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Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 1)


adrober
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I'm sure other and better experts will join in but here is my understanding:

- In a dough with about, let's say, 1 kg of flour. Is there a magic formula to determine how much refreshed starter / sponge to make? Can I compensate for a small sponge by bulk fermenting the bread longer ?

Most bread formula are in terms of Bakers, percentages, that is relative to total flour.

Different bakers have different formulas. The amount of levan can vary from typically 20% to over 200% (200% means half the flour is in the levan).

A typical formula for white bread might be:

Liquid levan:

Flour 20% (200g)

Water 20% (200g)

Mother starter 1% (10g)

Ferment for 8-12 hours at 30C

Dough

All the levan 40% (400g)

Flour 80% (800g)

Water 45% (450g )

Salt 2% (20g)

This formula has 65% hydration with the water in the levan. Varying the amount of water by small amounts will make big changes to the viscosity of the dough and hence its ease of handling, and to a lesser extent the hole size in the finished dough. Don't forget the dough will get much wetter as ferments and proves, as the acid attacks the starch and converts them to sugars.

Different flours adsorb differnt amounts of water. Wholemeal will adsorb more, say 55%/550g/75% hydration.

You can compensate for a smaller sponge by fermenting longer, but it will make a different bread. There are many different processes happening, and very long fermentation stages tend to weaken the gluten. Crudely, I think the sponge step develops the flavour, and dough step the texture.

- In norway the supermarket flour contains 10,7 % protein. This is gluten right ?

Is it protein content that determines the water absorbtion abilty of a flour ? Is this what is refered to as "strength" ? Or are we talking about how fine the wheat is milled ? How does this attributes affect the bread ?

I'm sure that flour will make fine bread. I think here is often too much emphasis on the exact paramters of the flour, since technique is more important. Better to choose one or two typed of flour you can easily obtain, and work with those. Oneof the problems is that millers and supermarkets do not always supply an identical product: the same flour packet may contain subtly different flour in the spring or the autumn, or on damp days and dry days.

You raise a large subject here, and if you can, go and find books on cereal chemistry. Flour is complex stuff, and there are many more parameters than just protein content, which is used as a surrogate for gluten. although it says nothing about the quality of gluten, and can be misleading for wholemeal flours since the bran contains protein. The amount of gluten is often referred to as strength, but you can (and I do) make good bread from weak flour. In France baguettes are made with weak flour. Each culture has ended to evolve local breads that make best use of the flour locally grown and available.

Other parameters people measure. Many of these interact, and none really tell you what the flour is like to bake with:

Moisture content

Colour

Grade of grind and particle size

Milling temperature

Milling method

Wheat variety and type (spring/winter etc)

Extraction (percentage of the whole wheat)

Enzyme content

Hagberg Falling number (measure of amylase activity)

Gel protein test

Damaged strach granules (Farrand units)

Water adsobption (Farinograph)

In France and Germany ash content is quoted, used as an indication of mineral content.

- How much oven spring can I rely on getting from a dough? Let's say I bulk ferment my dough for 5 hours, shape the loaves (they will collapse a bit during this process), and put them straight into the oven. Will the bread rise at all ?

My loaves more than double in the oven. I get bigger final volume from less expansion in the feremention and proof stage and more oven spring.

Try and see what happens if you bake directly after shaping. You will certainly get some rise.

Retardation (putting the bread in the fridge) is another issue, The cold slows some proceses more than others. I reckon (for me) overnight int e fridge is about equivalent to two hours proof, and sometimes I shape, put the dough in the fridge, and then bake next day from cold.

- I've seen vitamin C in some recipes. What's the right way, and reason to apply witamin C in bread baking ?

Another complex subject. Vitamin C combines with the help of an oxidase enzyme present in the flour wih the oxygen in the dough to form dehydroascorbic acid, which then oxidises anothe enzyme in the flour that would otherwise attack the gluten, and also appears to assist forming the bonds inthe gluten structure.

Its more important for freshly milled flour, and for high intensity mixed doughs. If you are mixing by hand its less important - people have made fine bread for years without it. Some bread flours (King Arthur, for instance) have it already mixed in at the millers - check the fine print on the packet.

You can just add it when you make the dough. I'm experimenting with some success with mixing the dough flour, water and vitamin C together and letting them stand for about an hour beforehand.

I have some recipes on wholegrain sourdough breads, and bread with a coarser ground flour. Can I use my nice and acitve fine starter for these breads ? The recipe states to use another starter. (From rye). Is this only for taste ? Will the bread rise just as well with a fine flour starter ?

Absolutely. I only maintain one basic white starter that I use for all my breads. A baker I know just maintains a rye mother starter that he uses for all his breads, so that he can make gluten free breads without changing starter.

Hope someone can help me shed some ligh on this magic .-)

Hope this helps and welcome to a great adventure. Please don't take these remarks as gospel. They are only my current opinion, and you should not beleive everything you read on the Internet!

Jack

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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gallery_44494_2801_23424.jpg

Since we talk again about sourdough I have a question as well.

I am in Colorado so high altitude, I just bought some different flour, I use to buy the bread flour ( but doesnt say the % of protein),its the hungarian type for high altitude.Now I have noticed a hugeee difference using this flour,it assorbs sooo much water its impressive, I had to add water till was at the right consistency and was way more than the recepie called for.

Has this flour a very high protein contenent? It doesnt say on the package ( wich it drives me crazy ) but it says thta is made for the high altitude and has a good amount of protein ( how much who knows :hmmm: ).

Now is this a good sign for a bread flour , I know it depends probably form what you want to attain,I like very crusty rustic breads like the italian ( I miss the good bread form my home country ), the first I made with sourdough came out decent at first I thought was too heavy the crumb to dense and the crust too thin, with few days it got much better , it losts a lot of the water form the crum wich made it better and less dense , if it makes sense , and the flavor definally increased positivaly.Anyway I am wondering if this flour is good or not for good sourdough bread making.

Let me know thank you :smile:

Vanessa

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<

<Has this flour a very high protein contenent? It doesnt say on the package ( wich <it drives me crazy ) but it says thta is made for the high altitude and has a good <amount of protein ( how much who knows :hmmm: ).

Yes it does say on the package...Look at the box with the nutrition facts...

The serving size is usually 30g and below it shows protein in grams, if protein is 3 grams its 10%...Hungarian "high altitude " is just ordinary a/p flour, there is no need for "high altitude" flour Just don't over proof or the loaves blow up.

Bud

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<

<Has this flour a very high protein contenent? It doesnt say on the package ( wich <it drives me crazy ) but it says thta is made for the high altitude and has a good <amount of protein ( how much who knows  :hmmm: ).

Yes it does say on the package...Look at the box with the nutrition facts...

The serving size is usually 30g  and below it shows protein in grams, if protein is 3 grams its 10%...Hungarian "high altitude " is just ordinary a/p flour, there is no need for "high altitude" flour  Just don't over proof or the loaves blow up.

Bud

Ahhh thank you I know I was missing something :wacko:

Thank you Bud

Vanessa

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Thanks a lot sirch1980. The tips regarding rye substitution was very helpfull.

Now... Experimenting a an "express sourdough" ( I want to see If I can cram a baking session 7 hours in between end of work at 17.00, and bedtime, around 00:00)

What is better; Long bulk fermentation, or longer proofing? If we consider two aproaches, where only 7 hours is available.

A) 3 hours starter refresh, 1 hour bulk fermentation and 3 hour proofing.

or

B) 3 hours starter refresh, 3 hour bulk fermentation and 1 hours of proofing.

Im doing this experiemnt right now, So I guess we'll soon enough see if 7 hours will produce good bread .-)

Edited by glennbech (log)
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Thanks a lot sirch1980. The tips regarding rye substitution was very helpfull.

Now... Experimenting a an "express sourdough" ( I want to see If I can cram a baking session 7 hours in between end of work at 17.00, and bedtime, around 00:00)

What is better; Long bulk fermentation, or longer proofing? If we consider two aproaches, where only 7 hours is available. 

A) 3 hours starter refresh, 3 hours bulk fermentation and 1 hour proofing.

or

B) 3 hours starter refresh, 3 hour bulk fermentation and 1 hours of proofing.

Im doing this experiemnt right now, So I guess we'll soon enough see if 7 hours will produce good bread .-)

Ummm... Looks like options A and B are the same to me.... Except for some s's...

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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You'd do better to do it in two steps

a) 8-12 hour make the sponge (before you leave for work)

b) mix, bulk ferment 1 hour, proof for 1-2 hours, depending on temperaure, bake 40 mins. This assumes you are using abou 33% of he flour in the recipe inthe sponge.

If you use half hat (say 16%) double the proof time.

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Yeah... Sponge devleopment while I'm at work. Should have thought of that one .-)

While we're at it; I guess the sponge/dough ratio affect how sour the bread gets? . As well as how much starter there is in the sponge, and how long you let it ferment?)

Mm... I guess I have a lot to learn. Yesterday, I experimented with a sponge, with equal amounts of starter/flour/water and short fermentation time. ( 3 hours). However, I ended up with a sponge of 450g, and a total dough weight of 700. That was really sour bread ! .-)

The taste, crumb and crust were not bad though.

Tomorrow, I'll try a sponge that is 30% of total flour weight, with a small amount of starter, and leave it while at work. I'll Proof/ferment as you suggest. I'll be back with the results!

Another thing ; I'm getting tired of handling doughs at > 70% hydration levels. They're so sticky. Do you get real big holes and soft crumb at 60-65% hydration ?

Thanks again all for excellent feedback.

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Yes, I get big holes at 66% hydration. Very wet doughs give large holes, but have thick webs, and a more pudding like texture. If you get full gluten development the webs are much thinner as well.

There are three seperate processes going on, all with different dynamics: gluten development, conversion of the starches to sugars (which also makes the dough wetter as it proves), and gas production. The bakers art is to optimise them.

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More issues As I continue my sourdough experiments ;

A) In today's batch. one bread was burnty while the other was not. How is this possible ? Both of them are in direct contact with my Pizza stone that is at bottom of my electric oven.

I guess it was burned because of hight temp. Right now I'm warming my oven to 482F/250C... I might reduce this to 230C ? How one escaped this faith, but not the other amazes me.

B) Dough WILL Stick to a floured linnen cloth in a basket !! Why didn't anyone tell me this ? *grin* Will I need a "professional" battenton.. (Spelled correctly?) where can I buy those?

C) I measured 34 degrees C in my kitchen at some point when the doigh were proofing.... How will this affect the result ?

Any ideas ?

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More issues As I continue my sourdough experiments ;

A) In today's batch. one bread was burnty while the other was not. How is this possible ? Both of them are in direct contact with my Pizza stone that is at bottom of my electric oven.

I guess it was burned because of hight temp. Right now I'm warming my oven to 482F/250C... I might reduce this to 230C ? How one escaped this faith, but not the other amazes me.

B) Dough WILL Stick to a floured linnen cloth in a basket !! Why didn't anyone tell me this ? *grin* Will I need a "professional" battenton.. (Spelled correctly?) where can I buy those?

C) I measured 34 degrees C in my kitchen at some point when the doigh were proofing.... How will this affect the result ?

Any ideas ?

A) Lift your stone to about 4-5 inches from the bottom of the stove. Try 215C for 45 minutes.

B) The gluten in white flour will stick to a cloth, use rye flour.

C) It will speed up your proofing, and Lactobaccilus likes the higher temperatures so you will have a different taste to say 25C.

regards

Bill

Kind regards

Bill

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Rice flour also works well. Use alot of it. A professional banneton still needs to be floured.

And, since I've seen this come up in another thread, since it will work like a pastry cloth (which I'm more acquainted with), rub the flour into the cloth well -- get it so that it's between the fibers. And don't wash it unless absolutely necessary, like seasoning a pan.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Another very usefull leasons learned today ; Never (completely) trust a recipe!

Since Im new to the sourdough baking, I tried to be true to my recipe that got me good tasting bread the last time; However, the results were disaster.

My pre-ferment/sponge were stored 8-12 hours, just as my good working recipe. However, when baking today, i stored it at about 32-33 C. Last time, I guess the temperature were about 26-28. This makes a huge impact the the pre-ferment!

Today, after storing at 32-33, the pre-ferment were liquidized. I could pour it out of the bowl. It aslo had the best rising ability I've ever seen in a sourdough. My guess is that the processes that feeds on the statch is running a lot faster at the 32c temperature, producing a more liquid dough.

Since Im new, I didn't dare to alter my initial recipe and went for the same amounts of additional flour and water...

This was a total disaster, with yet another extremely sour "pancake" bread :-) I ruined a linnen cloth. Even stuffed with rye flour, the dough stuck to my improvised proofing tool.

I couldn't even slice it, since the breads were so Wet. So it cracked up all over during baking.

I guess I have to practice practice practice. Im was a bit frustrated today. Since i got real excited seeing the great rising power of my dough, the dissapointment over the extremely bad result was extra hard. But, I'll keep doing it untill I get it right, and develop a feel for how it's done !

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Hi Glenbech,

I leave my starter at about 30C temp here where I live and it seems fine. What I have realised though is that I do adjust the final proof time accordingly as the temperature is higher where I live (30C to 34C) thus the proofing time is shorter as compared to the recipe books where the temp are considerably lower, in their 20s.

Even stuffed with rye flour, the dough stuck to my improvised proofing tool.

You might want to use rice flour instead of rye flour, it works too and to me its much cheaper than rye where I am located... :rolleyes:

Happy Baking

Don

Cheers...

Don

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More sourdough technical subjects for discussion :-)

A) What is the most common cause of low rise during both fermentation, proofing and baking? I made good tasting bread today, but they were a bit on the "compact" side, if you lnow what I mean .-)

B) Can someone verify or falsify this statements ?

- At 32C the acid producing bacteria are unhappy, the yeast thrives.

- At 28C the acid bacteria trive, and the yeast is not so happy.

- At 30C this balance is optimal

Hence, Higher temperatures during sponge development/fermentation the more rise but less sour bread.

Lower temperatures during sponge development/fermentation means less rise but more "sourdough taste".

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I have a question about kneading a dough. The question is basicly Hand kneading versus machine kneading.

I have a Kenwood Major kitcen machine with a dedicated kneading tool, and I love it. This is the process I usually use ;

Hold back 100g of whater, add all other ingredients. I first Knead slow for 3 minutes. I then Increase the speed, and add a bit of the water. The dough goes wet. I wait until the dough firms up, and add more water. I keep doing this untill all the water is in. (Taking 5 to 10 minutes). Total kneading time is therefore usually from 8-10 minutes.

I can easily do the "windowpane" test at that time, and the dough is usually smooth, shiny and elastic.

Any Idea on how this machine aproach compares to hand kneading? Does my aproach sound like something that can produce good bread?

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I have a question about kneading a dough. The question is basicly Hand kneading versus machine kneading.

I have a Kenwood Major kitcen machine with a dedicated kneading tool, and I love it. This is the process I usually use ;

Hold back 100g of whater, add all other ingredients. I first Knead slow for 3 minutes.  I then Increase the speed, and add a bit of the water. The dough goes wet. I wait until the dough firms up, and add more water. I keep doing this untill all the water is in. (Taking 5 to 10 minutes). Total kneading time is therefore usually from 8-10 minutes.

I can easily do the "windowpane" test at that time, and the dough is usually smooth, shiny and elastic.

Any Idea on how this machine aproach compares to hand kneading? Does my aproach sound like something that can produce good bread?

What is the thinking behind adding the water gradually?

I used to use a KA to mix, in which case I simply added all the water together and used it to knead, usually on a fairly slow speed, until I was happy.

I no longer have the KA, so now I work by hand. I have had great success with Dan Lepard's method: a rough mix, wait 10 minutes, and then three 15 second (yes ... second) kneads at 10 minute intervals. The thinking is that gluten development depends as much on hydration as on mechanical manipulation, so what the dough really needs is time not action. The result is like magic, and does seem to produce a dough which is just what I would expect of kneaded dough, silky smooth and elastically resilent by the time the last knead is complete. The finished bread is as good as anything I ever made kneading with the KA.

Holding back water would seem inconsistent with the theory behind this approach ... which doesn't mean it might not work!

One possible advantage to the "gradual incorporation" method would be the ability to make small adjustments for consistency. My problem with that is that I don't think I bake enough to judge the adjustments accurately: I am as likely to make dough too wet by adding too much water because it "looks dry" at an early stage as I am to get it right, or too dry because it seems "too wet" when it would have been perfectly OK if it had been allowed to hydrate and rise. So now I tend to stick to the recipe quite precisely, and only adjust (next time I make a particular recipe) if the mix was significantly wrong the previous time. By sticking to the same flour, I get reasonably consistent results. Not perfect, no doubt, but then baking is all about compromise. I do however adjust rising/proofing based on how the dough is performing, and in that way one can to some extent compensate, albeit imperfectly, for small variations in dough consistency.

(BTW, I can also see that there might be reasons to build a dough in a series of distinct stages with quite differenty hydrations, eg a sponge to get yeast activity going strongly, followed by a stiff dough to enable long fermentation with only limited rising, followed by a baking-thickness dough to shape and proof. I've read/baked some recipes like this. But that seems a different proposition from your method.)

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Thanks for your thoughts...

you know... The thinking behind gradually adding water is unknown for me. It's just the recipe I follow from my first book about bread. Since I don't like doing things just "because" I threw away my old recipe book today, and ordered both Dan Lepard's and Ed Wood's books.

After doing more experiments today I have even more questions...

This is my routine.

On the days I bake I always follow the same recipe. 8'ish, preferment/sponge with a tablespoon or so of starter and equal amounts of flour/water. The flour I use in the sponge will amount to about 30% of my total flour weight. Today for example I used 150g flour in the sponge and 450g total.

When i get home from work 8-12 hours later, my pre-ferment should be bubbely and active. Recently It hasn't, and I now figured out that 35-38 degrees is probably not very good for it.

Adding more flour and water (of course using my Online Baker's percentage calculator ) to get the values I want.

My routine uptil now has been to rise the dough for 1 hour, and proof it for anohter, before cutting and baking.

Now my questions begin ; Any answer of any depth on any of them will be warmly recieved.

A) What is the purpose of both rise & proof ? Why don't just form the dough and proof it for a longer time. What good does the "knockdown" add ?

B) I recently discovered that when I cut my loaves before putting them in, the cuts are not deep enogh and the crust cracks elsewere. Should I cut even deeper ?

C) I discovered (to my horror) that I probably have been keeping my sponge/preferment, and dough during rising in 32-35 degrees C. Could this have killed the yeast ? Explaining poor rise ?

D) I get REAL poor oven spring. How can I get more? I want more more more ! :-) :-)

And today; ... Darn! I forgot the salt... :-) It's a good thing the loaves are only for practice .-)

I guess a lot of these questions will be answered when my books arrive as well. In the mean time, please feel free to fill me in !

Rgrds,

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I have a question too!

I'm on day 2 of my first sour dough bread. I'm using a recipe from the Chef who taught a pastry & baking class I took in March.

Day 1 - I kneaded together starter, bread flour, water and salt. Let sit at room temp 24 hours.

Day 2 - I made up the bread dough and let sit at room temp 6 hours, then shaped and now have in the fridge fermenting.

Day 3 - I'm supposed to let sit at room temp until double and then bake. I know it depends on a lot of factors but approximately how long will this take? I have 2 1-1/2 lb loaves. If I take them out at 1pm should that be enough time to have them ready for dinner at 5:30? I'm going to be out most of the morning so my other option is to take them out at 9am and bake them off when they look ready, hoping that from 9 - 1pm when I get home won't be too long.

Also, what temp and approximately how long? My instructions just say to BAKE. :rolleyes:

I don't know if it makes a difference but I made them with multi-grain bread flour.

Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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I am at my fourth sourdough bread ( I am about to finish the fourth tonight).

I had a very good experience with the recepie I am following from the Hamelman's book,I made the pain au levain ( sourdough bread),and tonight I am making the vermont sourdough , even though this is gonna be colorado sourdough.

I dont get much bulk raise and neither after I shape the loaves they dont change too much ,maybe just flatten a bit after a while,but I do get an awesome oven spring ,like probably 3 times the volume .With the Pain au levain I dont not retard the loaves in the fridge ( actually Hamelman said this kind of bread will lose some of its caracteristics), but I probably gonna try to retard this one see how it goes.

Since I have bought the stone to cook the bread on I have notice a better quality of the crumb and the crust .

Right now I am baking couple days a week ,yes yes I ate a lots of bread , Iam italian and I miss the real bread here :raz:

Well good bread to you guys still lots to learn , lucky I love bread :wink:

Vanessa

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In my experience, you should take those loaves out as early as possible. The fermentation process that raisesyour bread are very dormant when cold.

The dough will use some hours just to get to room temperature. I'd definitly go for 9 am, if the aim is to double their size before they go into the oven,

From what I've read, and from my limited experience, it's hard to overproof (so they collapse) sourdough loaves.

Questions for you;

At day 1, do you mix your entire dough, or just a about 30% of

your flour ?

Good luck, and please post your results.

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      What came out of that trip was this bread. Now I can't recall the exact flour we got from them, but using a basic bread and rye will do the trick. We used to get a special flour for our 100 mile menu. This was where we were limited to only serving food from 100 miles away. So finding a wheat farm that made actual hulled wheat in 100 miles was a miracle. The year before...the thing we made, was closer to hard tack.
       
      Now if you don't have a starter, I recommend starting one! It is a great investment!
       
      Rye Sourdough
      1000 g flour (60% Bread Flour, 40% Rye)
      25 g salt
       
      75 g of honey/molasses
      200 g of Rye starter 
      650 g of water, cold
      Equipment
      Baker Scale (or other gram scale)
      Bench Cutter
      Bread Razor (you could also use one of those straight razors)
       
      Start by taking the cold water, yeast and Honey and mix together and let sit for 10-15 minutes
       
      I know, some of you just freaked out, cold water? Won't that kill the yeast.
       
      Nope, the yeast just needs to re hydrate. I prefer using cold water to slow the yeast down. That way the lactobacillus in the starter has  a good amount of time to start making lactic acid, and really get to flavor town!
       
      While that is sitting, I mix the flour and the salt together(How many times I have forgotten to salt the bread).
       
      Now mix the two products with a kneading hook for 3-5 minutes, only until thoroughly mixed but not yet at the window pane stage of kneading.
       
       
      Instead, place into a bowl and set a timer for one hour. Then when that hour is up, push the dough down and fold all the corners in
       
      Repeat this step 2-3 more times, pending on the outside temperature.
       
      If you happen to have those cool bowls to shape round loafs! Awesome, use them. I would break the boules into 3 balls of about 333 grams
       
      If not then just put the dough in the fridge and do the steps below the next day.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Once you have bouled the bread, can put it into the fridge and let it sit over night
       
      Again, this lets the bacteria, really get to work(misconception is the yeast adds the sour flavor, nope, think yogurt!)
       
      Now on the next day, heat up whatever form of oven you plan to use. We used a brick oven but if you just have a normal oven, that is fine. Crank it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
       
      If you have not bouled your bread yet, go back and watch the video and break the dough down into three balls of abut 333 grams. Then place the balls on a lightly greased sheet pan. Let sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

      If you have used the fancy bowls then turn the the bread out on a lightly greased sheet pan, without the bowl and let temper for 15-30 minutes.
       
       
      If your oven is steam injected, build up a good blast of steam.
       
      If not, throw in a few ice cubes and close the door or put a bath of hot water inside.
       
      The steam is what creates the sexy crust!
       
      Let it build up for a few minutes!
       
      Right before you put the bread into the oven use a bread razor to slice the top of the bread.
       
      Place the dough balls into the oven and douse with another blast of steam or ice and close the oven.
       
      Let them bake for 13 minutes at 450 degrees. Then turn the loaves and bake for another 10 minutes.
       
      Remove when the crust is as dark as you want and the internal temperature exceeds 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
       
      Now pull out and make sure to let cool off of the sheet pan with room to breath underneath. You don't want your crust steaming!
       
      Now here is the hardest part, wait at least 20 minutes before getting into the bread. Also, cutting into bread to early really seems to come out poorly. I would rip the bread until 1-2 hours has passed.
       
      Now serve it with your favorite butter, goat butter or whipped duck fat!
       
    • By andiesenji
      ANDIE'S ABSOLUTELY ADDICTING BREAD & BUTTER PICKLES
      Here’s the thing about pickles: if you’ve never made them, they may seem to be an overwhelming (and possibly mysterious) project. Our listener Andie – who has offered some really valuable help to the show several times in the past – has sent this recipe which provides an opportunity to “try your hand” at pickle-making without much effort. Andie suggests that making a small batch, and storing the pickles in the refrigerator (without “processing”) can get you started painlessly. Our Producer Lisa says that the result is so delicious that you won’t be able to keep these pickles on hand - even for the 3-4 months that they’ll safely keep!
      The basics are slicing the cucumbers and other veggies, tossing them with salt and crushed ice and allowing them to stand for awhile to become extra-crisp. You then make a simple, sweet and spicy syrup, (Andie does this in the microwave), rinse your crisp veggies, put them in a jar, pour the syrup over, and keep them in the refrigerator until they’re “pickled” – turning the jar upside down each day. In about 2 weeks you’ll have pickles – now how much easier could that be? If you are inspired, I hope you’ll try these – and enjoy!
      MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART.
      FOR THE PICKLES:
      4 to 6 pickling cucumbers (cucumbers should be not much larger than 1 inch in diameter, and
      4 to 5 inches long)
      1/2 to 3/4 of one, medium size onion.
      1/2 red bell pepper.
      1/4 cup, pickling salt (coarse kosher salt)
      2 quarts, cracked ice
      water to cover
      2 tablespoons, mustard seed.
      1 heaping teaspoon, celery seed
      FOR THE SYRUP:
      1 1/2 cups, vinegar
      *NOTE: Use cider or distilled white vinegar, do not use wine vinegar.
      1 1/2 cups, sugar
      2 heaping teaspoons, pickling spice mix.
      PREPARE THE PICKLES:
      Carefully wash the cucumbers and bell pepper. Slice all vegetables very thin, using a food processor with a narrow slicing blade, or by hand, or using a V-slicer or mandoline. Toss the sliced vegetables together in a glass or crockery bowl large enough to hold twice the volume of the vegetables. Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, add the cracked ice, toss again to blend all ingredients and add water to just barely cover the vegetables. Place a heavy plate on top of the vegetables to keep them below the top of the liquid.
      *Set aside for 4 hours.
      PREPARE THE SYRUP:
      Place the vinegar, sugar and pickling spices in a 4-quart Pyrex or other microwavable container (the large Pyrex measure works very well)
      Microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes. [if a microwave is not available, simmer the syrup in a narrow saucepan on the stovetop, over low heat, for the same length of time.] Allow the syrup to cool. Strain the syrup and discard the spices.
      ASSEMBLE THE PICKLES:
      Place one wide-mouth quart canning jar (or two wide-mouth pint jars) with their lids in a pot of water to cover, place over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer (180 degrees). Remove the pot from the heat and allow jar(s) and lid(s) to remain in the hot water until needed.
      *After the 4 hours are up (crisping the vegetables as described above) pour the vegetables into a large colander and rinse well. The cucumber slices should taste only slightly salty. Return the rinsed vegetables to the bowl, add the mustard seeds and celery seeds and toss well until evenly distributed. Set aside.
      Return the syrup to the microwave, microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes [or heat the syrup on the stovetop] until an instant read thermometer shows the temperature of the syrup is 190 to 200 degrees.
      Place the vegetables into one wide-mouth quart jar, or in 2 wide-mouth pint
      jars that have been scalded as described above. Pour the syrup over the vegetables, place the lids on the jar or jars, tighten well and place in the refrigerator overnight.
      The following day, turn the jar upside down - then continue to turn every day for 2 weeks. (This is to insure that the pickles are evenly flavored)
      After 2 weeks open the jar and taste. The pickles should be ready to eat.
      Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 months.
      ( RG2154 )
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