Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Miche's: A hydration experiment

This one will give you a chuckle:

This possum broke into the bakery, and ate so many danishes, it could not move! How funny!!

Isaac and I decided to do this experiment for two main reasons: we both love really intense, fiber filled whole grain breads and we wanted to test the difference between a sourdough build with a high hydration (125%) and one with a much lower hydration (60%). Although, I would have really liked to use a liquid levain starter and a stiff levain starter, Isaac only had a rye sourdough starter, hydrated to about 100%, so that is what we used.

We did some intense math to make sure that we subtracted the water that was added to the wet sourdough build from the total water in the final formula otherwise, the breads would have had very different final dough hydrations, which would compromise the experiment it was necessary to only adjust one variable in order to isolate the differences in the two final products. I have to be honest, I am a fan of a liquid sourdough starter, maybe it is because I look up to Jeffrey Hamelman, and he tends to make more liquid levain breads as opposed to stiff levain breads. Also, maybe I prefer them because they are easier to mix when they are being prepared. Daniel Leader on the other hand, mostly stiff levains, there are only one or two recipes in either of his books which use a liquid levain starter. It is also possible that I like liquid levains because I like poolishes and they are similar in consistency. It is just my opinion. Like Jerry Garcia once said: 

"I don't know why, it's the same reason why you like some music and you don't like others. There's something about it that you like. Ultimately I don't find it's in my best interests to try and analyze it, since it's fundamentally emotional."

I really love that quote, it really does say alot about the importance of not only valuing our own opinions and the opinions of others  but also not question our gut feeling. If you like it, do it!! Back to miches 

Here are the two doughs. The dough with the stiff starter is on the left. As you can tell they are very similar.

As you can see they are quite different in appearance, and they also had a different aroma. The stiff one being more in your face sour and the liquid being more subtle. They both rose a lot overnight, and I was pleased and even concerned that they over ripened but they performed well during the fermentation and proofing. 

Isaac and I were not in the apartment during the 2 hour fermentation process, therefore we were unable to provide the three folds that it called for. I think this lack of folds may have contributed to the tightness of the final dough. It certainly would have helped the gluten development. 

Since we started these breads around 5:30 they were not out of the oven till close to midnight. To make it worse, we could only fit one loaf on the stone at a time so the bread with the liquid levain had an extra 45 minutes on the bench than the miche with the stiff levain build, so this might have had an impact on the final product.

Both breads did have a very pleasant wheaty taste with a bit of sourness, but the bread with the liquid levain had a more pronounced sour flavor. Also the miche with the wet levain also had more air holes, although they were pretty small. The miche's I have made in the past have been much more open and I think even more sour, then again the two I made with Isaac, were made with a rye starer not a wheat levain. 

Miche with stiff levain build

Mich with liquid levain!

I did like the bread with the liquid levain, but it is personal preference, they were both quite tasty, I wish they saw a little more rise in the oven, but we did our best. Also I want to note that once again we used all purpose in stead of bread flour, but the amount of white flour in this bread is about 10% and is most likely insignificant. When these breads are made in Europe they use 100% whole wheat flour, because they have a bit less bran as I have mentioned in earlier posts. 

Foreground: with liquid levain, background with stiff levain.

Next stop: Bagel Land
Bake on

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