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tekobo

KK Bread Making Tips and Tricks

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Cajun spice Duck and a mix of spices on these ribs that included cajun, hot, and sweet. Finished with a sweet carolina BBq sauce. Pics of the barrel in action.  I heard lots of smoke kills any virus. OOps.  sorry Tekebo posted this in the wrong aisle thought it was the Misc cookin I'll erase it tomorrow

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Edited by Tyrus
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Is the plan to make flour from that?  That would encompass a mill in there somewhere. Just curious.  

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5 hours ago, Tyrus said:

Is the plan to make flour from that?  That would encompass a mill in there somewhere.

Yes, I mill the flour shortly before using it.  At first the idea of milling was a bit daunting but it is now just part of the routine. Put machine on the kitchen counter, ask Alexa to divide the weight of flour required by the percentage extraction, weigh the grain, pour it in to the hopper to grind and choose the right grade of sieve to get the amount of flour I need.  I use a mix of high extraction and whole grain flour in different combinations, depending on the loaf I am baking. 

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I have been struggling mightily with my bread making recently.  I had got to a stage where most loaves came out well and then things started to go wrong about a month ago and I have been delivering variations on shrunken, flat loaves consistently.  Aaaargh.  There were so many variables that I struggled to fix the problem, no matter how many times I tried to test an individual stage or method.  I even resorted to re-reading other's posts and noted that @Syzygies talked about his flat as a pancake period and how minute doses of ascorbic acid helped him out of it.  I didn't want to add yet another variable so I persisted with one last experiment over the last two days.  Here is my journey for those who are novices like me.

First I mixed and scoop kneaded the dough, using Trevor J Wilson's method.  Got that tip from one of @Pequod's posts.  Actually, that wasn't the first thing I did.  Begin at the beginning. This record is going to be important for when something goes wrong again.  

This experiment was to test whether my move from one method of making leaven to another was part of the problem.  I had been using a stiff leaven, made with 1 part starter to 1 part water to 2 parts flour. My loaves over the last month used Chad Peterson's leaven recipe which is made up of 1 tablespoon of starter to 200g of flour and 200g of water.  Weird juxtaposition of tablespoons with grams and much less starter relative to flour in Chad's method.  I ended up being busy and left the leaven to rise for longer than my usual 6 hours.  It was much closer to 15 hours by the time I got to mixing the leaven in to the dough. 

I milled the spelt and wheat grain and hydrolysed with 85% water for about two hours before adding the salt and leaven.  Adding the leaven and salt later is another Trevor J Wilson recommendation.  Works for me in that I can get the flour hydrolysing in parallel with waiting for the leaven to peak.  It was 9pm by the time I had finished scoop kneading the dough so I was in no mood to stay up all night folding at half hourly intervals for four hours before shaping so I put the two, separate lots of dough with the Chad leaven on the left and the Bertinet stiff leaven on the right, in bowls in the cool cellar.  Cool bulk fermentation like this is great for allowing you to bake sourdough when you are ready and rather than having to stick to strict timings.

The dough looked good when I got to it in the morning. I then formed it into balls for the bench rest.  I used damp hands to avoid adding too much flour .

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Here are the balls after the bench rest.  Relaxed but the not too flat so I figured they were good to be shaped to go in the banettons.

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I have been having problems with sticky dough adhering to the banettons so I liberally floured the top of the dough balls and the banettons before laying the balls in the baskets.  The good news is that the dough already felt less sticky than normal at this stage. 

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I got the extra rack in the proofer to allow for proofing two loaves at once. Here they are, going in for four hours or so. 

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And here they are looking wet but plump after proofing.

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I had a load of calls for work yesterday but had marked out my schedule to say when to put the oven on, when to put the dough in and when to get it out between calls.  I dashed down to check on progress and this is what I found.

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It was a dance around the kitchen moment.  The lower loaf was better risen than my more recent attempts but it was still flatter than the beautifully plump loaf on the top rack using the stiffer leaven.  Letting the leaven go for longer may have helped both bakes but the stiffer dough was the clear winner for me.  I wondered if the lesser amount of starter in the Chad leaven will have been expended sooner but, given all my previous attempts used his leaven after about six to ten hours I don't think that the timing is the main reason for the difference.  

Looking lovely during the agonising two hour wait for cooling. 

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You can't have everything.  Still some big holes in the crumb.  Something to work on.  In the meantime, The Husband delivered half of the plump loaf to my father-in-law as part of his lockdown care package.  Father-in-law was very happy with progress and remarked on the softness and plumpness of the loaf.  At last.  

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While home in California for the year on academic sabbatical (I'm a math prof), I was hoping to take a weeklong bread intensive at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Actually, it's their second week that interests me (Artisan II: Baking Sourdough, Levain, and Wild Yeast) though I'm not sure about the time commitment. These classes may still happen, though everything is on hold because of the virus.

It was through the book by Michel Suas, associated with SFBI, that I first understood "green" (not-aged freshly ground) flour, and the ascorbic acid fix: Mix ascorbic acid 1:20 with white flour, very thoroughly. Then mix that 1:20 with white flour for a 1:440 blend. One can measure this in grams to add, say, 40 parts per million ascorbic acid to one's dough. This is easy after the initial investment in finding and mixing ascorbic acid, and it did solve this problem for me.

I've instead started to work through this book:

Advanced Bread & Pastry by Michel Suas

It was a Google Books excerpt that alerted me to "green" flour. I since bought the book from Amazon UK. It was incompetently packed, being heavy, and arrived very damaged. Return shipping was prohibitive, so they let me keep the copy (it's now in New York) and sent another. Equally stupidly packed, but survived somewhat better. Not the copy you'd choose from the stack in a brick and mortar store, but usable. I'd trust SFBI to do a better job of shipping, as it's their book.

We're going through a time with a pretty odd relationship to science and expertise. Global warming or pandemic, it may be our downfall. Bread is a relatively light topic, but the mere existence of this book illustrates a vast chasm between what a French-trained professional with decades of experience understands about bread, and what "blind leading the blind" lay writers for amateur home bakers understand. I felt that I was making progress when I gave up Peter Reinhart for Lent. I nevertheless found reading Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread a breakthrough experience (even though we can actually go buy Tartine bread, and we find it unnecessarily scorched in its signature style). But these guys are all guessing, even as they're learning fast by talking to others. There's a tremendous amount that one can learn from attentive experiment, it's not a surprise that the most strikingly original bakers of our day are self-taught.

But then one wants to solve a problem, like the problem of "green" flour.

As a research mathematician, this is a quandary that I recognize. Work alone, be strikingly original, but give up on thousands of years of supporting insights and intellectual infrastructure. Work too hard to instead master this history of ideas, get sucked into conventional thinking and sacrifice all originality. Each researcher's identity ties to how they resolve striking this balance.

Oddly, I could not learn how to pick a lock in my twenties, but I sailed through an evening lock picking workshop recently. One's mind slows down as one ages, but just as Tai chi can teach one to better understand one's body, there are net benefits to better understanding one's mind. When I teach others how to become researchers, this is what I teach. In lock picking in particular, one is trying many possibilities in rapid succession. In problem solving too, there can be critical phases where one needs to be able to rotate through hundreds of possibilities in rapid succession. The researcher who has spent decades studying other peoples' work can generate these hundreds of possibilities in their head, from experience. The lone original wolf, no matter how brilliant, doesn't stand a chance at keeping up. Sometimes they'll instead try one thing that is so out of the norm that experienced researchers would have never considered it, and be lucky, but generally being a lone wolf puts one at a disadvantage.

When I want a lazy way to expose myself to hundreds of possibilities for how my bread might improve, I flip through the Suas book.

At farmers markets I've met my share of bread bakers who freshly grind but don't understand "green" flour. The key for a professional operation is reproducibility. They're making the same breads day after day. Once they've found protocols that work, they're good. I keep trying new procedures and recipes, so I'm relying on ascorbic acid to get that variable out of my way.

I really don't know what you might have discovered, but it makes sense. The balance of acids varies with the stiffness of the levain, affecting the chemistry of gluten formation. Tonight's sourdough rye put me way outside my comfort zone, because the levain protocol was so different. When I flip again through Suas, I haven't even tried most of his ideas that could be relevant to making a rye sourdough come out. I'll play with them one or two at a time, so I have some hope of relating these ideas to experience.

So, hopefully you'll be able to replicate this success without ascorbic acid. If not, ascorbic acid is actually quite easy.

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Tekobo I feel your pain. I’ve found it hard to be around long enough to really catch my dough and starter at the peaks of their rise.

I’m predicting a nationwide lockdown to be announced somewhere between Friday and Monday in Australia.

I reckon a lockdown is the perfect time to bake some bread when I can really study the rise.

I’ve had a 20kg bag of rye flour in the cold room for over a month and a 10kg bag of white.

Not quite as exciting as your pantry Tekobo, however, it’ll do me for a while.

The starter is out of the cold room and had the first feed since my winning loaf

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There are a few other supplies in there too, like grog and lamb.

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Let’s see how this pans out.

At this point I’m certain my failures have been due to not enough time spent feeding the starter to get it super active.

If your observant eyes were wondering, that’s 15 lamb tongues under the leg.

How would you cook these?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Basher said:

If your observant eyes were wondering, that’s 15 lamb tongues under the leg.

Pickled lamb tongues, I'm sure you can Google up a recipe Basher and then you'd have them in the frig as a snack every time you crack a beer. I remember growing up in a mixed ethnic oriented city and as a by product of that, this particular treat was always sitting on the shelf at your local watering hole with pickled pigs feet and eggs. I couldn't tell you which nationality had the greater propensity to be most attracted to these but, if I were inclined to decide they would be speaking French. So go ahead........who doesn't like a good pickle.

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Lots to respond to.  Like you, @Syzygies, I was planning on taking a course in bread and/or pizza making.  Ironically it was with a flour milling company in Northern Italy, called Petra.  I decided against doing it this year, before corona hit, because it was for pros and my bread and Italian skills are not yet up to that level of assault.  Maybe by next year this won't be such a risky endeavour.

I don't think I have proved much with this one success.  Maybe that my starter isn't 'strong' enough to rise a whole loaf using the small amounts of starter that Chad Peterson recommends.  In any case, I will approach my next loaf with a bit more confidence with the stiffer leaven by my side.  I did order a cheap digital PH meter in the depths of my despair.  When it arrives it may give me more data about how my leaven varies for different bakes. 

This tips and tricks thread isn't meant to be scary and I fear that my trials may put others off.  I have had great success in the past using yeast or yeast and leaven.  My current desire is to explore the options with leaven alone and that is what is causing me pain.  @Basher, that old adage about using the "best" ingredients was never truer than here.  If one doesn't get the leaven right, your bread literally falls at the first hurdle.  I am waking my starter back up with a view to trying some einkorn bread in the next day or so.  Good luck with yours.  Here we did a weird lockdown dance yesterday.  A couple of baking friends were out of flour, as are all the usual sources.  I had to leave some in my porch so one of them could pick it up.  Both very happy to be able to start feeding their starter again. 

I have the Suas book recommended by @Syzygies but have not gotten into it yet.  I am a leap in and do it sort of person and have found you tube videos with Chad Peterson, Trevor J Wilson and Rubaud useful for checking my technique.  The book I have started to read is called Living Bread by Daniel Leader.  I like the look of all the variations you get on basic bread from around the world and look forward to trying them once I have a better handle on doing the basics.  One day, one day, I will get around to making a baguette.

Two residual questions from me:  how do you all store your home made bread?  I slice and freeze excess but have not found a reliable way to keep bread fresh if I don't freeze it.  It dries out on the counter and goes soft in an airtight container.  Should I just get an old fashioned bread bin or is there a secret piece of kit yet to be revealed to me?  I wondered if the proofer would be a good storage box.

Second question is that I still don't know what these "seedlings" are for.  Any ideas?  I wrote to the Austrian company that I bought them from but have had no response - probably busy coping with COVID-led demand.  And yes, I know how to rotate pictures.  No, I don't know why this one stubbornly refuses to upload the right way up.  

 

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Edited by tekobo
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Tekobo a seedling to me is a germinated seed.
Not sure if these are for planting? Or maybe they are saying they are late harvest and will therefore hold more sugar content.
Trusts the Austrians and Swiss to end all their words with LING!


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3 hours ago, tekobo said:

 

Two residual questions from me:  how do you all store your home made bread?  I slice and freeze excess but have not found a reliable way to keep bread fresh if I don't freeze it.  It dries out on the counter and goes soft in an airtight container.  Should I just get an old fashioned bread bin or is there a secret piece of kit yet to be revealed to me?  I wondered if the proofer would be a good storage box.

 

 

 

I use bees wrap for storage. https://www.beeswrap.com/products/bees-bread-wrap

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Nothing that I’ve found that can keep the crispy crust. I think this is really about the humidity in our climate. A dryer climate would help this.
We use those wax sheets for our cheese. They are a great alternative to plastic wraps. Probably cut our plastic wrap use by 80%.


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This was looking like a disaster when my son tipped the dough over in the fridge.
Nought be ok, a little dense.
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You know the "starter" has become one of the family when you make a quick dash to the supermarket to get starter feed. I thought how I could have forgotten my no.1 pet. :o

Edited by MacKenzie
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On 3/29/2020 at 8:27 AM, Basher said:

This was looking like a disaster when my son tipped the dough over in the fridge.

The look is sometimes disappointing but home made bread (almost) always tastes great.  Einkorn loaf and mussels made for a simple, tasty lunch yesterday.

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I've been watching this thread with interest and feel that some of you might want to try Emmer Wheat and an ancient Egyptian recipe otherwise you're not trying hard enough. 😄 Like this guy: 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Braai-Q
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Braai I find it hard enough baking bread with modern ingredients. I can’t source any of that stuff Tekobo bakes with.
Pequod seems to knock out loaves consistently. I’ll be stuffed if I know how.
I’m trying again tonight. Have a theory that it’s too hot and humid here for dough- even 60% is hard to handle and it does very little for hours, then up to full rise and backs off within 30 minutes.
Today’s dough has spent time in the fridge just as it starts to rise.
Looking pretty good.... so far .
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