to be middle ground somewhere. I am not and never will be dedicated to bread making. I love good bread, and would love to serve my guests a decent loaf, but my life is simply too full of other things to allow the attention required by the slow process. I know that it will simply not work. The day of an innkeeper is punctuated by interruptions. It is not so much the time, as it is the requirement to attend to a process at reasonably precise intervals. I take your point regarding quality vs. time, but there has to be a compromise that will allow me to produce decent bread, not perfect, not breathtaking, but simply decent within the contraints imposed by what I have to do to keep the inn.

If that is a chimera, then so be it. I am not ready to accept that. Not with Jack lurking. And thinking. I hope.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does this mean that you think that the food processor is the problem? I will do the folding bit if you are sure that this is the only way of eliminating the most likely problem. I am not too keen on the amount of interaction required, at least not as a permanent solution. There is no way that I can set aside 2.5 hrs every day to be available for the folding. Also, the timing is out for baking for breakfast, unless I can still retard in the fridge.

How about simply doing the food processor whizzing and then taking the temp of the dough. If it is ok, it cannot be the food processor doing the damage. I am really keen to retain the food processor part, because it is so quick and easy. Please rethink - the more I think about Dan's method, efficacious as it may be, the more I realise that the exigencies of my life would not allow it as a daily routine.

If the food processor is not the culprit, I am at a loss where to go from there. That is, assuming the the dough temp is fine. Is there any way to determine whether the dough, after proving, has had yeast activity? Drop a ball into hot oil?

My experience (I've been learning in a very concentrated, self-taught way, talking to people who know what they're doing, reading as much as I can get my hands on and baking and experimenting all the while for going on 5 years now) has indicated to me that the less you actually work a dough, the more beautiful the crumb, and the better it will behave for you.... That, of course, comes with dozens of caveats that you figure out as you learn. I don't use any mixers or processors for my breads. I use the turn and fold method, and I work with big bins of the stuff at a time, making 20 loaves of one formula at a time. And I work with very wet doughs. And a sourdough culture that is like manna. I'm in love with my sourdough culture and my breads just keep getting better.

Yeah, it is sort of labor-intensive, but only every couple of hours in short spaces of time. And I really don't know right now that to do it the quick and easy way will get you exactly what you're looking for. Maybe I'm wrong about that. In my gut, I don't think so. One of the reasons we've all been eating such degraded breads for so many years was that desire for the quick and easy process. Hence commercial yeast. Hence quick, warm rises. Hence tight crumb and weak crust and an inferior, flavorless product once you factor out the butter or jam.

Personally, I'm watching you work through a process here very quickly and actually getting very good results in a short period of time. Nope, it's not perfect. But to expect perfection right off the bat isn't reasonable.

Beautiful, gorgeous, flavorful bread is as much art as science. It takes a lot of time to get there. It takes a lot of failed bread. It takes a lot of desire to keep trying after every failure.

Frankly? Your first failures look way better than my first failures did.

Great reply!!!!!!Thank you

Vanessa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Much food for thought there, Devlin. Thanks. I wish that you were producing your bread next door. I share your sentiment regarding the quick and easy culture and would love to apply its antithesis to my breadmaking. There has, however,  to be middle ground somewhere. I am not and never will be dedicated to bread making. I love good bread, and would love to serve my guests a decent loaf, but my life is simply too full of other things to allow the  attention required by the slow process. I know that it will simply not work. The day of an innkeeper is punctuated by interruptions. It is not so much the time, as it is the requirement to attend to a process at reasonably precise intervals. I take your point regarding quality vs. time, but there has to be a compromise that will allow me to produce decent bread, not perfect, not breathtaking, but simply decent within the contraints imposed by what I have to do to keep the inn. 

If that is a chimera, then so be it. I am not ready to accept that. Not with Jack lurking. And thinking. I hope.

I think that if you keep at it, you'll get where you're looking to go.

Somebody should write a book. The Zen of Bread Baking, eh? :biggrin:

You're doing great. Better than you think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you considered using a bread machine for mixing the dough? Since I developed arthritis in my hands and wrists, I can't knead by hand so I use bread machines. They develop the dough nicely through the mixing, kneading and first rise and I allow it to go through the second kneading cycle then pull the dough out of the pan, shape and proof it or I sometimes pull it out of the pan after the first knead, refrigerate it overnight, then put it back in the machine for a quick knead and to bring it up to ambient temp, then shape and proof it for the oven.

I have used regular yeast, sourdough starter and a combination and with the programmable machines it makes it a lot easier and I just have to check on it from time to time to make sure things are progressing nicely.

As long as I am not baking in the machine, I can put a double batch in the larger 2 to 2 1/2 pound machines, which gives me 2 large or 3 medium loaves.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hmm..maybe the slow process isn't right then.

However we need to do something just to get it moving at all, even if the bread is not optimal.

AS you say, monitoring might be the way. When you make the dough tomorrow shorten the mix time to say 1min, just in case it is overheating. Cut off 100g and put it preferably in a glass measuring jar, or failing that straight-sided tumbler (they are called slim jims here), and mark how far up it comes.

Keep it with the bread. It should about double in volume when the bread is ready to bake...It will at least let us see if there is any activity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you considered using a bread machine for mixing the dough?  Since I developed arthritis in my hands and wrists, I can't knead by hand so I use bread machines.  They develop the dough nicely through the mixing, kneading and first rise and I allow it to go through the second kneading cycle then pull the dough out of the pan, shape and proof it or I sometimes pull it out of the pan after the first knead, refrigerate it overnight, then put it back in the machine for a quick knead and to bring it up to ambient temp, then shape and proof it for the oven. 

I have used regular yeast, sourdough starter and a combination and with the programmable machines it makes it a lot easier and I just have to check on it from time to time to make sure things are progressing nicely. 

As long as I am not baking in the machine, I can put a double batch in the larger 2 to 2 1/2 pound machines, which gives me 2 large or 3 medium loaves.

You know, Andie, that I have to agree with you. If it were not for the bread machine I would not now be making bread! I have abandoned it for some time now and make all my breads with the KA and my hands but the bread machine gave me decent breads that boosted my confidence so I can now live without it. I think that Gerhard mentioned at one point that he had one on order?

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And has anybody asked yet?

HOW DOES IT TASTE???

The crust tasted fine.

Maybe the Zen thing is where I come up short. I am more a "The algorithms of bread baking" type of person.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you considered using a bread machine for mixing the dough? 

snip

You know, Andie, that I have to agree with you.  If it were not for the bread machine I would not now be making bread!  I have abandoned it for some time now and make all my breads with the KA and my hands but the bread machine gave me decent breads that boosted my confidence so I can now live without it.  I think that Gerhard mentioned at one point that he had one on order?

Anna, my bread machine has arrived. I think that Jack prefers the minimal kneading approach. I seem to remember him writing in another thread that the hydration is the main driver for gluten development, and not the kneading. Vide Dan Lepard's folding method where there is to all intents no kneading at all. Perhaps Jack could expand on this.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hmm..maybe the slow process isn't right then.

However we need to do something just to get it moving at all, even if the bread is not optimal.

AS you say, monitoring might be the way. When you make the dough tomorrow shorten the mix time to say 1min, just in case it is overheating.  Cut off 100g and put it preferably in a glass measuring jar, or failing that straight-sided tumbler (they are called slim jims here), and mark how far up it comes.

Keep it with the bread. It should about double in volume when the bread is ready to bake...It will at least let us see if there is any activity.

Here is then the plan for today:

1. Make the preferment. I'll quintuple the quantities. And add an extra one to return to the mother.

2. Mix two batches in the food processor, one for 1 minute, one for two minutes. Take the temps.

3. Make one batch with Dan's folding method.

4. Make one batch in the mixer with the dough hook.

5. Make one batch in the bread machine.

6. Set up five jars, with 100g from each batch. Mark the jars. Form the batches into balls. Label the batches. Place with jars in the proving environment.

7. Take jar measurements every 30 mins.

It is maybe overkill to do 4 and 5, but if this is to be a day of experimentation, it may be interesting.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GOsh! :blink: That's the spirit!! <insert clapping hands emoticon>

Haven't tried the whizzing method before. Spurred by your determination, I decided to give it a go. Preferment is at 6 hrs now.

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Jack. And even beyond "minimal" kneading. I don't knead at all. And I shape very minimally as well. I coax more than shape. Very gently. Very sparingly.

I was intrigued by a few pages in Alan Scott's book in which he describes a small bakery run by just a married couple somewhere on the East coast who use the folding technique. They both have pedigree credentials in the way of culinary education. Scott didn't really go much further than mention that it appeared to be the best way to handle dough from his observation and his experience with their very exceptional bread, and I was frustrated, wondering whether I'd have to try to finagle an apprenticeship with them or travel overseas to learn it the way the husband of the pair had. I started to use the technique Carol Field describes for one of her breads, and then found another description of the method in Maggie Glezer's book. And then when I was lucky enough to get to Scott's bread oven conference last year, I watched a couple of folks (his daughter and the resident baker) folding large batches of dough in tubs in precisely that way. No machines, no kneading.

It actually does have a sort of meditative quality to it, at least for me. And maybe something like playing in mud, which I loved doing when I was a kid.

We'll have you doing yoga next.

Edited by devlin (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

something killing the yeast? what kind of water are you using? and what kind of salt?

I don't think so. Bottled mineral water and Maldon salt.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ooh this is interesting...

I think you either have to minimally develop the gluten (short mix, then stretch and fold), or go all he way and over develop it (intensive mix, then relax). Yu can make good bread either way.

However the problem here is we don't seem to be getting any rise at all. Maybe the environment is such it just needs much longer, or something is killing the yeast. We need to sort that out first, before the fine details of technique,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went through this problem of trying to bake bread in Israel. I do not have central heating and air conditioning in my house. The flour is different from the type I was using in the States and Europe.

I used to lightly knead my breads until I moved to Israel. I have to knead more than I am used to and I the dough cannot be too wet or it spreads out. It spreads out in a cloche, it spreads out in a bagette pan and on a baking sheet. I have to get the gluten working by doing a fair amount of kneading. I knead and then give it rest, knead and then give it a rest as Jack is suggesting above.

I also find that I have better success with a yeast cake as opposed to dry yeast.

Here is an example of bread I made after many failures here:

gallery_8006_298_1104519314.jpg

After the second rise

gallery_8006_298_1104522950.jpg

Final product

Maybe you are having the same problem I had. One works in one place does not always work in another. I would talk to your local bakery and ask them for advice in regards to climate, flour types, etc.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am waiting with bated breath for the outcome of today's experiments. I can hear Gerhard now, "Sorry, guests. I can't serve your needs right now cuz I have to stay in the laboratory, er, kitchen, to supervise my doughs." I imagine the Artist is either hovering nearby or staying far, far away.

I read excerpts from this whole thread to my family last evening and they've gotten into the spirit of your adventure, as well. BTW, the Husband refutes my claim that every light bulb in our house is fluorescent -- says some visible ones are not -- so I publically apologize for misrepresenting the situation. But, he did visibly blanche and made audible distressed noises when I read the part about the mother and/or preferment requiring a light to be switched on for about 12-14 hours every time one makes bread. I'm thinking he'd handle the heating pad method better -- no obviously visual evidence of electricity being used, you know.

Wishing you at least one loaf of successful bread today, Gerhard!

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ooh this is interesting...

I think you either have to minimally develop the gluten (short mix, then stretch and fold), or go all he way and over develop it (intensive mix, then relax). Yu can make good bread either way.

However the problem here is we don't seem to be getting any rise at all. Maybe the environment is such it just needs much longer, or something is killing the yeast. We need to sort that out first, before the fine details of technique,

Do you think going for all 5 methods is overkill, Jack? It seems to me that one of three results are possible:

1. No rise in any of the 5 batches. Assuming, as we must, that the yeast is alive going in, that would mean that something is killing it later. This result would be the least desired, as I have no idea where we go from there.

2. Some rise and some don't or not to the same extent. That would point to the mixing method.

3. All rise. That would leave me flabbergasted. And discombobulated.

I have just had a short siesta. It is going to be a long evening.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am waiting with bated breath for the outcome of today's experiments.  I can hear Gerhard now, "Sorry, guests.  I can't serve your needs right now cuz I have to stay in the laboratory, er, kitchen, to supervise my doughs."  I imagine the Artist is either hovering nearby or staying far, far away.

snip..

Wishing you at least one loaf of successful bread today, Gerhard!

The Artist, Lori, is a fount of useless advice in this endeavour. "Play it some Mozart" she shouted last night, giggling like train. As a person attempting to apply the scientific process, I did not find it particularly helpful. Not the advice nor the giggling.

Thanks for the good wishes. :smile:

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went through this problem of trying to bake bread in Israel. I do not have central heating and air conditioning in my house. The flour is different from the type I was using in the States and Europe.

snip...

Maybe you are having the same problem I had. One works in one place does not always work in another. I would talk to your local bakery and ask them for advice in regards to climate, flour types, etc.

That looks sooo good, Michelle. There is hope after all! I am so pleased that I am not alone.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm knee deep in Eurobumpf - trying to act as project manager coordinating a proposal to the European Comission with a deadline of next week, so my time is limited. Cat herding.

Looks good so far.

Maybe overkill, but very interesting if you can manage it. I've never done a side by side test, and its something I meant to do.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...