Sourdough: A Different Rising Schedule

In the context of my recent sourdough attempts I've made a couple observations: 1. I realize a long fermentation is necessary but doing the majority of the fermentation during the third rise using a refrigerator and warming up the dough is inconvenient. Warming it from the fridge takes a long time (ca. 3 hours) and sometimes the warming results in slight condensation and the dough sticks to the linen-lined basket. 2. Rises tend to speed up going from the 1st fermentation to the preshaping to the final proof. It must correspond to rapidly increasing yeast population.

So . . . why not do the really long fermentation first instead of making it the third, retarded fermention? E.g., do the first fermentation over the course of 10 hours or so (work day or during the night) and bake the loaf after a pre-shaping followed by a more brief final proof?

Well, we have a playgroup today and I wanted a two-pounder to be ready for it and wanted to try this new scheme.

Sourdough Boule with a long first rise and no retarding step
1.Dough: Silverton's white starter (200 g), water (300 g, cool), unbleached white flour (500 g), kosher salt (10 g), honey (15 g), butter (1.5 T) and wheat germ (ca. 1/4 C, I enjoy using wheat germ lately by the way).
2. The mixture was machine kneaded for 13 minutes.
3. The resulting firm dough was fermented for 10 hours at an ambient (basement) temperature of 69F; it increased in volume at least 2.5X.
4. The dough was punched down and allowed to rest in the shape of a boule for 30 minutes.
5. The dough was again punched down and shaped into a boule and placed in my linen-lined basket and covered with plastic and allowed to rise at 73F for 1.5 hours.
6. The dough was dumped on a peel (no sticking), docked and baked at 450F first 5 min and then 425F for 40 minutes with initial steam shot on clay tiles.
7. Cooled the loaf for two hours, sliced and ate.

-It was good, darn good. Moist, nice crumb. If I was being picky, the crumb was a bit tight and maybe I could've done the final proof for 2 hours instead of 1.5.

-But, after the long rise, I'm still committed to 3 hours of waiting prior to baking (similar to the refrigerator retarding protocol). What fascinates me is the flexibility when not using added yeast. The doughs seem to be able to tolerate just about any schedule.

-This particular schedule could best be applied in our life by mixing the dough in the morning, letting it rise the entire workday, a pre-shape and final proof at night and, after a cooling period, the loaf would be ready for the next day. Big boules need a long cool down time so it'd be tough to make it for dinner.

-It was an interesting expt, just thought I'd share.


IMBB - Leg of Lamb

Finally, my first Is My Blog Burning. We have Trish's brother, Mike staying for the week and decided to have something a bit special. I got this recipe from FoodTV (Bobby Flay). A leg of lamb (shank, 3 lbs) was coated with a mixture of labne (wicked high fat yogurt, deadly good, 2 cups), minced fresh mint (1/2 C), cumin (ground, 1 t), salt and pepper and slathered all over the lamb. It was wrapped in foil tightly and placed in the fridge for about 14 hours and then tossed on the Weber. The Weber was charged with a mixture of charcoal briquettes and lump and the lamb was placed on the grill offset from the heated fuel (indirect grilling, image 1) monitoring both internal temp of the meat (looking for a medium rare temp of 145F) and a dome temp of 380-425F was maintained (see pic 2, two thermocouples used). During the cooking, a monsoon came up and dumped a few inches of rain on us. But the Weber is invincible. After an hour of indirect, I placed the meat over the coals and covered it. After an additional 45 minutes it was pulled (internal 150F) and let it rest tented under foil for 15 minutes. It was carved up and served with roasted potatoes, squash, bread and salad.

The labne "rub" was unusual and gave a splendid charry, crusty bark on the lamb. The only problem is the cut I used was less than perfect. A bit too much fat throughout cutting down on the yield but overall, a nice way to cook lamb.


Kettle Corn

Well, this wasn't nearly as complicated as I had imagined. I've had this itch to make this stuff for days now. I finally got a couple minutes to give it a whirl. Kettle corn is simply corn kernels popped in oil in the presence of sugar. As it pops, some sugar gets impregnated into the popped corn and once sprinkled with a bit of salt becomes a tasty treat.

I anticipated that once I placed the sugar in the stirring mess of hot oil and kernels, it would carmelize and jam the agitator. My pessimism gleaned from many nights of troublesome reactions in the pilot plant was not warranted. This was a piece of cake and the popcorn was awesome. Sweet and slightly salty and scrumptious. Here's the prep:

Kettle Corn
1. I poured soybean oil (ca. 2 T) into the popper and placed it on medium-high heat (gas) with two test kernels sitting in the oil.
2. Once the test kernels popped, I placed 1/4 cup of generic white popcorn kernels in to the oil and ca. 3 T sugar right on top of that and started turning the hand crank on the popper.
3. Nothing happened for a few minutes. I peaked in several times (Note: This is NOT a good idea; I couldn't resist though and was flecked with oil a couple times). The sugar continued to darken but just slightly. As soon as the corn started popping it was done in a about 30 seconds.
4. I dumped it out, sprinkled the hot treat with a little kosher salt and as it cooled I broke up the resulting lumps. It was slightly tacky when hot but became crisp on cooling. Each kernel was slightly sweet, crisp and tender inside. You all need to try this.


My New Reactor

I saw this special on FoodTV the other night on Kettle Corn. Seems it originated in the Midwest and is usually popped in these huge cast iron kettles and commonly served up at state fairs. I haven't had it yet but will definitely get some this year. It's simply popped corn slightly sweetened and salted.

So what we have is a slightly sweet and salty food with 4 ingredients and its preparation is process intensive. I am so all over this it's not funny. I had to figure out how to make this in my kitchen. Apparently the trick is to get the popcorn popping in oil (usually soybean oil) and add sugar as it begins to pop. The sugar carmelizes, coats the popped corn and when it's dumped out, it gets salted.

The key issues:
1. The amount of sugar. Consensus seems to be equal volumes of kernels to sugar.
2. When to add sugar. If you add it too early, the sugar burns; too late and the sweetness is present only as granules over the corn - bad. I guess you need to add the sugar just as the kernels begin to pop.
3. Equipment. Gotta keep things agitated. I considered one of those automatic stirring poppers but $30 was too expensive to satisfy an urge. I went to the local thrift store and found this $3 3 Liter, aluminum reactor with manual agitator. Perfect! If I destroy it, a cheap thrill. I don't think I will.
4. Stay tuned for results.


Sourdough Boule - again

This time, I'm sticking to the recipe. Can you believe it? I'm actually sticking to a recipe. Anyway, this time the fraction of starter is lower and I'll be using wheat germ in the recipe.

1. Silverton's white starter (fed only 4 hours ago, 200 g), water (300 g), unbleached white flour (500 g), salt (10 g, kosher) and wheat germ (1/4 C).
2. No autolyse, just machine kneaded for 13 minutes.
3. Let ferment @ 64F for 3.5 hours (while we went shopping and to the feeding troughs of Hometown Buffet).
4. Punched and let rest for 30 minutes at 74F.
5. Shaped into a boule and placed in my linen-lined proofing basket covered with plastic wrap (my banetton) and placed the covered basket in the fridge (8 pm 7/10/04 -> 8 am 7/11/04), internal 49F (I think this 49F is an error, the internal temp of the fridge I used was 42F and I think I didn't get the probe in the right portion of the dough and for some reason got an inaccurately high reading).
6. Warmed for an hour and returned to the fridge for an additional 6 hours (49F, registered "internal") while we spent a day caving and removed it again for a 1.5 hour warming; I got impatient. Internal read 52F before baking, should've waited).
7. When internal reached 52F, docked, put in oven on clay tiles @450F with steam shot.
8. Baked about 35 minutes. Final weight 872 g.

I think I jumped the gun on the baking (I really wanted it for dinner) and baked it about 10 minutes too short. The innermost part of the crumb looked a bit undercooked. Either I baked it with too low an internal temp and/or baked it too short. The exterior was killer though. Deadly crunchy crust (Frankie nibbled on the heel).

By the way, I realize some may be bored by these repeated sourdough loaves, but this blog is essentially my kitchen lab notebook. So, often, these entries are for me more than anyone. Some of you more tedious bakers might appreciate the entries. Also, I'm building to a spectacular multi-grain loaf. I had it in Strasbourg a few years ago and I'm trying to achieve a similar loaf through these trials.


Country White - no yeast

One problem I've always had with a no-yeast-sourdough-starter-only recipe is the requirement of the retarding step. The retarding step is done close to 40F in a fridge, substantially colder than in a commercial retarder. When to bake the final proofed loaf after the retarding step has always eluded me. The only unambiguous endpoint I've heard described is from Silverton (as opposed to some endpoint like poking the dough and having it not spring back which probably has at least 2 hours of error resulting from person-to-person variability). Her prep says to warm the proofed loaf to a temperature of 62F after the retarding stage.

That's the point of this post. To verify that temperature.

I've been propagating a starter made by Silverton's procedure that was given to me by a friend (thanks Gary) and am putting it to use to make a sourdough boule (900 g before baking; starter = 250 g, water = 250 g, unbleached white flour = 400 g, salt = 9 g).
1. Dough mixed 13 minutes in my bread machine.
2. First rise, ca. 75F, 2.5 hours.
3. Rest, 30 minutes,
4. Shape into a boule and tossed into the fridge for 10 hours (reached 39F).
5. Removed couche from fridge and let warm covered with moistened muslin towel (still with thermometer stuck in the middle of the dough), 39F @ 7 am -> 61F @ 10 am. Pretty amazing. My house was approx 73F in the kitchen and the warming to 62F internal occured at about the time Silverton suggested. Don't know why I never measured this before. Also noteworthy, the final loaf had grown to at least 2x volume. Tough to tell with a boule. Anyway, finally, into the oven.
6. Docked with my usual 4 score pattern and baked in thoroughly pre-heated oven (450F) for 40 minutes on clay tiles with steam shot. Good oven spring in the first 10 minutes.
7. Final loaf = 727 g (20% moisture loss). Let it cool and ate. Pics posted later. It was ok but I still like my poolish method a bit better.

There's a couple things I did different than the Silverton recipe. I didn't use wheat germ, I used a greater fraction of starter and a couple other smaller things. I think I did finally bake it at the right time after retarding the loaf. All things seemed to be consistent (time to warm up, internal temp and volume increase seemed to coincide with the queue to bake). The loaf tasted great but was a little low in terms of oven spring and overall volume. The crumb was quite nice but I wanted greater volume. Maybe the wheat germ was more significant than I thought.

Petra gave me some great information during this recent quest. She pointed me to a discussion and example of someone else who did the same prep (better/different results than mine). Some people feel retarding at 40F is very different than retarding at 50F. At 50F, the bread rises where at 40F it doesn't and just rises when it warms up.??

Next time, I think I'll try some wheat germ. I'm also going to be sampling the loaf over the next few days. Great breads stay good for a few days (in my opinion). Crappy ones look great and taste mediocre for a day and then suck the second day. I read somewhere Poilane believed his mega boules would be perfect by the fourth day!


Sourdough Baguettes

Been using Silverton's starter lately for breads. A good friend developed it and gave me some. Tonight, in preparation for tomorrow's 4th of July picnic I took it out and started my feeding/prep (this is a combination of methods using a large fraction of starter and finally using a bit of yeast (1/8 t) for the final dough):

Sourdough Baguette (attempt) using Silverton's Starter
1. Removed the starter from the fridge and discarded all but ca. 150 grams of it.
2. Charged unbleached white flour (130 g) and water (130 g) and stirred it about 50 times or so with a spatula. The resulting blob was a thick batter. Within a couple hours the volume had increased to nearly double. I let it sit about 6 hours total (went and saw a movie).
3. Charged to the inflated mass water (140 g) followed by unbleached white flour (140 g); mixed as in step 2 and let ferment 10 hours. Ca. 2-3 fold volume increase and held.
4. Mixed starter (250 g), water (rt, 250 g), active dry yeast (1/8 t), unbleached white flour (400 g) in Kitchenaid and let mix for about 3 minutes and let sit (autolyse) for 20 minutes covered with towel.
5. Charged salt (9 grams) and continued mixing in KitchenAid for about 5 minutes and a few minutes hand kneading. Our KitchenAid sucks for kneading, wrapped around the hook. Should've used bread machine for kneading.
6. 1st rise at rt for 2 hours (1.5 - 2x volume increase).
7. Deflated and let rest ca. 30 minutes.
8. Preheated oven to 450F with clay tiles, shaped two loaves and covered with muslin towel.
9. Final proof, 45 minutes (pic on the left after proofing). They proofed sitting on parchment, placed in a baguette pan (to support the sides) and then placed on a peel prior to launching them into the oven.
10. Docked and onto the tiles with a steam shot and baked till amber (about 35-40 minutes).

-They look terrible. Only a couple of the places where I docked them, did they give a nice open vent; the rest of the slashes look "unopened". They look as if they overproofed but I'm not sure. How could they be, I only used an 1/8 t yeast to assist the starter. My other suspicion is under kneading (as noted above). I'll break into them this afternoon. I'm a notorious underproofer but I'm not sure that was it. I'm still not sure what exactly it is I don't like about them. I guess I'll know after a sample.

-Results at the picnic today were quite favorable. They tasted much better than they looked. A pretty good crust,a bit chewey, nice interior, tender but not super airy. I was thrilled with the compliments but still think more kneading would've helped the texture.