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KK Bread Making Tips and Tricks

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Another book I got into last night is Bread Book by Chad Robertson (of Tartine Bakery). No mention of Desem, but very deep discussions of how understand the effects of various controls on levain, salt... There are way too many books attempting to make bread "easy"; he's established enough to just say all his thoughts without concern as to whether we can keep up. They're Michel Suas level, but while Advanced Bread and Pastry by Suas is professional training and needs to fairly represent the consensus, Robertson is free to have an opinionated artistic vision.

One example takeaway: Of course many of us are comfortable and successful maintaining a sourdough starter, and that assertion says more about our positive outlook on life than whether there's room to improve. I'm getting that someone handed me a recorder and I'm using it as a drumstick, while the Chad Robertsons of the world are playing standup bass. They're smelling and/or tasting their starter at every juncture, and rather than blindly imposing a schedule on their starter, they're tweaking hydration, temperature, and seed ratio (how much starter to carry over) so the starter ripeness peaks on their desired feeding schedule.

Imagine instead we were ripening goat cheese, and dropping chunks into milk for the next generation. Overripe cheese will nevertheless inoculate the milk, and one can hope to catch the process sooner next time. But we're creating evolutionary pressure that favors flavors we don't want.

 This is the difference between dog breeding and leaving one's dogs intact. You get dogs either way, but...

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51 minutes ago, Pequod said:

I'm planning an order of Carolina Ground flour

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At Tartine, we have partnered with miller Kevin Morse at Cairnspring Mills in Skagit Valley, Washington, who employs a combination of old and new technology in a way that echoes my own ethos. He uses a roller mill to first crack the grain so it can be ground more finely when he then passes it through a stone mill. His is the most beautiful flour I’ve ever baked with—soft and fine yet incredibly flavorful and nutritious.

Robertson, Chad. Bread Book: Ideas and Innovations from the Future of Grain, Flour, and Fermentation [A Cookbook] (p. 35). Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. Kindle Edition. 

Cairnspring Mills

This quote intrigued me enough to queue up Cairnspring Mills for a try...

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44 minutes ago, Syzygies said:

Cairnspring Mills

This quote intrigued me enough to queue up Cairnspring Mills for a try...

I've used Cairnspring Mills, which I'm plowing through right now. I use Sequoia for my 11-12% flour and Trailblazer for T85. Both are fantastic.

If I had to live with only one "white" flour, it would probably be Trailblazer. But I'm interested in trying the Carolina Ground T85 for comparison. Shipping is a bit cheaper for Carolina Ground since it is regional.

Edited by Pequod
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On 5/8/2024 at 8:49 AM, Syzygies said:

My new aspiration is to figure out Richard Bertinet's slap and fold technique for kneading bread. I need more gluten structure with less effort. It's harder than it looks, which is evident in the videos where someone else picks up the same dough, and can't skit across it like a waterbug.

Slap and fold is a satisfying technique when you get it right.  Having your dough finally change from a wet claggy mess to a beautiful, living extension of your arm is a great thing to do.  That said, it does take a lot of effort.  How do I know that is a bad thing?  A few years ago, one or two days after an op on my throat, I decided to have a vigorous slap and fold session.  Let's just say it was not a good result for my surgery wound! It was then that @Pequod turned me on to the stretch and fold method and I have not turned back since.

On 5/8/2024 at 6:39 PM, Pequod said:

@tekobo - Proof of sourdough crumpets!

Kudos @Pequod, they look great.

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17 hours ago, tekobo said:

Slap and fold is a satisfying technique when you get it right.  Having your dough finally change from a wet claggy mess to a beautiful, living extension of your arm is a great thing to do.  That said, it does take a lot of effort.  How do I know that is a bad thing?  A few years ago, one or two days after an op on my throat, I decided to have a vigorous slap and fold session.  Let's just say it was not a good result for my surgery wound! It was then that @Pequod turned me on to the stretch and fold method and I have not turned back since.

 

Just to confuse things, I typically use both slap and fold AND stretch and fold, but at different times in the process. I use slap and fold as the last step of mixing to build the initial structure, and then I’ll use stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals after that to continue to build structure. How many stretch and folds I do depends on the dough and how much structure building I need. Slack doughs — high hydration or lots of spelt — will get more stretch and folds. A new wrinkle…after an hour or so of stretch and folds I’ll use a gentler folding technique so as not to degas the dough. Specifically, I do coil folds, especially if it is a high hydration dough. Lots of youtube videos on coil folding, so won’t bother to paste one here. But it’s a very gentle technique that’s very effective at building structure.

@C6Bill — just noticed you’re in Boston. I’m currently up in Woburn for work. I shoulda stopped by for a slice of your bread! 😬

Edited by Pequod
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On 5/8/2024 at 10:43 AM, Pequod said:

I've used Cairnspring Mills, which I'm plowing through right now. I use Sequoia for my 11-12% flour and Trailblazer for T85. Both are fantastic.

If I had to live with only one "white" flour, it would probably be Trailblazer. But I'm interested in trying the Carolina Ground T85 for comparison. Shipping is a bit cheaper for Carolina Ground since it is regional.

Cairnspring Mills Production Requirements and Guidelines for Grain Growers

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1. No pre-harvest desiccation of crops with glyphosate as a harvest aid

Trailblazer is not "organic", though that's a tricky label that doesn't substitute for understanding products. For example, in the milk market there are major players that sport an organic label while working as hard as they can behind the scenes to weaken what this means. There are well-known chicken brands with "natural" and "organic" variants where the organic chickens eat primarily soy, and don't taste as good as their natural counterparts. In general, for a small business one might encounter at a farmers market, the hurdles for the label are very different from the hurdles for following best practices. I'm reminded of wines in Italy that tire of qualifying for a DOC label, and sell spectacular work as table wine.

I'm mildly concerned that RoundUp is used to harvest wheat. As usual, the European Union has moved to ban this practice.

Elsewhere, this practice is easily avoided in one's own baking, e.g. by buying from sources like Cairnspring Mills. There are some well-known sources we've all used that don't make a pledge to avoid RoundUp in their flour. Huh.

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On 5/18/2024 at 10:21 PM, Pequod said:

Desem starter showing signs of life after one week.

You're bread shaming me now.  So far, I have been to our local bakery and they won't give or sell me their starter.  I have also bought the latest Chad Robertson book as recommended by @Syzygies.  I have opened the page where it tells you how to start your starter.  I will get to it...

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16 hours ago, David Chang said:

this looks like levito madre. low hydration starter?

Desem has low hydration but is not sourdough. Sourdough has lots of bacteria—lactobacilli—and some yeast. The bacteria makes it sour. Desem is more natural yeast than bacteria and requires freshly milled flour and a cool environment to establish. It is generally used for 100% fresh-milled whole-grain breads.
 How to Make Desem (Belgian style sourdough starter) – Breadtopia

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My first loaf of Desem. 100% freshly milled Red Fife. I loosely followed the formula for “Daily Desem” in Tara Jensen’s Flour Power book. Biggest change is hydration. Her formula is about 75% total hydration, but I found that to be almost unworkably low, so kept going until I liked the feel of the dough. I estimate I ended up around 82-85% hydration. The other major change was to sift and scald the bran, which I find helps soften the bran and encourage better gluten formation in freshly-milled loaves. Still cooling. Maybe a crumb shot later.

IMG_0549.thumb.jpeg.09c2d9547b1906494f8d352e5598cc1a.jpeg

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